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The 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 23rd 24 Hours of Le Mans, and took place on 11 and 12 June 1955 on Circuit de la Sarthe. It was also the fourth round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. During the race, Pierre Levegh crashed into a crowd of spectators, killing 84 and injuring 120 in the deadliest accident in motor racing history.

1955 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners
Le Mans in 1955

Contents

RegulationsEdit

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) again lifted the replenishment window (just changed the year before) of fuel, oil and water from 30 to 32 laps (just over 430 km), but by the same token, the maximum fuel allowance for all cars was increased to 200 litres for the race.

On the track, road improvements continued with the whole back section, from Tertre Rouge around to Maison Blanche resurfaced.[1][2]

EntriesEdit

A total of 87 racing cars were registered for this event, of which 70 arrived for practice, to qualify for the 60 places on the starting grid, and included 15 factory teams.[3]

Category Classes Entries
Large-engines S-5000 / S-3000 26 +1 reserve
Medium-engines S-2000 / S-1500 17 +7 reserves
Small-engines S-1100 / S-750 17 +4 reserves

The battle between Coventry and Maranello of the previous year was joined by Mercedes-Benz, fresh from a triumphant debut in the Mille Miglia with their new 300SLR. Along with dark horses Cunningham, Aston Martin and Maserati, all with new 3-litre cars, as well as Talbot, Gordini, Cooper, and Austin-Healey. It led observers to anticipate a great contest.

Title-holders Ferrari arrived with the new 121 LM, powered by a straight-six engine derived from the previous year's Formula 1 car (and stepping away from the usual 12-cylinder Ferrari engines) producing a 360 bhp (270 kW).[2][4] The works team mixed its current F1 drivers along with new talent: Eugenio Castellotti with Paolo Marzotto, Maurice Trintignant with Harry Schell and Umberto Maglioli drove with Phil Hill. Maglioli and Hill had been Ferrari rivals in the previous Carrera Panamericana.[5] There were also two 3-litre 750 Monzas run by French private entries.

Having conquered Formula 1, Mercedes-Benz had now turned its attention to sports car racing. Their 300SLRs were rated by many experts as the best sports cars in the world. The fuel-injected 3-litre straight-8 was the most advanced of the entire field, producing 300 bhp (220 kW).[2] The inboard drum brakes, however, were only questionably adequate for the heavier chassis, facing the tough braking demands of Le Mans. To compensate, a hand-operated air brake was added to the rear deck for high speed braking.[6] Team manager Alfred Neubauer, in a remarkably diplomatic move (recalling the war had only ended 10 years earlier), assembled a multi-national team for the race, pairing his two best drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in the lead car, 1952 race-winner Karl Kling with Frenchman André Simon (both also in the current F1 team) and American John Fitch with one of the elder statesmen of French motor-racing, Pierre Levegh.[7][8] (Belgian racing-journalist Paul Frère had originally been approached but signed to drive for Aston Martin, instead.[9])

Jaguar arrived with three works D-types. This year's model had engine power increased from 250 to 270 bhp (190 to 200 kW), for a top speed of almost 280 km/h (170 mph).[10] The team consisted of 1953 winners Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton; up-and-coming English star Mike Hawthorn (stolen from Ferrari) was paired with rookie Ivor Bueb; and Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis shared the third car with Don Beauman. They were backed up by D-Types entered by Belgium's Ecurie Francorchamps and from American Briggs Cunningham's team.

Cunningham hedged his bets this year – along with the Jaguar he loaned 750 Monzas to French privateer Michel Pobejersky (racing as "Mike Sparken") and American Masten Gregory. He also brought (for the last time, as it happened) a new Cunningham C6-R, giving up on a big V8 Hemi to instead use an Indianapolis-style Offenhauser 3.0L straight-4.[11] He and Sherwood Johnston would race it.

The Maserati team did make it this year – with a pair of their elegant new 3.0L 300Ss, which had already shown promise at Sebring. They were run by the team's regular F1 drivers, one shared by Roberto Mieres and Cesare Perdisa, the other by Luigi Musso and endurance racing veteran Luigi "Gino" Valenzano. Maserati also ran a smaller A6GCS in the S-2000 class.

Louis Rosier's privateer Talbot did not make the start, so the large-engined French challenge this year came from Gordini with a 3-litre T24S for F1 drivers Jean Behra and Élie Bayol. Like Maserati, they also ran a smaller T20S in the S-2000 class.

There was great interest for British fans, aside from the Jaguar team. In total there were 27 British cars starting, nearly half the field.[12] Aston Martin pared back its effort a bit, to just three DB3S (now with disc brakes and an improved 225 bhp (168 kW) 3-litre engine[13]). They came with a good driver line-up: Peter Collins and Paul Frère, 1951 winner Peter Walker and Roy Salvadori, and rookies Tony Brooks and John Riseley-Prichard. They also persisted with the Lagonda project – the 4.5L V12 being biggest engine in the field. This year Reg Parnell was co-driven by Dennis Poore.

After boycotting the previous year's race, Austin-Healey returned with a single 100S prototype. Cooper brought two cars – one a Jaguar-engined T38, the other, a T39, with a Climax engine. In the S-2000 class, along with a pair each of Triumph TR2s and Frazer Nash Sebrings, Bristol was back, this time with its 450C open-top variant. To save pit-time, the team also pioneered a multi-barrel spanner to remove and re-apply all the wheelnuts together when changing the wheel.[14] MG returned after 20 years with the EX.182 prototype – a 1.5L forerunner of the upcoming MGA roadster.[12] Colin Chapman, racing with Scotsman Ron Flockhart arrived with his new Lotus 9 sports car – like the other small English firms Kieft, Cooper and Arnott, running the 1100cc Climax engine.[15]

After a fortuitous class victory in 1954, Porsche arrived in force with a mix of works and (nominally) private entries: four cars in the S-1500 and two in the S-1100 classes. In contrast, after the despair of their 1954 race, OSCA only had a single privateer in the S-1500 class.

The smallest, S-750, class was again dominated by French cars, from Panhard, Monopole, DB (all with Panhard engines), and VP-Renault. Panhard also fielded two bigger, 850cc-engined, cars that had to run in the S-1100 class. However several Italian teams arrived to take on the French with entries from Moretti and Stanguellini. Perhaps the most unusual entry was the tiny catamaran-style Damolnar Bisiluro from Ufficine Nardi – where the driver sat in one boom and the engine and running gear was in the other.

PracticeEdit

As expected the Ferraris showed themselves to be extremely fast on a single lap, and Castellotti set the fastest official time, easily breaking the lap record and was a second quicker than Fangio in his Mercedes. But there were also a number of serious accidents during practice: Moss was leaving the pits just as the DB-Panhard of Claude Storez came in, the small car hit Jean Behra. While both cars were able to start the race, Behra had face and leg injuries that forced him out, to be replaced by reserve driver Robert Manzon.[16] Coming into Maison Blanche, Behra's erstwhile teammate Élie Bayol in the new Gordini T24S came upon two spectators crossing the track. He swerved and rolled the car and was taken to hospital with a fractured skull and broken vertebrae; Peter Taylor was also severely injured when he crashed the new Arnott. Levegh came in after a close brush with a Gordini, commenting "We have to get some sort of signal system working. Our cars go too fast".[17] Neubauer tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade the ACO to allow him to erect a small signalling tower at the top of pit-line for his team.[18]

As a comparison, some of the lap-times recorded during practice were:[19]

Position Car Driver(s) Best Time
1 Ferrari 121 LM No. 4 Castellotti 4min 14sec
2 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR No. 19 Fangio 4min 15sec
3 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR No. 21 Kling
4 Jaguar D-Type No. 6 Hawthorn
5 Ferrari 121 LM No. 3 Maglioli / Hill 4min 21sec
- Maserati 300S No. 16 Musso / Valenzano 4min 23sec
- Gordini T20S No. 30 Ramos / Pollet 4min 47sec
- Porsche 550 RS Spyder 4min 50sec
- Panhard VM-5 < 4min 50sec

Over the flying kilometre on the Mulsanne straight, the following top speeds in practice and the race were recorded:[2]

Car Engine Maximum Speed
Ferrari 121 LM Ferrari 4.4L S6 291.2 kph
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L S6 281.9 kph
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L S8 270.7 kph
Cunningham C6-R Offenhauser 3.0L S4 237.6 kph
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L S6 236.8 kph
Porsche 550 RS Spyder Porsche 1.5L F4 225.3 kph
D.B. HBR-MC Panhard 745cc F2 170.8 kph

RaceEdit

StartEdit

This year the honorary starter was Conte Aymo Maggi, the President and organiser of the Mille Miglia.[20][21] Giovanni Moretti's two cars arrived on the start grid a few minutes after the 2pm deadline and were excluded from starting.[22] It was Castellotti, by dint of being near the front of the grid formation, who was first under the Dunlop Bridge and leading the first lap, followed by Hawthorn in the Jaguar. Fangio's start was delayed when his trouser leg snagged on the gear shift lever, but he worked his way up the field to join Hawthorn and Castellotti. The crowd's expectations of a showdown between the three top marques were soon fulfilled as, by lap 4, the three manufacturers’ works cars filled the top 8 places – excepting Trintignant's Ferrari in the pits with an early issue. One of the first casualties was on lap 5 as the leaders started lapping the backmarkers – the tiny Nardi was literally blown off the road into a ditch by the slipstream of the bigger cars.[23] The pace was furious but Castellotti managed to keep Hawthorn and Fangio at bay for the first hour. Behind them was Maglioli's Ferrari, the American Jaguar, the other pair of works Mercedes-Benz's and Jaguars and in 10th Mieres in the Maserati.

Finally, after 70 minutes, it was Castellotti's mistake braking for the Mulsanne corner that let the Jaguar and Mercedes through.[21] Those two then set about pushing harder still, dropping the Ferrari and successively beating the lap record – broken ten times in the first two hours and finally claimed by Hawthorn on lap 28 – setting it over 7 seconds faster than the Ferrari's practice lap.[3][24]

At 6.20pm, at the end of lap 35 when the first pit-stops were due, the 1955 Le Mans disaster occurred. Having got the order from his Jaguar crew to pit, Hawthorn braked sharply in front of Lance Macklin's Austin-Healey.[25] Macklin then braked hard, getting off the right-hand edge of the track and throwing up dust.[26][27][28][29] Macklin's car then veered back to the centre of the track, into the path of Levegh's Mercedes-Benz, which was running 6th having just gone a lap down. Travelling at 150 mph, Levegh's right-front wheel rode up onto the left rear corner of Macklin's, launching the car into the air and rolling end over end for 80 metres over spectators.

The car slammed into a four foot earthen embankment – the only barrier between the spectators and the track - and disintegrated. The momentum of the heaviest components of the car – the engine, radiator and front suspension - carried them into the crowd for almost 100 metres. Those who had climbed onto ladders and scaffolding to get a better view of the track found themselves in the direct path of the lethal debris. The remainder of the car, on the earth bank, exploded into flames, burning with extra heat from its magnesium-alloy body. Levegh was killed instantly in the impact.

Race officials kept the race running, reasoning that if the huge crowd tried to leave en masse it would clog the roads, severely restricting access for medical and emergency crews trying to save the injured. Hawthorn, after being initially waved through his stop because of the confusion and potential danger, stopped along with the other lead cars for their scheduled pit stops and driver changes. Then thirteen minutes later, the MG of Dick Jacobs lost control exiting Maison Blanche, rolled and landed upside-down, burning. Jacobs survived the accident, but was severely injured and never raced again.[15] Phil Hill, now driving Maglioli's Ferrari noted "At this point I was numbed by it all, shocked that all this could be happening at once and on my first-ever Ferrari racing lap of Le Mans. But then Stirling Moss went by me like a streak in his Mercedes 300 SLR, and that woke me up. That was a lesson I never forgot, which was that when something happens, get on the gas."[30][31]

His teammates, Castellotti and Marzotto, were the first of the leaders to falter: a slipping clutch eventually led to engine failure just before 8pm. Maglioli and Hill took up their third place until they too were stopped about 11pm when a rock pierced their radiator.[18]

NightEdit

With the driver changes from Hawthorn to Bueb and Fangio to Moss, the Jaguar team's talent was outmatched and the Mercedes team was able to extend its lead. At midnight, the Mercedes of Fangio/Moss was leading Hawthorn/Bueb by two laps, themselves two laps ahead of the Kling/Simon Mercedes and the other two works Jaguars all scrapping between themselves. Further back were Musso's Maserati, Collins’ Aston Martin, the Belgian Jaguar and the remaining big Ferrari fighting its way up from the back of the field. The race remained competitive, however with Hawthorn behind the wheel, as the lead was whittled down to 1½ laps by 2am.[32] The other Mercedes still trailed the Hawthorn/Bueb car by two laps. Race spotters' reports on the Mercedes' braking points led the Jaguar team to believe that their brakes were weakening.[33]

After the catastrophic accident, John Fitch, picking up on the early media reports, had urged the Mercedes team to withdraw from the race – he could see that win or lose, it would be a PR disaster for the company.[31] Mercedes team manager Alfred Neubauer had already reached the same conclusion but did not have the authority to make such a decision. After an emergency meeting of the company directors in Stuttgart, Neubauer finally got the call approving the team's withdrawal just before midnight. Waiting until 1.45am, when many spectators had left, he stepped onto the track and quietly called his cars into the pits, at the time running 1st and 3rd.[34] The public address made a brief announcement regarding their retirement. Chief engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut went to the Jaguar pits to ask if the Jaguar team would respond in kind, out of respect for the accident's victims. Jaguar team manager Lofty England declined.[33]

Meanwhile, Don Beauman had planted his works Jaguar in the sandtrap at Arnage. Having taken over an hour to dig it out, he had just got it free after 10 pm when Colin Chapman came off at Arnage and smacked the Jaguar. Chapman quickly reversed and got going again only to be disqualified because he had restarted without the marshal's permission[2][35]

The Aston Martins had been running to a strict lap-time set by team manager John Wyer, but keeping just in the top-10. Either side of midnight two of them were sidelined by mechanical issues. They followed their sister-Lagonda that had run out of fuel from a loose-fitting filler-cap.[13]

Soon after the Mercedes-Benz team withdrawal, the last Ferrari (that of Trintignant / Schell) retired with engine trouble, having fought back up to 10th position. With no further challenge from Mercedes-Benz or Ferrari, Jaguar were holding a comfortable 1-2, although Rolt and Hamilton were having problems with their gearbox.

In the 2-litre category, the Maserati and Gordini had been battling each other, well ahead of the British cars and just outside the top-10. The Gordini was delayed by a defective battery, but the Maserati then retired just after midnight with ignition failure. Even at this stage though, the two works 1500cc Porsches were ahead of these bigger cars. Further back, third in class, was the Belgian-entered Porsche (giving a first Le Mans drive to future endurance great Olivier Gendebien)

MorningEdit

Dawn broke under a heavy, overcast sky and by 6am it had started to rain. Soon after, the class-leading Gordini pitted with a holed-radiator just two laps before its replenishment window. Trying to inch its way round the circuit it over-heated and had to retire.[16] The S-2000 class fell into the lap of the Bristols. Around 8am, the second Jaguar's gearbox finally seized and they were out. With gloomy weather and little enthusiasm now for the race, the running order saw few changes. Second place remained in contention until late morning as the Valenzano/Musso Maserati, five laps down from the leader, was pushing hard and being chased by the Collins/Frère Aston Martin until the Maserati retired with a seized transmission.[36] About the same time the Cunningham also retired: never in the running, lapping in 13th behind the smaller Porsches and Bristols, it had lost its lower gears the night before.

A special mass was held in the morning in the Le Mans Cathedral for the first funerals of the accident victims.

FinishEdit

The race finished in drizzle. Bueb, in his first event for the Coventry marque, handed over the leading Jaguar to Hawthorn for the final 15 minutes, and they coasted to a comfortable victory, completing a record-breaking 306 laps and finishing five laps ahead of the Aston Martin (achieving their best result to date, and only finish since 1951). The podium was completed by the Belgian pair of Johnny Claes and Jacques Swaters, in their yellow Ecurie Francorchamps Jaguar D-Type. Although 11 laps (nearly 150 km) behind the winners, they were again a model of reliability.[37][38]

Porsche had its best finish yet with the trio of 1.5 litre Porsche 550 Spyders finishing fourth, fifth and sixth with Helmut Polensky and Richard von Frankenberg winning the S-1500 class, the Index of Performance, as well as the Biennial Cup. The Belgian Porsche had moved up the order late in the race to split the two works cars. Additionally the privateer Porsche comprehensively won the S-1100 class finishing nearly 40 laps ahead of the unclassified Cooper. The three-car Bristol team finished seventh, eighth and nint, in formation for a consecutive year at the top of two-litre class. Managing director Sir George White donated the team's winnings to a charity for the disaster's victims.[14] After their debacle of the previous year's race, the only Italian car to finish this year was the 1.5L OSCA. Two of the DB-Panhards were the only French cars to finish in the normally reliable small-car classes.[2][39] For the first time none of the Cunningham team cars finished.[11]

Despite the disaster and poor weather, there were a number of new records set: Both first and second beat the old distance record – and five new class records were set. In fact, the two leading 1.5L Porsches both went further than the overall distance covered by the 1952-winning Mercedes-Benz.[22] The opening hours had also seen the lap record broken by a significant margin.

Post-race and aftermathEdit

The catastrophic crash, which came to be known as the 1955 Le Mans disaster, remains the deadliest accident in the history of motorsport, The actual death toll is uncertain, put at from 80 to 84, including Levegh, with many more than that number severely injured.[3][7][8][40][41] Spurring mentions that the official report cites "Levegh" and 80 spectators were killed and 178 were injured.

The next round of the World Sports Car Championship at the Nürburgring was cancelled, as was the Carrera Panamericana. The accident caused widespread shock and immediate bans on auto racing in many countries. A number of racing teams including Mercedes-Benz, MG and Bristol had disbanded and withdrawn from racing by the end of the season. The scale of the accident caused some drivers present, including Phil Walters (who had been offered a drive with Ferrari for the rest of the season[6]), Sherwood Johnston, and John Fitch (after completing the season with Mercedes-Benz), to retire from racing. Fitch was coaxed out of retirement by his friend Briggs Cunningham to help the Chevrolet Corvette effort at Le Mans in 1960 and later worked to develop traffic safety devices including the sand-filled "Fitch barrels". Less than three months later, Lance Macklin decided to retire after being involved in a twin fatality accident during the 1955 RAC Tourist Trophy race at Dundrod Circuit. Juan-Manuel Fangio never raced at Le Mans again.

Although Hawthorn was relieved to have gotten his first Le Mans victory, he was devastated by the tragedy.[citation needed] A press photo showed him smiling on the podium swigging from the victor's bottle of champagne, and the French press ran it with the sarcastic headline "Here's to You, Mr Hawthorn".[42]

The official enquiry concluded that no one driver was to blame and that it was instead a tragic combination of circumstances that had caused the accident, including serious deficiencies in the track design and safety.[34]

For a long while[clarification needed] the future of the race was in doubt, but the ACO was able to convince the French Government and the FIA with plans for extensive redevelopment. Before the 1956 event, the grandstands and pits were demolished, as well as straightening and widening the track at and approaching the pits, and realigning Dunlop Curve. They increased the separation between the road and the spectators including a wide ditch, and revised other hazardous stretches of the track.[43][44] Track safety technology and practices evolved slowly until Formula 1 driver Jackie Stewart organized a concerted campaign to advocate for better safety measures 10 years later. Stewart's campaign gained momentum after the deaths of Lorenzo Bandini and Jim Clark.

Official resultsEdit

Results taken from Quentin Spurring's book, officially licensed by the ACO.[45] Class Winners are in bold text.

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 S
5.0
6   Jaguar Cars Ltd.   Mike Hawthorn
  Ivor Bueb
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L S6 307
2 S
3.0
23   Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd   Peter Collins
  Paul Frère
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L S6 302
3 S
5.0
10   Ecurie Francorchamps   Jacques Swaters
  Johnny Claes
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L S6 296
4 S
1.5
37   Porsche KG   Helmut Polensky
  Richard von Frankenberg
Porsche 550 RS Spyder Porsche 1498cc F4 284
5 S
1.5
66
Reserve
  Ecurie Belge /
  Gustave Olivier
  Wolfgang Seidel
  Olivier Gendebien
Porsche 550 RS Spyder Porsche 1498cc F4 276
6 S
1.5
62   Porsche KG   Helmut 'Helm' Glöckler
 /  Jaroslav Juhan
Porsche 550 RS Spyder Porsche 1498cc F4 273
7 S
2.0
34   Bristol Aeroplane Co.   Peter Wilson
  Jim Mayers
Bristol 450C Bristol 1979cc S6 271
8 S
2.0
33   Bristol Aeroplane Co.   Mike Keen
  Tommy Line
Bristol 450C Bristol 1979cc S6 270
9 S
2.0
32   Bristol Aeroplane Co.   Tommy Wisdom
  Jack Fairman
Bristol 450C Bristol 1979cc S6 268
10 S
2.0
35   Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd.   Marcel Becquart
  Richard ‘Dickie’ Stoop
Frazer Nash Sebring Bristol 1971cc S6 260
11 S
1.5
40   Edgar Fronteras
(private entrant)
  Giulio Cabianca
  Giuseppe Scorbati
O.S.C.A. MT-4 O.S.C.A. 1491cc S4 256
12 S
1.5
41   MG Cars Ltd.   Ken Miles
  John Lockett
MG EX.182 MG 1489cc S4 249
13 S
1.1
49   Porsche KG   Auguste Veuillet
  Zora Arkus-Duntov
Porsche 550 RS Spyder Porsche 1097cc S4 245
14 S
2.0
28   Standard Triumph Ltd.   Ninian Sanderson
  Bob Dickson
Triumph TR2 Triumph 1991cc S4 242
15 S
2.0
29   Standard Triumph Ltd.   Ken Richardson
  Bert Hadley
Triumph TR2 Triumph 1991cc S4 242
16 S
750
63   Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet   Louis Cornet
  Robert Mougin
DB HBR-MC Panhard 745cc F2 236
17 S
1.5
64   MG Cars Ltd.   Ted Lund
  Hans Waeffler
MG EX.182 MG 1489cc S4 234
18 S
1.5
65   Gustave Olivier
(private entrant)
  Gonzague Olivier
 Josef Jeser
Porsche 550 RS Spyder Porsche 1498cc F4 234
N/C * S
2.0
68
Reserve
  Standard Triumph Ltd.   Leslie Brooke
  Mortimer Morris-Goodall
Triumph TR2 Triumph 1991cc S4 214
19 S
750
59   Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet   Louis Héry
  Georges Trouis
DB HBR Spyder Panhard 745cc F2 209
N/C * S
1.1
47   Cooper Car Co.   John Brown
  Edgar Wadsworth
Cooper T39 Coventry Climax 1098cc S4 207
  • Note *: Not Classified because of Insufficient distance, as car failed to cover 70% of its class-winner's distance.

Did not finishEdit

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps Reason
DNF S
3.0
16   Officine Alfieri Maserati   Luigi Musso
  Luigi "Gino" Valenzano
Maserati 300S Maserati 3.0L S6 239 Gearbox (20hr)
DNF S
3.0
22   Briggs Cunningham   Briggs Cunningham
  Sherwood Johnston
Cunningham C6-R Offenhauser 2.9L S4 196 Piston (19hr)
DNF S
5.0
7   Jaguar Cars Ltd.   Tony Rolt
  Duncan Hamilton
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L S6 186 Gearbox (16hr)
DNF S
2.0
30   Automobiles Gordini   Hermano da Silva Ramos
  Jacques Pollet
Gordini T15S Gordini 1987cc S8 145 Holed radiator (14hr)
DNF S
750
52   Société Monopole   Jean Hémard
  Pierre Flahault
Monopole X86 Panhard 745cc F2 145 Accident (23hr)
DNF S
750
60   Automobili Stanguellini   René Philippe Faure
  Pierre Duval
Stanguellini S750 Bialbero Stanguellini 740cc S4 136 Ignition (17hr)
DNF S
3.0
19   Daimler-Benz AG   Juan Manuel Fangio
  Stirling Moss
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L S8 134 Withdrawn (10hr)
DNF S
3.0
21   Daimler-Benz AG   Karl Kling
  André Simon
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L S8 130 Withdrawn (10hr)
DNF S
1.1
51   Automobiles Panhard
et Levassor
  René Cotton
  André Beaulieux
Panhard VM-5 Panhard 850cc F2 108 Gearbox (13hr)
DNF S
5.0
5   Scuderia Ferrari   Maurice Trintignant
  Harry Schell
Ferrari 121 LM Ferrari 4.4L S6 107 Clutch (10hr)
DNF S
5.0
8   Jaguar Cars Ltd.   Don Beauman
  Norman Dewis
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L S6 106 Accident (11hr)
DNF S
3.0
24   Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd   Roy Salvadori
  Peter Walker
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L S6 105 Engine (10hr)
DNF S
3.0
12   "Heldé"   "Heldé" (Pierre Louis-Dreyfus)
  Jean Lucas
Ferrari 750 Monza Ferrari 3.0L S4 104 Distributor (10hr)
DNF S
750
58   Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet   Paul Armagnac
  Gérard Laureau
DB HBR-MC Panhard 745cc F2 101 Wheel (23hr)
DSQ S
1.1
48   Lotus Engineering   Colin Chapman
  Ron Flockhart
Lotus Mark IX Coventry Climax 1098cc S4 99 reversed on track (12hr)
DNF S
2.0
31   Officine Alfieri Maserati   Carlo Tomasi
  Francesco Giardini
Maserati 200S Maserati 1986cc S4 96 Distributor (9hr)
DNF S
1.1
50   Automobiles Panhard
et Levassor
  Pierre Chancel
  Robert Chancel
Panhard VM-5 Panhard 850cc F2 94 Fuel system (11hr)
DNF S
5.0
1   Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd   Reg Parnell
  Dennis Poore
Lagonda DP-166 Lagonda 4.5L V12 93 Out of fuel (8hr)
DNF S
3.0
25   Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd   Tony Brooks
  John Riseley-Pritchard
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L S6 83 Battery (9hr)
DNF S
3.0
27   J.-P. Colas
(private entrant)
  Jean-Paul Colas
  Jacques Dewez
Salmson 2300S Cabriolet Salmson 2.3L L4 82 Oil leak (9hr)
DNF S
5.0
3   Scuderia Ferrari   Umberto Maglioli
  Phil Hill
Ferrari 121 LM Ferrari 4.4L S6 76 Clutch (7hr)
DNF S
1.5
38   W. Ringgenberg
(private entrant)
  Walter Ringgenberg
  Hans-Jörg Gilomen
Porsche 550/4 Porsche 1498cc F4 65 Engine (8hr)
DNF S
1.5
43   Connaught Engineering   Kenneth McAlpine
  Eric Thompson
Connaught AL/SR Lea-Francis 1484cc S4 60 Engine (9hr)
DNF S
5.0
4   Scuderia Ferrari   Eugenio Castellotti
  Paolo Marzotto
Ferrari 121 LM Ferrari 4.4L S6 52 Engine (5hr)
DNF S
2.0
69   A. Constantin
(private entrant)
  Jacques Savoye
  Jacques Poch
Constantin 203C Spyder Peugeot 1425cc S4
Supercharged
52 Gearbox (9hr)
DNF S
1.1
46   Kieft Cars Ltd.   Alan Rippon
  Ray Merrick
Kieft Sport Coventry Climax 1098cc S4 47 Oil leak (6hr)
DNF S
750
57   Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet   René Bonnet
  Claude Storez
D.B. HBR Panhard 745cc F2 44 Distributor (9hr)
DNF S
5.0
9   Briggs Cunningham   Phil Walters
  William "Bill" Spear
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L S6 43 Engine (Valve) (7hr)
DNF S
5.0
11   Cooper Car Co   Peter Whitehead
  Graham Whitehead
Cooper T38 Jaguar 3.4L S6 38 Oil leak (4hr)
DNF S
3.0
20   Daimler-Benz AG   "Pierre Levegh" (Pierre Bouillin)
  John Fitch
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L L8 34 Fatal accident (3hr)
DNF S
2.0
36   Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd.   Cecil Vard
  Dick Odlum
Frazer Nash Sebring Bristol 1971cc S6 33 Engine (6hr)
DNF S
750
53   Société Monopole   Francis Navarro
  Jean de Montrémy
Monopole Sport X88 Panhard 745cc F2 30 Oil leak (6hr)
DNF S
3.0
26   Lance Macklin
(private entrant)
  Lance Macklin
  Les Leston
Austin-Healey 100 S BMC A90 2.7L S4 28 Accident damage (6hr)
DNF S
1.5
42   MG Cars Ltd.   Dick Jacobs
  Joe Flynn
MG EX.182 MG 1489cc S4 27 Accident (6hr)
DNF S
750
56   Automobiles VP   Yves Giraud-Cabantous
  Yves Lesur
VP 166R Renault 747cc S4 26 Engine (8hr)
DNF S
3.0
15   Officine Alfieri Maserati   Roberto Mières
  Cesare Perdisa
Maserati 300S Maserati 3.0L S6 24 Gearbox (6hr)
DNF S
3.0
14   "Mike Sparken"
(private entrant)
  "Mike Sparken" (Michel Pobejersky)
  Masten Gregory
Ferrari 750 Monza Ferrari 3.0L S4 23 Engine (piston) (3hr)
DNF S
750
61   Ufficine Nardi   Dr. Mario Damonte
  Roger Crovetto
Nardi ‘Damolnar’ Bisiluro Giannini 735cc S4 5 Accident (1hr)
DNF S
1.5
39   Kieft Cars Ltd.   Berwyn Baxter
  John Deeley
Kieft Sport Turner 1493cc S4 4 Overheating (1hr)

Did not startEdit

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Reason
DNS S
5.0
2   Ecurie Rosier   Louis Rosier
  Georges Grignard
Talbot-Lago T26 GS Spyder Talbot 4.5L S6 Engine
DNS S
3.0
17   Automobiles Gordini   Robert Manzon
  Élie Bayol
  Jean Behra
Gordini T24S Gordini 3.0L S8 Accident in practice
DNS S
1.1
45   Arnott Racing Cars   Jim Russell
  Peter Taylor
Arnott Sports Coventry Climax 1098cc S4 Accident in practice
DNS S
750
54   Moretti Automobili   Lino Fayen
  Herman Rogenry
Moretti 750S Moretti 750cc S4 Took grid too late
DNS S
750
55   Moretti Automobili   Giorgio Ubezzi
  Mesnest Bellanger
Moretti 750S Moretti 750cc S4 Took grid too late
Reserve S
750
70   Société Pierre Ferry   Jacques Blaché
  Louis Pons
Ferry Sports F750 Renault 747cc S4
Reserve S
750
72   Automobiles VP   Jean-Marie Dumazer
  André Héchard
  Jérôme Pourond
VP 155R Renault 747cc S4
Reserve S
750
75   Ecurie Rosier   Jean-Louis Rosier
  Jean Estager
Renault 4CV/1068 Spyder Renault 747cc S4

Index of performanceEdit

[clarification needed]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Score
1 S
1.5
37   Porsche KG   Helmut Polensky
  Richard von Frankenberg
Porsche 550 RS Spyder 1.241
2 S
5.0
6   Jaguar Cars Ltd.   Mike Hawthorn
  Ivor Bueb
Jaguar D-Type 1.232
3 S
3.0
23   Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd   Peter Collins
  Paul Frère
Aston Martin DB3S 1.228
4 S
1.5
66
Reserve
  Ecurie Belge /
  Gustave Olivier
  Wolfgang Seidel
  Olivier Gendebien
Porsche 550 RS Spyder 1.204
5 S
1.5
62   Porsche KG   Helmut Glöckler
 /  Jaroslav Juhan
Porsche 550 RS Spyder 1.193
6 S
5.0
10   Ecurie Francorchamps   Jacques Swaters
  Johnny Claes
Jaguar D-Type 1.186
7 S
750
63   Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet   Louis Cornet
  Robert Mougin
DB HBR-MC 1.179
8 S
2.0
34   Bristol Aeroplane Co.   Peter Wilson
  Jim Mayers
Bristol 450C 1.139
9 S
2.0
33   Bristol Aeroplane Co.   Mike Keen
  Tommy Line
Bristol 450C 1.131
10 S
1.1
49   Porsche KG   Auguste Veuillet
  Zora Arkus-Duntov
Porsche 550 RS Spyder 1.128
  • Only the top ten positions are included in this set of standings. A score of 1.00 means meeting the minimum distance for the car, and a higher score is exceeding the nominal target distance.[46]

21st Rudge-Whitworth Biennial Cup (1954/1955)Edit

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Score
1 S
1.5
37   Porsche KG   Helmut Polensky
  Richard von Frankenberg
Porsche 550 RS Spyder 1.241
2 S
1.5
62   Porsche KG   Helmut Glöckler
 /  Jaroslav Juhan
Porsche 550 RS Spyder 1.193
3 S
2.0
33   Bristol Aeroplane Co.   Mike Keen
  Tommy Line
Bristol 450C 1.131

StatisticsEdit

Taken from Quentin Spurring's book, officially licensed by the ACO

  • Fastest lap in practice – Castelloti, #4 Ferrari 121 LM – 4m 14.0s; 191.14 kp/h (118.77 mph)
  • Fastest lap – Hawthorn, #6 Jaguar D-Type – 4m 06.6s; 196.96 kp/h (122.39 mph)
  • Fastest car in speedtrap – Fangio, #19 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR – 292.21 kp/h (181.57 mph)
  • Distance – 4135.38  km (2569.73 miles)
  • Winner's average speed – 172.31 km/h (107.07 mph)
  • Attendance – about 400,000

World Championship standings after the raceEdit

Pos Championship Points
1   Ferrari 18
2   Jaguar 16
3   Maserati 11
4   Mercedes-Benz 8
5=   Aston Martin 6
  Porsche 6
6   Gordini 2
7   Austin-Healey 1

Championship points were awarded for the first six places in each race in the order of 8-6-4-3-2-1. Manufacturers were only awarded points for their highest finishing car, with no points awarded for positions filled by additional cars.

Citations
  1. ^ Spurring 2011, p.214
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moity 1974, p.60
  3. ^ a b c Spurring 2011, p.215
  4. ^ Laban 2001, p.116
  5. ^ Cannell 2011, p.65
  6. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p.221
  7. ^ a b John Fitch, "Racing with Mercedes" (Photo Data Research, ISBN 978-0-9705073-6-5, 2005)
  8. ^ a b http://www.sportscardigest.com/1955-24-hours-of-le-mans-race-profile/
  9. ^ Moity 1974, p.59
  10. ^ Spurring 2011, p.219
  11. ^ a b Laban 2001, p.117
  12. ^ a b Clausager 1982, p.93
  13. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p.228
  14. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p.230
  15. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p.231
  16. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p.225
  17. ^ "Death at Le Mans". Time. USA. 20 June 1955.
  18. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p.223
  19. ^ Clarke 1997, p.132: Road & Track Sept 1955
  20. ^ Spurring 2011, p.212
  21. ^ a b Clarke 1997, p.133: Road & Track Sept 1955
  22. ^ a b Clarke 1997, p.117: Autosport Jun24 1955
  23. ^ Spurring 2011, p.232
  24. ^ Moity 1974, p.57
  25. ^ Clarke 1997, p.130: Road & Track Sept 1955
  26. ^ Foster 2013, p.1968
  27. ^ Whitaker 2014, p.88
  28. ^ Anderson 2000, p.14
  29. ^ Spurgeon, Brad (11 June 2015). "On Auto Racing's Deadliest Day". The New York Times Company, Inc. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  30. ^ Hill 2004, p.122
  31. ^ a b Cannell 2011, p.75
  32. ^ "Le Mans 1955 - Reel 2 Part 4".
  33. ^ a b "Paul Skilleter, Le Mans". Archived from the original on 2007-02-16.
  34. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p.218
  35. ^ Spurring 2011, p.234
  36. ^ Clarke 1997, p.129: Autocar Jun17 1955
  37. ^ http://www.wsrp.cz/wsc1955.html#4
  38. ^ http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1955/55lemans.html
  39. ^ Spurring 2011, p.233
  40. ^ http://www.ewilkins.com/wilko/lemans.htm
  41. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sfptx
  42. ^ Cannell 2011, p.76
  43. ^ Spurring 2011, p.250
  44. ^ Laban 2001, p.118
  45. ^ Spurring 2011, p.2
  46. ^ Clarke 1997, p.88

ReferencesEdit

  • Spurring, Quentin (2011) Le Mans 1949-59 Sherborne, Dorset: Evro Publishing ISBN 978-1-84425-537-5
  • Anderson, Gary G. (2000) Austin-Healey 100, 100-6, 3000 Restoration Guide MotorBooks International ISBN 978-1-61060-814-5
  • Cannell, Michael (2011) The Limit London: Atlantic Books ISBN 978-184887-224-0
  • Clarke, R.M. - editor (1997) Le Mans 'The Jaguar Years 1949-1957' Cobham, Surrey: Brooklands Books ISBN 1-85520-357X
  • Clausager, Anders (1982) Le Mans London: Arthur Barker Ltd ISBN 0-213-16846-4
  • Foster, Frank (2013) F1: A History of Formula One Racing BookCaps Study Guides ISBN 978-1-62107-573-8
  • Hill, Phil (2004) Ferrari, a Champion's view Deerfield: Dalton Watson ISBN 978-1854432124
  • Laban, Brian (2001) Le Mans 24 Hours London: Virgin Books ISBN 1-85227-971-0
  • Moity, Christian (1974) The Le Mans 24 Hour Race 1949-1973 Radnor, Pennsylvania: Chilton Book Co ISBN 0-8019-6290-0
  • Pomeroy, L. & Walkerley, R. - editors (1956) The Motor Year Book 1956 Bath: The Pitman Press
  • Whitaker, Sigur E. (2014) Tony Hulman: The Man Who Saved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway McFarland ISBN 978-0-7864-7882-8

External linksEdit


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