24 Hours of Le Mans: Legends and Icons
The 89th edition of 24 hours of Le Mans that starts this weekend 21 August 2021 is going to set again new records and present the craziest legends of this world-shattering automobile race.
24 Hours of Le Mans: Legendary Running
Every year during a weekend hundreds of thousands of amateurs of the racing meet in Le Mans to see the ultimate endurance racing… 24 Hours is the period during which the most experienced drivers are going to show off their mastery and ability to control speed and to maintain precision!
The racing of 24 Hours of Le Mans is, in fact, one of the most dreadful events in the world. Held at Circuit de la Sarthe since 1923, the race is semi-permanent and as legendary as terrifying.
As this track of 38 twists stretches over 13,629 km it requires maximum concentration for over 24 hours… Being unimaginably fast and difficult with sharp and demanding turns, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has discovered its most great legends in motorsport.
Icon-Icon particularly recommends finding a rich history of racing cars resented in a set of great books, worth being flicked through before or after the anticipated event. This selection is accessible here.
24 Hours of Le Mans: Endurance Race for Very Special Cars
Naturally aspired V8-engines, V6 turbocharged diesel engine, V4 turbocharged direct-injection engine…24 Hours of Le Mans is of such a pedigree that gave birth to an entirely new class of cars to break the limits!
As an endurance race is harsh, 24 Hours of Le Mans is innately full of danger. Unfortunately, some drivers passed away in dramatic accidents. Memorable, impressive, and sometimes tragic is this race, which has been held for almost a century.
How about something breath-taking? During 24 Hours of Le Mans, the worst accident in the history of motor racing occurred in 1995…
At the end of the 35th lap, Mercedes 300 of Pierre Levegh collided with the back of Austin-Healy of Lance Macklin at speed of around 240 km/h. Catapulted into the air, the latter clashed the slope and became airborne — simultaneously going to pieces…
But this dramatic event did not stop the competition. From 1960 to 1965, it was Ferrari cars that draw to a head at Circuit de la Sarthe. Ferrari 250 LM, which made its debut and finally established its undivided reign in 1964, is even now considered as one of the most stunning Ferrari racing cars ever produced!
However, Circuit of Le Mans was to make one more roaring legend because of a terrifying accident.
Drivers’ security has finally begun to dominate in the automobile sport since the 60s. But 24 Hours of Le Mans is an entirely dangerous race. In 1969 it was Porsche 917 that smashed in an appalling accident. Being at the wheel, the driver John Woolfe… got wheels on the grass!
He lost control of the Porsche 917 and crashed into barriers with the front. The driver was thrown from the car and the 917 breaking into two flew to the middle of the racetrack. Uncontrolled, Porsche was stroked by Ferrari 312 driven by Chris Amon… At the start of the race, dense black smoke was floating above the Maison Blanche sector that year… The driver John Woolfe died.
Despite that incident, we are thankful to Porsche, the emblematic 917, that started the revolution of 24 Hours of Le Mans and gave birth to the next generation of race cars. Within several years, there were also road cars on the track such as Ford GT40 being edged out of the first places by cars designed especially for endurance racing! A great history of the Porsche sports car team described in nice books is accessible here.
Porsche 917 that has brought 19 victories in a row to Porsche since 1970 appeared to become a legend of 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is the car that was driven to the victory by Steve McQueen in the no less legendary film Le Mans.
24 Hours of Le Mans, 2021 Edition in the Age of Hypercars
The kick-off is planned for 21 August 2021, at 16 hours. There will be 62 cars starting on the track at the wheel of which we will see the most experienced racers such as Fernando Alonso driving Alpine A480.
Especially new Hypercars of Le Mans welcomes three more car brands: Toyota, Glickenhaus, and Alpine.
We will again see Richard Mille and his 100% female team – the watchmaking brand behind the watch on Rafael Nadal is going to compete for the second time with Richard Mille Racing Team driving the Oreca 07-Gibson #1. The car will be driven by Tatiana Calderon, Sophie Floersch and Beitske Visser…