7 Highlight Reels from 24 Hours of Le Mans’ Action Packed History
Are you a 24 Hours of Le Mans fan? To celebrate the 84th race – on the 18th and 19th of June – we’re going to take a look at 24 Hours of Le Mans through the decades. The first race was held in May of 1923, making it the world’s oldest sports car endurance event, so there’s a lot to cover.
Here’s are some of the most thrilling archive footage highlights, and some which shouldn’t be forgotten. Enjoy!
Porsche have won the event a staggering 17 times, making them the most successful manufacturer to take part in the race. However, Audi are catching up to this record quickly, amassing 13 victories since 2000 alone. Here’s a look at the history of Porsche at Le Mans.
Audi dominated Le Mans throughout the 2000s. The manufacturer won almost every race of the decade, losing only to Bentley in 2003 and Peugeot in 2009. This video makes for impressive viewing and is testament to the skill of Audi’s pit crew. It shows the team changing the gear box and back end of their car in under five minutes during the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans.
GT supercars dominated Le Mans throughout most of the 1990s. This video follows the 1995 event. Despite competing against faster, purpose-built prototypes, the McLaren F1 GTR took the victory. In 1990 two chicanes were installed on the Mulsanne Straight, putting the emphasis back on lap speed, rather than top speed.
1980 was the year Jean Rondeau made history by becoming the first Le Mans native to race and win the event in a car of his own construction. The 1980’s also saw huge developments in terms of speed with speeds on the infamous 3.7 mile Mulsanne Straight exceeding 250mph for the first time in the event’s history. Here’s some amateur footage of cars hurtling down the Mulsanne straight in 1988.
Porsche dominated the 1970s, winning races in ’70, ’71, ’76, ’77, and ’79.
In 1960, American entrepreneur and sportsman Briggs Cunningham entered three Corvettes into the race as part of the Team Cunningham entry. This was to be Corvette’s first appearance on the grid at Le Mans and expectations were low. Many people believed that the car was too heavy to handle Le Man’s complex circuit. However, although cars No.1 and No.2 failed to finish, car No.3 famously won first in class and eighth overall. The tale of the car’s achievement is now legendary. Le Man rules prevented teams from adding liquid to the cooling system, so during the final few hours of the race, the car was forced to pit after every single lap to allow the team to stuff ice into the engine compartment to prevent it from overheating.
This video was filmed during the 1955 Le Mans race on the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Roughly 250,000 spectators gathered around the 8.38-mile course in 1955. Sadly, only a few hours after the start of the race began, tragedy struck. More than 80 people were killed and 120 injured in what would later be dubbed the ‘Le Mans Disaster’, a crash which sent large chunks of debris flying into the crowd.
Take a look at 3SixtyWraps in action at Le Mans 2016
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