1953 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1953 24 Hours of Le Mans
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The 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 21st Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 13 and 14 June 1953, at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans (France). It was also the third round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. [1] British drivers Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton won the race with one of three factory-entered Jaguar C-Types, the first cars ever to race at Le Mans with disc brakes.

Le Mans in 1953

Report[edit]

Entry[edit]

Nineteen marques, totalling 50 works-entered cars out of the 60 starters, were officially represented, with Jaguar, Scuderia Ferrari, S.P.A. Alfa Romeo, Scuderia Lancia, Talbot, Aston Martin and Cunningham among the teams that each fielded three cars. Drivers included all three World Champions to date, and several Grand Prix winners: Alberto Ascari, Giuseppe Farina, Piero Taruffi, José Froilán González, and Juan Manuel Fangio. [2]

Ferrari 340 375 MM Berlinetta
Cunningham C4-R

The major Italian teams had all built new cars for the race. [3] Ferrari entered a lightweight 340 375 MM Berlinetta powered by the company's 375 bhp 4.5 litre V12 Grand Prix engine, plus two 340 bhp 4.1 litre 340 MMs. All had Pinin Farina-designed bodies. Ascari and Luigi Villoresi were to share the lightweight coupé, while brothers Paolo and Giannino Marzotto were entered for one of the less powerful cars, with Giuseppi Farina and Mike Hawthorn down to drive the other. [3] Alfa Romeo fielded a trio of 6C 3000s, powered by 3.5 liter I6 engines, for Fangio and Onofre Marimón, Karl Kling and Fritz Riess, and Consalvo Sanesi and Piero Carini. Lancia had three supercharged 2.7 liter D20 Coupés for Gonzalez and Clemente Biondetti, Louis Chiron and Robert Manzon, and Taruffi and Umberto Maglioli. [3]

Jaguar entered C-Types for the driver pairings of Peter Walker and Stirling Moss, Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart, and Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton. The cars reverted to the aerodynamic design prior to that of the 1952 Le Mans cars, whose revised nose and tail had adversely affected stability at speeds over 120 mph. For 1953 the cars were lighter and more powerful, and they were the first-ever Le Mans cars equipped with disc brakes, whose greater efficiency gave the C-Types an advantage over their drum-braked competitors.

Aston Martin entered DB3Ss for Reg Parnell and Peter Collins, George Abecassis and Roy Salvadori, and Eric Thompson and Dennis Poore. Talbot T26s with revised bodies and supercharged 4.5 litre I6 engines were entered for Guy Mairesse and Georges Grignard, Louis Rosier and Elie Bayol, and Pierre Levegh and Charles Pozzi. Briggs Cunningham also brought three cars, all with 310 bhp 5.5 litre Chrysler V8 engines: a C4-R for himself and William Spear, a C4-RK for Charles Moran and John Gordon Bonnet, and a C5-R for Phil Walters and John Fitch.

Gordini debuted a new 2.5 litre car, while Allard brought two Cadillac V8-engined J2Rs. Nash-Healey entered two purpose-built 4.1 litre cars, one for Leslie Johnson and Bert Hadley, the other for Pierre Veyron and Yves Giraud-Cabantous. Two Austin-Healey 100s were entered, and Bristol also fielded two cars, both 2 litre 450 coupés, for Lance Macklin with Graham Whitehead and Jack Fairman with Tommy Wisdom. [3]

Practice[edit]

Pegaso Z-102 that crashed

Rolt and Hamilton were disqualified for practising in a Jaguar that had the same racing number as another on the circuit at the same time, but they were reinstated. Hamilton's account has become a motor racing legend: [4] when Jaguar team manager Lofty England persuaded the organisers to let them race, both drivers were already drunk in a local bar. England said: "Of course I would never have let them race under the influence. I had enough trouble when they were sober!"[5] Tony Rolt also said the story was fiction.[6]

Pegaso withdrew both their entries after Juan Jover crashed his Z-102 BS during practice. Misjudging the speed of his approach to the corner after the Dunlop bridge, he hit the barriers and was thrown from the car, seriously injuring his left leg.

Race[edit]

At 4:00pm on the Saturday, the flag fell and the race was on. At the end of the first lap, the Allard led the field, which was closely bunched behind. The first few laps at Le Mans means very little and it was not until after the 30 minutes that the true picture really become close. Rolt had already put in a lap record at 96.48mph, while Moss led the way, closely followed by Villoresi, Tom Cole, Rolt, John Fitch, with Karl Kling rounding out the top six. Sydney Allard early lead lasted hardly any time, and by lap four he had to retire with a collapsed rear suspension that severed a brake pipe. Moss was also in trouble. Although he had smoothly pilled away from the chasing pack, until a misfire set in. His subsequent unplanned pitstop for spark plugs, plus another later to the eventual cure – removal of a clogged fuel filter. At least Jaguar remembered the pit regulations. Ferrari topped up the brake system on Mike Hawthorn’s 340 MM before the specified 28 laps had been completed, thereby Hawthorn/Farina were disqualified. Whilst all this was going on, Villoresi had taken the lead. [2][7]

By 5:00pm, the order had settled down, and it became clear that the Jaguars, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos were the forces to be reckoned with. The Lancias and Talbots were quite outclassed, as was the Aston Martins. Consalvo Sanesi in his Alfa Romeo 6C, continued to lower the fastest lap, with Rolt moving into the lead for Jaguar. Just before 6:00pm, Fangio retired with engine troubles in his Alfa Romeo. The pace continued at a fantastic pace and now it was Jaguar setting it. At the three hour mark, Rolt/Hamilton led from Ascari/Villoresi, followed by Cole and his partner, Luigi Chinetti, Sanesi with Piero Carini, and the Germans of Kling and Fritz Riess. Already these five cars had pull out a two lap advantage over the rest of the field. [7]

As darkness fell, the Ferrari-Jaguar battle continued unabated, between Ascari/Villeoresi and Rolt/Hamilton, with the Alfa Romeos close behind. During the early hours of the morning, Rolt/Hamilton continued to lead with no sign of tiring, while Ascari/Villoresi was now losing ground. By 3:00am, the rear suspension on Sanesi/Carini car has collapsed, and they were out, along with George Abecassis and Roy Salvadori as oil was getting into their Aston Martin’s clutch. [7]

Although the Ascari and Villeroesi still was taking the fight to the Jaguars, the car was lame, for it was suffering from a sticking clutch and drinking a lot of water. However, the Italians, in a win-or-burst attempt were driving flat out at all times, but it had no effect on Rolt and Hamilton. Their Jaguar now had a lap lead over the Ferrari. [7]

Despite the night being very clear and fine, dawn approached a certain amount of mist in the air, making driving conditions very tiring. The windscreen on the leading Jaguar had been smashed early in the race, and as result Rolt and Hamilton were suffering from wind buffering, but the pair kept up the pace, nevertheless, with an average speed of well over 105mph. By the time the mist had cleared, Rolt and Hamilton still lead by a lap ahead of the Ascari and Villoresi’s lame Ferrari. Third place was over three adrift was the Cunningham of Fitch/Walters. A lap further back was the fast Jaguars of Moss/Walker and Whitehead/Stewart. It was during this period, when disaster struck at Maison Blanche, when Cole crashed his Ferrari and was killed instantly. [7][3]

Shortly after 8:30am, the leading Jaguar and Ferrari both made routine refuelling stops at the same time, while Moss moved up to third when the Cunningham came for its stop. At 9:00am, the lame Ferrari was dropping back, and was now back in fifth place, following clutch issues. Rolt and Hamilton were now clear up front, but they could not rest as the American of Fitch/Waters started to challenge the Moss/Walker Jaguar for second place. [7]

The lame Ferrari retired at 11:00am having dropped down the order to sixth place. This left only the Marzotto car to challenge the Jaguars and the lead Cunningham. It could not do it and raced to finish in fifth, keeping the Gordini of Maurice Trintignant and Harry Schell behind them. [7]

With three hours to ago, the Jaguars were still lapping at over 105mph, however the pace had slackened a little. In the closing stages the order did not change, as Hamilton took over from Rolt to complete the last stage of the race, they were followed home by Moss, Fitch, Stewart, Giannino Marzotto, and Trintignant. [7]

Rolt and Hamilton driving their British license plated Jaguar C-Type, to victory covering a distance of 2,555.04 miles (4,088.064km), over 304 laps, averaging a speed of 106.46mph (170.336km/h). Their team-mates, Moss and Walker were four lap adrift at the finish, in second place was their C-Type. The podium was completed by Walters and Fitch, in their Cunningham-Chrysler C5-R. The third works Jaguar finished fourth, two laps behind the Americans. The fourth Jaguar, entered by Ecurie Francorchamps for Roger Laurent and Charles de Tornaco, although supported the works team, with a standard C-Type, but still finished in ninth place. [7][2][8][9]

Official Classification[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 S
5.0
18 United Kingdom Jaguar Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Tony Rolt
United Kingdom Duncan Hamilton
Jaguar C-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 304
2 S
5.0
17 United Kingdom Jaguar Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Stirling Moss
United Kingdom Peter Walker
Jaguar C-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 300
3 S
8.0
2 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Phil Walters
United States John Fitch
Cunningham C5-R Chrysler 5.5L V8 299
4 S
5.0
19 United Kingdom Jaguar Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Peter Whitehead
United Kingdom Ian Stewart
Jaguar C-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 297
5 S
5.0
15 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Italy Count Paolo Marzotto
Italy Giannino Marzotto
Ferrari 340MM Berlinetta Ferrari 4.1L V12 294
6 S
3.0
35 France Automobiles Gordini France Maurice Trintignant
United States Harry Schell
Gordini T24S Gordini 2.5L I6 293
7 S
8.0
1 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Briggs Cunningham
United States William Spear
Cunningham C4-R Chrysler 5.5L V8 290
8 S
5.0
7 France Automobiles Talbot-Darracq S.A. France Pierre Levegh
France Charles Pozzi
Talbot-Lago T26 GS Talbot-Lago 4.5L I6 276
9 S
5.0
20 Belgium Ecurie Francorchamps Belgium Roger Laurent
Belgium Charles de Tornaco
Jaguar C-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 275
10 S
8.0
3 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Charles Moran
United States John Gordon Bonnet
Cunningham C4-RK Chrysler 5.5L V8 269
11 S
5.0
11 United Kingdom Nash-Healey Inc. United Kingdom Leslie Johnson
United Kingdom Bert Hadley
Nash-Healey Sport Nash 4.1L I6 265
12 S
3.0
34 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom Johnny Lockett
Netherlands Maurice Gatsonides
Austin-Healey 100 BMC 2.7L I4 257
13 S
2.0
39 United Kingdom Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. United Kingdom Ken Wharton
United Kingdom Laurence Mitchell
Frazer Nash Le Mans Touring Coupe Bristol 2.0L I6 253
14 S
3.0
33 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company France Marcel Becquart
United Kingdom Gordon Wilkins
Austin-Healey 100 BMC 2.7L I4 252
15 S
1.5
45 Germany Porsche KG Germany Richard von Frankenberg
Belgium Paul Frère
Porsche 550 Coupe Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 247
16 S
1.5
44 Germany Porsche KG Germany Helm Glöckler
Germany Hans Herrmann
Porsche 550 Coupe Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 247
17 S
750
57 France Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet France René Bonnet
France André Moynet
DB HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 237
18 S
1.1
48 Italy Automobili O.S.C.A. Italy Dr. Mario Damonte
France Pierre-Louis Dreyfus
O.S.C.A. MT-4 1100 Coupe O.S.C.A. 1.1L I4 232
19 S
750
58 France Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet France Marc Gignoux
France Marc Azéma
DB HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 231
20 S
1.1
50 France Automobiles Panhard et Levassor France Charles Plantivoux
France Guy Lapchin
Panhard X89 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 227
21 S
750
61 France Automobiles Panhard et Levassor France Pierre Chancel
France Robert Chancel
Panhard X88 Panhard 0.6L Flat-2 223
22 S
1.1
51 France Automobiles Panhard et Levassor France Raymond Stempert
France Georges Schwartz
Panhard X87 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 218
23 S
750
53 France R.N.U. Renault France Jean-Louis Rosier
France Robert Schollemann
Renault 4CV Renault 0.7L I4 218

Not Classified[edit]

Failed to cover 70% of winner's distance (213 laps)

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
24 S
750
60 France Automobiles Panhard et Levassor France Jean Hémard
France Jean de Montrémy
Panhard X85 Panhard 0.6L Flat-2 212
25 S
3.0
66 France Alexis Constantin France Alexandre Constantin
France Michel Aunaud
Constantin Peugeot 1.3L Supercharged I4 200
26 S
750
56 France Just-Emile Vernet / Jean Pairard France Just-Emile Vernet
France Jean Pairard
VP 166R Renault 0.7L I4 183

Did Not Finish[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
27 S
5.0
12 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Italy Alberto Ascari
Italy Luigi Villoresi
Ferrari 340MM Berlinetta Ferrari 4.5L V12 229
28 S
1.5
41 Germany Borgward GmbH France Jacques Poch
France Edmond Mouche
Borgward-Hansa 1500 Rennsport Borgward 1.5L I4 228
29 S
8.0
63 Italy Scuderia Lancia Italy Clemente Biondetti
Argentina José Froilán González
Lancia D.20 Compressor Lancia 2.7L Supercharged V6 213
30 S
3.0
27 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United States Eric Thompson
United Kingdom Dennis Poore
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L I6 182
31 S
5.0
16 United States Luigi Chinetti United States Luigi Chinetti
United States Tom Cole Jr.
Ferrari 340MM Vignale S Ferrari 4.1L V12 175
32 S
8.0
31 Italy Scuderia Lancia France Robert Manzon
Monaco Louis Chiron
Lancia D.20 Compressor Lancia 2.7L Supercharged V6 174
33 S
1.1
49 Germany Porsche KG France Auguste Veuillet
Germany Peter Max Müller
Porsche 356 Porsche 1.1L Flat-4 147
34 S
2.0
40 United Kingdom Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. United Kingdom Bob Gerard
United Kingdom David Clark
Frazer Nash Le Mans MkII Coupe Bristol 2.0L I6 135
35 S
5.0
23 Italy SpA Alfa Romeo Germany Karl Kling
Germany Fritz Riess
Alfa Romeo 6C/3000 CM Alfa Romeo 3.5L I6 133
36 S
5.0
21 Italy SpA Alfa Romeo Italy Consalvo Sanesi
Italy Piero Carini
Alfa Romeo 6C/3000 CM Alfa Romeo 3.5L I6 125
37 S
5.0
9 France Automobiles Talbot-Darracq S.A. France Guy Mairesse
France Georges Grignard
Talbot-Lago T26 GS Talbot-Lago 4.5L I6 120
38 S
8.0
30 Italy Scuderia Lancia Italy Piero Taruffi
Italy Umberto Maglioli
Lancia D.20 Compressor Lancia 2.7L Supercharged V6 117
39 S
1.1
46 France Gustave Olivier France Gustave Olivier
France Eugène Martin
Porsche 356 Porsche 1.1L Flat-4 115
40 S
750
55 France Jacques Lecat France Jacques Lecat
France Henri Senfftleben
Renault 4CV Renault 0.7L I4 84
41 S
3.0
36 France Automobiles Gordini Argentina Roberto Mières
France Jean Behra
Gordini T15S Gordini 2.3L I6 84
42 S
1.5
47 United States Rees T. Makins United States Fred Wacker Jr.
United States Phil Hill
O.S.C.A. MT-4 1300 O.S.C.A. 1.3L I4 80
43 S
3.0
26 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom George Abecassis
United Kingdom Roy Salvadori
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L I6 74
44 S
2.0
38 United Kingdom Bristol Aeroplane Company United Kingdom Tommy Wisdom
United Kingdom Jack Fairman
Bristol 450 Coupe Bristol 2.0L I6 70
45 S
8.0
32 Italy Scuderia Lancia Italy Felice Bonetto
Italy Luigi Valenzano
Lancia D.20 Compressor Lancia 2.7L Supercharged V6 66
46 S
8.0
5 United Kingdom Allard Motor Company United States Zora Arkus-Duntov
United Kingdom Ray Merrick
Allard J2R Cadillac 5.4L V8 65
47 S
1.5
67 France Capt. Marceau Crespin France André Guelfi
France Roger Loyer
Gordini T15S Gordini 1.5L I4 40
48 S
5.0
8 France Automobiles Talbot-Darracq S.A. France Élie Bayol
France Louis Rosier
Talbot-Lago T26 GS Talbot-Lago 4.5L I6 37
49 S
750
54 France R.N.U. Renault France Louis Pons
France Jean Redélé
Renault 4CV Renault 0.7L I4 35
50 S
2.0
37 United Kingdom Bristol Aeroplane Company United Kingdom Lance Macklin
United Kingdom Graham Whitehead
Bristol 450 Coupe Bristol 2.0L I6 29
51 S
1.5
42 Germany Borgward GmbH Germany Hans-Hugo Hartmann
Germany Adolf Brudes
Borgward-Hansa 1500 Rennsport Borgward 1.5L I4 29
52 S
+8.0
6 France André Chambas France Charles de Cortanze
France André Chambas
Talbot-Lago T26 GS Compressor Talbot-Lago 4.5L Supercharged I6 24
53 S
5.0
22 Italy SpA Alfa Romeo Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio
Argentina Onofre Marimón
Alfa Romeo 6C/3000 CM Alfa Romeo 3.5L I6 22
54 S
25
25 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Reg Parnell
United Kingdom Peter Collins
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L I6 16
55 S
750
52 France R.N.U. Renault France Yves Lesur
France André Briat
Renault 4CV Renault 0.7L I4 14
56 S
5.0
14 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Italy Giuseppe Farina
United Kingdom Mike Hawthorn
Ferrari 340MM Coupe Ferrari 4.1L V12 12
57 S
5.0
10 United Kingdom Nash-Healey Inc. United Kingdom Pierre Veyron
France Yves Giraud-Cabantous
Nash-Healey Sports Nash 4.1L I6 9
58 S
750
59 France Ets. Monopole France Eugéne Dussous
France Pierre Flahaut
Monopole X84 Panhard 0.6L Flat-2 9
59 S
2.0
62 Italy Ets. Fiat Degrada Italy Don Giovanni Lurani
France Norbert Jean Mahé
Fiat 8V Fiat 2.0L V8 8
60 S
8.0
4 United Kingdom Allard Motor Company United Kingdom Sydney Allard
United Kingdom Philip Fotheringham-Parker
Allard J2R Cadillac 5.4L V8 4

Statistics[edit]

  • Fastest Lap – #12 Scuderia Ferrari – 4:27.4
  • Distance – 4088.064 km
  • Average Speed – 170.336 km/h

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Championship Points
1= United States Cunningham 12
United Kingdom Jaguar 12
3 Italy Ferrari 11
4 United Kingdom Aston Martin 8
5 Italy Alfa Romeo 6


  • Note: Only the top five positions are included in this set of standings.

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. Only the best 4 results out of the 7 races could be retained by each manufacturer. Points earned but not counted towards the championship totals are listed within brackets in the above table.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1953". Racing Sports Cars. 1953-06-14. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Le Mans 1953: Jaguar's gigantic leap - History, Le Mans". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "le mans 1953". Sportscars.tv. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  4. ^ Forward by Earl Howe to "Touch Wood!" Retrieved on 3 August 2008.
  5. ^ Daily Telegraph obituary of Tony Rolt, 2 February 2008. Retrieved on 3 August 2008.
  6. ^ Obituary of Tony Rolt by Alan Henry, 9 February 2008. Retrieved on 3 August 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "1953 Le Mans 24 Hours report - History, Le Mans". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  8. ^ "1953 24 Hours of Le Mans Results and Competitors". Experiencelemans.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  9. ^ 8/26/10 12:30pm 8/26/10 12:30pm. "1953 24 Hours of Le Mans: Night of the Disc Brakes". Jalopnik.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 



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