1953 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1953 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners

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]

Le Mans in 1953



Following the 1952 débâcle at la Sarthe, Jaguar was anxious to make amends. And this time it boasted an innovation which worked – disc brakes. The inclusion of these at the expense of the traditional drum gave the Coventry outfit and their drivers, a crucial advantage, allowing them to brake later into corners. The team, which won in 1951 with Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead, entered three works C-Types – to be driven by Walker and Stirling Moss, Whitehead and Ian Stewart, and, as reserves Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton. The later pair would only be able to race if one of the 60 accepted starters dropped out beforehand. Rolt and Hamilton waited more in hope, but by Friday evening nobody had withdrawn. They were duly informed that their services would not be required. [2]

Following an accident during practice, Juan Jover suffered very serious leg injuries to his left leg when he crashed his Pegaso Z-102. Jover misjudged his speed while approaching the corner after the Dunlop bridge and hit the barriers, Jover was expelled from the car. This resulted in Pegaso withdrawing both their entries. Whilst this was going on Rolt and Hamilton did what more sportsman do in their circumstances – they went out and got drunk… very drunk. It was in the early hours of Saturday morning, that Jaguar team manager, Lofty England caught up the pair and informed them that they were racing after all. The news that in 12 hours’ time they would be racing at 100mph should have an instant sobering effect, but they were still feeling decidedly the worse for wear on the afternoon. As neither driver relished the prospect of taking the start, they tossed a coin to decide who would not start. Rolt lost. [2][3]

The major Italian teams, Scuderia Ferrari, S.P.A. Alfa Romeo and Scuderia Lancia had built new cars for this race: powerful V12s, in-line sixes and supercharged V6s. With their bulging bodywork, scoops and vents, they looked purposeful. Ferrari’s hope were defended by a Ferrari 340 MM Berlinetta with a 4.5 litre engine for Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, backed up by three 4.1 litre 340 MMs. Lancia entered four D20 Coupés, fitted with 2.7 litre supercharged engines as well as twin overhead camshafts per bank of cylinders. [4]

On the driver front, they boasted every World Champion and every Grand Prix winner to date with the exception of Luigi Fagioli: Ferrari had Ascari and Giuseppe Farina, Piero Taruffi and José Froilán González were with Lancia. Juan Manuel Fangio was at Alfa Romeo. [5]

A new 2.5 litre Gordini debuted and the Talbots had modified bodywork, was the best hope for the French teams. Fresh from their Sebring victory, Briggs Cunningham arrived from Florida, with a new Cunningham C5-R with a 310bhp Chrysler engine under its streamlined bonnet, while Allards had their trusty V8 Cadillac fitted into a new chassic, J2R. Meanwhile, Aston Martin entered three of their DB3S. The entry suggested that this was always going to be a Sarthe classic, with 19 marques officially represented adding up to 50 works cars out of the 60 starters. [4]


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. [5][6]

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. [6]

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 contined 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. [6]

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. [6]

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. [6][4]

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. [6]

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. [6]

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. [6]

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. [6][5][7][8]

Official Classification[edit]

Not Classified if failed to cover 70% of winner's distance (213 laps)

Class Winners are in Bold text.

Pos No Class Driver Entrant Chassis Laps Reason Out
1st 18 S5.0 United Kingdom Tony Rolt United Kingdom Duncan Hamilton Jaguar Car Ltd. Jaguar C-Type 304
2nd 17 S5.0 United Kingdom Stirling Moss United Kingdom Peter Walker Jaguar Cars Ltd. Jaguar C-Type 300
3rd 2 S8.0 United States Phil Walters United States John Fitch Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrysler C5-R 299
4th 19 S5.0 United Kingdom Peter Whitehead United Kingdom Ian Stewart Jaguar Cars Ltd. Jaguar C-Type 297
5th 15 S5.0 Italy Count Paolo Marzotto Italy Giannino Marzotto Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 340 MM Berlinetta 294
6th 35 S3.0 France Maurice Trintignant United States Harry Schell Automobiles Gordini Gordini T24S 293
7th 1 S8.0 United States Briggs Cunningham United States William Spear Briggs Cunningham Cunningham C4-R 290
8th 7 S5.0 France Pierre Levegh France Charles Pozzi Automobiles Talbot-Darracq S.A. Talbot-Lago T26 GS 276
9th 20 S5.0 Belgium Roger Laurent Belgium Charles de Tornaco Ecurie Francorchamps Jaguar C-Type 275
10th 3 S8.0 United States Charles Moran United States John Gordon Bonnet Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrysler C4-RK 269
11th 11 S5.0 United Kingdom Leslie Johnson United Kingdom Bert Hadley Nash-Healey Inc. Nash-Healey Sport 265
12th 34 S3.0 United Kingdom Johnny Lockett Netherlands Maurice Gatsonides Donald Healey Motor Company Austin-Healey 100 257
13th 39 S2.0 United Kingdom Ken Wharton United Kingdom Laurence Mitchell Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. Frazer Nash Le Mans Touring Coupe 253
14th 33 S3.0 France Marcel Becquart United Kingdom Gordon Wilkins Donald Healey Motor Company Austin-Healey 100 252
15th 45 S1.5 Germany Richard von Frankenberg Belgium Paul Frère Porsche KG Porsche 550 Coupé 247
16th 44 S1.5 Germany Helm Glöckler Germany Hans Herrmann Porsche KG Porsche 550 Coupé 247
17th 57 S750 France René Bonnet France André Moynet Automobili Deutsch et Bonnet DB HBR 237
18th 48 S1.1 Italy Dr. Mario Damonte France Pierre-Louis Dreyfus Automobili O.S.C.A. O.S.C.A. MT-4 1100 Coupé 232
19th 58 S750 France Marc Gignoux France Marc Azéma Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet DB LM53 231
DNF 12 S5.0 Italy Alberto Ascari Italy Luigi Villoresi Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta 229 Clutch
DNF 41 S1.5 France Jacques Poch France Edmond Mouche Borgward GmbH Borgward Hansa 1500 Rennsport 228 Engine
20th 50 S1.1 France Charles Plantivoux France Guy Lapchin Automobiles Panhard et Levassor Panhard X89 227
21st 61 S750 France Pierre Chance France Robert Chancel Automobiles Panhard et Levassor Panhard X88 223
22nd 51 S1.1 France Raymond Stempert France Georges Schwartz Automobiles Panhard et Levassor Panhard X87 218
23rd 53 S750 France Jean-Louis Rosier France Robert Schollemann R.N.U. Renault Renault 4CV/1063 218
DNF 63 S8.0 Italy Clemente Biondetti Argentina José Froilán González Scuderia Lancia Lancia D20 Compressor 213 Engine
NC 60 S750 France Jean Hémard France Jean de Montrémy Automobiles Panhard et Levassor Panhard X85 212
NC 66 S3.0 France Alexandre Constantin France Michel Aunaud Alexis Constantin Peugeot 203C Constantin 200
NC 56 S750 France Just-Emile Vernet France Jean Pairard Just-Emile Vernet / Jean Pairard V.P.-Renault 166R 183
DNF 27 S3.0 United States Eric Thompson United Kingdom Dennis Poore Aston Martin Ltd. Aston Martin DB3S 182 Ignition
DNF 16 S5.0 United States Luigi Chinetti United States Tom Cole Luigi Chinetti Ferrari 340 MM Vignale S 175 Fatal accident (Cole)
DNF 31 S8.0 France Robert Manzon Monaco Louis Chiron Scuderia Lancia Lancia D20 Compressor 174 Oil loss
DNF 49 S1.1 France Auguste Veuillet Germany Peter Max Müller Porsche KG Porsche 356 147 Engine
DNF 40 S2.0 United Kingdom Bob Gerard United Kingdom David Clark Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. Frazer Nash Le Mans MkII Coupé 135 Engine
DNF 23 S5.0 Germany Karl Kling Germany Fritz Riess S. P. A. Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM 3.5 133 Rear axle
DNF 21 S5.0 Italy Consalvo Sanesi Italy Piero Carini S. P. A. Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM 3.5 125 Gearbox
DNF 9 S5.0 France Guy Mairesse France Georges Grignard Automobiles Talbot-Darracq S.A. Talbot-Lago T26 GS 120 Engine
DNF 30 S8.0 Italy Piero Taruffi Italy Umberto Maglioli Scuderia Lancia Lancia D20 Compressor 117 Electrics
DNF 46 S1.1 France Gustave Olivier France Eugène Martin Gonzague Olivier Porsche 356 115 Engine
DNF 55 S750 France Jacques Lecat France Henri Senfftleben Jacques Lecat Renault 4CV/1063 84 Engine
DNF 36 S3.0 Argentina Roberto Mières France Jean Behra Automobile Gordini Gordini T15S 84 Rear End
DNF 47 S1.5 United States Fred Wacker United States Phil Hill Rees T. Makins O.S.C.A. MT4 1100 80 Differential
DNF 26 S3.0 United Kingdom George Abecassis United Kingdom Roy Salvadori Aston Martin Ltd. Aston Martin DB3S 74 Clutch
DNF 38 S2.0 United Kingdom Tommy Wisdom United Kingdom Jack Fairman Bristol Aeroplane Co. Bristol 450 Coupé 70 Accident, Fire
DNF 32 S8.0 Italy Felice Bonetto Italy Luigi Valenzano Scuderia Lancia Lancia D20 Compressor 66 Starter
DNF 5 S8.0 United States Zora Arkus-Duntov United Kingdom Ray Merrick Allard Motor Co. Allard J2R 65 Engine
DNF 67 S1.5 France André Guelfi France Roger Loyer Capt. Marceau Crespin Gordini T15S 40 Engine
DNF 8 S5.0 France Élie Bayol France Louis Rosier Automobiles Talbot-Darracq S.A. Talbot-Lago T26 GS 37 Gearbox
DNF 54 S750 France Louis Pons France Jean Rédélé R.N.U. Renault Renault 4CV 35 Engine
DNF 37 S2.0 United Kingdom Lance Macklin United Kingdom Graham Whitehead Bristol Aeroplane Co. Bristol 450 Coupé 29 Fire, accident
DNF 42 S1.5 Germany Hans-Hugo Hartmann Germany Adolf Brudes Borgward GmbH Borgward Hansa 1500 Rennsport 29 Out of fuel
DNF 6 S+8.0 France Charles de Cortanze France André Chambas André Chambas Talbot-Lago T26 GS Compressor 24 Brakes, accident
DNF 22 S5.0 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio Argentina Onofre Marimón SpA Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM 22 Engine
DNF 25 S3.0 United Kingdom Reg Parnell United Kingdom Peter Collins Aston Martin Ltd. Aston Martin DB3S 16 Accident
DNF 52 S750 France Yves Lesur France André Briat R.N.U. Renault Renault 4CV Vernet Pairard 14 Engine
DISQ 14 S5.0 Italy Giuseppe Farina United Kingdom Mike Hawthorn Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 340 MM Coupé 12 Illegal refuel
DNF 10 S5.0 United Kingdom Pierre Veyron France Yves Giraud-Cabantous Nash-Healey Inc. Nash-Healey Sports 9 Oil pressure
DNF S750 59 France Eugéne Dussous France Pierre Flahaut Ets. Monopole Monopole-Panhard X84 9 Engine
DNF 62 S2.0 Italy Giovanni Lurani France Norbert Jean Mahé Ets. Fiat Degrada Fiat 8V 8 Ignition
DNF 4 S8.0 United Kingdom Sydney Allard United Kingdom Philip Fotheringham-Parker Allard Motor Co. Allard J2R 4 Brakes
DNS 24 S3.0 France Jean Behra France Jean Lucas Automobiles Gordini Gordini T24S Reserve
DNS 28 S8.0 Spain Juan Jover Germany Paul Metternich Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA Pegaso Z-102 Accident in practice
DNS 29 S8.0 Spain Joaquin Palacio Pover Spain Julio Reh Cardona
Spain Celso Fernández
Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA Pegaso Z-102 Accident
DNS 64 S5.0 France Jan Blanc Automobiles-Talbot Talbot-Lago T26 GS Withdrawn
DNS 65 S5.0 France René Marchand France John Simone
France Armand Roboly
René Marchand Jaguar XK120C Reserve
DNS 68 S5.0 Italy Antonio Stagnoli Italy Pietro Palmieri SpA Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Reserve
DNS 69 S3.0 United Kingdom Peter C. T. Clark United Kingdom Tom Meyer
United Kingdom Jack Scott
Peter C. T. Clark Aston Martin DB2 Reserve
DNS 70 S1.5 United States Phil Stiles United States Bob Said Automobili O.S.C.A. O.S.C.A. MT4 Reserve
DNS 72 S750 France Jean Hébert United Kingdom James Scott
United Kingdom Arthur L. Jones
Jean Hébert Renault 4CV/1063 Reserve
DNS 74 S750 France Jacques Faucher France Pierre Laine Jacques Faucher Renault 4CV/1063 Reserve


Class Winners[edit]

Class Winners
Sport +8000 no finishers
Sports 8000 2 Cunningham-Chrysler C5-R Walters / Fitch
Sports 5000 18 Jaguar C-Type Rolt / Hamilton
Sports 3000 35 Gordini T24S Trintignant / Schell
Sports 2000 39 Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupé Wharton / Mitchell
Sports 1500 45 Porsche 550 Coupé von Frankenberg / Frère
Sports 1100 48 O.S.C.A. MT4 1100 Damonte / “Moynet”
Sports 750 57 DB HBR Bonnet / Moynet
Sport 500 no starters
Biennial Cup 61 Panhard X88 Chancel / Chancel
Index of Performance 61 Panhard X88 Chancel / Chancel



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  2. ^ a b Geoff Tibballs, “Motor-Racing’s Strangest Races" (Robson Books, ISBN 1 86105 411 4, 2001)
  3. ^ "8W - What? - Milano". 8w.forix.com. 1950-10-29. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  4. ^ a b c "le mans 1953". Sportscars.tv. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  5. ^ a b c "Le Mans 1953: Jaguar's gigantic leap - History, Le Mans". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ a b "1953 24 Hours of Le Mans Results and Competitors". Experiencelemans.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ http://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Le_Mans-1953-06-14.html
  10. ^ "1953 Le Mans 24 Hrs". Teamdan.com. 1953-06-14. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 

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