1955 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1955 24 Hours of Le Mans
Previous: 1954 Next: 1956
Index: Races | Winners

The 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 23rd Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 11 and 12 June 1955 on Circuit de la Sarthe. It was also the fourth round of the 1955 World Sportscar Championship. This race is infamous for the disaster that killed 84 people.

The crash[edit]

The race was marred by a spectacular crash which came to be known as the 1955 Le Mans disaster, and still considered the greatest tragedy in the history of motorsport, with 83 spectators killed and over 120 injured. The accident occurred in the early stages of the race, on lap 35, after Mike Hawthorn, leading in a Jaguar D-Type, braked suddenly ahead of Macklin's Austin-Healey to enter the pits for fuel. Macklin braked and swerved into the path of Pierre Levegh's Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, which struck the Austin-Healey and became airborne, soaring towards the left side of the track, where it landed atop the earthen embankment separating spectators from the track itself. The car hit the mound at such speed that it somersaulted and disintegrated. The bonnet decapitated tightly jammed spectators like a guillotine.[1] With the front of the spaceframe chassis—and thus crucial engine mounts—destroyed, the car's heavy engine block also broke free and hurtled into the crowd. Spectators who had climbed onto trestle tables to get a better view of the track found themselves in the direct path of the lethal debris.[2] Levegh was thrown free of the tumbling car, but his skull was fatally crushed when he landed. Many others suffered burns when the fuel fire ignited the magnesium-rich autobody alloy skin. When firefighters attempted to douse the flames with water, the fire burned even hotter owing to the resultant chemical reaction.

Eight hours after the crash, the other two Mercedes vehicles in the race were withdrawn (in leading position) as a sign of respect for the dead and injured. This accident led to great changes in the measures taken to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators. Its fallout also led to many car manufacturers pulling out of motorsport (including Mercedes), and even the temporary outlawing of circuit racing in several countries. Switzerland banned competitions in which cars race one another (but hillclimbs were still allowed), a ban which was only lifted in June 2007.[3]

Official results[edit]

Le Mans in 1955
Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 S
5.0
6 United Kingdom Jaguar Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Mike Hawthorn
United Kingdom Ivor Bueb
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 307
2 S
3.0
23 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Peter Collins
Belgium Paul Frère
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L I6 302
3 S
5.0
10 Belgium Ecurie Francorchamps Belgium Johnny Claes
Belgium Jacques Swaters
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 296
4 S
1.5
37 Germany Porsche KG Germany Helmut Polensky
Germany Richard von Frankenberg
Porsche 550/4 RS 1500 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 284
5 S
1.5
66 Belgium Equipe Nationale Belga
France Gustave Olivier
Germany Wolfgang Seidel
Belgium Olivier Gendebien
Porsche 550/4 RS 1500 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 276
6 S
1.5
62 Germany Porsche KG Germany Helm Glöckler
Guatemala Jaroslav Juhan
Porsche 550/4 RS 1500 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 273
7 S
2.0
34 United Kingdom Bristol Aeroplane Company United Kingdom Peter S. Wilson
United Kingdom Jim Mayers
Bristol 450C Open Bristol 2.0L I6 271
8 S
2.0
33 United Kingdom Bristol Aeroplane Company United Kingdom Mike Keen
United Kingdom Tommy Line
Bristol 450C Open Bristol 2.0L I6 270
9 S
2.0
32 United Kingdom Bristol Aeroplane Company United Kingdom Tommy Wisdom
United Kingdom Jack Fairman
Bristol 450C Open Bristol 2.0L I6 268
10 S
2.0
35 United Kingdom Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. France Marcel Becquart
United Kingdom Richard Stoop
Frazer Nash Sebring Bristol 2.0L I6 260
11 S
1.5
40 Italy Edgar Fronteras Italy Giulio Cabianca
Italy Giuseppe Scorbati
O.S.C.A. MT-4 1500 O.S.C.A. 1.5L I4 256
12 S
1.5
41 United Kingdom MG Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Ken Miles
United Kingdom Johnny Lockett
MG EX182 MG 1.5L I4 249
13 S
1.1
49 Germany Porsche KG France Auguste Veuillet
United States Zora Arkus-Duntov
Porsche 550/4 Spyder Porsche 1.1L I4 245
14 S
2.0
28 United Kingdom Standard Triumph Ltd. United Kingdom Robert Dickson
United Kingdom Ninian Sanderson
Triumph TR2 Triumph 2.0L I4 242
15 S
2.0
29 United Kingdom Standard Triumph Ltd. United Kingdom Ken Richardson
United Kingdom Bert Hadley
Triumph TR2 Triumph 2.0L I4 242
16 S
750
63 France Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet France Louis Cornet
France Robert Mougin
DB HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 236
17 S
1.5
64 United Kingdom MG Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Ted Lund
Switzerland Hans Waeffler
MG EX182 MG 1.5L I4 234
18 S
1.5
65 France Gustave Olivier France Gustave Olivier
Germany Josef Jeser
Porsche 550/4 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 234
19 S
2.0
68 United Kingdom Standard Triumph Ltd. United Kingdom Leslie Brooke
United Kingdom Mortimer Morris-Goodall
Triumph TR2 Triumph 2.0L I4 214
20 S
750
59 France Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet France Georges Trouis
France Louis Héry
DB HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 209
21 S
1.1
47 United Kingdom Cooper Car Company United Kingdom Edgar Wadsworth
United Kingdom John Brown
Cooper T39 'Bobtail' Coventry Climax 1.1L I4 207

Did not finish[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
22 S
3.0
16 Italy Officine Alfieri Maserati Italy Luigi Musso
Italy Luigi Valenzano
Maserati 300S Maserati 3.0L I6 239
23 S
3.0
22 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Briggs Cunningham
United States Sherwood Johnston
Cunningham C6-R Offenhauser 2.9L I4 196
24 S
5.0
7 United Kingdom Jaguar Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Tony Rolt
United Kingdom Duncan Hamilton
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 186
25 S
750
52 France Société Monopole France Jean Hémard
France Pierre Flahaut
Monopole X88 Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 145
26 S
2.0
30 France Automobiles Gordini France Jacques Pollet
Brazil Hermano da Silva Ramos
Gordini T15S Gordini 2.0L I8 145
27 S
750
60 Italy Automobili Stanguellini France René Philippe Faure
France Pierre Duval
Stanguellini 750 Bialbero Stanguellini 0.7L I4 136
28 S
3.0
19 Germany Daimler-Benz A.G. Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio
United Kingdom Stirling Moss
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L I8 134
29 S
3.0
21 Germany Daimler-Benz A.G. Germany Karl Kling
France André Simon
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L I8 130
30 S
1.1
51 France Automobiles Panhard et Levassor France René Cotton
France André Beaulieux
Panhard VM5 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 108
31 S
5.0
5 Italy Scuderia Ferrari France Maurice Trintignant
United States Harry Schell
Ferrari 121LM Ferrari 4.4L I6 107
32 S
5.0
8 United Kingdom Jaguar Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Don Beauman
United Kingdom Norman Dewis
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 106
33 S
3.0
24 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Roy Salvadori
United Kingdom Peter Walker
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L I6 105
34 S
3.0
12 France "Heldé" France Pierre-Louis Dreyfus
France Jean Lucas
Ferrari 750 Monza Ferrari 3.0L I4 104
35 S
750
58 France Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet France Paul Armagnac
France Gérard Laureau
DB HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 101
36 S
1.1
48 United Kingdom Lotus Engineering United Kingdom Colin Chapman
United Kingdom Ron Flockhart
Lotus Mark IX Coventry Climax 1.1L I4 99
37 S
1.1
50 France Automobiles Panhard et Levassor France Pierre Chancel
France Robert Chancel
Panhard VM5 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 94
38 S
2.0
31 Italy Officine Alfieri Maserati Italy Carlo Tomasi
Italy Francesco Giardini
Maserati 200S Maserati 2.0L I4 96
39 S
5.0
1 United Kingdom Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. United Kingdom Reg Parnell
United Kingdom Dennis Poore
Lagonda DP166 Lagonda 4.5L V12 93
40 S
3.0
25 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United Kingdom Tony Brooks
United Kingdom John Riseley-Pritchard
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L I6 83
41 S
3.0
27 France Jean-Paul Colas France Jean-Paul Colas
France Jacques Dewez
Salmson 2300S Cabriolet Salmson 2.3L I4 82
42 S
5.0
3 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Italy Umberto Maglioli
United States Phil Hill
Ferrari 121LM Ferrari 4.4L I6 76
43 S
1.5
38 Switzerland Walter Ringgenberg Switzerland Walter Ringgenberg
Switzerland Hans-Jörg Gilomen
Porsche 550/4 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 65
44 S
1.5
43 United Kingdom Connaught Engineering United Kingdom Kenneth McAlpine
United Kingdom Eric Thompson
Connaught AL/SR Lea-Francis 1.5L I4 60
45 S
2.0
69 France Alexandre Constantin France Jacques Savoye
France Jacques Poch
Constantin C Barquette Peugeot 2.0L I4 52
46 S
5.0
4 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Italy Eugenio Castellotti
Italy Count Paolo Marzotto
Ferrari 121LM Ferrari 4.4L I6 52
47 S
1.1
46 United Kingdom Kieft Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Alan Rippon
United Kingdom Bill Merrick
Kieft Coventry Climax 1.1L I4 47
48 S
5.0
9 United States Briggs Cunningham United States William Spear
United States Phil Walters
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L I6 43
49 S
750
57 France Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet France René Bonnet
France Claude Storez
DB HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 44
50 S
5.0
11 United Kingdom Cooper Car Company United Kingdom Peter Whitehead
United Kingdom Graham Whitehead
Cooper T38 Jaguar 3.4L I6 38
51 S
3.0
20 Germany Daimler-Benz A.G. France Pierre Levegh
United States John Fitch
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L I8 34
52 S
2.0
36 United Kingdom Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. Republic of Ireland Cecil Vard
United Kingdom Dick Odlum
Frazer Nash Sebring Bristol 2.0L I6 33
53 S
750
53 France Société Monopole France Francis Navarro
France Jean de Montrémy
Monopole Sport X88 Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 30
54 S
3.0
26 United Kingdom Lance Macklin United Kingdom Lance Macklin
United Kingdom Les Leston
Austin-Healey 100S BMC 2.7L I4 28
55 S
1.5
42 United Kingdom MG Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Dick Jacobs
Republic of Ireland Joe Flynn
MG EX182 MG 1.5L I4 27
56 S
750
56 France Automobiles VP France Yves Giraud-Cabantous
France Yves Lesur
VP 166R Renault 0.7L I4 26
57 S
3.0
15 Italy Officine Alfieri Maserati Argentina Roberto Mières
Italy Cesare Perdisa
Maserati 300S Maserati 3.0L I6 24
58 S
3.0
14 France Mike Sparken France Mike Sparken
United States Masten Gregory
Ferrari 750 Monza Ferrari 3.0L I4 23
59 S
750
61 Italy Nardi Automobili Italy Dr. Mario Damonte
France Roger Crovetto
Nardi Bisiluro Giannini 0.7L I4 5
60 S
1.5
39 United Kingdom Kieft Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Berwyn Baxter
United Kingdom John Deeley
Kieft Coventry Climax 1.5L I4 4

Statistics[edit]

  • Fastest Lap – #6 Jaguar Cars Ltd. – 4:06.6
  • Distance – 4,135.38 km (2,569.61 mi)
  • Average Speed – 172.308 km/h (107.067 mph)

Trophy Winners[edit]

  • 21st Biennial Cup – #37 Porsche KG
  • Index of Performance – #37 Porsche KG
World Sportscar Championship
Previous race:
Mille Miglia
1955 season Next race:
RAC Tourist Trophy

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Crash and carnage at 150 mph – This is how the worst racing accident happened" at". Ewilkins.com. 27 June 1955. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Deadliest Crash: the Le Mans 1955 Disaster". Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Switzerland lifts ban on motor racing". GrandPrix.com & DueMotori.com. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 

External links[edit]