Friday, June 10, 2011

Le Mans

Tomorrow is the beginning of the annual running of the worlds longest automobile endurance race, made famous by speed king Steve McQueen-Le Mans.

photo from Aston Martin

Prior to the arrival of Scottish racing legend Jackie Stewart and his quest for racing safely, automobile racers had never heard of safety. Drivers assumed they were ticking time bombs who would die in their car. Most did. Racers at Le Mans lined up on one side of the track, the cars lined up fastest to slowest on the other. At 4 pm local time the drivers would race across the track, jump into their car, start it and take off. Seat belts, like hockey masks for goalies, were for babies.

In 1969, six time winner Jackie Ickx registered his protest of the start by walking across the track, almost being run over, and not starting until he was fully fastened. That fact he won the race was not lost on the officials who changed the starting procedure, requiring all drivers be fastened in their car for the start the next year.

In 24 hours the fastest cars will travel the equivalent of driving from New York to Los Angeles and back to St. Louis.

Enjoy your weekend



old polo said...

I enjoyed your post Toad. The pictures of the Porsches were really good. Are those in a book?

T said...

This would be one of my bucket list items. It looked so much cooler in the movie when people still set up camp towns though...not sure if that's allowed these days.

Toad said...

OP: My mistake. The photos come from the most incredible book "Driven" the racing photos of Jesse Alexander 1954-1962.

oldpolo said...

Thanks! I need that book.