An event with a history as extensive as the Le Mans 24-Hours throws up many anniversaries of note on almost every running, and here are a few of the ones we have been able to link to this coming weekend’s race. Our very own Jim Roller will be there working for ACO-TV, catch his coverage on-line, on a variety of international outlets and on MotorTrend in the US!
The Bentley Centenary
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum is celebrating the occasion by showcasing two Bentleys that left their mark on the history of the legendary endurance race: the Bentley Speed 8 that won in 2003 with Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Guy Smith at the wheel, and the Bentley 3 Litre Sport, the British marque’s first model to take the honours in 1924. A section of the Rue de Laigné near the museum will also be renamed “Rue des Bentley Boys” at 14:15 on Thursday 13 June.
Seventy Years Ago, Le Mans Returns and Ferrari’s First Win
The 1949 race was a special vintage as it was the first post-war edition after a ten-year hiatus. It was also the year that Ferrari scored its maiden Le Mans victory with Peter Mitchell-Thomson and Luigi Chinetti sharing the wheel of a 166MM (pictured above).
1959 – Aston Martin’s Red-Letter Day
This year, Aston Martin will be popping the champagne corks to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its one and only outright Le Mans win. Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori drove the DBR1 to victory in 1959.
Fifty years since the Ickx rebellion
This was the year that Jacky Ickx ambled across the track to his Ford GT40 to draw attention to the safety issues posed by the traditional Le Mans-style start. His protest didn’t prevent the Belgian ace shading the race ahead of Herrmann and Larrousse’s Porsche.
1989 - A Significant Win for Sauber
In 1989, Sauber joined forces with Mercedes to clinch victory at Le Mans with the Sauber C9 Mercedes-Benz seeing off Jaguar and Porsche. Thirty years later, it remains a landmark win for the Swiss outfit and its founder, Peter Sauber.
BMW Makes its Mark... Two Decades Ago
In 1999, Pierluigi Martini, Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock drove a BMW V12 LMR to victory – the Bavarian manufacturer’s only outright Le Mans win to date. To mark the occasion, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest has opened a new exhibition, entitled “Art and Victory”, that the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum will host until the 6th October 2019. It reviews 80-years of BMW history at Le Mans and features six authentic vehicles with different designs that took part in the French endurance classic: the 328, the CSL, the famous Lichtenstein 320i, the M1 Procar, the Jenny Holzer V12 and the McLaren F1 painted by César.