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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16: Le Mans - all out!

Le Mans! Way back in 1923 it all started. Some insane individual thought that, running a variety of cars all out for twenty four continuous hours would be a great idea for a race. Give folks their money's worth and to help them while away those very long hours, throw in an amusement park to help keep them occupied. Sure, you might have driven to Florida from Toronto over that same time frame, but at a reasonable pace and nothing close to what would stress your car to its limits.

Think about it.......the fastest cars have averaged 225 kph (140 mph) for every hour of those twenty four. Every hour! Now there is a test of endurance. And of course, that is exactly the point. Check out that vintage poster and see that it is spelled out for those folks who might not understand..

For me, Le Mans holds nothing but a passing interest. As an aside, I work out with a fellow who won his class there, back in 2000 and is doing developmental work for the new Ford GT, which will return to Le Mans in 2016. My passing interest includes seeing if the Corvettes won their class this past weekend........

.........and I'm pleased to tell you that they did. Time to move on.

There are some amazing facts about this race. The one that astounds me, is the few deaths that have occurred during those twenty four hours over the years. Surprising, since you have several classes of cars running on the same track and at substantial speed differences. Judgement errors are not unusual in this type of racing, but it speaks to the calibre of the drivers that, more carnage hasn't occurred.

That being said...........

.......these two pics show the start and the outcome of the worst, most horrific crash in motor sports history. An unexpected move by a slower Austin Healey driver, caused a Mercedes to literally fly off the track and into the spectators (at a time when they lined the track with little protection from the cars). The result, a reported 84 dead, 130 injured. "Reported", since some sources say the number of deaths was over 100. Either way, it was terrible, but the race continued that day to see Mike Hawthorn win.

There have been many other, but not fatal accidents, due to the speeds attained. For instance, during practice, the famous flying Mercedes........

........no one hurt, but the aero engineers had some work to do and the cars were withdrawn before the actual race. Or this Audi disindegration......

 But, let's move on to some interesting facts.........for years this race was started by having the drivers line up on the track opposite their cars.......

.......and at the signal, they would sprint across the track, buckle themselves in and rocket off into the afternoon. As you can see, some drivers were quicker than others, so it caused a bit of a traffic jam as the various cars pulled away. Another issue was that, in an effort to get a head start, a driver might not fully fasten his seat belt. Can't see that happening today.

With a lap of just over thirteen kilometres, this race is unusual, in that part is run on an actual race track and part on the country roads surrounding Le Mans. Try running those speeds on some of the roads around your hometown (and maybe very late at night).

Whether it interests you or not, Le Mans is a very special race. Important enough to have the overall winner, Porsche, ran full page ads in the next day's papers. Important enough to have Ford announce one year in advance that, they would run their new GT at Le Mans in 2016. Important enough that the car manufacturers spend millions developing a winning combination (the win on Sunday, sell on Monday philosophy).

And of course, important enough to have the Michelin man represented in a variety of ways.

Le Mans  -  twenty four hours - all out!

Until next time......

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