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Open Access Articles- Top Results for 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans

1955 24 Hours of Le Mans

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

The Les 24 Heures du Mans was the 23rd 24 Hours of Le Mans, and took place on 11 and 12 June 1955 on Circuit de la Sarthe. It was also the fourth round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. Some 250,000 spectators had gathered for Europe’s classic sports car race, around an 8.38-mile course. Sadly, this race is infamous for the disaster that killed 84 people, plus some 120 injured in the most horrendous accident in motor racing history.

Report

Entry

A grand total 87 racing cars were registered for this event, of which only 70 arrived for practice, trying to qualify for the 60 places for the race. In spite of the anticipated battle of previous years between Coventry and Maranello concerns, they were joined by the Stuttgart marque, Daimler-Benz, fresh from their triumph on the Mille Miglia. Scuderia Ferrari’s hope were in the hands of Umberto Maglioli and Phil Hill, Eugenio Castellotti and Paolo Marzotto, and Maurice Trintignant and Harry Schell. Jaguar arrived with three works Jaguar D-Types. Similar to the cars that raced in 1954, they were in the hands of Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb, the 1953 winners, Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton and Don Beauman and Norman Dewis. They were backed up by a pair of D-Types from the Belgian team, Ecurie Francorchamps, and from the American, Briggs Cunningham team. Cunningham also brought over to Europe, a Cunningham C6-R.[1][2]

Meanwhile, Daimler-Benz assembled an all-star team for the race, pairing Juan Manuel Fangio with Stirling Moss, Karl Kling with André Simon and Pierre Levegh with John Fitch. Their cars, although designated W196S, they were commonly called 300SLRs were rated by many experts as the best sports cars in the world. Simon and Levegh were not regular members of the Mercedes team, but team manager Alfred Neubauer felt it would be popular, even diplomatic, to include two local drivers. Remember, World War II ended only ten years previously, and in the 1952 race, driving solo, Levegh almost won the race, until the 23rd hour when mechanical trouble sidelined him, handing the win the Mercedes.[1][3][4]

Race

At the end of the opening lap, local hero Levegh was down in seventh place, ahead of his Mercedes team-mates. It was good politics, but on the next lap Fangio made his move. His battle with Hawthorn became so intense, the Englishman missed several calls to pit.[5]

Two hours into the race, an accident occurred on lap 35, Hawthorn leading in a Jaguar D-Type, was duelling with Fangio for the lead. As Hawthorn tried to stay in the lead, he continued ignoring signals to stop for fuel. By now, Levegh was just behind Hawthorn, albeit a lap down, when Hawthorn cut across Lance Macklin's Austin-Healey to enter the pits for fuel. Macklin braked and swerved into the path of 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. 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. Levegh was thrown free of the tumbling car, but his skull was fatally injured when he landed. Many others suffered burns when the fuel fire ignited the magnesium-rich alloy bodywork. When firefighters attempted to douse the flames with water, the fire burned even hotter owing to the resultant chemical reaction. Officials put the death toll at 84 spectators, plus Levegh.[3][4][6][7]

Ten minutes later, the MG EX182 of Dick Jacobs crashed near White House, turned over in the swale and began to burn. Jacobs survived the accident, but was badly injured.[5]

By midnight, the Mercedes of Fangio/Moss and Kling/Simon were leading, by two laps from the Jaguar of Hawthorn/Bueb. Just after 2:00am, eight hours after the crash, Mercedes’ engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut received the call from Stuttgart. Neubauer stepped onto the track and called his cars into the pits and were withdrawn (in leading position) as a sign of respect for the dead and injured. The public address made a brief announcement regarding their retirement. Polite applause was heard from the tribunes.[5]

With all the Ferraris having retired and Mercedes been ordered home, Hawthorn and Bueb were now leading the race. By the halfway mark, their D-Type was still in front. Dawn erupted grey and flat, by 6:00am it started to rain and with it the long weary slot to the 4:00pm finish. Bueb in his first event for the Coventry marque, surrendered the Jaguar in the final hour to Hawthorn for the final few laps.[5]

Hawthorn and Bueb drove their D-Type, to victory covering a distance of 2,569.61 miles (4,135.38 km), over 306 laps, averaging a speed of 107.067 mph (172.308kph). Peter Collins and Paul Frère were classified five laps adrift at the finish, in second place was their Aston Martin DB3S. The podium was completed by the Belgian pair, Johnny Claes and Jacques Swaters, in their yellow Ecurie Francorchamps prepared Jaguar D-Type, who were 11 laps (over 92 miles) behind the winners. The little remarkable Porsche trio of 550 Spyders was fourth, fifth and sixth, with Helmut Polensky and Richard von Frankenberg winning the Sports 1500 class. The three-car Bristol Aeroplane Company team finished in formation seventh, eighth and ninth at the top of two-liter class.[2][5][8]

Aftermath

Main article: 1955 Le Mans disaster

The race was marred by this 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 84 spectators killed and over 120 injured.

The consequences of this race were and are far reaching. This accident led to great changes in the measures taken to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators involved with the sport and everyone who uses a car. 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. The next round of the World Championship at the Nürburgring was cancelled, as was the legendary Carrera Panamericana. The American Automobile Association stopped sanctioning motor sport competitions, as it decided that auto racing distracted from its primary goals, and the United States Automobile Club was formed to take over the race sanctioning/officiating.[3][4]

Official Classification

Class Winners are in Bold text.

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 S
5.0
6 23x15px Jaguar Cars Ltd. 23x15px Mike Hawthorn
23x15px Ivor Bueb
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L L6 307
2 S
3.0
23 23x15px Aston Martin Ltd. 23x15px Peter Collins
23x15px Paul Frère
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L L6 302
3 S
5.0
10 23x15px Ecurie Francorchamps 23x15px Johnny Claes
23x15px Jacques Swaters
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L L6 296
4 S
1.5
37 23x15px Porsche KG 23x15px Helmut Polensky
23x15px Richard von Frankenberg
Porsche 550 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 284
5 S
1.5
66 23x15px Ecurie Belge /
23x15px Gustave Olivier
23x15px Wolfgang Seidel
23x15px Olivier Gendebien
Porsche 550 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 276
6 S
1.5
62 23x15px Porsche KG 23x15px Helmut Glöckler
23x15px Jaroslav Juhan
Porsche 550 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 273
7 S
2.0
34 23x15px Bristol Aeroplane Co. 23x15px Peter Wilson
23x15px Jim Mayers
Bristol 450C Bristol 2.0L L6 271
8 S
2.0
33 23x15px Bristol Aeroplane Co. 23x15px Mike Keen
23x15px Tommy Line
Bristol 450C Bristol 2.0L L6 270
9 S
2.0
32 23x15px Bristol Aeroplane Co. 23x15pxTommy Wisdom
23x15px Jack Fairman
Bristol 450C Bristol 2.0L L6 268
10 S
2.0
35 23x15px Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. 23x15px Marcel Becquart
23x15px Dickie Stoop
Frazer Nash Sebring Bristol 2.0L L6 260
11 S
1.5
40 23x15px Edgar Fronteras 23x15px Giulio Cabianca
23x15px Giuseppe Scorbati
Osca MT4 1500 Osca 1.5L L4 256
12 S
1.5
41 23x15px MG Cars Ltd. 23x15px Ken Miles
23x15px John Lockett
MG EX182 MG 1.5L L4 249
13 S
1.1
49 23x15px Porsche KG 23x15px Auguste Veuillet
23x15px Zora Arkus Duntov
Porsche 550 Spyder Porsche 1.1L L4 245
14 S
2.0
28 23x15px Standard Triumph Ltd. 23x15px Bob Dickson
23x15px Ninian Sanderson
Triumph TR2 Triumph 2.0L L4 242
15 S
2.0
29 23x15px Standard Triumph Ltd. 23x15px W. Ken Richardson
23x15px Bert Hadley
Triumph TR2 Triumph 2.0L L4 242
16 S
750
63 23x15px Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet 23x15px Louis Cornet
23x15px Robert Mougin
D.B. HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 236
17 S
1.5
64 23x15px MG Cars Ltd. 23x15px Ted Lund
23x16px Hans Waeffler
MG EX182 MG 1.5L L4 234
18 S
1.5
65 23x15px Gonzague Olivier 23x15px Gonzague Olivier
23x15pxJosef Jeser
Porsche 550 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 234
19 S
2.0
68 23x15px Standard Triumph Ltd. 23x15px Leslie Brooke
23x15px Mortimer Morris-Goodall
Triumph TR2 Triumph 2.0L L4 214
20 S
750
59 23x15px Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet 23x15px Louis Héry
23x15px Georges Trouis
D.B. HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 209
21 S
1.1
47 23x15px Cooper Car Co. 23x15px John Brown
23x15px Edgar Wadsworth
Cooper T39 Coventry Climax 1.1L L4 207

Did not finish

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps/Reason
22 S
3.0
16 23x15px Officine Alfieri Maserati 23x15px Luigi Musso
23x15px Gino Valenzano
Maserati 300S Maserati 3.0L L6 239
Gearbox
23 S
3.0
22 23x15px Briggs Cunningham 23x15px Briggs Cunningham
23x15px Sherwood Johnston
Cunningham C6-R Offenhauser 2.9L L4 196
Piston
24 S
5.0
7 23x15px Jaguar Cars Ltd. 23x15px Tony Rolt
23x15px Duncan Hamilton
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L L6 186
Gearbox
25 S
2.0
30 23x15px Automobiles Gordini 23x15px Hermano da Silva Ramos
23x15px Jacques Pollet
Gordini T15S Gordini 2.0L L8 145
Holed radiator
26 S
750
52 23x15px Société Monopole 23x15px Jean Hémard
23x15px Pierre Flahault
Monopole X86 Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 145
Accident
27 S
750
60 23x15px Automobili Stanguellini 23x15px René Philippe Faure
23x15px Pierre Duval
Stanguellini S750 Bialbero Stanguellini 0.7L L4 136
Ignition
28 S
3.0
19 23x15px Daimler-Benz AG 23x15px Juan Manuel Fangio
23x15px Stirling Moss
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L L8 134
Withdrawn
29 S
3.0
21 23x15px Daimler-Benz AG 23x15px Karl Kling
23x15px André Simon
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L L8 130
Withdrawn
30 S
1.1
51 23x15px Automobiles Panhard et Levassor 23x15px René Cotton
23x15px André Beaulieux
Panhard VM5 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 108
Gearbox
31 S
5.0
5 23x15px Scuderia Ferrari 23x15px Maurice Trintignant
23x15px Harry Schell
Ferrari 121LM Ferrari 4.4L L6 107
Clutch
32 S
5.0
8 23x15px Jaguar Cars Ltd. 23x15px Don Beauman
23x15px Norman Dewis
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L L6 106
Accident
33 S
3.0
24 23x15px Aston Martin Ltd. 23x15px Roy Salvadori
23x15px Peter Walker
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L L6 105
Engine
34 S
3.0
12 23x15px "Heldé" 23x15px "Heldé"
23x15px Jean Lucas
Ferrari 750 Monza Ferrari 3.0L L4 104
Distributor
35 S
750
58 23x15px Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet 23x15px Paul Armagnac
23x15px Gérard Laureau
D.B. HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 100
Wheel
36 S
1.1
48 23x15px Lotus Engineering 23x15px Colin Chapman
23x15px Ron Flockhart
Lotus Mark IX Coventry Climax 1.1L L4 99
DISQ — reversed
37 S
2.0
31 23x15px Officine Alfieri Maserati 23x15px Carlo Tomasi
23x15px Francesco Giardini
Maserati 200S Maserati 2.0L L4 96
Distributor
38 S
1.1
50 23x15px Automobiles Panhard et Levassor 23x15px Pierre Chancel
23x15px Robert Chancel
Panhard VM5 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 94
Fuel system
39 S
5.0
1 23x15px Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. 23x15px Reg Parnell
23x15px Dennis Poore
Lagonda DP166 Lagonda 4.5L V12 93
Out of fuel
40 S
3.0
25 23x15px Aston Martin Ltd. 23x15px Tony Brooks
23x15px John Riseley-Pritchard
Aston Martin DB3S Aston Martin 2.9L L6 83
Battery
41 S
3.0
27 23x15px Jean-Paul Colas 23x15px Jean-Paul Colas
23x15px Jacques Dewez
Salmson 2300S Cabriolet Salmson 2.3L L4 82
Oil leak
42 S
5.0
3 23x15px Scuderia Ferrari 23x15px Umberto Maglioli
23x15px Phil Hill
Ferrari 121LM Ferrari 4.4L L6 76
Clutch
43 S
1.5
38 23x16px Walter Ringgenberg 23x16px Walter Ringgenberg
23x16px Hans-Jörg Gilomen
Porsche 550 Spyder Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 65
Engine
44 S
1.5
43 23x15px Connaught Engineering 23x15px Kenneth McAlpine
23x15px Eric Thompson
Connaught ALSR Lea-Francis 1.5L L4 60
Engine
45 S
5.0
4 23x15px Scuderia Ferrari 23x15px Eugenio Castellotti
23x15px Paolo Marzotto
Ferrari 121LM Ferrari 4.4L L6 52
Engine
46 S
2.0
69 23x15px Alexandre Constantin 23x15px Jacques Savoye
23x15pxJacques Poch
Constantin C Barquette Peugeot 2.0L L4 52
Gearbox
47 S
1.1
46 23x15px Kieft Cars Ltd. 23x15px Alan Rippon
23x15px Ray Merrick
Kieft 1100 Coventry Climax 1.1L L4 47
Oil leak
48 S
750
57 23x15px Ecurie Jeudy-Bonnet 23x15px René Bonnet
23x15px Claude Storez
D.B. HBR Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 44
Distributor
49 S
5.0
9 23x15px Briggs Cunningham 23x15px Phil Walters
23x15px William Spear
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.4L L6 43
Valve
50 S
5.0
11 23x15px Cooper Car Co 23x15px Peter Whitehead
23x15px Graham Whitehead
Cooper T38 Jaguar 3.4L L6 38
Oil pressure
51 S
2.0
36 23x15px Automobiles Frazer Nash Ltd. 23x15px Dick Odlum
Template:Country data Republic of Ireland Cecil Vard
Frazer Nash Sebring Bristol 2.0L L6 34
Engine
52 S
3.0
20 23x15px Daimler-Benz AG 23x15px Pierre Levegh
23x15px John Fitch
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mercedes-Benz 3.0L L8 32
Fatal accident
53 S
750
53 23x15px Société Monopole 23x15px Francis Navarro
23x15px Jean de Montrémy
Monopole Sport X88 Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 31
Oil leak
54 S
3.0
26 23x15px Lance Macklin 23x15px Lance Macklin
23x15px Les Leston
Austin-Healey 100 S BMC A90 2.7L L4 28
Accident damage
55 S
1.5
42 23x15px MG Cars Ltd. 23x15px Dick Jacobs
Template:Country data Republic of Ireland Joe Flynn
MG EX182 MG 1.4 26
Accident
56 S
750
56 23x15px Automobiles VP 23x15px Yves Giraud-Cabantous
23x15px Yves Lesur
VP 166R Renault 0.7L L4 25
Engine
57 S
3.0
15 23x15px Officine Alfieri Maserati 23x15px Roberto Mières
23x15px Cesare Perdisa
Maserati 300S Maserati 3.0L L6 23
Gearbox
58 S
3.0
14 23x15px Mike Sparken 23x15px Mike Sparken
23x15px Masten Gregory
Ferrari 750 Monza Ferrari 3.0L L4 22
Engine
59 S
750
61 23x15px Nardi Automobili SpA 23x15px Dr. Mario Damonte
23x15px Roger Crovetto
Nardi Bisiluro Giannini 0.7L L4 6
Accident
60 S
1.5
39 23x15px Kieft Cars Ltd. 23x15px Berwyn Baxter
23x15px John Deeley
Kieft Turner 1.5L L4 4
Overheating

Did not start

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Reason
DNS S
5.0
2 23x15px Ecurie Rosier 23x15px Louis Rosier
23x15px Georges Grignard
Talbot Lago Sport Talbot 4.5L L6
DNS S
3.0
17 23x15px Automobiles Gordini 23x15px Robert Manzon
23x15px Élie Bayol
Gordini T24S Gordini 3.0L L8 Accident in practice
DNS S
1.1
45 23x15px Arnott Racing Cars 23x15px Jim Russell
23x15px Peter Taylor
Arnott Sports Coventry Climax 1.1L L4 Accident
DNS S
750
54 23x15px Moretti 23x15px Lino Fayen
23x15px Herman Rogenry
Moretti 750S Moretti 0.7L L4 Gridded too late
DNS S
750
55 23x15px Moretti 23x15px Giorgio Ubezzi
23x15px Mesnest Bellanger
Moretti 750S Moretti 0.7L L4 Gridded too late
DNS S
750
70 23x15px Société Pierre Ferry 23x15px Jacques Blaché
23x15px Louis Pons
Ferry F750 Renault 0.7L L4 Reserve
DNS S
750
72 23x15px Automobiles VP 23x15px Jean-Marie Dumazer
23x15px André Héchard
23x15px Jérôme Pourond
V.P. 155R Renault 0.7L L4 Reserve
DNS S
750
75 23x15px Louis Rosier 23x15px Jean- Louis Rosier
23x15px Jean Estager
Renault 4CV/1063 Renault 0.7L L4 Reserve

Class Winners

Class Winners
Sports 5000 6 Jaguar D-Type Hawthorn / Bueb
Sports 3000 23 Aston Martin DB3S Collins / Frère
Sports 2000 34 Bristol 450C Wilson / Mayers
Sports 1500 37 Porsche 550 Spyder Polensky / von Frankenberg
Sports 1100 49 Porsche 550 Spyder Veuillet / Arkus Duntov
Sports 750 63 D.B. HBR Cornet / Mougin
Biennial Cup 37 Porsche 550 Spyder Polensky / von Frankenberg
Index of Performance 37 Porsche 550 Spyder Polensky / von Frankenberg

Standings after the race

Pos Championship Points
1 23x15px Ferrari 18
2 23x15px Jaguar 14
3 23x15px Maserati 11
4 23x15px Mercedes-Benz 8
5= 23x15px Aston Martin 6
5= 23x15px Porsche 6
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included in this set of standings.

Championship points were awarded for the first six places in each race in the order of 8-6-4-3-2-1. Manufacturers were only awarded points for their highest finishing car with no points awarded for positions filled by additional cars. Only the best 4 results out of the 6 races could be retained by each manufacturer. Points earned but not counted towards the championship totals are listed within brackets in the above table.

References

Further reading

  • Quentin Spurring. Le Mans 24 Hours: The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race 1949-59. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 978-1844255375
  • Brian Laban. Le Mans 24 Hours: The Complete Story of World’s Most Famous Motor Race. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 978-1852270629


World Sportscar Championship
Previous race:
Mille Miglia
1955 season Next race:
RAC Tourist Trophy

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