Cloos Life: The Most Iconic Moments In Le Mans History

Cloos Life: The Most Iconic Moments In Le Mans History

For one weekend every year, hundreds of thousands of racing fans go to the town of Le Mans to see the ultimate race of endurance, skill and the ability.  It is, of course, the Le Mans 24 Hours, the world's oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923. It is considered one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world and has been called the "Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency". In this Cloos Life Journal, we give you our top pick iconic moments that made the race what it is today.

1966 - Ford vs Ferrari

Photo: https://drivetribe.com/p/the-toughest-rivalry-in-le-mans-b_3R_GezTk6V30wcT3mPbg?iid=MijbTfjMQMKYr_tSgi2W2Q
Photo: https://drivetribe.com/p/the-toughest-rivalry-in-le-mans-b_3R_GezTk6V30wcT3mPbg

The movie 'Le Mans 66' have been made for a reason, and the story of Ford vs Ferrari will go down as one of the very few times that endurance and sportscar racing managed to capture the attention of the entire world in a more arresting way than Formula 1.

A revolutionary sports car powered by a muscle-bound V8, the GT40, developed by Shelby (played in the film by Matt Damon) and driven British racing driver Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale), entered the fold in 1966. It instantly brought to an end a five-year stretch of Ferrari dominance, taking a clean 1-2-3 at the 1966 race.

1969 - The Walking Start

Photo: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/le-mans-six-best-moments
Photo: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/le-mans-six-best-moments

Driver safety was starting to dominate the conversation in motorsport by the late 1970s, and Le Mans was considered one of the most dangerous races of the time. The traditional start – during which cars were parked opposite the pit wall with drivers racing towards them, jumping in, and roaring off – was not without its risks: notably that of drivers being run over or not strapping themselves in. In protest, Jacky Ickx decided that he would walk rather than run to his car at the start of the 1969 event, taking his time to do up his belts. He won the race and made his point. In 1970 the ‘Le Mans start’ was discontinued.

1970 - Porsche's Takeover Begins

Photo: https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/articles/sports-cars/le-mans/porsche-917-monument-heroism
Photo: https://www.gq.com.au/fitness/sport/the-most-iconic-moments-in-le-mans-history/image-gallery/645d00e7de7b16c7dbbf1982eec38fd7?pos=4

The late '60s and early '70s were a pretty momentous time in the history of both motorsport and road car development. However it was Porsche, through the iconic 917, that truly revolutionised the game and gave birth to the next generation of race car. In the space of a couple of years, Le Mans went from being dominated by track-going road cars in models like the GT40, to being won by purpose-built race cars with road-going capabilities a mere afterthought. 

The 917 gave Porsche its first overall win of Le Mans in 1970. With 17 overall wins, Porsche are the most successful team to have competed at Le Mans 24 Hours.

2005: Tom Kristensen makes history

Photo: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/le-mans-six-best-moments
Photo: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/le-mans-six-best-moments
Of course this guide wouldn't be complete without a mention of the Danish legendary race driver Tom Kristensen. Audi’s Kristensen, who finished second on this occasion, has won Le Mans a record nine times. The Danish driver's breakthrough seventh victory came in 2005, but now the 52-year-old is going to have to wait a bit longer for a 10th win. Truth is, he could easily have achieved it already: in 1999 and 2007 his team crashed out in the closing stages of the race while holding a comfortable lead. No wonder they call him ‘Mr Le Mans’.

 

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