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24 Hours of Le Mans 1955: The most tragic race in history

A bad maneuver by Mike Hawthorn triggered the accident in which the pilot Pierre Levegh and 82 spectators died

El June 11, 1955, while the 24 Hours of Le Mans, there was one of the largest disasters in motorsport history in which French pilot Pierre Levegh and 82 spectators died. This is how he lived it Juan Manuel Fangio, who was coming after the cars involved.

“I saw it all. The cars that crashed were about to pass. He was coming after Mike Hawthorn, Lance Macklin, Karl Kling and Pierre Levegh. We would travel at about 250 km / h. Three hours had passed into the race and the driver had to be changed. Hawthorn slowed down and headed his Jaguar toward the pits. That maneuver was the one that was discussed later because he started it 300 meters before entering the pits "Chueco recalled at the time, who was running to Mercedes.

Fangio shared his Mercedes with Stirling Moss.

“Correctly, Macklin opened up to overtake Hawthorn and an instant later Kling headed for the pits as well. Levegh, very fast, tried to pass, but found no space. His Mercedes climbed over Macklin's Austin Haeley and soared into the crowd. I clung to the wheel and waited for a blow, which did not come. My Mercedes brushed against Macklin's car, which crossed the asphalt of the track with its sheet metal… I left hell behind me ”, related Fangio, who shared an official Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR with the English Stirling Moss.

Mike Hawthorn followed by Juan Manuel Fangio.

Despite the accident and its tremendous consequences, the competition continued because the organizers considered that in this way the accesses were not going to collapse to remove the injured from the circuit. While Mercedes withdrew its team from the test and did not compete again until 1989. Two days after the incident, France banned racing for a few months, a measure that was repeated in Germany, Spain and Switzerland, which even still maintains that ban.

The victory? It was left for Hawthorn and his compatriot Ivor Bueb with a Jaguar D-Type, but they had no reason to celebrate ...



Automundo is the blog about news from the automotive industry, motorsport and the culture of the region. Director: Diego Durruty.

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