...with my apologies to the romantic comedy movie "If This Is Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium."
LeMans is an excuse to do a couple of (upcoming) posts about the Porsche 917 which, in a larger sense, are about racing sports car development. But first, a post about my fascination with LeMans itself. It is of course the grand-daddy of endurance races. Daytona also lasts 24 hours, and Sebring for 12, but most of them last 6 hours. LeMans remains the toughest.
The first LeMans was in 1923 and the point of it, more or less, has always been to demonstrate speed and reliability. Before World War Two, the regulations limited entrants to bona-fide production cars. The Bentleys which dominated the race around the turn of the 1930's were four-seaters. They also inspired the Brits' fascination with LeMans--right up to the present--in an era when England had nothing to offer for Grand Prix starting grids. And thus the English-language sports car press, and thus (probably) mine.
Given its emphasis on (theoretically) streetable sports cars, LeMans has always been the playground of manufacturers, who wanted to improve and market their wares. It established Ferrari more than his early Mille Miglia wins. Besides Bentley, it established Jaguar and Aston Martin. It was the first international race entered by Porsche, and class wins put Porsche on the map. They turned the 550 Spyder into a series-produced race car, for sale to private entrants. Everybody wants to win LeMans. Ask Ford. Ask Corvette. Ask Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, and Peugeot.
|With the addition of the Ford Chicane, the Porsche Curves, the Mickey Mouse esses around the Dunlop Bridge, and the|
chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight, modern LeMans is a shadow of its former flat-out self. But still a car-killer.
|Can a 4-seater touring car win LeMans? Yes, if it's a Bentley. I'm not sure where this picture was taken. It looks like|
Mulsanne Corner. If so, the houses were long-gone by the postwar era.