Historical: Pierre Levegh, Le Mans 1955. It’s not all fun and games.

In my new-found interest in wanting to get into drifting and all the fun stuff that comes along with that (the glory, the prize money, the gear…the girls), I tend to forget that it’s not all glitz and glamour. Sure, I know crashes are inevitable, but when I scan the pages of all these drift sites, I’m more taken in by the bright colors, smoking tires, pritine photography, and amazingly tuned automobiles versus the dark side of it all. So, I put myself on the hunt to learn about some crashes that changed the face of the racing world.

I wanted to go beyond the obvious (albeit tragic) fate of the Eliminator, though, and Toretto’s dad meeting his maker in the pro stock car circuit. Having just watched Truth in 24 for the fourth or fifth time, i decided to do a little research on the history of Le Mans. Now, I don’t know if I’m the only one who didn’t know about this, but as I read more and more about the 1955 crash at said race, the truley harrowing event is said to have changed the face of the racing world. Here’s a piece from the wiki article:

Levegh’s 300 SLR struck the mound at such speed and angle that it was launched into a somersault, which caused some parts of the car, already damaged and loosened by the collision, to be flung from the vehicle at very great speeds. This included the bonnet and the front axle, both of which separated from the frame and flew through the crowd. 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.

When I sat down and actually tried to picture this, I was rendered somewhat speechless. There’s a book on Amazon you can purchase if you want to bring it home with you. And there are endless sites dedicated to this event. If you’re like me and didn’t know about this until late, consider yourself more informed.


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