24 Hours of Le Mans Web Gems

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Tragedy in 1955

The 1955 race at Le Mans is one that lives in infamy for the worst motorsports disaster in the history of the sport, with 84 attendees killed, and more than one hundred others injured. The incident at the 24-hour race would change the face of motorsports for years to come on a global scale.

The spectacular crash occurred on the final straightaway before pit road, as one car attempted to pit, while another narrowly avoided colliding with the slowing car. The man who would receive the worst of it was Mercedes-Benz driver Pierre Levegh, who would come airborne off of the rear of Lance Macklin’s car, crashing into the spectator enclosures and scattering debris in it’s wake. The remainder of the car would eventually come to a rest, exploding into flames, killing Levegh and many fans.

Impacts from this disaster would be swift and alter the path of motorsports for the future. Multiple rounds of the World Sports Car Championship would be cancelled, while many countries enacted temporary bans on auto racing due to the carnage. Switzerland would enact a similar ban, though theirs remains in place to this day. It would also lead to major changes in American auto racing, as the American Automobile Association (AAA) would stop sanctioning racing, leading to the formation of USAC.

Next: What A Crash!