Le Mans 1956

in blog •  last month  (edited)

Speed is an addiction of mine. Not the chemical drug, but the sports, the motorized sports in which man and machine try to traverse as much distance as possible in the shortest amount of time.

source: Wikimedia Commons

I often claim that I don't watch television, but that's not entirely true: I do watch on Saturdays and Sundays when there's either a Formula 1 or a Moto GP race being broadcast. My father had two idols; Brazilian soccer star Pele, and Brazilian Formula 1 star Ayrton Senna. His love for soccer never rubbed off on me, but since I was a small boy I've always been fascinated by fast cars and fast bikes. I was a huge fan of Freddie Spencer and watched him win the 250cc AND 500cc Grand Prix in 1985; such was his dominance in the King's class that he could afford to skip a race or two to also win in the 250cc class.

For decades I've enjoyed the great rivalries in both two- and four wheeled motor-sports, like Rossi vs. Lorenzo, Schumacher vs. Hill and, perhaps the greatest of them all, Senna vs. Prost... But I've also cried when some of the greats lost their lifes in these dangerous sports, like Senna and very recently Jules Bianchi who was seen as an upcoming star, much like Max Verstappen. Formula 1 is in good shape right now, as we can see the beginning of a new generation of great talents, and maybe the early signs of new epic rivalries in the sport. Verstappen vs. Leclerc is a promising prospect if you ask me :-)

It's also amazing to see how far these sports have come; in the early days it was almost commonplace that some lifes would be lost during a season of highly dangerous fast driving. Senna was, just before he died, one of the great promoters of more safety measures; the day before he died, another driver, Roland Ratzenberger, lost his life on the same circuit (Imola, 1994), and that wasn't the first time Senna saw one of his colleagues die. To illustrate how reckless racing was in the early days, I share with you the on-board video of Mike Hawthorne, who in 1958 became the United Kingdom's first Formula One World Champion driver, at Le Mans 1956 in his D-Type Jaguar; pedestrians and bicyclists share the same road as the racer! But he's the only one, and it isn't the race, just a scouting lap in which he gives his opinion on the circuit :-) Apart from that, it's just a beautiful piece of footage capturing the spirit of that time... I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-)

On Board with Mike Hawthorne at Le Mans 1956 | D-type Jaguar

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