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77 deaths at Le Mans [June 1955]
The Guardian ^ | Monday 13 June 1955 04.33 EDT

Posted on 06/13/2012 8:20:41 PM PDT by BenLurkin

Le Mans is in mourning today for the 77 people killed when the blazing wreckage of a Mercedes sports car crashed through the crowds two hours after the start of the 24-hour endurance race yesterday. Seventy-seven people are still in hospital and of these seven are in a serious condition.

Relatives today filed through the hospitals and clinics in an attempt to identify the unnamed victims. Some of the men, women, and children killed were so terribly mutilated they may never be identified. Messages of sympathy are being received here. The first two were from the West German President and the Chancellor, Sir Gladwyn Jebb, the British Ambassador in Paris, has sent a message of sympathy to M. Pinay, the French Foreign Minister.

The car explodes

The record crows was packed round the rails when the crash, the worst in motor-racing history, occurred. Witnesses said that Mike Hawthorn (Britain), who went on to win the race, was signalled into the Jaguar pits to refuel. Lance Macklin, in an Austin-Healey, swerved hard to avoid the green British car. The French driver, Pierre Levegh, who was chasing the leaders at 125 miles an hour, could not avoid Macklin's car. His silver Mercedes glanced off the side of it and exploded, showering sparks into the air. Its engine and front axle went like a scythe through the crowd. In the time it took to happen few people had time to duck.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: History; Sports

1 posted on 06/13/2012 8:20:49 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: NYer
A priest moved slowly among the dying, administering the Last Sacraments, while volunteers covered the bodies with newspapers and torn clothing.

Even 57 years out, praying for the Poor Souls seems appropriate.

2 posted on 06/13/2012 8:27:52 PM PDT by aposiopetic
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To: BenLurkin

I just saw a special on this yesterday and it was horrible. They had video of the crash and the Mercedes launched into the air using the sloped rear of Macklin’s Healey as a ramp.

They said the driver of the Mercedes, Pierre Levegh was going 150MPH. They also tried to lay the blame on him since he was dead, they didn’t have to worry about him suing them.

It looks like it’s the Healey’s fault though in the video and it’s also the track’s fault since on pit row, the cars went by at speed and it was only three abreast and the pit takes one of those spaces. They rebuilt it after the crash.

3 posted on 06/13/2012 8:42:52 PM PDT by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: Lx

I remember the crash. I was in college and interested in racing. It is true that “they” tried to blame Levegh, but cooler heads analyzed it.

4 posted on 06/13/2012 9:06:48 PM PDT by OldEagle
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To: BenLurkin

Video of the crash.

5 posted on 06/13/2012 9:28:09 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

The winner won by 5 laps? Boy those photo finishes are exciting.

6 posted on 06/13/2012 10:10:32 PM PDT by Krankor
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To: BenLurkin

This crash caused Switzerland to ban motor racing within the country. Good will tubing has many racing deaths analyzed on his channel.

7 posted on 06/13/2012 10:16:00 PM PDT by Amberdawn
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