Hooniverse Asks- What's Your Favorite Le Mans Racer?

Well, the 2010 24 Heures du Mans is in the books, and in a blow to the efforts of all others, Audi managed a 1-2-3 sweep, once again securing their dominance of the French circuit. This ninth victory for the Germans ties them with Ferrari, and proves the old tortoise and hare maxim that slow and steady wins the race. That was the strategy that Wolfgang Ullrich, director of the Audi team, explained to Eurosport before the race- “We were confident that the cars would be reliable and last the 24 hours,” he said. “We knew we were not as fast as the Peugeots, and I told the drivers to drive fast, but without taking risks.
Despite Audi’s dominance in recent years, the Le Mans circuit is rich in history of different makes and nationalities taking the chequered flag. In fact, since 1923 the 13.65-km track has played host to the most venerated names in racing history, across multiple classes. And one of those may have stood out in your mind as a favorite.

Prior to a 10-year break so the Allies and Axis could hash things out in another contest called World War II, the race was dominated by the likes of Bugatti, Alfa Romeo and Bentley. Post war, Ferrari, Aston Martin Mercedes Benz and Jaguar all prowled the track, although Pierre Levegh’s horrific crash in 300SLR, in which 80 spectators were killed, put an end to Mercedes’ involvement in the sport.
The Americans have had notable victories in the past as well, both drivers and teams. Ford, having failed at the purchase of Ferrari, then flexed its substantial financial muscle to beat the Italians at any cost. That goal was realized at in 1966 when Ford also swept the top three spots. Having achieved their goal, the company’s interest in the event began to fade shortly thereafter.
The Maserati Birdcage, 300SLR, Ford GT40, Audi R10, Porsche 906 & 917, Salmson GS; the history of the circuit reads like a who’s-who of automobiledom’s great cars. It may be hard to choose one over another from such a venerated group, as well from one decade to another, as both track and cars have changed so dramatically. But if there is one, perhaps driven by one legendary  story, or mythical performance, that stands out, which one would that be?
News source: NY Times
Image sources: [ausmotive.comnewcarwallpaper.com, carswallpapers.netclaw.com.auvjphotography via Flickrf1fanatic.co.ukthetubesareclogged, progcovers.com]

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14 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What's Your Favorite Le Mans Racer?”

  1. Alff Avatar

    Pug 908 – So reliable and driven with such class.
    I kid. I'm partial to the Maser Birdcage, having seen one being driven con brio at the old S.I.R. Historics.

  2. Mechanically Inept Avatar

    The 917 and the GT40.

    1. dmilligan Avatar

      I'm with you, the 917s & GT-40s are the best.

  3. fede Avatar

    Ferrari 330 P3 and P4, after that, a 917 in gulf colors

  4. engineerd Avatar

    The GT40, of course.
    After that it's just a mess of furrin' makes driven by guys with funny accents.

  5. scroggzilla Avatar

    More photos from 1950, including shots of Briggs Cunningham's LeMonstre http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/1950lemans.htm

  6. BPR Avatar

    Whoa! That guy invented the Cunningham!
    It's a sailboat thing.

  7. Froggmann_ Avatar

    Plus nothing says "I'm here to eat your soul" like the scream from that 26B motor.
    Plus nothing says "I'm here to eat your soul" like the scream from that 26B motor.
    Edit: don't have the time to figure this embed youtube thing, so here's the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4f0-U81YiY&fe

  8. dmilligan Avatar

    Slightly off-topic: I heard during the Lemans race that this is the last year of the GT-1 class. I can't seem to find any details about this. Has anyone heard why and what will replace it? It will be a big loss for the sport.

    1. tenbeers Avatar

      GT1 and GT2 are basically getting merged into a single class called "GT Endurance". According to what I've been able to glean from the rules so far, it's pretty much like GT2 with a few changes. The intent was to move away from the purpose-built race cars and more towards cars that are closer to their production counterparts.

  9. Armand4 Avatar

    From the cars posted here, you'd think Le Mans was strictly a postwar phenomenon. Come on, Hoons, let's see something that predates radial tires and disc brakes!

  10. tenbeers Avatar

    Came of age watching 962s, Silk Cut Jags, Sauber Benzes, Mazda 7x7s, etc, so those are all my favorites. All of them. If it's Group C, it's my favorite. For me, watching the Legends support race was just as great as watching the 24 Hours.

  11. James Ash Avatar
    James Ash

    I'm a Porsche man, but I'm still going for this.
    Heard these at 9000rpm flying down the Mulsanne at 3am, and it will stay with me forever.