MMR Blog

The Le Mans Start by Denise McCluggage

Posted on June 29, 2012 Comments (1)

The LeMans start made great sense when it began. Engines that wouldn’t fire, or worse, started and died shortly after underway leaving the cars perched for collection by dozens of machines bearing down on them at full song. A poor beginning for any event.

Le Mans Start

But angle the cars in readiness just off the course, have the drivers run across the track, leap in, fire up and take off. Each step spread the cars like spilled jelly beans.

Le Mans Start

Any stalled car sat safely out of the way. It worked. Particularly since early on in racing it was the rare driver who had belts in his car. Even much later only seat belts were common, simple enough to fasten a few laps later while steering with the knees down the Mulsanne straight. The belting/harnessing system grew more complicated (not to mention effective) and by 1972 the LeMans start made its last appearance.

I chose to shoot the opening of the race from across the course up in the spectators’ stand to take in the pits and the crowded stands above them.

Le Mans Start

I had been at LeMans in 1958 for Phil Hill's first LeMans victory. June again in 1959 he and co-driver Olivier Gendebien were back (#14 Ferrari) eager to chalk up another. They were on their way to doing just that—if leading by two laps in the 19th hour of 24 counts. But their TestaRossa, perhaps over-taxed by copying the early fast running of the Aston Martin team, simply gave out. (But then so did 41 other cars out of the cast of 54.) Aston DBR1s, led by the American-Brit team of Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori (#5), took the first two places.

Roy was driving the closing minutes with a lap in hand when I spotted Carroll entering the back door of the Aston pits. He had gone to change out of his blue driver's suit for his signature striped bib overalls. I chided him: "A change of costume for the curtain calls?" He grinned his wide-as-Texas grin. The good ole boy image was a great success in Europe as well as at home.

Carroll Shelby, aged 89 and the recipient of a heart and a kidney transplant, died May 10. Then 23 days later the man with whom he shared the1959 LeMans victory, Roy Salvadori, died at age 90.


1954 Vetta Ferrari watch

Posted on June 18, 2012 Comments (0)

Ferrari Vetta watch

This hand wound 36mm mechanical watch has a Valjoux 22 movement and is in fine operational order. It has the Prancing Horse under the 12 o'clock, and "Ferrari, VI Giro Delle Calabrie" engraved to the rear.

It is believed to have been awarded to Clemente Biondetti who drove his Ferrari 250 MM s/n 0276MM to 1st in class and 2nd place overall at the Trofeo Presidente della Repubblica on 01/08/1954. Ilfo Minzoni was 2nd in the over 2-liter class (likely s/n 0074 E—a 212 Export), and Enzo Pinzero 4th in the same type of car.

Take a better look here.


Day Dreaming

Posted on June 15, 2012 Comments (3)

We received another interesting e-mail the other day from Michael Keyser of Autosport Marketing Associates, Ltd. He wrote us saying:

Le Mans 1974

Here's a shot of me and Milt Minter with the car at Le Mans in 1974… and after I smacked a guardrail in the Porsche Curves on Sunday morning… day dreaming again.

The car in the picture is a 1974 Porsche 911 RSR 3.0 running in the “Toad Hall” livery.

VIN: 911 460 9049
Production No. 104 0078
Engine No. 684 3215
Gearbox No. 0534

It was first delivered to Michael Keyser at Toad Hall Racing but it has lived an interesting life with extensive IMSA and European racing history. As seen in the picture, it competed at Le Mans but it also ran at Daytona and Sebring.

Le Mans 1974

It was the third '74 RSR 3.0 built and it would become one of the most successful and visible '74 RSRs to be raced in the US. With it's bright yellow paint with distinctive black trim, Keyser and Milt Minter raced it throughout the 1974 IMSA series, achieving several top three finishes (including 2nd at Road Atlanta, 3rd at Ontario, 3rd at Mid-Ohio, 2nd at Talladega, and a heat win at Lime Rock). It also ran at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1974, where it finished 20th overall.

In 1975, co-driving with Billy Sprowls, 9040 was 2nd overall at the Daytona 24 Hours and 13th overall at the Sebring 12 Hours. It would also continue to be very successful in the IMSA series, with high finishes at Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, and Riverside.

Subsequent owners continued to race the car successfully from 1977 to 1979 in Trans Am and IMSA races, along with additional entries at the Daytona 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 Hours.

More recently, Canepa Design comprehensively restored 9049 and it is ready to race or show. It is certainly one of the RSRs with the best US racing history, with several entries at Daytona and Sebring. It is also among only a handful of RSRs to have completed the Le Mans 24 Hours.

1974 Porsche 911

It remains as one of the best-restored 1974 3.0 RSRs and has its correct, highly recognizable, and distinctive Toad Hall livery.

I suppose, every June, it's only natural to day dream about your LeMans exploits. I know I would.

Michael did add one more comment: Not much to say. It was a wonderful car. Handled great. Reliable. I wish I still owned it.