Le Mans 1955

Can art be made out of a tragic event? Yes, when human emotions become the protagonists.

"Motor racing is dangerous.". How many times have we heard that? It is however, contrary to general belief, something hard to fully understand due to numerous reasons. While, yes, it is obvious that pushing a car over 300 km/h (190 mph) is not something ordinary, at the same time it becomes difficult to weigh in all of the different variables that are at play for someone who is not a professional racing driver, meaning that he/she has never raced a proper sportscar or formula car, or has never even attended a racing event in his/her life. Because being a spectator can be just as dangerous as being out on track sometimes.

We all have heard of all the different cases in which people, race marshals or team crews have been involved in tragic accidents that many times have costed their lives, in the long history of the motorsport in its various disciplines. Being around these relentless creatures, smoking and spitting flames from their nostrils, untamable if not by a handful of men, means knowing the risk involved as much as the drivers hopping in them do.

I believe everyone remembers about the tragic accident, the most horrific for the number of victims involved, which occurred at Le Mans in 1955. Eighty-three spectators lost their lives, children among them, and 120 were injured, with various degrees of severity. It was the result of a series of small mistakes, errors and predicaments, which would have meant nothing by themselves, but instead combined in a disastrous chain. For those who do not know though, Hawthorne, leading the race on the Jaguar, after overtaking Lance Macklin near the pits, proceeded to brake hard to stop at his stall. The small Austin Healey did not have the braking power to stop effectively, so it squirmed, put some wheels on the grass, went spinning, only to find itself on Pierre Levegh trajectory. His Mercedes 300 SLR jumped, using the voiturette as a trampoline, ending on the side of the track, bursting into flames. Unfortunately, some parts of the car, some very heavy too, landed on the public, striking it. This accident changed the shape of the motor racing scene forever.

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Quentin Baillieux just recently honored the loss of Levegh and of all the spectators involved in that crash with a beautiful court métrage d'animation, which I believe is the perfect artistic form to frame such a terrible event in an elegant and respectful way, while giving depth to all of the human emotions involved in such a tragedy. Also, it is an important way to pass knowledge, history, on to the newest generations, because the sacrifice of those we lost on the path of technological evolution, which is the fundamental reason of being of motorsport (otherwise it’s just futile spectacle), must be always remembered.

*it is recommended to turn the subtitles on, unless you are a French speaker, for best enjoyment.

 
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Petrolhead and sim enthusiast, passionate since the cradle about cars, motorsports and simracing. I read a lot, and I love to share what I learned with others!

BrunoB

500RPM
Premium
Yeah its really well made.
But I have conflicting feelings about making such kind of fictional act and monologue animation on the basis of such disasterous loss of lives.
I guess there is a reason nobody have (yet) made an animation of the act and monologue going on inside the Challenger cockpit after the explosion - but before the intact cabin did hit the sea.
Because its a fact that more than one person opened the helmet and seat belt before the sea impact.
So..
 

boomn

50RPM
Yeah its really well made.
But I have conflicting feelings about making such kind of fictional act and monologue animation on the basis of such disasterous loss of lives.
I guess there is a reason nobody have (yet) made an animation of the act and monologue going on inside the Challenger cockpit after the explosion - but before the intact cabin did hit the sea.
Because its a fact that more than one person opened the helmet and seat belt before the sea impact.
So..
This film seems to be very concious of that exact issue. It isn't trying to depict Levegh's perspective in the crash or even what the spectators went through.
I thought it was very powerful how the film was from the team's perspective as they slowly realize that it was their driver and friend, that he is dead, and then the scope of the spectator tragedy and how they process and react to these things
 

Mijuki

100RPM
Well...
The short film is well done technically.
But I don’t like what it does not tell.
Mercedes pulled out of the race and motorsports in total subsequently, because of the slaughter the german troops have committed in France during WW2. This was a painful reminder to them.
And all because of one of the most stupid moves in racing history, made by Mr. Hawthorn... ( He also died in a stupid fashion a few years later taking part in an illegal street race... )
Sadly neither the film nor the opening post here mentioned that.

Rest in peace, folks.
 

Tberg

500RPM
Premium
Well...
The short film is well done technically.
But I don’t like what it does not tell.
Mercedes pulled out of the race and motorsports in total subsequently, because of the slaughter the german troops have committed in France during WW2. This was a painful reminder to them.
And all because of one of the most stupid moves in racing history, made by Mr. Hawthorn... ( He also died in a stupid fashion a few years later taking part in an illegal street race... )
Sadly neither the film nor the opening post here mentioned that.

Rest in peace, folks.
I'm quite sure Mercedes withdrew due the expenses of having a formula one team. Neither the 1955 crash or some WW2 history had anything to do with it directly. Money had though.


I think the animation did a good job, and it's okay they focused on the drivers, although the real tradegy was the spectators. It breaks my heart thinking about the families torn apart in seconds.
 

Mijuki

100RPM
I'm quite sure Mercedes withdrew due the expenses of having a formula one team. Neither the 1955 crash or some WW2 history had anything to do with it directly. Money had though.


I think the animation did a good job, and it's okay they focused on the drivers, although the real tradegy was the spectators. It breaks my heart thinking about the families torn apart in seconds.
Still, the reason for this tragedy was Hawthorn‘s stupidity.
You do not, on your in lap, race and brake check before entering the pits. You just don’t.
 

Mijuki

100RPM
He raced and overtook Levegh and Macklin on his in lap, just before entering the pit lane.
Then he brake checked Macklin... Cause for desaster.
 
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