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How this 1956 Le Mans film secretly references racing's deadliest day

Illustration for article titled How this 1956 Le Mans film secretly references racings deadliest day

At first glance, this 1956 video is just a great find for racing fans: Mike Hawthorn, narrating a lap around Le Mans, a camera on his Jaguar D-Type giving us driver’s-eye view. It’s fantastic to watch—but it holds subtle references to the deadliest day in motorsports history, which unfolded 60 years ago this month.

This video was made just one year after the 1955 Le Mans disaster, where a chain-reaction crash sent a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR flying into a group of spectators, killing 83 bystanders and injuring more than 120.


Hawthorn, our narrator, played a crucial role in that crash—and while he only talks about the tragic incident momentarily, his comments throughout this lap offer subtle clues as to how that event changed racing forever. It’s a tale of terrible tragedy, the darkest day in motorsports whose echoes can still be heard today. And you can read all about it over at Road & Track.

Robert Sorokanich is the New York-based automotive news reporter for both Road & Track and CAR and DRIVER. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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