Mike Hawthorne and Ivor Bueb won The 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955 driving a Jaguar D-Type. The following year, a few days before the race, a British broadcaster put cameras on Hawthorne's car, hung a mic from a plate on his race suit and had him narrate a lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe.

It is compelling viewing. A new pit complex was built after the massive accident on the front straight in 1955, but this was still a time when crews prepped for the race on roads that were open to the public. Hawthorne's lap includes maneuvers to avoid bicyclists and cars, and gems like letting us know that doing 185 miles per hour down the Mulsanne Straight was where you could "relax a little, recover your energy." Watch him work it like the men of old in the video below.

Mike Hawthorn(Lemans winner 1955) driving a preview lap on the Lemans track in a Jaguar.(1956!) from MotorsportMediaNL on Vimeo.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      SteveM
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is great stuff... I love the "snap-shot in time" aspect of this. Things sure look different today.
      ijardine
      • 1 Year Ago
      Note the lack of safety on the road course with trees and signs all over the place.
      Vergenbuurg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow... I would love to see a vintage, '50s era laSarthe circuit appear in a racing game.
        fuzzyfish6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Vergenbuurg
        I've been thinking this for years, and not just the '50s era, but the original would be absolutely awesome. Ditto the original SPA.
      gtv4rudy
      • 1 Year Ago
      The days when race drivers had the biggest nuts.
      theautojunkie
      • 1 Year Ago
      ....surprising and not to hear that they were hitting 175-185 mph in 1956.....
      badarrow
      • 1 Year Ago
      Awsome photography and driving in top car of mid 50's! What a blast to see again and tour the circuit! Thanking you and your staff. Bruce A. Darrow, M.D.
      IOMTT
      • 1 Year Ago
      If this seemed a bit strange with normal day to day traffic, then you would be shocked to see footage from the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio practice and race day. This also reminds me how racing has become steadily worse as it has increasingly been sanitized and treated as a "product", but then again I think the best motorsport event on the planet is the Isle of Man TT so that makes me a troglodyte I suppose.
      akitadog
      • 1 Year Ago
      That sucks that they abridged the video like they did. But, I guess it's kind of boring going down the front straight at 60 MPH.
      MVM
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's Hunaudières straight, not Mulsanne straight. Mulsanne is the 1st gear corner after the Hunaudières.
        Tom Winch
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MVM
        You are correct but, it's also been commonly referred to as the Mulsanne Straight for years.
      jerrytkendall
      • 1 Year Ago
      Awesome video. The drivers of that era were really special people.
      Nick Allain
      • 1 Year Ago
      That was awful. Thankfully, microphones have come a long way. That rig he's wearing is hilarious.
        Knox
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nick Allain
        ... and painting has come a long way since Leonardo da Vinci; construction since Gustave Eiffel; cameras since Nicéphore Niépce; ships since Robert Fulton; rockets since Robert Goddard; and cars since Ferruccio Lamborghini. Are you laughing at their work as well? ... arrogant prick ....
        Shiftright
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nick Allain
        Troll of the day
      x19x19
      • 1 Year Ago
      Different world back then. Even driving 7/10th on public roads in a 180 mph car is pretty stupid. No wonder Hawthorne bit the dust, in a road accident, a few years later.
        Classic_Engr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @x19x19
        There is exactly zero relationship between the spirited tour of the track seen in this old movie reel and the accident the year before, or Hawthorne's death. Talk about grasping at thin air...
          Classic_Engr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Classic_Engr
          And EXP Jawa, seriously? Trying to associate Hawthorne's fun driving tour of the track seen here during practice week with the major accident in '55? That's not just a low class kick to a dead thoroughbred. It's just straight up bad karma, man. Why can't you just giggle at the heavy old school recording equipment and enjoy the ride like everyone else? As the Brits might say, "Poor show, dear boy. Poor show." ."
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