This could be the single coolest video we have ever posted here at BangShift and we have posted literally thousands. Shot in 1956, this is 1955 Le Mans champion Mike Hawthorn, then a factory Jaguar driver making a lap of Le Mans in a D-Type Jag race car. It is before the race, so the roads are still open to the public and he has to dodge other cars, people, and even bicyclists! He is mic’d up and giving commentary and explaining the course the entire time. This is so frigging awesome that words are failing us. One guy on a bike rolls out in front of him and he says, “Typical French!” Incredible.
Hawthorn, as many of you know was blamed by many for causing the infamous crash at the 1955 Le Mans race for braking heavily in front of Lance Macklin, who then swerved into the path of Pierre Levegh who then careened through the stands killing more than 80 people. Hawthorn later died in a traffic accident in 1959, but what most do not know is that at the time this film was made, he was already in pretty bad health and was told by doctors that he only had a few years left to live because of various issues like kidney failure, etc.
The film is amazingly crisp, the audio is very good for 1956 technology and we can hear both the great screaming Jag and Hawthorn’s explanation of the course, the various corners, and the improvements that have been made to the “track” from 1955 to 1956. The fact that the race was even held in ’56 is a miracle because in modern times, any event where 80 people were killed would probably be put down forever. Racers died with stunning regularity in the mid 1950s. It was a glorious but short lived life for many back then.
We have nothing more to add, other than you need to watch this video and if you are not totally blown away by it, you’re hanging out at the wrong website. Coolest freaking thing ever.
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO RIDE AROUND LEMANS WITH MIKE HAWTHORN IN A D-TYPE JAG AS HE GIVES COMMENTARY CIRCA 1956!