Perhaps the most gruelling race in the triple crown of motorsport, the Le Mans 24 Hours has come to embody the ultimate test of both man and machine. Over the years it’s been the stage for epic manufacturer showdowns, so it’s a saving grace that it will eventually be able to spark some life into 2020’s rapidly diminishing motorsport calendar on 19-20 September.
We look back at our chats with former Le Mans winners Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell, as well as legendary designer Gordon Murray who was responsible for the McLaren F1 GTR car which took victory in dramatic style at the 1995 Circuit de la Sarthe race.
Jacky Ickx – Watch the Video Podcast
Two-time Formula 1 runner-up, and six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx chatted to us when he visited the Club. We covered his early career, his beginnings in Formula 2 and his fruitful partnership with Porsche in endurance racing. He also reveals his favourite Le Mans win – the 1977 victory which saw his team’s amazing comeback from the back after pushing the Porsche 956 to its absolute limits.
Derek Bell – Watch the Video Podcast
Derek Bell has five Le Mans victories to his name, three of which came in partnership with Jacky Ickx behind the wheel of either a Porsche or a Mirage. Derek joined us at the Club to look back at his time with Porsche, the strengths of the rival Ferraris and making the transition from single-seater racing to endurance racing. He also recalls several entertaining stories from his time working on the Steve McQueen epic film ‘Le Mans’, and he explains how to take Eau Rouge flat in a Porsche 962…
Gordon Murray – Watch the Video Podcast
The ‘Fan Car’, the Brabahm BT52 and the McLaren F1 GTR were just a few of the Gordon Murray designs which came to dominate top-level motorsport for several years, the latter being his famous Le Mans winner. The Club chatted with Club member Murray about the characters he’d worked with in the past, including Chapman and Stewart, and his experiences of competing at Le Mans.
Gordon shed light on the painstaking design process which led to the creation of the first ground effect road car, the McLaren F1 GTR, and the journey he took to modify it so it could race and win at the 1995 Le Mans. He also revealed whether he’d consider designing another car for the endurance race and offered his two-pence on the state of Le Mans today.
We may have a few extra months to wait until the 2020 Le Mans race starts, but we’re under no doubt that it will deliver both drama and entertainment in equal measure.