WHEN DID THE LE MANS 24 HOURS STOP USING THE ICONIC RUNNING START?

WHEN DID THE LE MANS 24 HOURS STOP USING THE ICONIC RUNNING START?

WHEN DID THE LE MANS 24 HOURS STOP USING THE ICONIC RUNNING START?




The Le Mans 24 Hours was once famed for the running start before the race, but when did it stop using it in favour of a safer rolling start? Which F1 driver was part of ending the practice?

The French Tricolour will drop and 61 cars will set out for one of the world’s greatest motorsport events – The Le Mans 24 Hours.

Now in its 90th running, the twice around the clock French enduro stands alongside the Indianapolis 500 and Monaco Grand Prix as the standout events from IndyCar, Formula 1 and sportscar racing. Together they form the triple crown of motorsport.

One of the quirks of the Le Mans 24 Hours used to be the running start.

When did the race last use the running start – and which F1 driver was part of the reason why it got canned?


LE MANS 24 HOURS RUNNING START
The Le Mans 24 Hours was first run in 1923 being won by Andre Lagache and Rene Leonard in a Chenard-Walcker machine – completing 128 laps.

While most races in motorsport began with the driver already in the car when the flag dropped, Le Mans was slightly different.

The cars would line up on one side of the grid, with the drivers on the other.

On the drop of the flag, the drivers would sprint across the track and into the cars – a mini race before the main event.

However, as safety improved in the 1960s, some drivers did not secure their harness in the cockpit to save any amount of time they could.

The 1969 race would be the final time t

F1 DRIVER LEADS TO END OF RUNNING START

In 1969, British driver John Woolfe was killed at Le Mans on the opening lap of the race.

Driving a Porsche 917, Woolfe did not fasten his belts correctly and was thrown from the car in a first lap accident.

He was killed, while Chris Amon survived when Woolfe’s fuel tank hit Amon’s Ferrari causing it to catch on fire.

Jacky Ickx, a grand prix winner for Ferrari was making his first start in the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours.

He did not see the appeal and did all the danger presented by the running start of the Le Mans 24 Hours, calming walking to his car while the rest ran.








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