American style and simplicity defeated Europe’s complex cars and engines at Le Mans in 1921 to put the seal on the straight-eight era. This great victory celebrates its centenary this year.
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f reliability is an asset for a racing engine, the 1921 3-liter Duesenberg was so blessed. Jimmy Murphy’s Duesenberg crossed the line to win the 1921 French Grand Prix at Le Mans with a hole in its radiator and precious little coolant left in its engine. It nevertheless finished and indeed covered another 10.7-mile safety lap. That’s toughness. And other Duesies of the four entered finished fourth and sixth.
That a team of four Indianapolis-built racing cars could travel to France to compete in this great race was facilitated by the congruency, since 1920, between the rules of American competition, including the Indianapolis 500 miles, and those of Grand Prix racing. Both shared the engine-size limit of 3 liters or 183 cubic inches.
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