The Aston Martin DBR1 that won the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe in France on 18-20 June, 2012 as part of a tribute to its drivers Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori, and its chief engineer Ted Cutting, who all sadly passed away in recent weeks.
Aston Martin’s Head of Motorsport, David King, commented, “We were deeply saddened by the loss of Carroll, Roy and Ted. They all played a hugely important role in Aston Martin’s racing history and will forever remain part of the company’s heritage. To mark their passing, we felt it fitting to return their car to the scene of its greatest victory. Many people have worked very hard to make this happen and we thank the Automobile Club de L’Ouest for its assistance.”
Before his racing career Shelby, from Leesburg in Texas, fought in World War II with the United States Army Air Corps, where he served as a flight instructor and test pilot and graduated with the rank of staff sergeant pilot. When he returned home in the 1950s, he began competing in motor racing and joined Aston Martin in 1958. Following his 1959 Le Mans victory, Shelby went on to enjoy a successful career as an automotive designer and director of Shelby American Inc., founded in 1962. He passed away on 10 May, aged 89.
Salvadori, from Essex, Great Britain, made his Formula 1 debut in 1952 and went on to race in 50 Grands Prix, achieving two podiums prior to his famous Le Mans victory. He later retired from motorsport and went on to run a car dealership before being tempted back to the track in 1966 to manage Cooper Racing’s Formula 1 campaign.
Together, Salvadori and Shelby drove the Aston Martin DBR1, which was designed by Chief Engineer Ted Cutting who also sadly passed away in March this year. The now iconic race car was an evolution of its predecessor, the DB3S, but following a change in regulations allowing non-road legal cars to race, Cutting was able to develop it in new directions. Originally fitted in 1956 with a 2.5-litre straight-six engine, by 1959 it featured a 2.9-litre unit rated at 250hp.
The iconic DBR1 was on display outside Aston Martin’s hospitality suite at the Parc du Raccordement, near to the start of the pit straight. Aside from the display of the DBR1, the factory-entered #97 and #99 Vantage GTEs racing at the weekend will both carry a commemorative plaque, while the drivers will also carry the initials of Shelby and Salvadori, and the number 59, on their helmets.
Aston Martin produced a video tribute to the Shelby, Salvadori and Cutting using original footage from the 1959 Le Mans race. The silent film, two minutes in duration, depicts the drivers arriving at the track, racing the DRB1 around the Circuit de la Sarthe and, finally, taking the chequered flag to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright.
Aston Martin Remembers 1959 Le Mans Victory – Video