The French Grand Prix; Rouen-les Essarts, July 7, 1968. At this race Honda introduced an all-new car built in Japan using an air-cooled V-8. Jo Schlesser, a 40-year old French driver of modest reputation, was called in when John Surtees decided to stay with his older V12 Honda RA 301. On the third lap, as the field swept downhill through the series of high speed bends after the start/finish straight, Schlesser’s car went off on a right hander climbed the bank on the outside, flipped over back down onto the track and exploded. The full fuel tanks and a largely magnesium chassis did not help, nor did the firemen’s use of water which made the inferno even worse. Poor Schlesser never had a chance. This was indeed a tragic year: In addition to Schlesser, Mike Spence was killed in practice at Indy and the great Jim Clark lost his life at Hockenheim.
Photo courtesy of: THE KLEMANTASKI COLLECTION
Become a Member & Get Ad-Free Access To This Article (& About 6,000+ More)
Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.