The race for 1962–1965 cars saw a fierce GT40 battle ultimately won by Christian Glassel.
Photo: Peter Collins
The Le Mans Classic has now become the most prestigious of all historic racing events…if competition for entries is anything to go by. This year, the 4th running of the Classic, just under 400 cars took part in the six races for cars by age group, each race being run three times during the traditional Le Mans 24 hour period from four on Saturday afternoon until the same time Sunday. Some 1500 entries had been received, all from cars that ran in the original race or of the same type and model.
This year’s race was regarded by most competitors as the best ever. The organization was slicker, the many staff at all levels friendlier, and the racing safer. The number of incidents was down though the racing remained as hard as ever.
In the class for cars from 1923 to 1939, Talbots dominated the proceedings and Gareth Burnett won all three races in John Ruston’s Talbot 105, with Julian Bronson in another Ruston 105 2nd, and Michael Strasoldo 4th, also in a 105. The Index of Performance for this group was taken by Peter Fenichel/B.Smith-Hilliard in an MG Magnette K3. VR’s European Editor teamed up with Margaret Diffey in the 1934 Riley MPH which finished 2nd that year, managing 36th overall on scratch of 63 competitors.
The 1949-1956 class was won by the Nigel Webb/Gary Pearson Jaguar C-Type, the third grid for 1957-61 cars going again to Webb/Pearson in the D-Type with a magnificent drive by Vincent Gaye in a Ferrari 250 SWB netting 2nd. The 1962-65 cars provided some of the best action with Christian Glasel’s GT40 winning. In group 5, the 1966-71 machines, Cazalieres’ Ferrari 512M just beat John Sheldon’s Chevron B-16, and in the final class for 1972-79, Jurgen Barth and Jean-Marc Luco’s Porsche 936 beat Bert Skidmore and David Vegher’s rapid Lola T286.
The 2008 entry was also much enhanced by the presence of some great Le Mans drivers, including Gerard Larrousse, Henri Pescarolo, Barth, Jean-Louis Schlesser, Jean-Claude Andruet, Jean Ragnotti, Alain Serpaggi, Vern Schuppan, Rene Arnoux, Shinji Nakano, Pedro Lamy, Gijis van Lennep and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud.
Other traditional Le Mans activities included a “Little Big Mans”..a run in miniature Le Mans cars for boys and girls aged 6 to 13. This had three false starts as nearly 100 children vaulted across the road for the start!