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NICE BLACKMACHINE YO
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The bbc currently have a fascinating 1-hour long documentary on the 1955 Le Mans disaster - an event that shaped and changed motorsport as we know it to what it is today. It's an hour long. I thoroughly recommend it. The final fifteen minutes are particularly poignant.

BBC iPlayer - The Deadliest Crash: the Le Mans 1955 Disaster

For people outside the UK I'm unsure how you can watch this - maybe try some sort of country-masking proxy?
 

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Unfortunately motorsport didn't come out of it's "professional bloodsport" phase for at least another 20 years after the fact. And while Le Mans '55 was certainly the largest incident. It wasn't the first, nor the last to involve multiple spectators being killed.

Check out Robert Daley's books "Cars At Speed" and "The Cruel Sport" if you want a first hand account of exactly how much a bloodbath professional motorsports was back then.
 

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NICE BLACKMACHINE YO
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think the reason the 1955 Le Mans disaster stands head an shoulders above the rest in the history annals is only partly due to the death toll - the aftermath of the disaster forced the re-evaluation of all racing circuits in Europe. Motorsport was temporarily banned. To this day there is still no racing in Switzerland as they never voted to overturn the ruling back then. They only run hillclimbs. Ironic considering how many incredible racing drivers they have produced, and manufacturers...Peter Sauber, Alain Menu, Sebastian Buemi...
 

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I didn't see the documentary, so I don't know if this was mentioned or not. But the fact that a GERMAN car wiped out a whole lot of ENGLISH and FRENCH people. Kind of didn't win over a lot of political favors. Since there was some kind of World War that happened a few years prior.

Re-evaulation or not. Spectators still were being killed all the way up to around the mid-late 70's. Which is perhaps the biggest tragedy of this all. You'd figure that circuit owners would have been a bit more proactive after Le Mans. But yet incidents at places like Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Monza, Fuji, Mexico, Watkins Glen, etc. happened. One would think it was bad business if your paying customers are getting killed off.
 

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NICE BLACKMACHINE YO
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7,276 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I didn't see the documentary, so I don't know if this was mentioned or not. But the fact that a GERMAN car wiped out a whole lot of ENGLISH and FRENCH people. Kind of didn't win over a lot of political favors. Since there was some kind of World War that happened a few years prior.

Re-evaulation or not. Spectators still were being killed all the way up to around the mid-late 70's. Which is perhaps the biggest tragedy of this all. You'd figure that circuit owners would have been a bit more proactive after Le Mans. But yet incidents at places like Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Monza, Fuji, Mexico, Watkins Glen, etc. happened. One would think it was bad business if your paying customers are getting killed off.
They mention it quite a lot actually. how it was a case of the German Mercedes versus the British Jaguars in the middle of formerly occupied France. But being a British programme they kind of focussed more on the French backlash of a Brit going on to win it after all the French died.

As for the other point...motorsport has always been very very dangerous, moreso for the spectators than the drivers these days. We've had more crowd deaths in the last three years than we have driver deaths - such as the marshall in Canada with the R Schumacher incident...

We were very lucky Buemi's wheels went into no-mans land - a few degrees either way and they would have plowed into grandstands at China.
 
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