Pathé News spent 60 years working up newsreels from 1910 to 1970, which meant the company was on hand for some of the last century’s most important moments. The company’s archive, British Pathé, is on YouTube. Be careful, because you can lose a day stumbling through the clips.
Gabor Vajda found something precious tucked amongst the reels: color footage from the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pathé was there with then-new Cinemascope cameras and filmed nearly 30 minutes of footage that never went public.
Now the clips are up for the world to see.
The 1955 race is known as the darkest day in motorsports history. Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes 300 SLR struck an Austin-Healey from behind and catapulted into the crowd. The disaster killed 84 people, including Levegh, and wounded another 120.
We’ve all seen footage from the race, but never in color, and never like this:
Note: None of the following videos contain footage of the tragic accident that struck that year’s race or its aftermath and so don’t contain any graphic or distressing images
Absolutely fascinating stuff – haven’t got time to watch them all now but will have a look later. Did see a little clip in the final video of the rather muted response when Hawthorn drove his race-winning D-Type Jaguar back in, though under the circumstances it’s remarkable the race continued at all.
Thanks for sharing this. If you go to the museum at Le Mans they have model mockups of the start finish straights as they evolved over the years. It’s so shocking to see them just pulling over at the side of the road, right next to 150mph racing. It’s not really surprising that a massive accident occurred, and you can see the little grass bank that was all that separated the spectators from the cars.
But it’s an incredible snapshot from a very different sort of sport than we see today. Very reminiscent of the film with Steve McQueen.