24 Hours of Le Mans 1962 – Ferrari, the prancing horse at full gallop

24 Hours of Le Mans 1962 – Ferrari, the prancing horse at full gallop

The competitor exploits, shocking twists and caliber of racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1932 and 2012 have all made it one of the most legendary races in history. As we await the 2022 running on 11-12 June, enjoy this retrospective from 1962.


23-24 June 1962 (30th running)

Distance covered by the winners: 331 laps or 4,451.255 km (an average of 185.469 kph).

The Winners…

After claiming the top step on the podium with Ferrari in 1958 and 1961, Belgian driver Olivier Gendebien and American driver Phil Hill triumphed for a third time as a duo and became the winningest crew in the history of the 24 Hours, later matched by Ickx/Bell, Biela/Kristensen/Pirro and Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer. Thanks to Gendebien's fourth victory (and third consecutive) after the 1960 win with fellow countryman Paul Frère, he set the record held until 1981. Phil Hill's third victory marked his third and final finish at the 24 Hours in 14 participations from 1953 to 1967. With its sixth win since 1949, Ferrari dethroned Bentley and Jaguar as the most successful manufacturer at Le Mans and remained undefeated until 1965.

…and other stories from the Top 10

The year 1962 also marked the first appearance at the 24 Hours by the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO. The cars finished in second, third and sixth places. The Italian constructor's triumph was topped off with a ninth place finish by a factory 250 GT.

Behind the Italian battalion figured American driver Briggs Cunningham. After finishing fourth at the wheel of a car sporting his own name, he matched that best performance at Le Mans 10 years later at the wheel of a Jaguar shared with British driver Roy Salvadori, winner in 1959 with Aston Martin.

Auto racing in 1962

British driver Graham Hill won his first Formula 1 world champion title in 1962. That year, four previous and future 24 Hours winners figured in the top 6 in the final classification of the race: Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney and Phil Hill. On 11 February, Dan Gurney and Lotus won the first endurance race held at the Daytona circuit. A three-hour event in 1962, four years later the race was changed to its current 24-hour format.

Additionally, three future Le Mans winners were born in 1962: Emanuele Pirro (12 January) won the race five times with Audi (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007). Born on 18 March and 23 December respectively, in 1991 Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot gave Mazda the first victory for a Japanese marque at the 24 Hours along with British driver Johnny Herbert.

Also in 1962

1962-1972, orange odyssey – The novel A Clockwork Orange written by British author Anthony Burgess was published in 1962, some 10 years before the release of the film by the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Another musical legend – On 9 April, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded 10 Oscars to West Side Story, an adaptation set in New York City of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Americans first to set foot on the moon – In one of his most famous speeches, U.S. President John Kennedy confirmed on 12 September at Rice University his desire to send men to the moon before the end of the decade. His mission was accomplished in July 1969.

"My name is Bond…" – On 5 October, the first film featuring 007 (with Sean Connery, the first to play Bond), Dr. NO held its world premiere in London.

PHOTOS (Copyright - ACO ARCHIVES): LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, 23-24 JUNE 1962. At top: the start of the race and the winning Ferrari of future winners Olivier Gendebien/Phil Hill (#6), the Corvette of Tony Settember/John Turner (#1), the Aston Martin of Richie Ginther/Graham Hill (#11), the Ferrari of Michael Parkes/Lorenzo Bandini (#7), the Maseratis of Walt Hansgen/Bruce McLaren (#2) and William Kimberley/Dick Thompsen (#3). Below: the Ferrari 250 GTO of Jean Blaton/Léon Dernier (third overall).