Le Mans - Postcard from 1965...

Le Mans - Postcard from 1965...

Flashback to 49 years ago. This aerial photo offers an impressive view of the main area of the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit in 1965. A fascinating postcard

The calm before the storm! It was the morning of Saturday, June 19, 1965. Many spectators took their places in the different strategic spots around the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit to watch the big show. Some chose the Indianapolis and Arnage turns, some favoured the Mulsanne turn and its signaling area. Lastly, other curious and empassioned enthusiasts settled in the grandstands across from the pits and refueling balconies.

While the car parks were filled with Ami 6s, Citroën DSs, Renault 4s and Simca 1000s, the speakers serenaded the crowd with the enchanting voice of Diana Ross singing "Back in My Arms Again," one of her hits with The Supremes. With these Motown chanteuses in the background and mechanics opening up on the official Ford MKIIs' V8s, it was like Detroit in the middle of the French countryside.

The tension mounted and crescendoed at the heart of the circuit. If in the distance the Dunlop curve seemed like a peaceful escape, it was a fleeting illusion. In a few hours, 51 drivers would run across the asphalt, open their car doors and take off with a bang. The engines would resonate from the Mulsanne Straight and the curtain would go up on 24 hours of thrilling racing.

This 33rd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was the second confrontation between Ferrari and Ford. There would be four all together. This great race in La Sarthe in 1965 saw many win hopefuls throw in the towel from mechanical issues. The official Ford MKIIs, entered by Shelby American Inc., and Scuderia's Ferrari 275 P2 and 330 P2 all succumbed to various problems. In this race all about consistency and reliability, Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART) let its experience do the talking. Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory drove their Ferrari 250 LM perfectly, from 11th position on the starting grid to victory overall. At the finish, the two men were ahead of two other Ferraris: another Ferrari 250 LM, entered by Pierre Dumay, and Ecurie Francorchamps' 275 GTB. Note the officical Porsche team quietly began creating its history at the 24 Hours of Mans as its 904/6 won the 2L Prototypes class and a 904 GTS won the 2L Grand Touring class.