Peter Dumbreck remembers 1999

Peter Dumbreck remembers 1999


Photo : D.R. - Archives ACO


He is perhaps not the most well known of drivers in contention this year, but he was in of one of the most famous sequences in the history of motor racing.

On the 3rd of June, two years after his last visit with Spyker, Peter Dumbreck will be back at Le Mans, with his participation in Test Day, in a Honda LM P1, also marking his return to driving a prototype.

"Before the race, I had premonitions", remembers the unfortunate hero of the 1999 race. "I knew something was coming that day at Le Mans. " His intuition would unfortunately be played out to millions of TV viewers.

Cliquer sur l'image pour ouvrir la vidéo.

On Saturday the 12th of June 1999 in the Warm Up, Mark Webber's Mercedes took off for the second time in two days. The team then orders to their drivers do not follow too close behind opponents. "I wondered how close I could approach without being disturbed by the airflow," said Peter Dumbreck. At 20:48, he caught up to a Toyota approaching Mulsanne corner. " It pulled away in acceleration", remembers the Scot. "I thought I would be far enough back not to have to lift. "

Dazzled by the low sun, the driver of the Mercedes #5 rode the curb leading to up to Indianapolis. "I knew it was not good news. Also, a Porsche had touched me just before, perhaps, with damage to my car. "

Launched at more than 300 km/h, the Silver Arrow flew to tree top height, then disappeared into the forest. "When the car landed, I was unconscious," said Dumbreck. "My first memory is of being carried away on a stretcher. I also remember being tested for alcohol. I thought they were crazy ... But French law stipulates that all victims of accidents on public roads, such as the Le Mans circuit, must be tested! "

Since the accident, many steps have been taken in regulations regarding car aerodynamics to reduce the risk of cars flying.

Julien Hergault

Photo : CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES (LE MANS, SARTHE), LE MANS 24 HOURS, SATURDAY 12th JUNE 1999. Driving the Mercedes #5, Peter Dumbreck survived a frightening experience.