The 24 Hours of Le Mans and "Star Wars" in 1980
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The 24 Hours of Le Mans and "Star Wars" in 1980

When in 1980 the new episode of the saga "Star Wars Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back" was released, Le Mans native Jean Rondeau was making his mark at the 24 Hours, as the first driver-constructor to win the race.

1980 at Le Mans - After several victories in the GTP class (namely in 1977, the year "Star Wars Episode IV" was released), in 1980 Jean Rondeau cemented himself as the top rival to Jacky Ickx, vying that year to establish a new win record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Porsche 936-80 of Jacky Ickx-Reinhold Joest and the Rondeau of Jean Rondeau-Jean Pierre Jaussaud took turns in first place in the rain, before the Porsche was delayed with a transmission problem. After a highly suspenseful race-end, Jaussaud won his second victory at the 24 Hours after 1978 and Rondeau fulfilled his dream to win. Noteworthy also was the presence at the start of that 48th edition of actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, at the wheel of a Porsche 935. His uncle Maurice had won the race in 1954 at the wheel of a Ferrari, along with Argentinian driver José Froilán Gonzàlez.

1980 at the movies - In the second installment, George Lucas remained the screenwriter and entrusted the directing to Irvin Kershner. And like in 1977, "Star Wars Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back" finished the year number one at the box office. Three years after his underwhelming "New York, New York," Martin Scorsese came back with a vengence with "Raging Bull." It was the story of boxer Jake La Motta, played by Robert de Niro, who won the Best Actor Oscar in part for his stunning physical transformation for the movie. Three years after "Saturday Night Fever," the renewed popularity of musicals was confirmed by the success of the "Blues Brothers" in which Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi have a field day to a supercharged rhythm and blues soundtrack (with among others, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles). In France, 1980 ended with François Truffaut's triumphant film "Last Metro" with Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve.

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO - Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO

Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SATURDAY & SUNDAY JUNE 14-15 1980. Jean Rondeau's triumph was fleshed out by the third place finish for the car driven by Gordon Spice and brothers Philippe and Jean-Michel Martin, also winners in the class.