This huge crowd is standing on the pit straight at Le Mans on June 12, 1954 not long before the start of the 24 Hour race. The cars are all Porsche 550 official works-entered spyders. This was the second year for Porsche 550 sports-racers at Le Mans and continued their prior year’s success of winning the 1500 cc sports class.
Car 40 with a 1500 cc motor, nearest to the camera, would be an early retirement due to engine failure while being driven by the German journalist/driver Richard von Frankenberg, his co-driver Helmut Gloeckler not getting a chance to drive. Car 39 will finish 12th overall and first in the 1500 sports car class, driven by Belgians Johnny Claes and Pierre Stasse. Car 47, with an 1100 cc motor, would complete the race in 14th overall, and taking its class win. It was driven by Belgian-American Zora Arkus-Duntov (yes, Mr. Corvette-to-be himself) running with the French driver Gustave Olivier.
The Porsche dual class victory was not without considerable good fortune as the two works O.S.C.A. MT4s looked to have the 1500 class locked up until late in the race when one was eliminated in an accident while the other suffered disqualification for outside assistance. Even as it was, each had covered many laps more than the Claes/Stasse Porsche.
Photo by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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