For many years both before and after World War II just a few weeks after the 24 Hours of Le Mans another 24 hour endurance race was held in Belgium on the long and fast Spa-Francorchamps public road circuit. However, even postwar the racing was still run in a relaxed prewar style, much less professional than it would eventually become.
For the 1949 Spa 24 Hours which took place on July 9-10 Aston Martin entered a pair of DB2s, one with a two-liter engine and the other using a Lagonda 2.6 liter unit. The two-liter car, seen above, would finish an excellent fifth overall and third in class driven by Lance Macklin and Nick Haines. The sister and larger-engined DB2 would finish even better, third overall. The outright win went to Luigi Chinetti in a Ferrari 166MM barchetta. Chinetti had just won the Le Mans race in another 166MM.
For Spa Aston had installed large fuel tanks, giving a five to six hour range. The weather on Sunday was very hot and Macklin was feeling it on his long stint. Macklin described what happened in Racing with the David Brown Aston Martins: “A friend of mine, Charles Lewis, was at a roadside café on the Masta Straight and every time I went by he’d hold up a glass of cool lager. After a few laps of this, I made frantic signals to let him know that I wanted a beer the next time round, and as I pulled in he ran to the car and handed me a glass. I grabbed it and shot off into the race again. Funnily enough, Astons never picked this up – they weren’t timing every lap and no questions were asked. Louis Klemantaski happened to be walking up the course at the time and took the photograph you see here. He sent me one at Christmas, saying, ‘What’s it worth not to send a copy to Astons?'”
The famous John Wyer was then not yet the Aston team manager or there might have been trouble!
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection
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