This is a rare Klemantaski color image. shot on his Rollei early in the famous and tragic Le Mans 24 Hours which took place on June 11-12, 1955. This green Jaguar D-Type with the latest updated specifications was one of three works entries at Le Mans that year and was driven by Don Beauman and Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis. The Jaguars were but one team in an outstanding entry of potential winners. In addition to the Jaguar factory entries, there were two other D-Types from Cunningham and Écurie Francorchamps with Cunningham also having his new C6R. Then Mercedes had entered three of their 300SLRs and Ferrari had three of their 4.4 liter 121LMs with backup from two private 750 Monzas. Maserati brought a pair of their 300S cars and Aston Martin had entered three of their DB3S sports racers.
Beauman, a London hotelier, had an early racing career in F3 and small sports cars. After some notable finishes in 1954 driving an F2 Connaught, he was given this Le Mans drive following an impressive test before team manager Lofty England at the suggestion of his friend Mike Hawthorn. But at Le Mans Beauman retired after a spin and mild accident at Arnage at half distance. Less than a month after Le Mans he was killed in the crash of his Connaught during the Leinster Trophy at Wicklow in Ireland.
In 1955 Norman Dewis was a Jaguar test driver, having joined the firm four years before. He assisted in the development of both racing and road cars until his retirement in 1986. His first job had been to develop the Dunlop disc brakes for the C-Type. Having overseen the creation of the D-Type and its improved 1955 aerodynamics, Dewis was a natural for the Le Mans seat and set an official speed record on the Mulsanne Straight during the race of 192 mph. A few years after he retired, Dewis returned as an informal consultant to Jaguar and remains so today, now at the age of 98.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemxcoll.com
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