Winning Le Mans

Duncan Hamilton, Tony Rolt, Jaguar, Le Mans, klemcoll

Duncan Hamilton brings his works Jaguar C-Type down the pit straight to celebrate their win of the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 13, 1953. Sitting next to Hamilton is his co-driver Tony Rolt who has had time to adopt some non-racing wear as two of the Jaguar mechanics ride along behind them. Not long before the end of the race, Hamilton’s windscreen was struck on the Mulsanne by a bird which broke the windscreen and Hamilton’s nose. He did not slow down. This photo shows him on the Mulsanne.

Duncan Hamilton, Jaguar, Le Mans, klemcoll The start of the race almost did not happen for the this British duo. By an unfortunate error their car number was also on a spare C-Type which Stirling Moss wanted to test to compare with the C-Type he was to drive. This he did and the officials decided to disqualify Hamilton and Rolt because Moss was not listed as a driver on their car. As told in Hamilton’s superb autobiography Touch Wood, the two drivers, realizing that their race was over before it had begun, decided to spend the evening drinking, and drank themselves almost insensate. Sir William Lyons, the head of Jaguar, convinced the officials otherwise on their disqualification by paying a large fine. He then had to somehow get his drivers recovered enough to drive. Hamilton was to take the start so he immediately drank a large brandy so he would feel better.

Tony Rolt, Jaguar Le Mans, klemcollRolt, seen here, also needed some refreshment as he prepared to take over from Hamilton. Apparently, brandy was also his choice. Somehow this inebriated pair survived the 24 hours and as their competition fell away, including Moss who had led for quite some time, they found themselves in the lead. At the finish they had become the first car to exceed 100 mph as an average speed for the race. This was duplicated by some several finishers behind them although their margin of victory was four laps.

For many years the winning Jaguar C-Type was the proud possession of Duncan Hamilton’s son Adrian who unfortunately passed away last year.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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