The 86th annual running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans kicks off this Saturday, June 16th at 2:30 PM local French time/5:30 AM PST. It’s shaping up to be an exciting and memorable race, with Fernando Alonso and teammates poised to end Toyota’s decades-long string of heartbreaking near-victories, potentially making the Japanese marque only the second to ever win the most grueling leg of Motorsports’ Triple Crown, following Mazda’s 1991 win with the legendary quad-rotor 787B. Frustratingly, watching the event live here in the US will still be tricky, but not entirely impossible.
High hopes are riding on the TS050 LMP1 car seen here, which utilizes a 2.4 liter twin-turbo V8 with hybrid tech. The car came close to winning Le Mans in its inaugural 2016 run, and again failed to live up to expectations in 2017 despite driver Kamui Kobayashi’s blistering qualifying lap of 3:14.791–the fastest ever following the addition of chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight in 1990.
We started celebrating early yesterday with this incredible ex-Le Mans and Daytona 1968 Howmet TX turbine prototype (be sure to watch the embedded onboard footage of it passing a wrung-out Porsche 908 on its way up Eau Rouge at 180 MPH), and will be posting a few more memorable Le Mans machines throughout the race weekend–stay tuned.
In the meantime, here’s one of our favorite vintage Le Mans documentaries, a 30-minute film co-produced by Ferodo and Ford called Never Start Something You Can’t Stop, covering the Gulf-liveried GT40 driven to victory that year by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi. Be sure to set aside at least four minutes for the intro, showing a hot, onboard lap of the Le Sarthe circuit narrated by Stirling Moss.