Remembering Matra's Test Match Special

Model makers often write asking if we have photos of this or that – mostly obscure liveries or specs of popular racing car subjects. Just recently I came across evidence of a very rare Matra configuration, running in the 1969 Le Mans Test Weekend. It was the original MS630/650 sports-prototype which would ultimately come to be fitted with a full-width rear wing between end-plate supports on its tail. But here, driven by Johnny Servoz-Gavin, who did most of the donkey work that weekend, the car has a low-level spoiler attached to the tail lip with a pair of perky little triangular fins on each rear fender section. Should look great in 1:43, and absolutely magnificent in 1:8 scale.

Poignantly, in the same file I found some evidence of the appalling accident that same weekend in which the previous year’s Le Mans winner, Lucien Bianchi, had lost his life. His Autodelta Alfa Romeo T33-3 had gone out of control near the end of the Mulsanne Straight.

It had apparently wandered onto the right-side verge and then spun back across to the left. Travelling more or less tail-first – and still at very high speed – it had then struck a roadside telegraph pole, which literally smashed the car to pieces. The scene looked more like an air crash than anything possible with a car… and for the popular moustachioed Belgian it had proved completely un-surviveable. Another of motor racing’s sad days, indeed.