The world’s greatest motor race, the Le Mans 24 Hours, has been the stage for some of the greatest tales of heroism, bravery and innovation the sport has ever witnessed. All of those moments feature in this collection of officially licensed histories.
Each volume focuses on a single decade of the race’s rich history, detailing the drivers, cars and technology that defined each age. It’s the ultimate collection for any sports car racing fan.
Le Mans: The Official History 1923-29
Officially licensed with the ACO, the organisers of the annual Le Mans 24 Hours race, this sumptuous book is the sixth title in a decade-by-decade series that is building up into a multi-volume set covering every race. This title covers the seven 24 Hours races of the 1920s, plus, as a prologue, all the events held at the Le Mans circuit during the period 1906-23. Each running of the 24 Hours is exhaustively covered in vivid photographs, an insightful commentary providing more detailed information than has ever been published about the period, and full statistics.
Mans : The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race, 1949-59
This was a very important period in the Le Mans story. Ferrari and Jaguar raced to stake claims as the foremost manufacturers of high-performance cars. Mercedes-Benz came back from war-ravaged Germany and again set the standards in race-car engineering.
Aston Martin finally won at its 20th attempt. Enormous crowds – approaching half a million people – saw the first rear-engined saloons to compete at Le Mans, and the first mid-engined sports-racing cars, and the first diesels. As the victorious manufacturers actively promoted their successes, their commercial rivals also set out to win.
As many as 15 brought ‘works’ teams every June, with purpose-built cars. On-track performance soared. In 1949 the fastest car hit 135mph (217kph) on the unique Mulsanne straight.
Before the end of the 1950s, top speeds exceeded 180mph (290kph). This fascinating book tells the stories of these increasingly potent racing cars and conveys the punishing nature of an incomparable event – the ultimate test of the mental and physical abilities of the fragile individuals who make up racing teams, be they drivers, engineers, strategists or mechanics.The thorough statistics in the book result from fresh research, and there are more than 400 evocative photographs, many of them – including very rare colour images – never published before.
Le Mans : The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race, 1960-69
This was the defining decade for the Le Mans 24 Hours. It started with six consecutive victories by Ferrari, overwhelming Aston Martin and Maserati. But then Ford threw its all-American dollars at the race and won it four times in a technically exciting period that also brought the competitive emergence of brands such as Alfa Romeo, Matra, Porsche and Renault.
The participation of great automobile manufacturers spurred the development of many iconic racing cars: Ferrari Testa Rossa and GTO, Ford GT40 and Daytona Cobra, Porsche 904 and 917. The machines that were specially built for Le Mans evolved through the decade from front-engined brutes to mid-engined monsters. By the end of the period, many of them could achieve more than 200mph (300kph) on the awesome straights that defined the race, thrilling as many as 300,000 spectators at trackside.
Almost 50 companies built cars that were raced at Le Mans in the 1960s. The 24 Hours became an annual cauldron of corporate rivalry and a high-speed proving ground for innovative automobile technologies.Above all, it became an incomparably arduous and complex challenge to man and machine that captured the imagination of the public the world over.
Le Mans : The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race, 1970-79
This decade at Le Mans began with the first victories by Porsche, whose awesome 917 racing car, capable of more than 240mph (385kph), established a distance record that would stand for almost four decades. One of a hat-trick of wins by Matra, effectively the French national team, was achieved in a famously frantic, head-to-head duel with Ferrari. In 1975, the oil crisis led the ACO to run its race to a ‘fuel formula’, and it was won by the Ford-supported Gulf-Mirage team.
Porsche, using motorsport to develop its turbocharging technology, won again in 1976 and in 1977, when Jacky Ickx produced one of the greatest drives ever seen in motor racing anywhere. A massive effort by Renault, again with a turbocharged engine, delivered success in 1978. The decade closed, as it had started, with a soaking wet race that was won by Porsche.
This 10-year chronicle describes events as they unfolded during each of the races. The reader will learn about the ever-changing regulations – many introduced to encourage fuel efficiency – that governed the races, and follow the technical advances made by innovative competitors as they strove to win the biggest prize in motor racing.
Le Mans : The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race, 1980-89
The 1980s was a momentous decade in Formula 1 and this book captures its extraordinary drama. A superb range of 250 colour photographs by Rainer Schlegelmilch, one of the greatest motor racing photographers of all time, is supported by insightful commentary from Quentin Spurring, who had the senior editorial role on Autosport magazine for much of that decade. Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell all made their debuts in this decade and became, with Nelson Piquet, the stars of the era – they were arch rivals equipped, at one stage, with the most powerful racing engines of all time.
McLaren and Williams first established themselves as regular winners in this period, and these teams, with Ferrari, remain big players today. This was a decade when Formula 1 was transformed by political upheaval, technical innovation and extended TV coverage, all of which laid the foundations for today’s globally popular sport.
Le Mans : The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race, 1990-99
Officially endorsed by the ACO, the organisers of the annual Le Mans 24 Hours race, this sumptuous book is the fifth title in a decade-by-decade series that is building up into a multi-volume set covering every race since 1923. Each year is exhaustively covered in vivid photographs, a detailed and insightful commentary, full results data and a glorious rendering of the official race poster, the whole work providing coverage that far exceeds any previous books in quality, depth and authority. Compiled by an acknowledgedexpert on this legendary race, this series of books is treasured by all enthusiasts of sports car racing.
Dimensions:288 x 230 x 25 (mm)