Valvoline, Porsche, Austin Healey discussed on Past Gas
One and decided to debut their new 300 SLR in the 1955 world sportscar championship. The 300 SLR featured a body made of ultra lightweight magnesium alloy. It had inboard drum brakes and a large air brake behind the driver that could be raised to increase drag and thus down force. I think this Jaguar this was the first time the disc brakes had ever been used in competition. That's right, Joe. I think there's a Wheelhouse we talk about it, but that's pretty cool. As mentioned earlier, the cirque de Sartre was designed in the 20s. When cars could only reach speeds of 60 mph. But by 1955, the fastest cars were hitting speeds of over a 170. Oh my God. Yeah. And they just invented disc brakes. Yeah. Since it's opening, the circuit had been resurfaced and widened with two layout changes that made it a bit shorter. The pits and grandstands had been reconstructed, but there were no barriers between the pit lane and the racing line. With only a four foot bank between the track and spectators. There's also no designated deceleration lane for cars entering the pits. On top of that, the cars often had no seat belts since drivers believed it would be better to get thrown clear in a collision rather than being crushed in a burning car. It's so funny. Also back then they had the Le Mans start so like all the guys would line up out of their cars and then run to their car and start it and get out of there. So you don't want to waste all your time buckle it all kinds of safety devices. There's one guy that's just trying to tune the radio before he starts. Come on. Bluetooth connect. Where's my songs to listen to while vaping playlist? Where are my sunglasses? We'll get back to more past guests, but right now, a word from our sponsors. Big thanks to Valvoline for sponsoring this episode of past gas. Did you guys know that Valvoline was the first motor oil brand? Making it the original motor oil? 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It's super easy to find affordable insurance. Save time and money in minutes. Show your sport for the show by going to the special URL. Again, that's the zebra dot com slash pass gas and get your free quote today. The zebra dot com slash past gas. Thank you very much. The zebra. Before the race, Mercedes Benz driver Pierre levee voiced his concern that the pit stop and grandstand area was dangerously narrow. Tragically is concerns went unheard. Just 35 laps into the 1955 Le Mans, the worst crash in motor sports history. Occurred. As he reached the pit stop section next to the grandstand, Jaguar driver, Mike hawthorn pulled right onto the track in front of Austin healey driver, Lance macklin. Macklin swerved directly into the path of lavey, who was trying to pass both the Jaguar and Austin healey. Lavey rear ended macklin's Austin healey, which launched his Mercedes SLR into the air and into the stands. The Mercedes exploded instantly killing levee as well as 83 spectators and injuring nearly a 180 more. And though there is much debate over who is to blame for the disaster. The official inquiry determined that the layout of the track was ultimately responsible. The 30 year old track was simply not designed for cars as fast as those involved in the incident. Despite this ruling, Mercedes Benz called back the rest of their team after the accident and retired from motor racing until 1987, the accident was a monumental turning point for safety and motor sport, and many new rules and regulations were added in the aftermath. That's so many people. The period of 1966 to 1980 is likely a recognizable era to car nerds. This was the golden era of racing. The 15 years saw quite a bit of change on the circuit de la motte, particularly when European dominance turned in 1966 would Ford kicked the Italian Goliath out of the top spot with their unforgettable GT 40. Not only was this the year that an American company won the European endurance race, but Ford managed to secure the entire podium, meaning the 6 time reigning champion was shut out completely. Of course I'm talking about Ferrari. The victory was at least partially fueled by spite after Enzo Ferrari publicly humiliated Henry Ford the second by pulling out of a 1963 deal, although Hank the deuce was a piece of and he changed the terms at the last minute. And Enzo, obviously backed out a deal. You're allowed to back out of the deal. Yeah. When Ferrari pulled out of Le Mans completely in 1973, many believed it was due to Ford's dominance, which continued for four years after the 1966 defeat. If you want more details on this fuel, like we said, we did a four part series on it early on in the podcast. I remember it is pretty good, but it might not be. Now I listen to it again and it's really funny. It's missing one little key element though. Yeah, there's no wink wink nation in there. As the dynamics of the race evolve, the cars became faster and more powerful, often to the dismay of safety conscious officials. The Porsche 9 17, the car that Steve McQueen drove in Le Mans. The movie was born out of one of the regulations put in place to reduce speeds in the race. Starting in 1968, Porsche decided to design and build 25 different versions of a whole new car with a 4.5 liter capacity for the sport category. They had one goal in mind, to win their first overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970. It took only ten months to put together the Porsche 9 17, and by 1970, Porsche defeated 5 time winner Ford and won the legendary endurance race. Thanks to the Porsche 9 17, the company was able to win four times total throughout the 1970s. I love this car. This victory aligned with another rule change born from safety regulations up until 1970, Le Mans was known for the standing start. That's what we mentioned earlier. The drivers would line up on the left side of the track one behind the other, opposite their cars, and when the French flag was lowered, they would run sprint as fast as they could to their cars, start their engines and then go. You add like the element of how fast can you run up here? Yeah, which is not connected to your driving skill at all. At all. And you get in and you're just like winded. Well, this is a fun way of kicking off the race. It wasn't exactly the safest way to start 24 hours of driving. No. The rule change wasn't an overnight process, however. In 1968, Belgian Willie Maurice says forward GT 40s. Door flew open on the first Mulsanne straight as he tried to close it after standing start. Really crashed and suffered from severe head injuries that left him unconscious for two weeks. What? Oh my God. As a result of his injuries, the former Formula One driver was told he would never race again, and one year later in 1969, he died by suicide. No. No, man, that's really sad. During the 1969 start, three months before he passed, fellow Belgian Jackie X famously staged the one man protest on the standing start when he casually walked over to his car, took his time putting on his belt and began the race in last place. What makes that very cool is he won. Meanwhile, another driver, John Wolfe ran with the other drivers and flipped his car during the opening lap. And because he wasn't strapped in properly, he was killed. So it kind of proved his point. What's the point of it? If it doesn't, if he's going to come in first, this dude runs over to his car and dies, whatever. Yeah, in the next year, 1970, they changed the rule. But what a dumb idea? Well, I mean, it's a holdover from when they first started it. And ran over to your car and back then, I assume the cars didn't fire up immediately, like they did at this point. So right, yeah, it's like a holdover from when it was like a lot less serious. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. I was like, okay, we have to gamify this a little bit because nobody's going to want to watch a car drive for 20, I mean, yeah. It's like if they had the NASCAR drivers at the coliseum last weekend, ride BMX bikes down the stairs and have to do a trick before getting into their car. It's like depending on how they qualified, they get they have to start at a different neighborhood in Los Angeles. And they have to drive to the coliseum and then find parking. And then go and start. Oh man. That's kind of present in a lot of different sports, especially the older ones. Where it's just been going on for so long that no one ever questions it. And then something tragic happens, and it's like, oh, we have to revisit this dumb thing. No one gets killed in baseball, but there's a bunch of stuff left over from 1870 where they've never changed it. There's that rule in baseball. It's hardly ever has to be enforced, but if you get like three errors in a row, you have to smoke 8 cigarettes. Yeah. Yeah, that's like a holdover from the Hank Aaron days. And for sure. In the audience wags their finger at you at the same get it. You dropped it no, no. Smoke. You dropped it no, no. Rarely ever happens because guys are so good now. They really get her, but sometimes happened in 2016. Yeah. And it was actually seen as a reward. Back then, because it's like, oh, this guy's obviously off his game. Yeah. 8 cigarettes. Yeah, he's playing three games today. It'll make him better. He's playing three games today. He's not even drunk yet. How long to go back to the Dodger game this year? You know there's a lot of them. I know there's not just the Dodger game. There's a 162 Dodger games this year. That's why fantasy baseball is like, I just feel like my idea of hell. It's so fun. In the 1980s, perhaps inspired by the 1979 energy crisis, a new class called group C was introduced. Placing emphasis on fuel efficiency. This period marked a return to the races original purpose as a showcase of innovation and forward thinking design. Car companies began to lean away from the gas guzzling heavy duty race car bodies towards slimmer, more lightweight designs. This trend is highlighted by the fact that Porsche won 8 out of ten races through the 80s. And at one point, 6 in a row, one of the most interesting wins occurred in 1980, when a private builder named Jean rondeau won in a car, he crafted himself, called the rondo M three 7 9 B this baby was a prototype born from an inner LM with a Ford Cosworth DFV engine, and it was the first time that a driver won with a car that bore his name. The DFV engine was like killer in that era. Yeah. Progress from the 80s until the 2000s was achieved beyond the car builds. Mercedes Benz returned to the grid. The company's first run at Le Mans since the 1955 crash. In 1991, Mazda became the first Japanese manufacturer to win with their 7 8 7 B oh, I love that one. Yeah, one of the best sounding cars ever. However, one of the biggest moments in Le Mans record books occurred in 1988 when WM Peugeot set a speed record that many believe will stand the test of time. Gerard welter, Peugeot's head of design and team boss of WM was a man well versed in endurance circuits. From 1976 until 1989, the WM GTP and group C prototypes raced at Le Mans were built with the goal to hit the highest possible speed down the Mulsanne straight. Before the circuit was interrupted by chicanes. While many thought that the speed was second to durability at Le Mans, Walter disagreed. Before the 1988 race, welter announced project 400 and claimed that his WM Peugeot P 88 would be the first car to hit 400 kilometers an hour at Le Mans. To be clear, he didn't care about winning the race. He just wanted to use the prestige of the event to draw attention to his car. Driven by a turbocharged Peugeot engine, the P 88 certainly had the power to reach 400 km/h. But his cars had an unhappy tendency to break down under pressure. An erase known for durability, the WM Peugeot P 88 reached a whopping 407 kilometers an hour or 253 mph. Down the Mulsanne straight. Just before issues with the car's turbocharger, cooling and electrical killed the car, just 59 miles into the more than three thousand mile race. But hey, welter got exactly what he wanted. His P 88 became the first car to break the 400 kilometer barrier at Le Mans. And in 1990, when the chicanes were added to slow speeds on the strait, this record was forever cemented in Le Mans history. You don't really need your turbocharger cooling system and electrical system anyways. I feel like he could have finished it if you wanted to. Dude, this thing just looks fast. Well, wow, that thing is sick. Do you think sick? Oh my God. Oh my God. I wish you guys could see this right now. I'm looking at it. Podcast viewers, this car is sad. It looks like a plane without wings and it looks like what's that really fast bird that dives a peregrine falcon? Yeah. Yeah. Oh my God, you guys, Google is bird. I think every week we should have a segment called Google a bird. We all Google a bird together. Look at it. Yeah, I got this week's one. Secretary bird, Google that bird. It's time for Google a bird. We do it right in the middle of the story. We don't wait till the end. Dude, this secretary bird looks like a secretary. With secretary pants and yeah, he's got secretary pants, got secretary hair. One of the top images is like to an article titled secretary bird world's sexiest bird. All right. Who wrote this? Secretary bird world sexiest bird from Africa is killer, but not just by its looks. What? What the hell is going on? All right, back to cars. Le Mans lost a bit of popularity in the 1990s with a number of auto manufacturers withdrawing. Most likely this was due to high production costs, but we'd like to believe it's because so many GT one and LMP cars kept back flipping. You heard that right, if you watch the 1999 Le Mans, you definitely remember Mercedes driver Peter dumb bricks insane crash on the way to Indianapolis corner where his CLR took flight flipped over in the air multiple times and landed in the Woods. The weirdest part, it happened to his teammate Mark Weber at the same spot during qualifying. This is like the most insane. You've definitely seen this GIF. Yeah. It's so crazy. These weren't the first cars to fully back flip at Le Mans. The year before at petit Le Mans, the Porsche 9 11 GT one crested a hill became airborne and backflipped before it landed on its rear. So how could this happen? Well, it has to do with the negative pitch angle of the top level sports racing cars of the era, in order to generate enough down force and thus increase cornering speeds, the front of the car is set to sit lower than the rear. The issue is that when a car like the 9 11 GT one, or the CLR, cresta hill, the pitch angle switches to be positive, creating a lifting force underneath the car in other words, once the front comes up and reached 2.4°, the down force of the rear was gone, a bunch of air went under there and basically it's like an airplane wing. Flip that boy around. Flip that boy around. How crazy would it be to back flip a car like that? What does that feel? Dude, you know like when you go over a hill and it belly feels weird. Tickle? Yeah. I bet it's like that to the extreme. Oh yeah, it's like the same feeling when you see a secretary bird. Yeah. What? What? We'll be right back with more of this story, but first, a word from our sponsors. 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