I’ve been to Le Mans twice and, for a car fan, I feel like it’s a must visit. Even if you don’t love racing the way I do, there’s no underexaggerating how amazing the atmosphere is in the miles and miles of fields around the track. Hang out long enough and you end up asking the question: What era would you like to have seen in person? I probably started watching Le Mans in highlight form around the mid-to-late ’90s and the impossibly long, almost car-like GT1s are still my favorite. Look at these things!
The good news is, if you live in the UK, you can go to the Heveningham Concours this July and see both the 911 GT1 Evo and CLK LM. Both of these cars raced and fulfill the Concours theme of Le Mans cars. Here are some details:
[T]he Heveningham Concours committee has confirmed it will be the first non-Porsche event in the world to publicly display ‘GT1-004’, an ex-Works Porsche 911 GT1 Evo (GT1-004). First developed following the successful debut of the two Works GT1s at ‘La Sarthe’ in 1996 for Porsche’s 1997 Le Mans effort, it is one of two cars ever built in this specification. Chassis #004 and #005, built by Porsche’s factory team, are both immediately distinguished by the redesigned bodywork, complete with the ‘teardrop’ headlamps of the production 996, a new front suspension and a wider track. Having contended in both Le Mans and the FIA GT Championship, where it was the overall World Champion, GT1-004 played a significant role in the 1997 season.
Following its retirement from racing, GT1-004 has not only served as a centrepiece in the famed Drendel Collection but it has also been used in several significant Porsche-sanctioned displays, including on the company’s display stand at the New York Auto Show in 2009 and featured in the famed “family tree” commercial filmed for the introduction of the Panamera saloon. This year it will join Heveningham Concours where it will be on public display for the duration of the event.
Meanwhile, another late-Nineties Le Mans legend has also been previewed. Visitors to this year’s Heveningham Concours will be able to see the imposing Mercedes-Benz CLK LM #35, which, at the end of the 1997 season, allowed Mercedes-Benz to take home both the driver’s and constructor’s titles for the FIA GT Championship. With the designation of ‘LM’ in its name, the CLK LM was built as the successor to the CLK GTR, of infamous ‘flying’ fame, and was a Group GT1 sports car specifically built for ‘La Sarthe’, where weight reduction and aerodynamics were key components to suit the long, fast straights.
I’m going to be in the UK this summer, I think, but I’m going to miss this event. What a bummer! Maybe I can convince a certain British friend to go check it out…
Photos: Heveningham Concours
’90s era LeMans cars are awesome design-wise, but that Supermarine Spitfire shown above, from a 1935 design, tops them all.
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“I’ve been to Le Mans twice and, for a car fan, I feel like it’s a must visit.”
Le Mans just made my list of must-do car-things last Saturday. I had given little thought to IMSA, Le Mans, or anything connected to them, but I now find myself a bit obsessed. At the half-way point of a 3000-mile Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham-trip last week, I had the good fortune to attend the 12 hours of Sebring and just don’t have the vocabulary to describe how great of an experience that was! Best of all, my daughter went along and now seems to be quickly turning into something of a super-fan herself.
Arrived at the track at 8:00am, toured the paddock area, walked the starting grid, and didn’t leave until 10:30 that night after one of wildest finishes I’ve ever gotten to witness at a motorsports event. The whole day was just a next-level gearhead paradise. Of course seeing Cadillac win was a really massive cherry on top.
After all of that, it’s genuinely hard to wrap my head around what Le Mans must be like!
How the hell did they position those cars that way in that grass? With the hills? WTF
The Mercedes CLR can fly.
This is not getting enough love. Well done!
They’re less than 6 inches longer than the current LMP2 cars, and if someone knows what less than 6 inches looks like, it’s me.