Mysteries in the Archives: 1955 Tragedy Strikes Le Mans'24 Hours

25 min 53 s
ONFB

On June 11, 1955, between 200 and 300 thousand people are attending automobile racing’s most celebrated endurance event: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Like every year, Le Mans attracts important media attention and this 23rd edition boasts the sport’s most elite race cars. But at the 147th minute, a Mercedes crashes and explodes. Eighty spectators die, and 140 are injured. In only seconds, Le Mans is the scene of the deadliest accident in automobile racing history. How did the catastrophe take place? Why were there so many victims? And why did the organizers allow the race to continue despite the tragedy?