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1956 Le Mans 24 Hours

24 heures du Mans

Saturday, July 28, 1956
Pole position:
Fastest Lap:
Hawthorn, 4m20.0
1956 season:

Scotland wins economy race

Le Mans (Sarthe) July 29th.

The most outstanding thing about the 1956 Le Mans 24-hour race was the fact that it was run under an entirely new set of rules, and in consequence could not count towards the manufacturers' championship. This meant that it had to stand on its own and rely on tradition for its success. Every year the Le Mans race is controlled by hundreds of regulations, mostly connected with the conduct of drivers and mechanics throughout the 24 hours, but this year some stringent new rules put a different aspect on the whole event before it began. Most important was the limitation of an engine capacity of 21/2-litres for cars that were experimental, while any cars over this capacity had to be standard production models. The first rule prodneed an interesting group of experimental machinery, while the second group contained a large number of regulation dodgers. Regulations are always worded to allow the greatest freedom of interpretation, and by "standard production" it was agreed that 50 such cars should have been made, laid down, or provision for making laid down. That delightful competition department phrase, "optional extras" as shown in the catalogue came in for a great deal of overtime during the entering of such cars as the team of factory Jaguars, with long-nose bodywork, special cylinder heads, fuel injection and experimental front brakes, while the Aston Martin DB3S cars, with 12-plug heads, disc brakes and new-type bodies stretched the meaning of the act to its limit. Apart from this normal routine of regulation dodging, which had been part of the lure of Le Mans since the very beginning, and is always accepted as part of the fun, there were two new rules which caused a lot of anguish.