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1973 Le Mans 24 Hours

24 heures du Mans

Saturday, June 9, 1973
Fastest Lap:
Cevert, 3m39.6
1973 season:

From the Motor Sport Archive

Last year's victory by Matra was somewhat hollow thanks to the lack of opposition, notably from Ferrari, but this year it was an altogether different story. The Prancing Horse made a determined effort to stop Matra winning France's most important race by fielding a three car team with the intention of bringing the honours back to Italy for the first time in eight years. The result was a stern battle between the two manufacturers and was in the balance until ninety minutes before the finish. It was only then that the Matra of Henri Pescarolo and GĂ©rard Larrousse got the upper hand and was able to drive home to a victory that brought tears to the eyes of thousands of Frenchmen. This time there was no talk of hollow victories for it had been fairly and squarely won in a classic show of speed and reliability.

When the first Le Mans was held just 50 years ago, surely no one envisaged what a spectacle and money-spinner the event would turn out to be. But the idea of a 24-hour race to test the endurance of the cars and the teams is as valid now as it was then. That the race attracts such huge crowds is a little more surprising. They flock in their tens of thousands to get tired, dirty, perhaps bored, almost certainly fleeced by everyone selling anything and still they love it. One can only explain that there is a sense of participation, of being part of the whole grand occasion.