This edition, spanning 1980-1989, covers one of the most exciting post war periods in motorsport. The 1960s and 1970s were of course both decades that were every bit as exciting, but the 1980s perhaps represents the final decade of these three in which innovation ruled. Of course, this is my personal opinion, and it will no doubt be different for every reader. Le Mans: The Official History 1980–89, will present the reader with a detailed account of this period in motor racing that will be remembered and talked about over countless BBQs and beers.
The year 1980 opened the decade with some Group 5 or silhouette race cars still a serious threat to the prototypes. The years 1981 and 1982 saw some seriously quick and potent machinery with the WMs and Porsche 936s, but if truth be told, it was the GT-based cars made up of the Special Production 2000+ and IMSA classes that ensured the field looked as exciting as it did. It wasn’t just the Porsche 911-based models such as the 934 and 935 that provided a large number of entrants, but you also had the Ferrari 512 BB, BMW M1 and Lancia Monte Carlo cars that added spice to the grid.
1982 saw the first year of Group C, without doubt the most creative, innovative and for the spectators, the most absorbing class of racing for many years. This was a series that allowed the manufacturers freedom in so many areas and yet demanded discipline sufficient to finish the race. Sometimes unjustly referred to as the ‘economy series’, it is ironic that this era witnessed the highest speed ever recorded down the Mulsanne Straight, when the WM-P88 Peugeot driven by Frenchman Roger Dorchy was recorded at 405km/h. This era also saw some of the highest speeds and distances recorded in the famous French race…so much for the ‘economy series’ then.
It is well known now that the Porsche 956 and 962 models were utterly dominant throughout the 1980s, until Mercedes, Jaguar, Nissan and Toyota decided to join the fray. If the previous two decades saw a kind of ‘anything goes’ field, the 1980s saw a definite and serious attempt by a number of top level manufacturers making a real go of it, delivering some very sophisticated machinery to the grid. The Group C racing is still talked about today as the favourite era of many spectators and competitors alike, and as a result the public were the outright winners in this decade.
The author deals with each year separately, giving race details for that year’s race, such as the race date, race number, circuit length, official starter’s name and details, the different marques participating, the number of starters and finishers, the winning team and the Index of Energy Efficiency winner. In addition to this, the reader will find comprehensive coverage of the complete entry list at the start of each chapter year, class details, a write-up of the race story, and then also details of each of the major teams. At the end of each chapter is a table giving hour-by-hour positions for all the competitors, a complete table of overall results, the class winners, and an update of the championship standings.
At the end of the book is a very useful section on data for the decade that charts marque records, driver records, pie charts for reasons for retirements, a bar chart on driver nationalities, fastest qualifying laps, fastest race laps, winning distances/average speeds, margins of victory, starters & classified finishers, and of course the fastest cars through the speed trap. All in all, the data per year and also the data for the decade, is divided up in almost every practical way possible, and serves as a very useful record for the reader.
Spurring has once again excelled in the way that he has captured the atmosphere of the decade, both through the written word and photographically. The book is well supported throughout with graphs, tables, lists which is of great value when analysing certain races, drivers and more. If the years of Group C were your favourite, then this volume is an absolute must for racing enthusiasts.
|Title||Le Mans: The Official History 1980–89|
|Format||280 x 230mm, jacketed hardback|
|Page count||384 pages|
Written by: Glen Smale