LE MANS 24 HOURS 1929

15th - 16th June

25 starters 10 classified finishers

 

A fourth victory and 4 cars in the first 4 places made the race into a Bentley triumph. Encouraged by the performance of Brisson and Bloch in 1928, Stutz entered 3 cars. A brace of Chryslers and an extremely long Du Pont completed the U. S. attack. In the Bentley camp were 4 of the usual 4.4 litre cars backed up by a new and impressive loocking Speed Six. No supercharging for the British cars due to a lack of time. This year there were no ltalian entries and from the French point of view, with 10 cars out of the 25 starters, the best they could hope for was an Index or class victory. From the start the Barnalo - Birldn Bentley set the pace on the new layout. While the green cars grouped together at the head of the field, Brisson's Stutz was soon into the pits for a plug change. Eyston took up the chase in the no. 6 Stutz and managed to get as high as third Bentley lost the Howe - Rubin car which went out at Mulsanne after having lost a lot of time in the pits. Ever faster went the leaders and only their team - mates Dunfee and Kidston could match their pace. More problems for Stutz when, during refuelling, no. 4 caught fire. If the damage to the car was slight the unfortunate Brisson had to be rushed to hospital with serious burns. Chiron continued single - handed. During Ihe night fue 4.4 litre Bentleys, in spite of minor problems with lights, water leaks, brakes etc, fought off the attacks of Eyston's and Watney's Stutz, while up front, nothing troubled the onward march of the Birkin - Barnato Speed Six. When Eyston went out, Ihe only remaining Stutz, that of Bouriat - Philippe, was in no position to challenge the English supremacy. Thus, Bentley became the first make ever to fill the first 4 places in the history of the race and to win it 4 times. Anolher first was the make's win in both the overall classification and Index of Performance. The Lea Francis finished on its Le Mans debut while 2 French Tractas finished in the last 2 positions.

CIRCUIT :

16.430 kms. Safety considerations caused the A C. O. to shorten the western leg of the circuit. Out went the famous Pontlieue hairpin as the area was becoming built - up. This reduced the lap dislance by 922 metres. The A C. O, which had to bear fue costs of the roadworks, was authorised to construct a link between the Laigne road and the Le Mans - Tours main road. This new link was called the "Rue du Circuit". A new spectator enclosure was opened in the zone between Indianapolis and Amage as was a car park. Opposite the pits a by - road was created separating the brushwood fence from that of the spectator tribunes.

REGUIATIONS :

The automatic elimination of cars which had not covered their set distances now took place half - way through the race and at the finish instead of every 6 hours. A maximum of 30 minutes was allowed to cover the final lap, this limit being calculated from the competitor's last lap past the pits before the expiry of the 24 hours. Supercharging was still allowed but the cubic capacity of cars using a supercharger was increased by 30% from the basic engine displacement. New minima for set distances with a general increase for the 500 to 2000 cc classes and a slight reduction for those above this figure.

STARTERS :

25 cars 3 nations 12 makes

France: 3 B. N. C. s (Bollack, Nerter et Cie), 1 d'Yrsan, 2 S. A R. A. s (Ste des Automobiles a Refroidissement par Alr), 4 Tractas.

Great Britain : 1 Alvis, 5 Bentleys, 1 Invicta, 1 Lagonda, 1 Lea Francis.

United States of America : 2 Chryslers, 1 Du Pont, 3 Stutz.

SUMMARY:

Withdrawls of a Du Pont, an Alvis, an Oakland, and a Lagonda which was crashed in practice. No French entries in the 2 to 3 litre class and above. An engineer called Cozerte innovated by fitting a 2 stroke engine into a Tracta chassis. Two of the 3 Stutz were supercharged. The B. N. C team tested a 4 cylinder overhead valve Meadows engine. The 6597 cc Speed Six Bentley was repuled to put out 180 horsepower and capable of reaching almost 200 km/h. The smallest car in the race, the 749 cc d'Yrsan, had to be push - started and was soon out. All the oil in the 2 stroke Tracta's engine "which sounded like a machine gun" in J. A Gregoire's words, was converted into smoke leading to the car's demise. The Du Pont went out with broken transmission after badly secured ballast had pierced the fIoor and damaged the shaft. Both Chryslers again proved their reliability. The Invicta was eliminated towards the end by a badly tightened radiator cap.                                                   

RECORDS :

Barnato and Birkin set 2 new outright records with a distance of 2843.830 kms covered at an average speed of 118, 492 km/h. The 10 classified finishers all exceeded 2000 kms and, apart from the Lea Francis and the 2 Tractas, averaged over 100 km/h. The honour of the fastest lap went to Tim h Birldn in 7'21", an average speed of 133.551 km/h.

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Author: ArchitectPage