17th - 18th June
42 starters 20 classified finishers
13.492 kms. Creation of a bank and public viewing zones from the pits up to the top of the hump preceding the Tertre Rouge Esses. Car parks and camping sites still being increased in size.
No noteworthy changes but there was a joint iniative by the A C. O and the newspaper "Le Matin" to create 24 bonuses to be awarded to the leader at the end of each hour.
42 cars 4 nations 15 makes
France : 1 Bugatti, 2 Delages, 8 Delahayes, 8 Simea - Fials, 6 Talbols
Germany: 1 Adler, 3 B. M. W. s
Greal Britain : 2 Aslon Martins, 1 H. R G. (Halford, Robins and Godfrey), 2 Lagondas, 2 M. G. s, 1 Morgan, 1 Riley, 3 Singers.
ltaly: 1 Alfa Romeo.
In spite of the withdrawal of an Alfa Romeo, an Atalanta and an Adler Coupe there were still 20 cars capable of winning. This was due in part to the A C. F. s decision to privilege sports cars even if the French Grand Prix was now back on the international calendar in spite of there being no competitive French teams. The manufacturers had however taken advantage of the A, C, F decision to design and build a range of very competitive sports cars that raced in events like the Mille Miglia, tbe Tourist Trophy (won by Gerard's Delage in 1938) and of course Le Mans. Scrutineering saw a certain amount of nail biting when the Alfa Romeo which Sommer was to share with Prince Bira was late in arriving. As always it came by road but finally the beauliful drop - head coupe designed by Touring made it in the nick of time. If the struggle for outright victory monopolised the spectators interest, there were otber fascinating confrontations all down the field. In the 2 litre class a single Aston Martin was opposed to 3 B. M. W. s one of which was a lovely coupe also by Touring. The 1500 cc category was the scene of yet another Anglo - Germanic duel with an H R G and an Aston against a streamlined Adler. Next step down saw 6 Simca 8s, induding the pretty little open 2 seater reserved by Gordini for himself, against M. G and Singer. Finally, in tbe smallest class of all, the objective of the 2 Simca 5s was to exceed 2000 kms whieh the Alin brothers car just failed to do by 532 metres! The pace was too much for the majority of the Delahayes and all the Talbots but when the times were sorted out, apart from Mazaud and Chinetti eliminaled by fire and accident respectively, it was the neither the quickest nor the fieriest who had to capitulate. Right, Louis Gerard ?
In spite of the Delage's problems and the comparatively slow final laps of tbe Bugatti all the existing records were smashed. Part of the reason for this was the improvement in aerodynamics as well as much lighter cars. It was true at every level induding the lowest as proved by Gordini. The use of aluminium played a role but again one had to know how to work it. The figures speak for themselves. Wimille and Veyron in their supercharged Bugatti covered 3354.760 kms ( 66, 882 kms more tban in 1937) at an average speed of 139,781 km/h, and no fewer than 8 cars including two 2 litre B. M. W. s exceeded 3000 kms while the 1100 cc Simca of Gordini and Scarron, winners of the Index of Performance, averaged 120 km/h. Mazaud set a new lap record in 5'12"1, a speed of 155, 627 km/h. The 1939 Le Mans 24 Hour race was an eloquent demonstration of the health of the Freneh motor industry, in particular, Bugatti, Delahaye, Delage, Talbot and Simca. It would be 11 long years before these records would be beaten as humanity was on the point of engaging in another bout of mass slaughtering.
Sports Car Races