Saturday, June 09, 2007

Death and Rebirth - Cause and Effect

One of the main reasons the La Carrera Panamericana was closed down from 1955 until 1987 was a direct result of the major loss of life in the 1955 Le Mans. It was a 300 SLR Mercedes driven by Pierre Levegh that was built specifically for the 1955 Mille Miglia which they won that year and the Le Mans 24 hours endurance race that resulted in such a large number of fatalities which crashed into the audience. That single incident had an untold effect not only on the Le Mans and La Carrera Panamericana but also auto racing around the world.

That specific 300SLR (Super Light Racecar) had a device called the air-brake. It was a device that helped the driver with hard braking by raising a large body panel behind the driver and in turn also helped to reduce brake wear a major concern for all endurance racing. It had the same effect as a large parachute and it closed when the driver released the brake pedal which allowed the driver to quickly accelerate back to speed. Mercedes not only dropped out of the race but in fact stopped racing for many years.

While it's obvious that much has happened with respect to spectator safety, crowd control and equally as important many technological advances in race car safety I still find some irony in the fact that the Swiss considered bringing back auto racing after Mercedes has recently unveiled the air brake again in the SLR Mclaren. Equally as ironic is the pure and simple truth that the fatalities of this and other races are responsible for implementing safety barriers, equipment, driver safety devices and so much more which make it possible for hundreds of thousands of automotive race fans around the world to enjoy complete safety while attending such events. For more information as to what caused the Swiss to undo it's ban check out the story over at our friends THE GARAGE. For a more detailed breakdown of exactly what transpired in causing that infamous crash go to Mike Hawthorn - A Tribute.

TEAM CALIFORNIA'S BEST is proud to join other teams and organisations in practicing the absolute highest standards with regard to preparing a race car with nothing short of the finest safety devices and building ethics available. During the build of our cars (Including Lucky) nothing is left to chance. From the first engineering designs and welds performed by IMPACT ENGINEERING right down to the very last checks performed on test day before the car is actually placed on the trailer for the long trip to the Guatemala border not one single item will be overlooked. (several times)

Another famous crash that resulted in ending the famous Mille Miglia resulted with Enzo Ferrari saying it best... "When I talk about the Mille Miglia, I feel quite moved, for it played such a big part in my life. I knew it as a driver, a team director and a constructor ... and was always an admirer of its champions. In fact, the Mille Miglia not only provided enormous technical advances during its three decades, it really did breed champions." This same compassionate quote could easily have been said by any team owner of the La Carrera Panamericana.

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