The worst crash in motor racing history ? killing
more than 80 people ? was produced by a ferocious and haunting
combination of circumstances: nationalism, raw speed, the nature of a
24-hour race, and chance. The crash drew in Mike Hawthorn, the blond
playboy from Farnham, in a Jaguar, and Juan-Manuel Fangio, one of the
greatest drivers of all, in a Mercedes. A crowd of 250,000 watched
hypnotised as Hawthorn set out to break Fangio, the two cars going
faster and faster... and faster. Another English playboy, Lance Macklin,
was caught up in the crash in his Austin-Healey, along with a
50-year-old Frenchman driving under the assumed name of Pierre Levegh.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It cost him his life, even
as his car was torn to pieces that scythed into the dense crowd.