The 24 Hours of Le Mans is shaping up to be a pretty special event. Not just because we’re expecting an epic clash between Audi, Porsche, Toyota and newcomers Nissan for the overall win (which should be quite a thing to watch), but also because it’s the 20th anniversary of McLaren’s overall win. To commemorate, McLaren is trotting out all five F1 GTRs that participated in the 1995 race and has released this special series of videos documenting the race.

The McLaren F1 was never intended to go racing, but there was enough interest from racing teams to justify building a race version. It was the first and only time a manufacturer won Le Mans on its first try, but the overall sense you get from these videos was how hastily put together and haphazard the entire program was — very un-McLaren-like.

“I thought we’d only do about an hour.” Paul Lanzante was team manager for the winning No. 59 Ueno Clinic car and describes his mindset going into the race: “I’ve never had a car on a grid of a race where it was, not to say the most disorganized or the most badly prepared, but there was still so much more to do, which we never had time for. So much more understanding. And before you know it, we’re pushing the car on the grid and they’re putting the flag over it, and I thought, ‘This is it. We’ve done all we can.’”

Obviously, it was enough.

If you’re a student of endurance racing history, these four videos are well worth your time. They also also plenty of period footage from the race itself, complete with the sounds of shrieking 6.1-liter V-12s.

Part 3

Part 2

Part 1

James Wolfcale
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