Le Mans Memories: Part 7 - Returning to Le Mans: Video
One of the coolest things at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans happened before the race even started. The five 1995-1996 McLaren F1 GTRs that dominated the 1995 race 20 years ago were led out on a parade of Le Sarthe by the new 2016 McLaren P1 GTR track-only hypercar. Also in tow were the Gulf-liveried 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail and 28 McLaren owners who brought their cars out to the race. The entire event is covered in this recent video from McLaren, which is also the latest in its Le Mans Memories series.
The procession was asked to keep it under 50 mph, but it’s not every day you get to drive a McLaren on the Mulsanne Straight, so things got a little crazy. No one was willing to self-incriminate by divulging how fast they went, but McLaren test driver Chris Goodwin in the P1 GTR and J.J. Lehto in the Longtail were winding it out in at least fourth gear, which probably means they were approaching 150 mph.
Among the McLaren customers who made it out was a Canadian gentleman who had just flown a few days prior to pick up his lust-worthy new 2015 McLaren 650S LM from McLaren Paris — a special-edition 650S inspired by the No.59 car that won in 1995 — and drove it straight to Le Mans for the race. The owner of the “Superman” P1 we covered in May also made it out.
Be sure to watch the previous six episodes of Le Mans Memories as well, in which designer Gordon Murray, McLaren CEO Ron Dennis and team manager Paul Lanzante, among others, discuss the 1995 race. They’re all essential viewing for students of sports car racing history.