The first two and a half hours of the 1955 race were perhaps the most exciting ever seen on the Sarthe circuit. Full 3 car teams from Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin and Jaguar were supplemented by works Maserati and Cunningham teams , and a plethora of private entrants.
Hawthorn led off for Jaguar, with Fangio's Mercedes in hot pursuit. For these first hours the lead changed constantly, the lap record being broken on virtually every lap, at around the 120 mph average mark.
What could have become one of the greatest races of all time turned to tragedy at 6.30 pm, Levegh's Mercedes vaulting the barriers and disintegrating into the crowd.
At mignight the M-B directors decided to withdraw their remaining cars, and Hawthorn and Bueb raced on to a sad and hollow victory, at 107.07 mph.