Le Mans (1971) Script

Your attention, please.

Your attention, please.

There has been an accident at Maison Blanche. lt involved Porsche Number 64, driven by Michael Delaney, and Ferrari Number 18, driven by Piero Belgetti.

Signora Belgetti.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

On this circuit, the world's most famous motor race is run.

Conceived by Charles Faroux and Georges Durand shortly after the First World War, the course was named after the nearest town and the number of hours that men and machines are put to the supreme test of speed and stamina.

The circuit is 13.469 kilometers.

Or 8.418 miles.

Composed of country roads linked through the main highway, nearly all of it open to traffic 363 days a year.

Along the 3.2-mile Mulsanne Straight, the cars reach a maximum speed in excess of 230 miles per hour.

The first race was run in 1923.

The lap record was nine minutes 39 seconds.

The average speed, 66.69 miles per hour.

Last year, the lap record was three minutes 22 seconds.

The average speed, 145.508 miles per hour.

The race is open to six classes of cars.

From the smallest production models to the largest sports prototype engines.

All competing at the same time on the same circuit.

There are 55 cars and 110 drivers representing countries from all over the world.

They will drive day and night, through sun and rain.

Beneath his racing suit, each driver must wear fireproof underwear capable of withstanding 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of burning gasoline, for 15 seconds.

His blood type must be indicated on either suit or crash helmet.

Each car has two alternating drivers.

No driver may total more than 14 out of the 24 hours.

Each driver must have at least one hour rest between turns at the wheel.

No one may drive more than four consecutive hours.

For the first time in the history of this race...

--at the fall of the tricolored flag, to test speed of action for reaching the safe pit.

This year, the drivers will be securely strapped into their driving seats prior to the start of the race.

Yellow flags and yellow lights along the circuit indicate the presence of an accident.

Or, as it is called in the racing world, "the shunt."

Yellow means danger. No overtaking.

The race will start 4 p.m. Saturday and finish 4 p.m. Sunday.

The car covering the greatest distance in 24 hours shall be the winner. ln the case of the faster cars, this will mean a distance in excess of 3,000 miles.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most famous motorcar race in the world.

The 38th running of the Grand Prix of endurance and efficiency.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans.

We're pleased to welcome Michael Delaney back to Le Mans, after his unfortunate accident here last year.

And to see that he's in such good form following his exciting race a fortnight ago at the Nurburgring, where Ferrari's top driver, Erich Stahler, narrowly beat him.

The Delaney-Stahler rivalry will be interesting to follow on this very different circuit, where the endurance of the car is as important as is the skill of the driver.

lt is now five minutes to 4.

Five minutes till start.

Will all drivers be in their cars in one minute's time, please?

Drivers, to your cars, please.

Four minutes to start.

Three minutes to start.

Two and a half minutes to start.

Two minutes to start.

And once again, here are the first men to qualify in position.

Number 25, driven by Kurt Ahrens.

Number 15, driven by Michael Parkes.

Number 21, driven by Johann Ritter.

Number 22, driven by Paul-Jacques Dion.

Number 8, driven by Erich Stahler.

Number 5, driven by Lugo Abratte.

Number 6, driven by Vito Scalise.

Number 7, driven by Claude Aurac.

Number 20, driven by Michael Delaney.

Number 14, driven by Georges Marnier.

Over three minutes have passed.

We may expect the cars through the chicane any moment now.

Will it be Porsche or Ferrari in the lead?

Here's the leading car, Porsche Number 25, in for its first pit stop for fuel and possible driver change.

And here comes Erich Stahler, Ferrari Number 8, closely followed by the first of the Gulf Porsche cars, Number 20, driven by Michael Delaney.

And watch out for the red Lola. Lola.


And here comes 20 back on the track.

Gulf Porsche Number 21, driven by Johann Ritter, entering the pit.

And Porsche Number 20, Delaney.

Twenty by four.

Okay, thanks.

My colleague has just handed me a weather report and it looks as if the possibility of rain, which was previously forecast, will shortly be upon us.

Just one more, Mr. Delaney.

Hello. Hello.

You had a very good start. lt's a long race.

Are you well?

Excuse me.

Thank you.

What will you tell Peter and Erica when they get old enough to ask what their father does for a living? l'll tell them that their father is the greatest chauffeur in the world.

lf you had a choice, would you like to tell them something else?

For example:

"Well, this week, Daddy's flying to Switzerland."


The new motor factory is almost completed and l have to interview various applicants for...

What are you trying to tell me?

Would you like that better?

Only if you'd like it better.

lf they ask me what their mother does for a living, l'll say, "She lies."

She can look straight into your eyes and tell the biggest lies you've ever heard in your life.


Yes. lt's the right time to stop. l can finish quite well in this race. Perhaps even--

Well, in any case, it's the right time to stop.

As was forecast, we have our first touch of rain. lt's going to be very interesting to see what tactics the team manages to outlast the rain. lf it's only a shower, they won't change from dry to rain tires.

But if it does continue, they must.

Your attention to the pit area.

The long-tail Porsche Number 25 is coming in after having been out on the circuit for only 14 minutes since its last stop for fuel and driver change.

The team of Kurt Ahrens and Vic Elford has built up a formidable early lead on the factory Ferraris and the Gulf Porsche team.

However, it appears now that something definitely out of the ordinary has befallen the Austrian entry.

You will recall that this is the car which, for the first time in the history of Le Mans, averaged a speed in excess of 150 miles per hour.

Mr. Delaney.

You know, the white long-tail is out of the race with a blown engine.

Yeah, well, that's bad luck.

Do you think it will be another Ferrari-Porsche race?

A little early to say, but l think so.

What kind of race will you drive?

Try to save the machine, go as fast as l can, try to win.

Do you think it will be like at Nurburgring?

A race between you and Stahler? l hope not, ma'am.

And what do you think of Stahler?

Stahler? l think he's probably one of the best drivers in the world. Excuse me.

What do you think is the most difficult thing about Le Mans?

To go as fast as possible, and to keep the car on the road for 24 hours. That's difficult.

Would this be the same type of race you had with Delaney at the Nurburgring?

Well, uh, this is Le Mans, it's a different thing, you know?

Do you think that you and Delaney will end up having a close race here?

Maybe. He's fast, l'm fast, so we're always together. Ha, ha.

Good luck.


How's that German car running? Fast.

Ferrari? Fast. lt's getting wetter. Slipping and sliding.

Michael, uh, the press is making a big thing about us.


But it's money.

That's American.


Be careful.

Now, don't be a pain in the ass, Erich.

And here are the official positions, two hours into the race. ln first place, Ferrari Number 8 finished 35 laps at an average speed of 144.981 miles per hour. ln second position is Gulf Porsche Number 20 at 35 laps...

All cars have come into the pits to change to rain tires, with the notable exception of the three Gulf Porsche entries and the four Ferrari team cars. lt is apparent that neither Porsche manager David Townsend or Ferrari manager Loretto Fuselli wants to call his cars in for an unscheduled pit stop during this closely contested race.

Looks kind of hairy out there.

ln practice, it didn't rain, so this is really your first time out in the wet at Le Mans.

Yeah, it is.

Why doesn't Townsend bring them in for rain tires?

Why don't you ask him?

l'll get back to you. Right.

lt's raining worse at Mulsanne.

They're due in in 11 -- Eleven minutes, l know.

Your attention, please.

Your attention, please.

There has been an accident...

lt involves Lola Number 11 and Porsche Number 47.

Fortunately, the drivers are not hurt.

Bring them in for rain tires.

Here we are.

Ferrari's decided to change at last.

And Porsche Number 20 is coming to the pits also.

Now we shall see a race develop between the mechanics, and they will determine who's going to be the first to go out.

Twenty is away first.

Delaney now leads Le Mans.

There goes Stahler, now in second place.

Well done, lad. Well, done. He's coming.

Claude is coming.

No problems. lt's nothing. No problems, yes, yes.

Come on.

lt's going well, Claude, isn't it? l can feel it. The machine is good.

This might be the year.

Well, let's hope so. lt's a long race. l know. Don't think too far ahead.

Lisa? Yes?

Would you like some coffee?

No, thank you.


What problems have you got?

Only thing is that off the Mulsanne, in the middle of the road. . .

--if you stay a little bit to the right and watch it when you come up over the hump, has a little bit of tendency to go this way.

Be a little careful before you go into the cave, and you can out-brake the Ferrari.

Let's go fast. Hey, guys, move it.

All right, Michael. You got this one.

How long?


Hello, Mike. How are you doing?

Cheese, please.

Seems to be the only seat left. Can l sit down?

Where are you living now? ln Paris.

l have to watch myself in Paris. l always get fat there.

l heard you and Erich had quite a race at the Nurburgring.

Well, he keeps me honest.

Can l--? Can l get you something?

No, thank you.

Were you hurt badly in the accident?


Was it difficult to get back into racing?

Not really.

But it must've been very difficult for you.

Was in the beginning. l'm better now.

l was just wondering why you came back here.

For myself.

Delaney's on his way.

Dixie, check the rear uprights on 20, 21 and 22.

All right.

lt is 5 a.m., the 13th hour of the race, and the Ferrari-Porsche battle continues unabated with only 12 seconds separating the two lead cars:

Gulf Porsche Number 20, Ferrari Number 8.

As of this moment, there are 25 cars left in the race. l shall give you a precise listing of the most recent abandonments in a few moments' time.

Watch the handling, Michael.

Just a slight turn about the rear upright.

Here's the second Ferrari team car coming in.

Number 7, piloted by Chris Barnett.

Another driver change should be in order.

Get in.

Yes, Aurac will take over.

Your attention, please.

Your attention, please.

There has been an accident. lt involves Ferrari Number 7, Porsche Number 20.

Both cars are out of the race. l shall tell you about the drivers' condition as soon as l get word from the hospital.

This way. Come along.

Will you sit down here, please?

Can you tell us. . .? Know what caused the accident?

We just want to ask. . .

l don't know.

l don't know. l don't wanna talk about it. Over here.

Now that you're out of the race. . .

We really don't know if it's possible.

Do you compare this to last year's shunt?

The one in which this lady's husband was killed?

I have received word from the pit boxes that Matra--

That Matra-Simca Number 30, out of the race due to gearbox problems.

Just got word from the hospital about Claude. lt's bad, but they say he will pull through.

And Delaney?

Nothing serious, but he's out of the race.

You all right, Michael? l'm fine.

You sure? Yeah. l'm all right.

Where are we running? Third and fourth.

Michael? Are you all right?

Yeah, l'm okay. lt was a bad shunt.


Where are you running? Third. lf you try to nail Scalise, do it down through Maison Blanche.

He doesn't like it there.

Thank you.

Michael, are you all right? l'm okay.

Are you sure? No, l'm fine.

Then what happened to the car? lt was my fault. l made a mistake. l wrote the car off, David.


This isn't just a 1000-to-1 shot.

This is a professional blood sport.

And it can happen to you.

And then it can happen to you again.

When people risk their lives, shouldn't it be for something very important?

Well, it better be.

But what is so important about driving faster than anyone else?

A lot of people go through life doing things badly.

Racing is important to men who do it well.

When you're racing, it's. . . lt's life.

Anything that happens before or after, it's just waiting.

Come on.

What happened on the Delaney shunt?

There was problem at the mall. Slower traffic got in the way.

The car is finished?

Yes, the car is finished.

Hey, David, 21 is coming in.

Get the jack.


Your attention to the pit area, where the leading car, Gulf Porsche Number 21, is experiencing something other than a routine stop.

From the action of the mechanics, it would appear that there is a problem with the rear suspension.

Here is the second-place car, Ferrari Number 8, coming in for what should be its last stop for fuel and driver change.

Erich Stahler will take over for the final driving session, and, no doubt, will assume the lead from Gulf Porsche Number 21, still in the pit.

Stahler, is he in trouble?

The bonnet's up on Ferrari Number 8.

Ladies and gentlemen, both first- and second-place cars are in the pits experiencing mechanical difficulties.


Hello, David.

Are you fit, Michael? A little stiff-- l say you're fit.

My knees are sore.

Stahler's Ferrari is in the pits with ignition problems.

We've got 21 in with a broken rear wishbone.

Dixie is fixing it now. l want you to replace Ritter. He's not quick enough.

Excuse me.

Michael, l want you to drive flat out. l want Porsche to win Le Mans.

Your attention, please.

Your attention, please.

Announcing a change of drivers.

Gulf Porsche Number 21 will be driven by Michael Delaney, replacing Johann Ritter.

Repeat. Gulf Porsche Number 21 will be driven by Michael Delaney, replacing Johann Ritter.

The car is running good.

Brakes are okay.

Darling, does it really matter?

Yes, it does.

But you were going to quit anyway. Yup.

But not this way.

Ladies and gentlemen, through the chicane and along the grandstand straight, here is the new leader, Ferrari Number 5, driven by Lugo Abratte with only eight minutes remaining in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

And now in second place is Larry Wilson in Gulf Porsche Number 22.

Yeah! Come on, come on!

And now, through the chicane and going into the final lap is the leader, Ferrari Number 5, driven by Lugo Abratte.

And in second place is Larry Wilson in Gulf Porsche Number 22.

And on the same lap, having made up nine seconds to the two leaders, are Ferrari Number 8 and Porsche Number 21 running third and fourth, Erich Stahler and Michael Delaney, pushing their cars to the limit in this, the most closely contested finish in the history of Le Mans.

Your attention, please. l have just received word that the first-place car, Ferrari Number 5, driven by Lugo Abratte, is out of the race with tire trouble.

With only two minutes remaining in the race, the lead has been taken over by Gulf Porsche Number 22, driven by Larry Wilson.


Larry Wilson in 22.

Porsche wins Le Mans.

ln second, Michael Delaney in Gulf Porsche Number 21.

And third, Ferrari Number 8, driven by Erich Stahler.

Thank you, Michael.