Sunday, October 1, 2023

LE MANS 100C: Celebrating Drivers who’ve Claimed the Triple Crown of Endurance Races

As that’s two mythical Triple Crowns you’ve missed out upon Fernando!


Y’all remember when that Smarmy Spaniard Frederico Suave, aka Fernando Alonso was waxing on ‘n on about wanting to win the elusive Triple Crown? Consisting of winning the 24 Heurs du Mans, Indianapolis 500 and Monaco Grand Prix, for which only Graham Hill has ever done so!


Whale’, with this summers Centenary running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this started me down another Wabbit’ Hole regarding drivers who’ve won what I’ve deemed my mythical Triple Crown of Sports Car races. Consisting of the three I most pay Attenzione too. With le 24 Heurs du Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona making up my Triple Crown.


Unfortunately politics got in the way of a whole cadre of drivers being able to contest All three events, with Sports Cars suffering it’s own version of The Split!Circa 1998-2013.


Most notably, the likes of  Mr. Le Mans, aka Nine-times winner Tom Kristensen. Thee Scottish Terrier’, aka Alan McNish, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro to name a few missed out upon racing at Daytona…


While such Sports Car greats as Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Olivier Gendebien, Jacky Ixkx, Mario Andretti, etc. never won the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race. And yes I’m aware that Gurney won the inaugural Daytona three hours in 1962. Whilst Ye original Mr. Le Mans, Six-times winner Ickx and SuperMario’ (Andretti) won the 1972 Six Hours of Daytona. But Gurney, Hill and Andretti never won the 24hrs rendition in subsequent attempts.


Four names in particular that stand out to Mwah not included on this list are Derek Bell, Vic Elford, Brian Redman and Klaus Ludwig. Specifically Bell’s name, especially since He was part of those All conquering Lowenbrau Porsche 962 Panzerwagon’s efforts, Ja Volt!


Along with the farcical nature of Ford Motor Company’s Brass wrongly taking away Ken Miles trifecta occurring All in 1966 with it’s staged 1-2-3 Le Mans photo finish!


Whilst the likes of many including Bob Wollek, Gerard Larrousse, ‘lil Stevie Johnson’, aka Stefan Johansson, Geoff Brabham, JJ Letho, Alexander Wurz, etc. managed to have only won two-thirds of these legendous’ events. With countless others witnessing Heartbreak over the decades.


Thus if I’ve done my unscientific research correctly? Since I enjoy the History of Motorsports, even if it’s confined to the pages of Wikipedia Herr Crying Wolff!


By my tally, I’ve come up with only nine drivers to date to accomplish this amazing feat! And while I’m certain Y’all can guess who one of the three Yanks’ is, He’s not the first driver to accomplish this…


Hans Herrmann

Birthplace: Stugart, Germany

DOB: February 23, 1928, Age: 95

Wins Sebring, (2) 1960, 1968; Daytona 1968 and Le Mans 1970


When I think of Hans Herrmann, I immediately think of Porsche’s first overall victory at Le mans, after narrowly missing out the year prior! Where Herrmann and co-driver Richard Atwood drove their Porsche-Salsburg 917K entry to victory.


Whilst I tend to forget that Herrmann and co-driver Gerard Larrousse aboard an “older” Porsche 908 finished a tantalizing 393.71 feet! (120 meters) Just over a (NFL) football field’s length behind the winning, venerable Ford GT40 of Jacky Ickx and Jacky Oliver in 1969!


Don’t know much about Hans early forays into motor racing, before becoming a “Junior” driver with the Werk’s Mercedes Benz Formula 1 team in the early 1950’s. With Herrmann making His Formula 1 debut at the 1953 German Grand Prix.


Naturally Hans was given the team’s older equipment with the likes of El Maestro’, aka Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss heading the Mercedes team between 1954-55. As Hans made a total of either 18 or 19 Grands Prix starts between 1953-1969.



Hans scored His first two major race triumphs in 1960 driving for Porsche. Winning that year’s 12 Hours of Sebring and the grueling Targa Florio. Winning at Sebring with co-driver Olivier Gendebien, and then Jo Bonnier in the Targa Florio. With both victories aboard a Porsche 718 RS 60 Spyder.


Yet with the FIA changing the Formula 1 rules for the 1961 F1 season to utilize Formula 2 cars instead. Allowing Porsche to race it’s 718/2 F2 cars in Formula 1, Herrmann left the team after feeling He was playing third fiddle to Dan Gurney and Jo Bonnier.


After driving for Abarth, Hans returned to His Home team of Porsche again in 1966. As 1968 saw the former Baker win the 24 Hours of Daytona and Sebring 12 Hours for a second time behind the keyboard of Factory Porsche 907’s. With the Daytona win shared with co-drivers Vic Elford, Jochen Neerpasch, rolf Stommelen and Jo Stiffert. And then co-driving just with Stiffert at Sebring.


As I’d argue that 1968-70 was the zenith of Herrmann’s racing career, with Hans sort of joking to His wife that if He won that year’s (1970) 24 Heurs du Mans. He’d retire from motor racing since the sport was so dangerous then! For which Hans dually did so afterwards…


While reportedly, Herrmann now at age 95, is the last remaining Formula 1 driver to stand atop a Grands Prix podium during the 1950’s. Along with one of the few to contest such grueling Sports Car races as the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and Carrera Panamericana. Not to mention the only driver of this Uber’ short list to have won the Targa Florio! Or driven alongside El Maestro’ (Juan Manuel Fangio) and Sir Stirling Moss in Formula 1…