The Swollen Bug

08 June 2023

Following the greatest tragedy in motor racing history, the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 23rd 24 Hours of Le Mans and took place on 11 and 12 June 1955 on Circuit de la Sarthe.

During the race, Pierre Levegh crashed into a crowd of spectators, killing 84 (including himself) and injuring 120 in the deadliest accident in motor racing history.

And whilst death was always uppermost in the minds of the drivers, there were severe doubts about the future of motorsport, resulting in the cancellation of the balance of the 1955 Grand Prix season.

Despite that, the 1956 season starred some of the greatest names from the annals of motor racing; one such occasion was the 1956 French Grand Prix at the Circuit Reims.

Scuderia Ferrari team included, Juan-Manuel Fangio, Peter Collins and Eugenio Castellotti.and the Spanish aristocrat, Alfonso de Portago.

The Maserati team had five drivers: Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Cesare Perdisa and Chico Godia.

The last factory team to participate in the French Grand Prix was the British Vanwall.

This time three drivers represented Vanwall. Maurice Trintignant had temporarily joined Bugatti; Tony Vanderwell invited Mike Hawthorn to race.

However, an even bigger surprise was the appearance of the chief designer Colin Chapman at the wheel of the third Vanwall.

One of the most significant events of this Grand Prix was the debut of the French Bugatti team, which presented their first Formula-1 car, the Bugatti T251.

The main distinguishing feature of this car was the mid-engine arrangement, which was innovative for the French racing car industry.

With the in-line 8-cylinder power unit. It is located transversely to the chassis directly behind the driver.

The Bugatti had swollen sidewalls, in which fuel tanks were located, with a wide streamlined nose completed the unusual image.

It was the honour of Maurice Trintignant, who was on loan to the French team for this Grand Prix.