The line-up of cars for this year's Le Mans Legend, the Historic support race at the Le Mans 24 Hours, is looking exceptional. "Entries have far exceeded the 61 cars which can start the one-hour, two-driver race," says race organiser Duncan Wiltshire, "so we're accepting entries on the basis of provenance: cars with genuine Le Mans history, or sister cars of the same specification."
Headline entries include Sir Stirling Moss in the very first production C-type; three-times Le Mans winner and 1961 F1 World Champion Phil Hill in an ex-Fangio Alfa Romeo 3000CM; and Johnny Herbert in a 1955 Jaguar D-type.
Cars with real Le Mans history are plentiful. There's an HRG Le Mans from 1949 and a Jaguar XK120 from 1950, plus a very special XK120 LT2 from the following year. This is one of the two, lightweight XK120s with a one-piece magnesium body which Jaguar prepared for 1951 in case the C-types weren't ready. History tells us that the XK120s weren't needed - the C-types went on famously to win.
Also entered is a Gordini T23S which ran at Le Mans in 1950 and 1951, before being fitted with a larger, six-cylinder engine for 1952. In this guise it led the race for eight and a half hours before a brake problem forced retirement.
Among the later racers is a Jowett Jupiter Le Mans R1 from 1952, and the actual Hamilton-Rolt Jaguar C-type which won outright in 1953, and is now owned by Duncan Hamilton's son, Adrian. The following year, 1954, saw the first Jaguar D-types at Le Mans - and the D-type which came second overall that year is entered in the Le Mans Legend, along with the Porsche 550 RS which came 12th. And from 1955 there's a Frazer Nash Sebring and a Triumph TR2. The TR2 finished 19th - and last! - that year, and will be driven in 2005 by Tony Dron, Triumph's last ever works racing driver.
Dron is also one of the many drivers who is a veteran of the modern 24 Hours. Other veterans include Nick Faure, who will be driving a 1953 Porsche 356 in the Le Mans Legend, and 25-year-old Gavin Pickering - who already has three modern Le Mans under his belt. There's also Nick Mason, better known as Pink Floyd's drummer than a Le Mans racer, although Mason competed in the modern 24 Hours five times between 1979 and 1984.
Meanwhile Stuart Graham, who will take the wheel of a 1955 Austin-Healey 100S, had an illustrious early career on both two wheels and four. Barrie 'Whizzo' Williams is down to drive two cars in the race: a Jaguar D-type and an Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar XK120. And as long-time Lotus enthusiast Malcolm Ricketts races his 1955 Lotus IX, he will no doubt be remembering that this is the 50th anniversary of Lotus's debut at Le Mans. For further information see www.motorracinglegends.com.