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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This weekend sees the Goodwood Member's Meeting taking over the international retro racing scene once again and part of what makes these British track battles so special is that the racecars used are the extremely exclusive kind that usually get treated as garage queens.

Of course, you can't bet on the risk-related benefits of such a game without expecting an actual accident every now and then. Alas, the 2016 edition of the event, which is taking place this weekend, has just seen a painfully rare AC Cobra Le Mans Coupe involved in a serious crash.

It all happened earlier today, with the hardtop-wearing Cobra, one of nine ever built, racing as part of the Graham Hill trophy, one of the event's highlights.

The Shelby machine was driven by Karsten Le Blanc, who has been putting the racecar through its paces at various events for quite some time now. A top exec in the banking world, Le Blanc is a well-known gentleman driver, having taken part in all sorts of competitions. While the Dutch driver is usually present at classic car events, he has also taken part in modern vehicle motorsport, for instance driving a prototype racer in the British Endurance Championship.

The driver is seen locking the brakes on a deceleration area just before a bend, and although he takes his foot off the brake just before entering the grass, he once again locks them on the green zone. This caused the Cobra to lose its steering abilities, with the car plowing straight into the tyre wall.

It's enough to notice how far the racecar bounced off to understand the severity of the impact. And while Le Blanc has reportedly walked away from the impact, his machine has suffered serious damage.

Knowing how the AC Cobra's Le Mans Coupe version came to be only makes things even more painful. Back in 1962, Carroll Shelby's idea of mixing a lightweight AC chassis with a Ford small block worked brilliantly on the road. However, when the AC Cobra hit the track in 1963, it became obvious that its top speed, a key component of winning on circuits such as Le Mans, was limited by its aerodynamics.

Before the more streamlined Cobra Daytona Coupe was born for the 1964 season, a quick solution came in the form of the 1963-fielded Cobra Le Mans Coupe. This was basically a racing-spec Cobra with a hardtop and a few other small mods.

Out of the three racecars built, only two entered the Le Mans race, but one was disqualified early in the event. Nevertheless, the remaining vehicle took a respectable seventh place overall, while finishing third in the GT class. As a result, six extra racecars were built after the Circuit de la Sarthe fight, which were sold to private teams. Here's to hoping the one you'll see crashing below returns to the track soon.

Update: As one of our readers noticed (helmet tip to racefan), this is not a Le Mans Coupe, but a 1963 Cobra with a hardtop fitted later on in its life - and yet the story remains just as sad.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
more on the crash.









One of the more engaging elements of Goodwood's various motorsport events is that the cars involved are actually being used as their makers intended. Sure, if you'd spent seven figures on a car it might be tempting to wrap it up in cotton wool and squirrel it away where nobody could hurt it, but it's an undeniable fact that race cars were built to race. And so at Goodwood, that's what they do.
The flipside of this joyful situation is that motorsport tends to involve the odd fender-bender. Or, as in the case of this '63 Cobra at the 74th Members' Meeting, a massive, terrifying smash. Unfortunately, driver Karsten Le Blanc just ran out of road (or grip, or something), and suddenly the car was much shorter than before.
Still, it's just a car, isn't it? Le Blanc thankfully walked away from the accident, and the Cobra can be rebuilt. It'll be difficult and expensive, but that's the game. It's another story in the car's history. And that's better than being locked up in some plutocrat's garage, isn't it?

tons of great pics here from GW

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157666208084175/
 
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