Sunday, July 8, 2012

Race Car Of The Day: July 8, 2012

Today's car of the day comes from Firehawk73's collection and is Shelby Collectibles' 1959 Aston Martin DBR1.

The Aston Martin DBR1 was a sports racing car built by Aston Martin starting in 1956, intended for the World Sportscar Championship as well as non-championship sportscar races at the time. It is most famous as the victor of the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, Aston Martin's only outright victory at the endurance classic.

Following changes to the rules for sportscar racing, entrants no longer had to use cars which were road legal, or based on road legal cars, such as the Aston Martin DB3S. Therefore, with the ability to create a sportscar from a clean slate for 1956, Aston Martin created the DBR1, with Ted Cutting as chief designer. The body evolved from the DB3S's shape, featuring a much lower profile. Most notable was that the back of the front wheel well was no longer left open. Instead, the DBR1 featured full bodywork with a large triangular vent on the side, a design trait which would become standard on all future Aston Martins.

The DBR1 was initially fitted with a smaller 2.5L (2493 cc) new all alloy racing engine (RB6.250) very loosely derived from the racing version of the Lagonda Straight-6 engine, even though the DBR1's predecessor, the DB3S, was at the time racing with a larger 2.9L (2922 cc) engine. Later DBR1s would feature the RB6.300 Straight-6 (2992 cc), rated at 250 hp (186 kW).

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Aston Martin DBR1

Returning again for 1959, Aston Martin had completed two more chassis, DBR1/4 and DBR1/5. The first car was actually a conversion from a DBR3, while DBR1/5 was a spare chassis sold to privateer Graham Whitehead, the only car to do so. With four chassis, Aston Martin would again concentrate on the World Sportscar Championship. The season started slowly, with a sole DBR1 failing to finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring, then followed by the team not appearing at the Targa Florio. Luck returned again for Aston Martin, as the sole factory entry again won the 1000km Nürburgring, with Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman driving. However, Aston Martin's success would continue with what is considered their finest motorsports triumph. DBR1/2, driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori, took victory at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. DBR1/4, driven by Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frére, managed second. The next closest competitor was a distant 25 laps behind the duo.

With the constructors championship now closely contested by Ferrari and Aston Martin, the team appeared at the final round at Goodwood. Aston Martin entered three DBR1s, as well as privateer Graham Whitehead's DBR1/5. During the race, DBR1/3 caught fire in the pits, destroying the car and leaving Aston Martin without room to refuel their other cars. To salvage Aston Martin's hopes of a championship, Graham Whitehead withdrew his entry from the race in order to allow Aston Martin to use his pits stall and finish the race. Able to continue, Stirling Moss, Carroll Shelby and Jack Fairman in DBR1/2 were able to secure victory and the championship over Ferrari, the only World Championship won by Aston Martin.

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