On reflection, 1991 was a rather strange year. The Gulf War broke out, leading to trip hop band Massive Attack being forced to temporarily remove the ‘Attack’ from their name. Shell suits and Hypercolour T-shirts were all the rage, and a blue hedgehog by the name of Sonic was keeping spotty herberts occupied for hours on end in front of the TV.
In keeping with the peculiarity of the year, 1991’s Le Mans 24 hour wasn’t won by the dominant Mecedes-Benz C11, but by a non-piston engined Mazda, which became the first and only Japanese manufacturer to win the prestigious endurance event.
Originally released on VHS back in 1998, 1991 Le Mans has finally been ported across to DVD so that a whole new audience can take a trip down memory lane and relive some of the drama that encapsulated the 1991 running of the 24 hour race.
Despite taking 12 years to go digital, it sadly has no additional features to speak of, nor has the picture or sound quality been improved to utilise all those gigabytes provided by the DVD format.
This highlights package begins by skimming the surface on all the developments leading up to the race. The (then) new pit complex and a brief synopsis of qualifying are covered by some dodgy looking subtitles, backed by an unnecessarily annoying typewriter sound. Thankfully this only lasts for a handful of minutes before it leaps head first into summarising the race.
Unlike modern day DVD reviews, the audio track that features on 1991 Le Mans has been directly lifted live from the actual race, which supposedly “adds to the drama and excitement,” but as ‘real’ as this is, I think a trick has been missed when this was originally produced all those years ago.
Without the benefit of hindsight, there isn’t an abundance of detail to be discovered for first timers to the race in question. It also means that when the commentators went to bed for the evening, we have to endure a gruelling five minute over-night interlude of watching punters get drunk while listening to ‘Driver’s Seat’ by Sniff ‘n’ Tears.
But for all its faults, 1991 Le Mans does exactly what it says on the tin. The 90 minutes running time does a thorough enough job on reflecting how unpredictable that year’s race was and reveals the full story behind Mazda’s impressive victory.
As a trip down memory lane it can’t be faulted and endurance racing fans of this particular era should lap it up. But anyone lacking the necessary background knowledge of the event or its participants may find it tough going.