The 24 Hours of Le Mans was just 10 minutes old when Dane Allan Simonsen crashed his car and died of his injuries. On Saturday the race continued, after Simonsen’s partner Carina, the mother of their baby, insisted the organizers honor Simonsen by continuing the race.
Simonsen’s death marked the first time in 16 years that a racer was killed in the 24-hour endurance race. The restart was delayed nearly an hour as race officials had to repair the guardrail area where Simonsen’s car crashed.
The Dane’s death was the first driver fatality since 1997, the year Sebastien Enjolras was killed while trying to pre-qualify. However, the last time a driver died from a crash in the actual Le Mans race was back in 1986. That year driver Jo Gartner was killed.
This was the seventh time Simonsen had raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is won by the team that completes the most laps in the 24 hour time period. Each team is allowed to have up to three drivers that change when the vehicles make pit stops.
Simonsen was a member of a team of three drivers from Denmark. His teammates were Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen and they were in first place in the GTE-Am endurance championship, following a win in their category in April and a second in May.
Many drivers from the Formula One to NASCAR to IndyCar Series tweeted condolences to the family and friends of the Danish driver.