RSR Jaguar XKR GT2 Le Mans endurance race car

RSR Jaguar XKR GT2 Le Mans endurance race car

Last fall, Jaguar debuted its RSR Racing Jaguar XKR GT2 endurance racer at the Petit Le Mans, and this year the company will be making its return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe in its 75th year of carmaking.

Jaguar hopes to take its first win at the famed race since the XJR-12 took the title in 1990. It looks well-suited to the task as well, with the RSR Jaguar XKR GT2 car built to the maximum class specification, though it will face stiff competition from the likes of Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Spyker, and Aston Martin.

Jaguar's 75-year span in the car business is a long one, but it's still three years short of the race itself--this year is the 78th since the first 1923 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race, steeped in history, has seen glory and tragedy in nearly equal measures, but it has long been regarded as the single most important racing event in the world.

To get a taste of what it was like back in the 1950s--when auto racing was equated with bullfighting--check out the video below of Mike Hawthorn previewing the circuit while narrating the course--which runs on public roads, closed for the event--the year after his winning 1955 run at the wheel of a Jaguar D-Type. Hawthorn was involved in the accident that killed 84 spectators in the 1955 race, with some placing part of the blame on his shoulders, somewhat tarnishing the win. Sadly, Hawthorn would die in a non-racing car accident in the U.K. less than three years later, shortly after winning the 1958 Formula 1 World Championship.