Jean-Pierre Wimille

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Jean-Pierre Wimille atter winning the 1936 Grand Prix de Deauville

Jean-Pierre Wimille (26 February 1908 – 28 January 1949) was a Grand Prix motor racing driver and a member of the French Resistance during World War II.

Biography[edit]

Born in Paris, France to a father who loved motor sports and was employed as the motoring correspondent for the Petit Parisien newspaper, Jean-Pierre Wimille developed a fascination with racing cars at a young age. He was 22 years old when he made his Grand Prix debut, driving a Bugatti 37A at the 1930 French Grand Prix in Pau.

Career[edit]

Driving a Bugatti T51, in 1932 he won the La Turbie hill climb, the Grand Prix de Lorraine and the Grand Prix d'Oran. In 1934 he was the victor at the Algerian Grand Prix in Algiers driving a Bugatti T59 and in January 1936 he finished second in the South African Grand Prix held at the Prince George Circuit in East London, South Africa then won the French Grand Prix in his home country.

Still in France, that same year he won the Deauville Grand Prix, a race held on the city's streets. Wimille won in his Bugatti T59 in an accident-marred race that killed drivers Raymond Chambost and Marcel Lehoux in separate incidents. Of the 16 cars that started the race, only three managed to finish.

In 1936, Wimille traveled to Long Island, New York to compete in the Vanderbilt Cup where he finished 2nd, behind the winner, Tazio Nuvolari. He also competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race, winning in 1937 and again in 1939.

World War II[edit]

When World War II came, following the Nazi occupation Wimille and fellow Grand Prix race drivers Robert Benoist and William Grover-Williams joined the Special Operations Executive, which aided the French Resistance. Of the three, Wimille was the only one to survive.

Post World War II[edit]

Jean-Pierre Wimille married Christiane de la Fressange with whom he had a son, François born in 1946. At the end of the War, he became the No. 1 driver for the Alfa Romeo team between 1946 and 1948, winning several Grand Prix races including his second French Grand Prix.

Wimille 1948

From 1946 on, Wimille built and designed cars in Paris under the brand-name Wimille. Between 1946 and 1950 around eight cars were built, at first with Citroën-engines, later with Ford V8-engines.

Jean-Pierre Wimille died at the wheel of Simca-Gordini during practice runs for the 1949 Buenos Aires Grand Prix.[1] He is buried in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris. There is a memorial to him at the Porte Dauphine on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.

Victories[edit]

Some of Jean-Pierre Wimille's race victories:

1932:

1934:

1936:

1937:

1939:

Post War - 1945:

  • Coupe des Prisonniers - Bugatti sprint car

1946:

1947:

1948:

Complete European Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Entrant Make 1 2 3 4 5 EDC Points
1931 Usines Bugatti Bugatti ITA
4
FRA
Ret
BEL
7
9= 14
1932 Private entry Alfa Romeo ITA
FRA
Ret
GER
16= 21
1935 Bugatti Bugatti BEL
Ret
GER
SUI
ITA
Ret
ESP
4
16 33
1936 Bugatti Bugatti MON
6
GER
Ret
SUI
Ret
ITA
14= 26
1938 Bugatti Bugatti FRA
Ret
GER
SUI
7
ITA
Ret
11 25

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jean-Pierre Wimille: The man who would have been champion...". grandprix.com. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Paris, Jean-Michel and Mearns, William D: "Jean-Pierre Wimille: à bientôt la revanche", Editions Drivers, Toulouse, 2002, ISBN 2-9516357-5-3
  • Saward, Joe: "The Grand Prix Saboteurs", Morienval Press, London, 2006, ISBN 978-0-9554868-0-7

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Johnny Hindmarsh
Luis Fontés
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1937 with:
Robert Benoist
Succeeded by
Eugène Chaboud
Jean Trémoulet
Preceded by
Eugène Chaboud
Jean Trémoulet
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1939 with:
Pierre Veyron
Succeeded by
Luigi Chinetti
Peter Mitchell-Thomson