Louis Chiron

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Louis Chiron
Louis Chiron in Montlhéry in 1927.jpg
Chiron in Montlhéry in 1927
Born Louis Alexandre Chiron
(1899-08-03)3 August 1899
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Died 22 June 1979(1979-06-22) (aged 79)
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Monaco Monegasque
Active years 19501951, 1953, 19551956, 1958
Teams Maserati
Ecurie Rosier
Private
Lancia
Scuderia Centro Sud
Races 19 (15 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 1
Career points 4
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1950 British Grand Prix
Last race 1958 Monaco Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 19281929, 19311933, 19371938, 1951, 1953
Teams Private
C.T. Weymann
Equipe Bugatti
Guy Bouriat
Capt. G.E.T. Eyston
Luigi Chinetti
Ecurie Bleue
Scuderia Lancia
Best finish dnf (1928, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1951, 1953)
Class wins 0

Louis Alexandre Chiron (born 3 August 1899 in Monte Carlo, Monaco – died there on 22 June 1979) was a Grand Prix driver.

Career[edit]

As a teenager, Louis Chiron fell in love with cars and racing. He learned to drive at a young age and joined the Grand Prix circuit after World War I where he had been requisitioned from the artillery section to serve as a chauffeur to Marshals Philippe Pétain, and Ferdinand Foch. Competing in France, in 1926 he won his first local race, taking the Grand Prix de Comminges at Saint-Gaudens near the city of Toulouse. From there, Chiron went on to drive a Bugatti and an Alfa Romeo P3 to important wins in the Marseille Grand Prix, the Circuit of Masaryk, and the Spanish Grand Prix. In addition, he teamed up with champion marathon driver Luigi Chinetti to win the 1933 Spa 24 hours endurance race in Belgium. He also drove a Delage to 7th place in the 1929 Indianapolis 500. He won the 1931 Monaco Grand Prix, and is the only Monaco-born driver to have done so.

Louis Chiron's career came to an end with his retirement in 1938 and auto racing itself a year later with the outbreak of World War II. When racing resumed after the War, Chiron made a comeback and drove a Talbot-Lago to victory in two French Grand Prix races. In 1949, the first Monte Carlo Rally after World War II took place and a large celebration party was given in Monaco. In what is now regarded as one of the black moments of Chiron's life, at the party, in front of numerous race organizers, race drivers, and celebrities, Chiron denounced the female driver Hellé Nice by declaring that she had been an agent of the Gestapo during the war. (This has an ironic cast, in that the lure of a superior car led Chiron to lend his skill to the Mercedes-Benz team, which the Nazis were using as an object of propaganda for their philosophy of racial superiority, at a time when his Jewish colleague and rival René Dreyfus could not). His unsubstantiated allegation destroyed Nice's life and she would be shunned by all, dying in abject poverty.

By the time the new Formula One circuit was organized for the 1950 racing season, age was beginning to catch up with him but he still won the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally paired with Swiss racedriver Ciro Basadonna. In F1 racing, Chiron did manage a podium finish in his fifteen races and in 1955, in front of a hometown Monte Carlo crowd, a few weeks before his 56th birthday he became the oldest driver to compete in a Formula One race. To the applause of Prince Rainier and his many fans he guided his Lancia D50 to a sixth place finish in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix.

After a remarkable 35 years in racing, on his retirement Chiron still remained active as an executive with the organization running the Monaco Grand Prix who honored him with a statue erected along the Grand Prix racecourse and named the swimming pool corner for him. Louis Chiron held the most podiums in Bugatti cars, and the 21st Century Bugatti company remembered him with the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron named in his honor.

Louis Chiron is also the oldest driver who has ever taken part in a Formula One Grand Prix. In his last F1 race, the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, he was 58 years old.

Racing record[edit]

Major career victories[edit]

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
Ret
FRA
1
BEL
Ret
4= 12
1932 Ettore Bugatti Bugatti ITA
Ret
FRA
4
GER
Ret
5= 17
1935 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo BEL
3
GER
Ret
SUI
Ret
ITA
ESP
Ret
9= 29
1936 Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz MON
Ret
GER
Ret
SUI
ITA
18= 28

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Pts.
1950 Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati L4C GBR
Ret
MON
3
500 SUI
9
BEL FRA
Ret
ITA
Ret
10th 4
1951 Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati L4C SUI
7
500 NC 0
Ecurie Rosier Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot L6 BEL
Ret
FRA
6
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
ESP
Ret
1953 Louis Chiron OSCA 20 OSCA L6 ARG 500 NED BEL FRA
15
GBR
DNS
GER SUI
DNS
ITA
10
NC 0
1955 Scuderia Lancia Lancia D50 Lancia V8 ARG MON
6
500 BEL NED GBR ITA NC 0
1956 Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati L6 ARG MON
DNS
500 BEL FRA GBR GER ITA NC 0
1958 André Testut Maserati 250F Maserati L6 ARG MON
DNQ
NED 500 BEL FRA GBR GER POR ITA MOR NC 0

Rally wins[edit]

Legacy[edit]

Louis Chiron was so popular in Czechoslovakia whose Grand Prix he won three consecutive times that even after 75 years his name still lives in a popular saying "He drives likes Chiron", used mainly when referring to speeding motorists or generally to people who drive very fast.

External links[edit]