Louis Chiron

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Louis Chiron
Louis Chiron 1931.jpg
Chiron in 1931
BornLouis Alexandre Chiron
(1899-08-03)3 August 1899
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Died22 June 1979(1979-06-22) (aged 79)
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Flag of Monaco.svg Monégasque
Active years 19501951, 1953, 19551956, 1958
Teams Maserati
Ecurie Rosier
Scuderia Centro Sud
Entries19 (15 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Career points4
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1950 British Grand Prix
Last entry 1958 Monaco Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years 19281929, 19311933, 19371938, 1951, 1953
C.T. Weymann
Equipe Bugatti
Guy Bouriat
Capt. G.E.T. Eyston
Luigi Chinetti
Ecurie Bleue
Scuderia Lancia
Best finishdnf (1928, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1951, 1953)
Class wins0

Louis Alexandre Chiron (3 August 1899 – 22 June 1979) was a Monégasque racing driver who competed in rallies, sports car races, and Grands Prix. He is the oldest driver ever to have raced in Formula One, having taken 6th place in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix when he was 55. [1]

Monaco Principality in Western Europe

Monaco, officially the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state, country, and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea.

Rallying form of motorsport where modified or specially built road-legal compete not on a circuit, but instead in a point-to-point format

Rally is a form of motorsport that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars. It is distinguished by running not on a circuit, but instead in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between set control points, leaving at regular intervals from one or more start points. Rallies may be won by pure speed within the stages or alternatively by driving to a predetermined ideal journey time within the stages.

Sports car racing auto racing on circuits with two seat cars and enclosed wheels

Sports car racing is a form of motorsport road racing which utilizes sports cars that have two seats and enclosed wheels. They may be purpose-built (Prototype) or related to road-going models.



Louis Chiron gained interest in cars and racing when he was a teenager. He started driving in Grand Prix races after World War I, in which he was seconded from an artillery regiment as a driver for Maréchal Pétain and Maréchal Foch. [1]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Philippe Pétain French military and political leader

Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain, generally known as Philippe Pétain, Marshal Pétain and The Old Marshal, was a French general officer who attained the position of Marshal of France at the end of World War I, during which he became known as The Lion of Verdun, and in World War II served as the Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France's oldest head of state.

Ferdinand Foch French soldier and military theorist

Marshal Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch was a French general and military theorist who served as the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War. An aggressive, even reckless commander at the First Marne, Flanders, and Artois campaigns of 1914–1916, Foch became the Allied Commander-in-Chief in late March 1918 in the face of the all-out German spring offensive, which pushed the Allies back using fresh soldiers and new tactics that trenches could not contain. He successfully coordinated the French, British and American efforts into a coherent whole, deftly handling his strategic reserves. He stopped the German offensive and launched a war-winning counterattack. In November 1918, Marshal Foch accepted the German cessation of hostilities and was present at the armistice of 11 November.

He won his first local race, the Grand Prix de Comminges of 1926, at Saint-Gaudens, near Toulouse, and went on to drive a Bugatti and an Alfa Romeo P3 to victories in the Marseille Grand Prix, the Circuit of Masaryk, and the Spanish Grand Prix. [2] In the Indianapolis 500 of 1929, he drove a Delage to 7th place. [2] He won the 1931 Monaco Grand Prix—the only Monégasque driver to have won his home grand prix—and in 1933 he partnered with specialist endurance racer Luigi Chinetti to win the Spa 24 hours race.

Saint-Gaudens, Haute-Garonne Subprefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Saint-Gaudens is a commune and a sub-prefecture of the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern France.

Toulouse Prefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Toulouse is the capital of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the region of Occitanie. The city is on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean and 680 km (420 mi) from Paris. It is the fourth-largest city in France, with 466,297 inhabitants as of January 2014. In France, Toulouse is called the "Pink City".

Bugatti Defunct French automaker

Automobiles Ettore Bugatti was a French car manufacturer of high-performance automobiles, founded in 1909 in the then-German city of Molsheim, Alsace by the Italian-born industrial designer Ettore Bugatti. The cars were known for their design beauty and for their many race victories. Famous Bugattis include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 "Royale", the Type 57 "Atlantic" and the Type 55 sports car.

Chiron retired in 1938, and World War II curtailed motor racing a year later. When racing resumed after the War, he came out of retirement and drove a Talbot-Lago to victory in two French Grands Prix. [3]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Talbot-Lago automobile manufacturer

Automobiles Talbot S.A. was a French automobile manufacturer based in Suresnes, Hauts de Seine, outside Paris.

According to a Los Angeles Times review of fellow driver Hellé Nice's biography, Chiron accused her, at a 1949 party in Monaco to celebrate the first postwar Monte Carlo Rally, of "collaborating with the Nazis". The review says biographer Miranda Seymour is "circumspect on Nice's guilt". [4] A review of the same book in The New York Times says Nice was accused of being a "Gestapo agent"; that Seymour "rebuts" the charge; and that it made Nice "unemployable". [5] Seymour's book says that in a letter to Antony Noghes, the head of the Monte Carlo Rally committee, Hellé Nice "protested her innocence"; that she told him she would appeal to the Monaco court unless Chiron wrote an apology; that no letter from Chiron has been found; and that the court has no record of such a case between 1949 and 1955. [6]

<i>Los Angeles Times</i> Daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper which has been published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It has the fourth-largest circulation among United States newspapers, and is the largest U.S. newspaper not headquartered on the East Coast. The paper is known for its coverage of issues particularly salient to the U.S. West Coast, such as immigration trends and natural disasters. It has won more than 40 Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of these and other issues. As of June 18, 2018, ownership of the paper is controlled by Patrick Soon-Shiong, and the executive editor is Norman Pearlstine.

Hellé Nice French racing driver, model, dancer

Hellé Nice was a French model, dancer, and a Grand Prix motor racing driver.

Monte Carlo Rally annual rallying event held in Monaco and France

The Monte Carlo Rally or Rallye Monte Carlo is a rallying event organised each year by the Automobile Club de Monaco which also organises the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. The rally now takes place along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco and southeast France. Previously, competitors would set off from all four corners of Europe and ‘rally’, in other words, meet, in Monaco to celebrate the end of a unique event. From its inception in 1911 by Prince Albert I it was an important means of demonstrating improvements and innovations to automobiles.

Paired with the Swiss driver Ciro Basadonna, Chiron won the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally, and achieved podium finishes in the fifteen Formula One races he entered that year. His last race was in 1955, [7] when he took a Lancia D50 to sixth place in the Monaco Grand Prix a few weeks before his 56th birthday, [8] becoming the oldest driver to compete in a Formula One race. [7] He is also the oldest driver ever to have entered for a Formula One race, taking part in practice for the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix when he was 58.

Lancia D50 racing automobile

The Lancia D50 was a Formula One racing car designed by Vittorio Jano for Lancia in 1954. The car's design made use of many innovative features, such as the use of the engine as a stressed chassis member, the off-centre positioning of the engine to allow a lower overall height, and pannier fuel cells for better weight distribution and aerodynamics. Six of the cars were built, and two of them are displayed in Italian museums.

1955 Monaco Grand Prix Formula One motor race held in 1955

The 1955 Monaco Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Monaco on May 22, 1955. It was race 2 of 7 in the 1955 World Championship of Drivers and was given an honorary name, Grand Prix d'Europe. The 100-lap race was won by Ferrari driver Maurice Trintignant after he started from ninth position. Eugenio Castellotti finished second for the Lancia team and Maserati drivers Jean Behra and Cesare Perdisa came in third.

1958 Monaco Grand Prix Formula One motor race held in 1958

The 1958 Monaco Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 18 May 1958 at Monaco. It was race 2 of 11 in the 1958 World Championship of Drivers and race 2 of 10 in the 1958 International Cup for Formula One Manufacturers. The race was the 16th Monaco Grand Prix and was held over 100 laps of the three kilometre circuit for a total race distance of 314 kilometres.

Racing record

Major career victories

Chiron after winning the 1934 French Grand Prix Louis Chiron after winning the 1934 French Grand Prix.jpg
Chiron after winning the 1934 French Grand Prix

24 Hours of Le Mans results

1928 No Team Name Flag of France.svg Cyril de Vere Chrysler 725.06DNFDNF
1929 Flag of France.svg C. T. Weymann Flag of France.svg Édouard Brisson Stutz DV328.065DNFDNF
1931 Flag of France.svg Equipe Bugatti Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Achille Varzi Bugatti Type 50S5.020DNFDNF
1932 Flag of France.svg Guy Bouriat Flag of France.svg Guy Bouriat Bugatti Type 55 3.023DNFDNF
1933 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Capt. G.E.T. Eyston Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Franco Cortese Alfa Romeo 8C 2300MM3.0177DNFDNF
1937 Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Luigi Chinetti Flag of Italy.svg Luigi Chinetti Talbot T150C5.07DNFDNF
1938 Flag of France.svg Ecurie Bleue Flag of France.svg René Dreyfus Delahaye 1455.07DNFDNF
1951 Flag of the United States.svg Luigi Chinetti Flag of France.svg Pierre-Louis Dreyfus Ferrari 340 America Barchetta S
1953 Flag of Italy.svg Scuderia Lancia Flag of France.svg Robert Manzon Lancia D20S
Source: [9]

Complete European Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

1931 Automobiles Ettore Bugatti Bugatti T51 Bugatti 2.3 L8 ITA
1932 Automobiles Ettore Bugatti Bugatti T54 Bugatti 5.0 L8 ITA
Bugatti T51 Bugatti 2.3 L8 FRA
1935 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 2.9 L8 MON
Alfa Romeo 3.2 L8 FRA
1936 Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes W25K Mercedes ME25 4.7 L8 MON
SUI ITA 18th28
Source: [10]

Post-WWII Grandes Épreuves results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

1947 Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CL Maserati 4CL 1.5 L4 s SUI
Ecurie France Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 BEL
Enrico Platé Maserati 4CL Maserati 4CL 1.5 L4 s ITA
1948 Ecurie France Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 MON
1949 Ecurie France Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 GBR
Source: [2]

Complete Formula One World Championship results


YearEntrantChassisEngine1234567891011WDC Pts
1950 Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4 s GBR
500 SUI
1951 Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4 s SUI
500 NC0
Ecurie Rosier Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 BEL
1953 Louis Chiron OSCA 20 OSCA 2000 2.0 L6 ARG 500 NED BEL FRA
1955 Scuderia Lancia Lancia D50 Lancia DS50 2.5 V8 ARG MON
1956 Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 ARG MON
1958 André Testut Maserati 250F Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 ARG MON
Source: [11]


Chiron retired after 35 years in racing but maintained an executive role with the organizers of the Monaco Grand Prix, who honored him with a statue on the Grand Prix course and renamed the Swimming Pool corner after him. [12] As he had achieved the greatest number of podium finishes in Bugattis, the 1999 Bugatti 18/3 Chiron concept car and the 2016 Bugatti Chiron are named in his honor. [13] [14]

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 quickly. [12]

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  1. 1 2 "Louis Chiron – Monaco". ESPN. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 "Louis Chiron – Biography". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  3. "Drivers – Louis Chiron". grandprix.com. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  4. Neil, Dan (8 December 2004). "In pursuit of the Queen of Speed". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  5. Grimes, William (24 December 2004). "A Racing Life: Plenty of Men and Fast Cars". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  6. Seymour, Miranda (2004), Bugatti Queen, Random House, pp. 258–259, ISBN   1-4000-6168-7
  7. 1 2 Spurgeon, Brad (22 August 2009). "Measuring Experience in Youthful Formula One". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  8. "1955 Monaco Grand Prix". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  9. "All Results of Louis Chiron". racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  10. "THE GOLDEN ERA – OF GRAND PRIX RACING". kolumbus.fi. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  11. "Louis Chiron – Involvement". StatsF1. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  12. 1 2 "Louis Chiron – the Monegasque Gentleman Driver". montecarlodailyphoto.com. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  13. European Car, Volume 37, Issues 7–12. Argus Publishers. 2006. p. 106.
  14. Taylor, Michael. "Bugatti Chiron blasts into Geneva with nearly 1,500 hp". Autoblog. Retrieved 28 August 2018.

See also