Raymond Sommer

Last updated
Raymond Sommer
Raymond Sommer 1932.jpg
Sommer in 1932
Born(1906-08-31)31 August 1906
Mouzon, Ardennes, France
Died10 September 1950(1950-09-10) (aged 44)
Circuit de Cadours, Tarn-et-Garonne, France
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Flag of France.svg French
Active years 1950
Teams Ferrari, works and private Talbot-Lago
Championships 0
Wins 0
Career points3
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1950 Monaco Grand Prix
Last entry 1950 Italian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years 19311935, 19371939, 1950
Best finish1st (1932, 1933)
Class wins2 (1932, 1933)

Raymond Sommer (31 August 1906 – 10 September 1950) was a French motor racing driver. [1] He raced both before and after WWII with some success, particularly in endurance racing. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in both 1932 and 1933, and although he did not reach the finishing line in any subsequent appearance at the Le Mans, he did lead each event until 1938. Sommer was also competitive at the highest level in Grand Prix motor racing, but did not win a race. He won the French Grand Prix in 1936, but the event that year was run as a sports car race. After racing resumed in the late 1940s, Sommer again won a number of sports car and minor Grand Prix events, and finished in fourth place in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, the second round of the newly-instituted Formula One World Drivers' Championship. He was killed toward the end of 1950, when his car overturned during a race at the Circuit de Cadours.



Sommer was born in Mouzon, in the Ardennes département of France, into a wealthy Sedan carpet-making family. His father, Roger Sommer, broke the Wright Brothers' record for the longest flight in 1909. It was not until 1931 that Raymond started to display daredevil tendencies of his own, entering motor races in a privateer Chrysler Imperial. The following year, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, despite having to drive over 20 hours solo after his teammate, Luigi Chinetti, retired ill. During the 1930s, Sommer was to dominate the French endurance classic, winning again in 1933 driving an Alfa Romeo alongside Tazio Nuvolari. He also led every race until 1938, only to suffer a mechanical failure, once when 12 laps in the lead. Sommer traveled to Long Island, New York, to compete in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup where he finished fourth behind the winner, Nuvolari.

However, his tendency to run in his own privately entered Alfa Romeos did him no favours on the Grand Prix scene, and although a regular top-10 finisher in Grands Épreuves he never won a race. At the time, the German manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union were the dominant force in Grand Prix racing, together with the French Bugatti team. Sommer turned to sports cars once more, and in 1936 he won the French Grand Prix with Jean-Pierre Wimille, and the Spa 24 Hours endurance race with co-driver Francesco Severi. More wins came his way including at the "Marseilles Three Hours" at Miramas, the Grand Prix de Tunisie and La Turbie hill climb competition in 1938 and 1939 with Alfa Romeo 308 until the outbreak of World War II, where he played an active part in the French Resistance movement.

Following the war, Sommer quickly returned to winning ways, claiming victory in the 1946 René Le Bègue Cup race at Saint-Cloud. At the 1947 Turin Grand Prix in Valentino Park he won the first ever Grand Prix for Enzo Ferrari as an independent constructor. The following season, Sommer switched from the Ferrari team, again for a privately owned car, this time a Talbot-Lago. In 1950, the Formula One World Championship began and Sommer drove in two Grand Prix races for Ferrari and three in a privately entered Talbot-Lago, retiring in all but one.

In July 1950 he won the Aix les Bains Circuit du Lac Grand Prix with a Ferrari 166.

In September 1950, he entered the Haute-Garonne Grand Prix [2] in Cadours, France, where the steering failed on his 1100 cc Cooper and the car overturned at a corner. Sommer, wearing his traditional canvas helmet, was instantly killed.

Major career wins

Racing record

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

1931 Flag of France.svg H. de Costier
(private entrant)
Flag of France.svg Jean Delemer Chrysler 805.014DNF
1932 Flag of France.svg Raymond Sommer Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Luigi Chinetti Alfa Romeo 8C 2300LM3.02181st1st
1933 Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Soc. Anon. Alfa Romeo Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C 2300MM3.02331st1st
1934 Flag of France.svg Raymond Sommer Flag of France.svg Dr. Pierre Félix Alfa Romeo 8C 23003.014DNF
1935 Flag of France.svg Raymond Sommer Flag of France.svg Raymond de Saugé Desttrez Alfa Romeo 8C 23003.069DNF
1937 Flag of France.svg Raymond Sommer Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Giovanni Battista Guidotti Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A Spider5.011DNF
1938 Flag of France.svg Raymond Sommer Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Clemente Biondetti Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring5.0219DNF
1939 Flag of France.svg Raymond Sommer Flag of Thailand.svg Prince Bira Alfa Romeo 6C 2500SS3.0173DNF
1950 Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Luigi Chinetti Flag of Italy.svg Dorino Serafini Ferrari 195S CoupéS 3.082DNF

Complete European Championship results

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

1935 R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 2.9 L8 MON
GER 7th39
Scuderia Subalpina Maserati 6C-34 Maserati 3.7 L8 FRA
R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 3.2 L8 SUI
1936 R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 3.2 L8 MON
ITA 5th21
1937 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 12C-36 Alfa Romeo 4.1 V12 BEL
ITA 6th27
R. Sommer Alfa Romeo 8C-35 Alfa Romeo 3.8 L8 GER
1939 R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 Alfa Romeo 3.0 L8 BEL
SUI 9th23
Source: [3]

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
Raymond Sommer Maserati 4CM BEL
Maserati 4CL ITA
CTA-Arsenal CTA-Arsenal 1.5 V8 s FRA
1948 Equipe Gordini Simca Gordini T15 Simca-Gordini 15C 1.5 L4 s MON
Centre d'Etudes T.A. Maserati 4CM Maserati 4CL 1.5 L4 s FRA
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 F1 1.5 V12 s ITA
1949 Raymond Sommer Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 GBR BEL SUI
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 F1 1.5 V12 s ITA
Source: [4]

Complete Formula One World Championship results

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

YearEntrantChassisEngine1234567WDC Pts
1950 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 1.5 V12 s GBR MON
500 16th3
Ferrari 166 F2 Ferrari 166 2.0 V12 SUI
Raymond Sommer Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 BEL
Automobiles Talbot-Darracq SA Talbot-Lago T26C-GS FRA
Source: [5]

Complete Formula One Non-Championship results

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

1950 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 1.5 V12 s PAU
Raymond Sommer Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 PAR
Automobiles Talbot-Darracq SA Talbot-Lago T26C-DA NED
BRM Ltd BRM P15 BRM P15 1.5 V16 s INT

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  1. "Driver – Raymond Sommer". chicanef1.com. Archived from the original on July 5, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  2. Motor Sport, October 1950, Page 525: Obituary.
  3. "THE GOLDEN ERA – OF GRAND PRIX RACING". kolumbus.fi. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  4. "Raymond Sommer – Biography". MotorSportMagazine. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. "Raymond Sommer – Grand Prix started". statsf1.com. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
Sporting positions
Preceded by Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
With: Luigi Chinetti
Succeeded by
Raymond Sommer
Tazio Nuvolari
Preceded by
Raymond Sommer
Luigi Chinetti
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
With: Tazio Nuvolari
Succeeded by