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Louis Alexandre Chiron (3 August 1899 – 22 June 1979) was a Monégasque racing driver who competed in rallies, sports car races, and Grands Prix.

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
NationalityMonaco Monégasque
Active years19501951, 1953, 19551956, 1958
TeamsMaserati
Ecurie Rosier
Private
Lancia
Scuderia Centro Sud
Entries19 (15 starts)
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums1
Career points4
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1950 British Grand Prix
Last entry1958 Monaco Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years19281929, 19311933, 19371938, 1951, 1953
TeamsPrivate
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

Among the greatest drivers between the two World Wars, his career embraced over thirty years, coming to light already in 1927, and ending at the end of the 1950s. This is also why he is still 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] The Bugatti Chiron takes its name from him.

CareerEdit

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]

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.

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]

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]

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.

Racing recordEdit

Major career victoriesEdit

 
Chiron after winning the 1934 French Grand Prix

24 Hours of Le Mans resultsEdit

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1928 No Team Name   Cyril de Vere Chrysler 72 5.0 6 DNF DNF
1929   C. T. Weymann   Édouard Brisson Stutz DV32 8.0 65 DNF DNF
1931   Equipe Bugatti   Achille Varzi Bugatti Type 50S 5.0 20 DNF DNF
1932   Guy Bouriat   Guy Bouriat Bugatti Type 55 3.0 23 DNF DNF
1933   Capt. G.E.T. Eyston   Franco Cortese Alfa Romeo 8C 2300MM 3.0 177 DNF DNF
1937   Luigi Chinetti   Luigi Chinetti Talbot T150C 5.0 7 DNF DNF
1938   Ecurie Bleue   René Dreyfus Delahaye 145 5.0 7 DNF DNF
1951   Luigi Chinetti   Pierre-Louis Dreyfus Ferrari 340 America Barchetta S
5.0
29 DSQ DSQ
1953   Scuderia Lancia   Robert Manzon Lancia D20 S
8.0
174 DNF DNF
Source:[9]

Complete European Championship resultsEdit

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

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 EDC Pts
1931 Automobiles Ettore Bugatti Bugatti T51 Bugatti 2.3 L8 ITA
Ret
FRA
1
BEL
Ret
6th 13
1932 Automobiles Ettore Bugatti Bugatti T54 Bugatti 5.0 L8 ITA
Ret
5th 17
Bugatti T51 Bugatti 2.3 L8 FRA
4
GER
Ret
1935 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 2.9 L8 MON
5
10th 40
Alfa Romeo 3.2 L8 FRA
Ret
BEL
3
GER
Ret
SUI
Ret
ITA ESP
Ret
1936 Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes W25K Mercedes ME25 4.7 L8 MON
Ret
GER
Ret
SUI ITA 18th 28
Source:[10]

Post-WWII Grandes Épreuves resultsEdit

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

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5
1947 Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CL Maserati 4CL 1.5 L4s SUI
13
Ecurie France Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 BEL
Ret
FRA
1
Enrico Platé Maserati 4CL Maserati 4CL 1.5 L4s ITA
Ret
1948 Ecurie France Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 MON
2
SUI
6
FRA
9
ITA
Ret
GBR
Ret
1949 Ecurie France Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 GBR
Ret
BEL SUI FRA
1
ITA
Source:[2]

Complete Formula One World Championship resultsEdit

(key)

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 4CLT 1.5 L4s GBR
Ret
MON
3
500 SUI
9
BEL FRA
Ret
ITA
Ret
10th 4
1951 Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4s SUI
7
500 NC 0
Ecurie Rosier Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 BEL
Ret
FRA
6
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
ESP
Ret
1953 Louis Chiron OSCA 20 OSCA 2000 2.0 L6 ARG 500 NED BEL FRA
15
GBR
DNS
GER SUI
DNS
ITA
10
NC 0
1955 Scuderia Lancia Lancia D50 Lancia DS50 2.5 V8 ARG MON
6
500 BEL NED GBR ITA NC 0
1956 Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 ARG MON
DNS
500 BEL FRA GBR GER ITA NC 0
1958 André Testut Maserati 250F Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 ARG MON
DNQ
NED 500 BEL FRA GBR GER POR ITA MOR NC 0
Source:[11]

LegacyEdit

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]

Chiron was the only Monegasque driver to score points in a Formula One race until Charles Leclerc in the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and the only Monegasque to score a podium until Leclerc in the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Louis Chiron – Monaco". ESPN. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "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. ^ a b 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. ^ a b "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.

External linksEdit

See alsoEdit