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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.

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
NationalityFrance French
Active years1950
TeamsFerrari, works and private Talbot-Lago
Entries5
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums0
Career points3
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1950 Monaco Grand Prix
Last entry1950 Italian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years19311935, 19371939, 1950
TeamsPrivate
Best finish1st (1932, 1933)
Class wins2 (1932, 1933)

Contents

BiographyEdit

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 winsEdit

Racing recordEdit

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans resultsEdit

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1931 No Team Name   Jean Delemer Chrysler 80 5.0 14 DNF DNF
1932   Raymond Sommer   Luigi Chinetti Alfa Romeo 8C 2300LM 3.0 218 1st 1st
1933   Soc. Anon. Alfa Romeo   Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C 2300MM 3.0 233 1st 1st
1934   Raymond Sommer   Dr. Pierre Félix Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 3.0 14 DNF DNF
1935   Raymond Sommer   Raymond de Saugé Desttrez Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 3.0 69 DNF DNF
1937   Raymond Sommer   Giovanni Battista Guidotti Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A Spider 5.0 11 DNF DNF
1938   Raymond Sommer   Clemente Biondetti Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring 5.0 219 DNF DNF
1939   Raymond Sommer   Prince Bira Alfa Romeo 6C 2500SS 3.0 173 DNF DNF
1950   Luigi Chinetti   Dorino Serafini Ferrari 195S Coupé S 3.0 82 DNF DNF

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
1935 R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 2.9 L8 MON
6
BEL
Ret
GER 7th 39
Scuderia Subalpina Maserati 6C-34 Maserati 3.7 L8 FRA
6
R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 3.2 L8 SUI
9
ITA ESP
7
1936 R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo 3.2 L8 MON
7
GER
9
SUI
Ret
ITA 5th 21
1937 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 12C-36 Alfa Romeo 4.1 V12 BEL
5
SUI
8
ITA 6th 27
R. Sommer Alfa Romeo 8C-35 Alfa Romeo 3.8 L8 GER
Ret
MON
7
1939 R. Sommer Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 Alfa Romeo 3.0 L8 BEL
4
FRA
5
GER
Ret
SUI 9th 23
Source:[3]

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
4
Raymond Sommer Maserati 4CM BEL
Ret
Maserati 4CL ITA
Ret
CTA-Arsenal CTA-Arsenal 1.5 V8s FRA
Ret
1948 Equipe Gordini Simca Gordini T15 Simca-Gordini 15C 1.5 L4s MON
Ret
SUI
Ret
Centre d'Etudes T.A. Maserati 4CM Maserati 4CL 1.5 L4s FRA
Ret
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 F1 1.5 V12s ITA
3
GBR
1949 Raymond Sommer Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 GBR BEL SUI
3
FRA
5
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 F1 1.5 V12s ITA
5
Source:[4]

Complete Formula One World 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 WDC Pts
1950 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 1.5 V12s GBR MON
4
500 16th 3
Ferrari 166 F2 Ferrari 166 2.0 V12 SUI
Ret
Raymond Sommer Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
Automobiles Talbot-Darracq SA Talbot-Lago T26C-GS FRA
Ret
Source:[5]

Complete Formula One Non-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 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1950 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 1.5 V12s PAU
4
RIC SRM
Ret
Raymond Sommer Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 PAR
Ret
EMP BAR JER ALB
Ret
NAT
Ret
NOT ULS PES STT
Automobiles Talbot-Darracq SA Talbot-Lago T26C-DA NED
Ret
BRM Ltd BRM P15 BRM P15 1.5 V16s INT
Ret
GOO PEN

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Driver – Raymond Sommer". chicanef1.com. 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.

External linksEdit