I am a great fan of the new-style MOTOR SPORT magazine and there have been plenty of excellent articles over the last 24 months. However, there is one motor racing character who you have seemingly ignored, a man who was undoubtedly a truly great driver of his era – the masterful Jean-Pierre Wimille.
I myself have been fascinated by this legendary figure for many years, yet there are few articles ever written about him. He is one of the most mysterious of men to have left his mark on motor racing, yet it is difficult to understand why his fascinating life story has been ignored for so long. If he had been a one-race wonder it might be understandable, but Wimille won many races – two Le Mans (1937 and ’39) and many Grands Prix among them. He was happy driving anything, from tiny Gordinis to the brutal Alfa Romeo 158s. He was even offered a seat in the pre-war Mercedes-Benz team (being a patriotic Frenchman he refused). These are just some of the many interesting chapters in his life.
His tragic death while practising for the 1949 Buenos Aires Grand Prix was a stunning loss for the motor racing world, not just the French. He was a shy, retiring man and a complete contrast to others of that time such as Farina and Fagioli. It would be interesting to know how he might have fared in the 1950 Formula One World Championship, for he would surely have been part of the Alfa team in that year.
This year is the 50th anniversary of his death and I had been hoping that your January issue might have run an article on his life and career. I am a great fan of his, yet there are many mysteries surrounding him that are by no means well documented.
I am, yours, etc. Jonathan Blackwell, Dadford, Bucks
(1999 isn’t over yet…Ed)