Maurice Trantignant — Gentlemanly Monaco GP and Le Mans star;
Monte Carlo winner and ‘villain of the piece’.
Maurice Trintignant, affable 1950s grand prix star and Le Mans winner, died in February. He was 87. The Frenchman’s long career saw him race everyone from Caracciola to Clark and drive innumerable machines from Bugatti T35 to Ford GT40.
The son of a wealthy vineyard owner, he followed three of his five siblings into the sport, driving his late brother Louis’ old Bugatti T35 to fifth place in the 1938 Pau GP. A year later he won the GP des Frontières at Chimay.
Trintignant took part in the first post-war race at Bois de Boulogne in his trusty Bug: chronic fuel starvation was later found to have been caused by rat droppings in the tank, hence his good friend Jean-Pierre Wimille dubbed him Le Petoulet. Typically, he took this unfortunate sobriquet with good grace.
Now in an Amilcar, Trintignant won at Avignon in 1947 and, after half a season with the Gersac team’s Delage, he joined the Gordini équipe. The 1948 season featured wins at Perpignan and Montlhéry, but he was seriously injured in the Swiss GP and lay in a coma for eight days. Remarkably, Trintignant was back in action for ’49, winning the Circuits des Remparts at Angoulême and remaining with Gordini through to 1953, when he became a deserved Champion of France.
After winning the Buenos Aires GP in Ecurie Rosier’s Ferrari 625, he joined the works team for most of 1954, taking wins at Caen and Rouen and, a year later, his first world championship win in Monaco. In sportscars he was also victorious for the Scuderia, taking the chequer at Le Mans in ’54 with Froilan Gonzalez.
In 1956 Trintignant endured a torrid year with Vanwall (and Bugatti for the French GP), with few outings for ’57. Then it all came good for ’58 with Rob Walker’s team, with which he took a further Monaco win along with Pau and Clermont-Ferrand. Though very much a number two to Stirling Moss, he stayed with the team for two years, with a further victory at Pau. After finishing second at Le Mans in ’59 for Aston Martin offers of single-seater drives dried up, although he continued with Centro Sud in ’60 (and the Aston DBR5 at Silverstone). After a thin time in ’61 he returned to Walker for ’62 and took a third win at Pau. Retirement seemed to beckon following an empty ’63, but ‘Trint’ surprised the paddock by running his own BRM P57 and scored two points for fifth in the ’64 German GP. Further sportscar outings with Ford rounded off his career before this gentlemanly driver finally quit aged 47. — RH
Double Indy 500-winning car owner John Zink has died, aged 75. The Oklahoma-based industrialist followed in the big footsteps of his father, John Snr, who had run cars at the Brickyard for Cecil Green in 1950 and ’51. John Jnr was just 23 when he entered a car for Jimmy Reece in ’52 they finished seventh. John Zink Specials won 13 National Championship races in the ’50s and ’60s, winning the 500 in ’55 with Bob Sweikert and a year later with Pat Flaherty. Zink also joined forces with Bob Wilke of Leader Cards to field the car with which Jim Rathmann won the1958 Race of Two Worlds event at Monza. He also ran Jack Brabham at Indy in ’64, although the Australian retired after 77 laps. That same Brabham-Offy was subsequently entered for the following two and a half seasons for Jim McElreath and was later blatantly cribbed as the Brawner Hawk that was driven to several wins by Mario Andretti in the mid to late ’60s.– RH
Engine designer, racing car constructor and driver Archie Butterworth died on February 12. He was 92.
Born in County Waterford, Ireland, Butterworth came to England at the age of seven, later cutting short his studies at University College, London to serve in the Irish Guards. He built his first special in the late ’30s and, in 1950, formed Butterworth Engineering Co. After some success in a modified pre-war Bentley, he built a hillclimb car with a Steyr air-cooled V8 and four-wheel drive, the machine also appearing in the1950 International Trophy. In 1952 he completed the first AJB flat-four engine. One went to Kieft and was fitted with Norton barrels, but it was soon sold on to Graham Eden who put it in his F2 Cooper. The two other engines were used in the Aston-Butterworths. In 1957 the final version of the AJB appeared in an Elva sportscar, but Butterworth soon turned his back on motor racing and formed the British Sporting Rifles Club. — RH
Although he had every claim to being one of the Flying Finns who dominated rallying in the 1960s, Pauli Toivonen lacked the public recognition of the BMC stars. Indeed, he was rather cast in the role of villain as his victory driving a Citroën DS 21 on the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally was at their expense. Twenty years later, when his son Henri won the event, Pauli felt the good name of the Toivonens had finally been reinstated. Pauli started competing in rallies in Finland in the early 1950s in Volkswagens, Mercedes and Saabs before promoting the cars he was selling by driving Simcas and Citroëns. He was second on the 1000 Lakes in a Citroën ID19 in 1961, won outright with a DS21 in ’62 and took the Finnish title that same year. He drove for Porsche briefly in ’65, appearing at the Monte Carlo and Alpine rallies in a 904.
After the 1966 Monte he did not drive for Citroën again. He had a short spell with Renault that included a 13th place at the Le Mans 24 Hours in an Alpine 210 sports racer and drove Lancias in ’67 before moving to Porsche for ’68. He was promptly runner-up at Monte Carlo and went on to win the European Championship with four outright victories. Pauli Toivonen carried on driving in Finnish rallies with Porsches and Sunbeams until 1980, when Henri took up the sport. A strong character, he was a hard opponent and an honourable friend. — JDFD