Cult heroes

Eric Offenstadt

Works Matra and Lotus driver, bike racing star, technical wizard — and clearly a fan of Hunter Thompson (judging by the pic) — Eric Offenstadt deserves more than a footnote in racing history.

At 21, Offenstadt became a French motorcycle champion and was a contemporary of Jean-Pierre Beltoise. He then moved to cars and, in 1964, narrowly lost the French F3 title. Selected to drive for Matra in '65, he soon left the team, dissatisfied with the lack of innovation.

He then went on to drive for the works-blessed Ron Harris Lotus team in F2, before switching to the wooden-chassis Protos in 1967: Eric planted the car on pole at Hockenheim for a non-championship race.

Later, Offenstadt drove for the new Pygmee team, but an accident forced him to quit in 1969. Then he switched back to bikes, riding a Kawasaki in the World Championship and building the monocoque SMAC.

Still linked to the bike world, Offenstadt was also jokingly referred to as the inspiration of the late-80s generation of French F3/3000 hopefuls, who all seemed to be called Eric/k! MS