French and irresistable




At last, a kindred spirit. Jonathan Blackwell’s letter on the great Jean-Pierre Wimille, runs in tandem to my own thoughts.

When racing resumed after the war, I was able to read the reports of ‘Grande Vitesse’ (Rodney Walkerly) in The Motor, courtesy of my local barber. I was about 15 years old. It would seem to my young mind that J-P was head and shoulders above the rest. I had read all the books of course and his name was familiar, but he seldom had the opportunity to drive the best cars.

I was devastated by his death, since when I have collected what little archive material there is, always hoping that some knowledgeable person would come up with a complete biography.

Sadly, the racing world never saw Wimille at his peak. Deprived for nationalistic reasons of a decent drive pre-war, his best years squandered during the conflict, it was only late in his career when he was given his chance with the Alfa Romeo 158, that we are able to witness his outstanding talent.

In the 1948 French GP at Reims, a circuit with two long straights and three slow corners, Wimille was nearly 10 secs faster in practice than his teammate Ascari and 16 secs quicker than Sanesi.

Some years ago, writer Doug Nye interviewed Consalvo Sanesi. Asked of Wimille, Sanesi replied, “He was so quick, so smooth. He had something more than the others (the others being Varzi, Trossi, Farina etc.). It was easy for him, so easy…”

I am, yours, etc. fred Harris, Southport, Lancs