Obituary

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Louis Chiron

Another link with the pre-war period of Grand Prix motor racing has gone with the sad news of the death of the very famous French driver, Louis Chiron. Chiron, plump-faced, vivacious and mainly a Bugatti pilote, was born in Monte Carlo and worked at first in the Hotel de Paris. He became an Army driver in the war, ending as Marshal Rich’s personal chauffeur in 1919. He ran a Brescia Bugatti at Nice in 1926 and, determined to break out as a racing driver, acquired a Type 35B Bugatti which he took to Montlhery where he finished second in the GP to Divo’s Talbot. That year, too, Chiron drove at Brooklands in the British GP, for the Bugatti team.

The next year he proved his ability without question, winning not only at Rome, Marne and San Sebastian but also the European and Spanish Grands Prix. His fame and skill established, he went on to win the German and Spanish Grands Prix of 1929 and came in 7th at Indianapolis in the hardly-suitable 1 1/2-litre GP Delage.

Chiron continued to win the important races, for Bugatti, in 1930, when he won the European GP and in 1931 with a Type 51 Bugatti when he was victor at Lyons, Monaco, Masaryk and, with Varzi, in the French Grand Prix, with second places in the German GP, and at Pescara and Montenero. The very names of the circuits bring back the memory of Chiron impeccably driving the Bugattis under the more varied and hazardous conditions of the vintage years.

For 1933 the popular French ace intended to team-up with Caracciola but instead went to the Scuderia Ferrari, to race Alfa Romeos. His abilities were unabated, his turn out still immaculate, his wild gestures to his pit enjoyed by those who knew the game. In P3 Alfa Romeos Chiron was first in the races at Marseilles, Masaryk and San Sebastian and in 1934 he won the French, Marne and Casablanca Grands Prix, gained many second places, and he achieved third place at the Nurburg Ring by clever tactics on the part of “this wily old fox”. When the German teams dominated racing Chiron won only the lesser races but he was with Mercedes-Benz for 1936. A bad crash at the Nurburgring, in which he received severe head injuries, was his reward. However, he won the 1937 French GP for Talbot but didn’t drive again, perhaps shaken by his accident, until after the war, when he continued to bring many successes for the Talbot team and came second at Jersey in 1947 with a Maserati.

Chiron drove a Maserati at his home-town circuit at Monaco in 1950 and 1951 and his last racing appearance was made there in 1956, when he was 6th in a V6 Lancia. In his day he had driven the 16-cylinder Bugatti and the four-wheel-drive Bugatti in hill-climbs. Apart from racing, Chiron won the Monte Carlo Rally outright in 1954 with a Lancia Aurelia. On his retirement Prince Rainier gave the dedicated Louis the task of looking after the Monaco Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Rally from the viewpoint of the Principality where he had been born and in recent years that is how we saw this once-so-very-talented racing driver. Chiron lived to be 79 years of age. — W.B.

* * *

Anthony Salmon retires from the BRDC

Motor Sport sends its best wishes to Anthony Salmon, who has retired from the Secretaryship of the British Racing Drivers’ Club on reaching the age of sixty-five. Tony Salmon became Secretary of the prestige club in 1967 on the retirement because of ill health of the late John Eason-Gibson. Prior to that Tony Salmon was the BRDC’s Press Secretary for 10 years.

His successor is Pierre Aumonier, the former Competition Secretary, who joined the staff in 1970 as Press Secretary and took over the competition side of the Club’s activities at the end of 1971. He was previously with the BARC. Pierre Aumonier continues as the BRDC representative on the Race Committee of the RAC Motor Sports Association Ltd. and as a member of the organising committee of the European Saloon Car Championship, the Formula Two Alliance and the Trans-Europe Trophy. As a Steward at Spa, Nurburgring, Hockenheim and Kassel Kalden he is also very much involved in looking after the interests of British drivers competing abroad.

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