The Boillot name was revered throughout France in the early years of the sport. That was thanks to the exploits of Georges Boillot – twice winner of the French Grand Prix before World War I. That myth was only accentuated by his death in 1916 while serving with the French Air Service.
World War I and Indianapolis career
Younger brother André Boillot had also been a fighter pilot who was awarded the Croix de Guerre but he had much to live up to in motor racing circles. He had raced before the war but it was 1919 when his own racing career accelerated.
Working as the chief test pilot for the Bleriot aircraft company at the time, he drove a Peugeot in the 1919 Indianapolis 500 but crashed on the back straight when well placed with five laps to go. It was the first of three successive appearances at the Brickyard but he retired on each occasion.
Targa Florio victory
Boillot’s first major success came that November when he won the Targa Florio with a pre-war Peugeot EX5. His Sunbeam finished fifth in the 1921 French GP despite being delayed by tyre troubles. He was back in a Peugeot to win the following year’s Formule Libre Coppa Florio.
He started the 24 hour races at Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza in 1926 with a Peugeot 174S. The pacesetters in France, Boillot and Louis Rigal were disqualified due to a problem with the windscreen. However, they won three weeks later in Belgium and Boillot was successful again in the lesser Monza event when aided by a certain signor Tattini.
Injured during the Malchamps hillclimb near Spa in 1926, he narrowly won the 1927 Coupe de la Commission Sportive at Montlhéry despite suffering from neuralgia. He was second in the 1929 French GP and awarded the Légion d’Honneur a year later. However, he was destined for a tragic end. Boillot was practising for a hillclimb near Chateauroux when his Peugeot crashed into a tree and was engulfed in flames. Severely injured, André Boillot died in hospital three days later.