André Lagache was a successful sports car driver during the 1920s when his career was inextricably linked to the Chenard et Walcker concern. He was an engineer and test driver for the Asnières-based manufacturer who demonstrated its "Sport" chassis to prospective clients at Brooklands in 1921.
Winner of the inaugural Le Mans 24 Hours
It was as a racing driver that Lagache wrote his page in history. He finished second in the 1922 Georges Boillot Cup at Boulogne and was included in Chenard et Walcker’s three car team for the inaugural Le Mans 24 hours in 1923. The race started in a downpour but Lagache and fellow engineer René Léonard immediately took the lead. It was an advantage they would not concede and their 2978cc "Sport" won at an average speed of 57.205mph in a 1-2 for the marque.
They returned in 1924 with a new 4-litre car and Lagache again led at the start before setting a new lap record. The early stages were frenetic with Lagache dicing with John Duff’s Bentley. However, the French car caught fire at the Pontlieue hairpin and Léonard, who was by now at the wheel, had no alternative but to retire.
Spa 24 Hours victory
Another 24-hour race was introduced at Spa-Francorchamps in 1924 and Lagache almost won – eventually finishing second with André Pisart as his co-driver. Léonard shared his car at both Le Mans and Spa in 1925. Lagache again set the fastest lap in France but they retired with an overheating engine. They were running third during the closing stages at Spa when the second placed Ballot retired. Chenard team-mate Raymond Glazmann then spun at La Source on the last lap – letting Lagache through to victory.
He won the Georges Boillot Cup in 1925 and 1926 and finished second in the latter year’s 12-hour touring car Gran Premio Guipúzcoa at Lasarte. His racing career however was at an end when Chenard et Walcker made an agreement with Delahaye in 1927 and withdrew from the sport as a consequence.
Lagache later worked for a tractor manufacturer and was killed in 1938 while demonstrating a vehicle to various French Army officers near Versailles.