A lorry driver during the 1930s and now owner of a road haulage company, Guy Mairesse acquired a Delahaye 135S from his friend Paul Vallée in 1948. He entered his first Formula 1 races that year and was placed in a couple of national events at Montlhéry. Mairesse also won that year’s Grand Prix des Frontières on the road course at Chimay.
Grand Prix driver and second at Le Mans
He drove an Ecurie France Lago-Talbot T26C in 1949. Fourth at Pau when sharing Louis Chiron’s car, he won at Chimay for a second year. Eliminated from both major F1 races he started that year (the Belgian and Italian GPs), he also retired from the Le Mans 24 hours when his engine failed.
Mairesse did not race as much during 1950 but his second place finish in the Le Mans 24 Hours was the highlight when sharing Pierre Meyrat’s converted single-seater Lago-Talbot. He then qualified a Lago-Talbot T26C in 11th position for his debut in the new F1 world championship at Monza but retired.
The car was prepared by Yves Giraud-Cabantous in 1951 and Mairesse finished both GPs he entered. Fourteenth and last in the Swiss GP, he was ninth in France. Once again he was more successful in sports cars. Mairesse and Meyrat returned to Le Mans with a Lago-Talbot T26GS and again finished in second position. He also won the Coupe du Salon sports car race at Montlhéry in 1950 and 1951.
The Meyrat/Mairesse Lago-Talbot retired from the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours when the oil pump failed in the 13th hour. He joined the works team for the 1953 race but was again eliminated during the night. Georges Grignard had been his co-driver that year and they were again entered for the 1954 race only for tragedy to intervene.
Mairesse was killed at Montlhéry during practice for the 1954 Coupe de Paris after trying to avoid a slow-moving Renault 4CV. He lost control of the Lago-Talbot at 140mph and crashed through a concrete barrier. The car hit three young spectators and a boy died at the scene. Mairesse also succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital.