This French amateur began competing immediately after World War II – initially in local rallies but also driving an Alfa Romeo 8C "Monza" in a couple of national races in 1946. By the end of the decade Jean Lucas was driving Luigi Chinetti’s Ferrari 166MM in endurance events.
Endurance racing success
That included the 1949 Le Mans and Spa 24-hour races. Co-driver "Heldé" crashed in the former but Lucas was more successful when partnered by Chinetti in the Ardennes – winning the Spa 24 Hours in what was the major success of his racing career. Lucas, who owned a sardine factory in Casablanca, missed the 1951 Tourist Trophy when his workers went on strike.
Le Mans was a regular highlight for the Frenchman although his race normally ended in disappointment. He drove a private Ferrari sports car in France’s northern African colonies from time-to-time before management beckoned. He joined Gordini as Team Manager in 1953 but that unique national institution would have even tested the organisational skills of Alfred Neubauer at the time.
Formula 1 with Gordini
When regular driver Robert Manzon was forced to miss the 1955 Italian Grand Prix on family business, Lucas was handed his world championship debut. He qualified the new eight-cylinder car in last position when almost 30 seconds slower than pole position. His only Formula 1 championship race ended after seven laps with engine failure.
He finished third in 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours when he shared a Jaguar D-type with "Mary". The car was entered by Circle los Amigos, the regular moniker for his private racing exploits. Lucas drove John du Puy’s Maserati 250F in the non-championship Moroccan GP at the end of the season. He ran at the tail of a high-quality field before crashing late-on near the pits. His car rolled and Lucas broke his arm after being thrown out of the cockpit and into some parked cars.
He did not race again but was not finished with the sport. Not only did he found French monthly magazine Sport Auto with famed journalist Jabby Crombac in 1962, he also served as a respected administrator in France.