Louis Rosier

Full Name:
Louis Claude Rosier
Born:
5th November 1905
Chapdes-Beaufort, Auvergne
Died:
29th October 1956 (Aged 50)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, Ile-de-France, following an accident at Montlhery
Nationality:
French
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Fourth in the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship, Louis Rosier was a star of the early 1950s. His best years were probably lost to World War II but his performances in the large normally aspirated Lago-Talbots endeared Rosier to his countrymen at a time when Alfa Romeo was sweeping all before it.

Rosier was a smooth and calm driver who normally coaxed his car to the finish. He had a reputation for never crashing which made his passing all-the-more of a shock.

Early racing career

A native of the Auvergne region, Rosier was a garage owner in Clermont-Ferrand during the 1930s who started racing motorcycles. He switched to hillclimbing a SCAP sports car in 1938 but Europe was soon at war. Rosier fought with The Resistance before resuming his racing career afterwards with a privately-run Lago-Talbot T150SS.

He won a national race at Albi in 1947 and finished fourth in that year’s French Grand Prix. The first Lago-Talbot T26C single-seater to be built was acquired in 1948 and he entered both cars as Ecurie Rosier. Fourth again in that year’s British GP on the new airfield circuit at Silverstone, he won the GP du Salon at Montlhéry.

Grand Prix winner for Lago-Talbot

Third in the 1949 British GP, his car was entered by the works team for the Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps. The supercharged Ferraris and Maseratis set the early pace but the Talbot’s better fuel consumption allowed Rosier to run non-stop to victory. Named French Champion at the end of the year, he retained that title for four years in succession.

Rosier’s consistency was rewarded with fourth in the 1950 F1 World Championship which included third place finishes in Switzerland and Belgium. He also won the non-championship Dutch GP when Alfa Romeo were absent and travelled to Argentina to finish second behind Juan Manuel Fangio in a Formule Libre race at Rafaela.

Le Mans winner with his son

However, his best result of 1950 came in the Le Mans 24 Hours where he shared a lightly modified Lago-Talbot T26GS with his son Jean-Louis. The father and son combination lost 45 minutes in the pits at one stage but Louis, who drove for almost the whole 24 hours, stormed back from third position to win by two laps.

Further minor victories in 1951 included another Dutch GP success before a change of rules for 1952 forced Rosier to abandon his Talbot. He bought a couple of Ferraris for the coming year – an F1 375 (with which he twice won at Albi) and Formula 2 Ferrari 500 which he drove in GPs for the next two seasons. Now in his mid-forties, Rosier struggled at the highest level and he did not score a championship point in 1952 or 1953.

Resolutely a privateer, he replaced the Ferrari with a new Maserati 250F mid-way through 1954. He finished fifth in the 1956 German GP in what would be his last championship race. He also won that year’s wet Paris 1000Kms at Montlhéry when sharing a Maserati 300S with Jean Behra.

He was back at Montlhéry in October for the Coupe du Salon and again it was pouring with rain at the start. Rosier spun his Ferrari 750 Monza on the opening lap just where Antonio Ascari had lost his life 31 years earlier. It clipped the bank and overturned, trapping Rosier and inflicting severe head injuries. He was taken to hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine where he died three weeks later.

At the time of his death, Rosier had been active in trying to open a circuit near his hometown of Clermont-Ferrand. That became reality in 1958 and it held the French GP on four occasions from 1965 to 1972. The newer, shortened Charade facility was renamed the Circuit Louis Rosier in honour of this four-time Champion of France.