Peter de Paolo

Born:
6th April 1898
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died:
26th November 1980 (Aged 82)
Laguna Hills, California
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Pete de Paolo was inspired by the exploits of his uncle Ralph de Palma who obliged by winning with his nephew in the stands for the first time in 1919. The youngster was de Palma’s riding mechanic for the Indianapolis in 1920 and 1921 and when second in the 1921 French Grand Prix.

Indycar driver with Frontenac and Duesenberg

The youngster had driving ambitions of his own and he made his debut in the AAA National Championship for Frontenac in 1922 – leading that year’s Indianapolis 500 before crashing and fourth at San Carlos.

He joined Duesenberg in 1924 and dominated a year later to win the National Championship for the first time. His five victories that season included the Indianapolis 500 but he was far from satisfied. De Paolo had been the class of the field before badly blistered hands forced him to the pits. Relieved by Norman Batten for 21 laps, he recovered enough to retake the wheel and climb from fifth to win by almost a minute. However, he was always frustrated by the need of a relief driver for that success.

De Paolo won twice in 1926 and ran his own Miller a year later. He retired at Indy but returned to the race as a relief driver that day. He drove seven laps in Tony Gulotta’s third placed car and led with Bob McDonogh’s Cooper-Miller that eventually finished sixth. Furthermore, three victories and a run of top-four placings were enough to clinch the 1927 Indycar title.

Grand Prix driver with Alfa Romeo

That was his last full season in the series and he only raced at Indy thereafter as he looked to Europe instead. His works Alfa Romeo P2 had been fifth in the 1925 Italian Grand Prix and he returned in 1934 with his Miller to finish eighth at Tripoli. But his Ecurie Braillard Maserati 8CM crashed while practising ahead of Barcelona’s Penya Rhin GP and he was unconscious for two days with a fractured skull.

De Paolo eventually made a full recovery but decided to retire. He became a team owner, served his country with distinction during World War II, was responsible for Ford’s stock car programme and worked at the Michigan International Speedway before his death in 1980.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1930 AAA National Championship
Peter de Paolo
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1929 AAA National Championship
Cliff R Woodbury
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1927 AAA National Championship
Peter de Paolo
Cooper Engineering
Anthony Gulotta
11 0 9 3
28% win rate
1st 1440
1926 AAA National Championship
Duesenberg Bros
18 3 5 2
12% win rate
3rd 1520
1925 AAA National Championship
Duesenberg Bros
10 2 7 5
50% win rate
1st 3260
1925 World Championship
Alfa Corse
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1924 AAA National Championship
Duesenberg Bros
8 0 1 0
0% win rate
11th 230
1923 AAA National Championship
Leach
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1922 AAA National Championship
Louis Chevrolet
Duesenberg Bros
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
16th 50