Pierre Levegh  France

  • Full name Pierre Eugene Alfred Bouillin
  • Birth date December 22, 1905
  • Birthplace Paris, France
  • Date of death June 11, 1955 (49 years 171 days)
  • Place of death Le Mans, France
  • Teams Talbot-Lago
World Championship Career
Year Car Race Start Won Pod Class Best Pole Front Best Lap Hat Pts Pos
1950 Talbot-Lago 3 3 0 0 1 7 0 0 9 0 0 0 -
1951 Talbot-Lago 3 3 0 0 2 8 0 0 13 0 0 0 -
Total 6 6 0 0 3 7 0 0 9 0 0 0
Race Circuit Date
First race Belgian Grand Prix Spa June 18, 1950 Race results
Last race Italian Grand Prix Monza September 16, 1951 Race results

Pierre Levegh - his racing name in honour of his uncle - was a superb all-round sportsman who aside from motor sports excelled in ice hockey and tennis. His motor racing career began in 1937, when he drove a Bugatti into eighth place in a three-hour sports car race in Marseilles, and in 1938 he appeared in his first Le Mans 24-Hour. By the time the war ended he was over 40 but he continued racing regularly. In 1950 and 1951 he drove in six Formula One Championship races, his best finish a sixth in Belgium in 1950. In 1951 he finished fourth at Le Mans and the following year led with an hour to go before exhaustion caused him to make a mistake - he finished eighth, a result he repeated in 1954. In 1954 he was involved in a crash after seven hours, but what happened in 1955 has gone down as one of the worst accidents in sporting history.

That season he swapped his trusty Talbot for a Mercedes, and after three hours of racing he clipped the Austin Healey of Lance Macklin who was swerving to avoid a braking Mike Hawthorn. Levegh's car hit an earth bank but that lifted it into the air and it ploughed into the crowd, causing untold carnage as it disintegrated and, made of magnesium, burst into flames as fuel ignited it, showering the area with white-hot sparks. In all 80 spectators were killed, while Levegh was thrown out of the car and died from severe head injuries.

Martin Williamson November 2009

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