Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
As a teenager, Louis Chiron fell in love with cars and racing. He learned to drive at a young age and joined the Grand Prix circuit after World War I where he had been requisitioned from the artillery section to serve as a chauffeur. Competing in France, in 1926 he won his first local race, taking the Grand Prix de Comminges at Saint-Gaudens near the city of Toulouse. From there, Chiron went on to drive a Bugatti and an Alfa Romeo to important wins in national Grand Prix races across Europe. In addition, he teamed up with champion marathon driver Luigi Chinetti to win the 1933 Spa 24 hours endurance race in Belgium.
Louis Chiron's career came to a end with his retirement in 1938 and auto racing itself a year later with the outbreak of World War II. When racing resumed after the War, Chiron made a comeback and drove a Talbot-Lago to victory in two French Grand Prix races. In 1949, the first Monte Carlo Rally after World War II took place and a large celebration party was given in Monaco. In what is now regarded as one of the black moments of Chiron's life, at the party, in front of numerous race organizers, race drivers, and celebrities, Chiron denounced the female driver Hellé Nice by declaring that she had been an agent of the Gestapo during the war. (This has an ironic cast, in that the lure of a superior car led Chiron to lend his skill to the Mercedes Benz team, which the Nazis were using as an object of propaganda for their philosophy of racial superiority, at a time when his Jewish colleague and rival René Dreyfus could not). His unsubstantiated allegation destroyed Nice's life and she would be shunned by all, dying in abject poverty.
By the time the new Formula 1 circuit was organized for the 1950 racing season, age was beginning to catch up with him but he still won the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally paired with Swiss racedriver Ciro Basadonna . In F1 racing, Chiron did manage a podium finish in his fifteen races and in 1955, in front of a hometown Monte Carlo crowd, a few weeks before his 56th birthday he became the oldest driver to compete in a Formula 1 race. To the applause of Prince Rainier and his many fans he guided his Lancia D50 to a sixth place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix.
After a remarkable 35 years in racing, on his retirement Chiron still remained active as an executive with the organization running the Monaco Grand Prix who honored him with a statue erected along the Grand Prix racecourse and named one of the track's curves for him. Louis Chiron held the most podiums in Bugatti cars, and the 21st Century Bugatti company remembered him with a concept car named in his honor.
Major career victories:
- Belgian Grand Prix : 1930
- Czechoslovakian Grand Prix : 1931, 1932, 1933
- French Grand Prix : 1931, 1934, 1937, 1947, 1949 (Reims)
- German Grand Prix : 1929
- Italian Grand Prix : 1928
- Spanish Grand Prix : 1928, 1929, 1933
- Grand Prix du Comminges : 1947
- Grand Prix de Marseilles : 1933
- Grand Prix de Nice : 1932
- Spa 24 hours : 1933
Complete Formula One results
(Note: grands prix in bold denote points scoring races.)
- Grand Prix History, Louis Chiron
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