Olivier Gendebien in the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa 59 he shared with Phil Hill to second place in the Nurburgring 1000Km in 1959…
Olivier was an interesting driver, born in Belgium in 1924 he fought the Germans as part of the Belgian Resistance movement, joined the Britsh Army and became a paratrooper.
After the War he worked in the forestry industry in the Belgian Congo and met a rally driver, commencing his own rally career. He won the Tulip Rally with Pierre Stasse in an Alfa 1900 Ti in 1954 and soon came to the attention of Enzo Ferrari who signed him as both a Sports Car and occasional Grand Prix driver.
Another view of Gendebiens # 4 TR at rest in the ‘Ring pits. #1 is the winning DBR1 of Moss/Fairman, #15 is the Porsche RSK 718 of Umberto Maglioli/ Hans Hermann (Pinterest)
1961 Belgian GP, Spa. Gendebien finished fourth in a Ferrari 156, behind the other similar cars of Phil Hill, ‘Taffy’ Von Trips and Richie Ginther, Hill on his way to the 1961 World Championship.Gendebiens car is painted in Belgiums national racing color, yellow, the car entered by ‘Equipe National Belge’. Less powerful than his teamamtes cars, the 156 was still a formidable weapon (Pinterest)
He competed in 15 Grands Prix, making his debut in a Ferrari 625 in Argentina 1956 finishing fifth. His best season was in 1960 at the wheel of a ‘Yeoman Credit’ Team Cooper Climax , his best results in the French and Belgian Grands Prix.
Olivier Gendebien in the 1960 British GP, Silverstone. ‘Yeoman Credit’ Cooper T51 Climax (The Cahier Archive)
Sports Car Ace…
Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa 59, Olivier Gendebien, Sebring 1959. Gendebien shared the car with Americans Chuck Daigh, Phil Hill and Dan Gurney (Pinterest)
Whilst he was quick in a single-seater he was supreme in Sports Cars, Phil Hill the only driver who was his equal in the Ferrari Team during this period.
He first won Le Mans with Phil Hill in 1958, winning again with him in 1961 and 1962. He also won in 1960 with Paul Frere, his fellow Belgian. He won the Tour of Sicily, the Tour de France, and the Reims 12 Hour twice. Victorious also in the Targa Florio and Sebring 12 Hours thrice, he won the Nurburgring 1000Km once.
Gendebien was from a wealthy family, and under pressure to quit racing by his wife, retired after his fourth Le Mans win in 1962 aged 38. During retirement he ran a succession of businesses dying in the South of France in 1998.
Pitstop for the Gendebien/Ricardo Rodriguez/Mairesse Ferrari Dino 246SP, Targa Florio winners 1962 (Pinterest)
Le Mans 1959. The Gendebien/Hill Ferrari 250 TR 59, with Olivier sitting on the car talking to Phil Hill. Salvadori/Shelby won in an Aston Martin DBR1. Car # 15 is the Cliff Allison/ Hermanos da Silva Ramos TR . Both DNF(Pinterest)
Gendebien, left, and Hill enjoy the spoils of their 1962 and last Le Mans victory together. Olivier retired shortly thereafter. Car was a Ferrari 330 TRI/LM. The last front engined car to win Le Mans. Hill competed well into the decade, his last international win the Brands Hatch 1000km in a Chaparral 2F in 1967. (Pinterest)
1959 French Grand Prix in a Ferrari Dino 246. Olivier finished fourth in the race won by his teammate Tony Brooks in a similar car. Olivier made his GP debut in a much less competitive Ferrari 625 in Agentina 1956 but still finished 5th on debut (Pinterest)
Ferrari pits Spa 1961. The 4 156 cars being prepared, Gendebiens yellow car contrasts the # 2 car of Von Trips, the winning #4 of Phil Hill, and Richie Ginthers third placed car # 6. The more you look the more you see… (Pinterest)
Same scene from the other side of the Ferrari pit (Pinterest)
Belgian butt shot..rear of Gendebiens Ferrari 156, Spa 1961 (Pinterest)
Gendebien watching the Ferrari 250 TR 61 of Ireland/Moss/Fulp/Tavano whizz past. It was disqualified for illegal refuelling. Olivier finished second in a 250GTO with Phil Hill. the race was won by the Bonnier/Bianchi Ferrari Tr 61 (Pinterest)
The Cahier Archive, Pinterest