Posts Tagged ‘Pierre Levegh’

Pierre Levegh relaxed during the 1953 Le Mans weekend beside the Talbot Lago T26GS he drove to 8th place together with Charles Pozzi…

He famously came within an ace, an hour in fact, of winning the race solo in a similar car the year before.

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Levegh led the race from about 2am, during his long hours at the wheel the engine developed a vibration, which he felt he could nurse better than his co-pilot given he was in synch with the cars rhythm.

But an hour from the end of the classic the car coasted to a halt at Maison Blanche, about a mile from the pits. The Talbot was mortally wounded, either a conrod let go after a big over rev or a bolt holding the central crankshaft bearing came loose. What was never clear, Pierre was driving with a broken rev-counter, is whether the engine succumbed to the malady present for much of the race or whether in his exhausted state the driver missed a gear.

The Frenchman’s real name was Pierre Bouillin, his racing pseudonym Of Levegh was the surname of an uncle who was a pioneer driver who died in 1904. Alfred Levegh was a leading member of the Mors racing team at the turn of the century. Pierre assumed his uncle’s surname in 1938 but when he commenced racing in a Bugatti 57T in 1937 raced using his own name.

The wealthy Parisian brush company owner was a talented sportsman, being a world class tennis and ice hockey player in addition to his talents behind the wheel, a career he started pre-War in his early thirties but did not flourish until after the cessation of global hostilities.

Pierre, driving a factory Mercedes Benz 300SLR was an unwitting and innocent part of the tragic sequence of events which took his life, and those of 83 others at Le Mans in 1955. Not a subject I care to explore and an incredibly sad and inappropriate epitaph for a driver who was a journeyman in Grand Prix cars but good enough in Sports Cars to be invited into a team containing Moss and Fangio…

Levegh, Talbot Lago T26GS during his heroic but ultimately unsuccessful 1952 Le Mans drive (unattributed)

Credits…

Stanley Sherman, Klemantaski Collection, oldracingcars.com

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