André Simon

2021-02-01 23:00

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André Simon

On January 5, 1920, André Simon was born in Paris, the son of a garage owner who owns a Mathis agency in La Varenne. At the age of nine André loses hi


On January 5, 1920, André Simon was born in Paris, the son of a garage owner who owns a Mathis agency in La Varenne. At the age of nine André loses his father, therefore his adolescence will pass with his uncle, but already at the age of thirteen the future Ferrari driver starts working in the family garage. The passion for engines grows day by day, to the point that at the end of the Second World War André asks for a loan to buy a sports car, a Talbot Lago, and in 1948 in Monthlery, in the Ile de France, he disputes his first run.


Despite being only twenty-eight years old and considering himself too old for a debut in the racing world, André has the opportunity to show his speed skills to fans, and in his debut race, behind the wheel of a Talbot Piagnibon that has been loaned to him. by Pierre Boncompagni in exchange for signing a check and insurance on the car, he immediately obtained the best time in practice. The rival competitors ask for the time to be canceled but the stewards validate it and Andrè, the next day, starts from pole and wins. In short, a dream debut for the Frenchman.


But André is not wealthy, and to race he always needs some friends to lend him a car. Subsequently, Charles Pozzi will lend him a Delahaye 155 V12 4.5 liters to participate in the Comminges Grand Prix, scheduled for August. The French driver participates in the race and finishes seventh overall, after having managed a problem with the spark plugs. These performances soon attracted the attention of Amédée Gordini who hired him for the 1949 season. Simon thus became the member of a group of high-speed pilots, also composed of Maurice Trintignant, Robert Manzon and Jean Behra, who were nicknamed the Musketeers.


At the wheel of a Gordini-Simca 1500, Simon finished second at the German Grand Prix on the Nurburgring circuit in 1950 at the end of a great duel with Alberto Ascari who had the powerful Ferrari. Over the course of the season he will get other places of honor in Aix-les-Bains, Angouleme, Reims, Geneva and Perigueux, and will continue to race with Gordini in the Formula 2 Grand Prix also in 1951, winning at Les Sables d'Olonne. In 1951 André made his debut in Formula 1, obtaining sixth place at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. But the French car's lack of reliability and power will induce him to change teams, also because now the future is called Ferrari.


In 1952 the Frenchman composed the quartet of drivers of the Scuderia del Cavallino Rampante together with Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Giuseppe Farina; the partnership with Ferrari will last two years. In the same year, André will also compete in other races not valid for the Formula 1 World Championship, such as the Comminges Grand Prix which he wins paired with Ascari, and the Paris Grand Prix in which he finishes second.


In recent years, the regulation provides that only the top five finishers can collect world championship points, in addition to the driver who scores the fastest lap. Therefore André, who will compete in twelve Formula 1 races in his career, must be counted among those drivers who despite having finished in the top six never obtained world championship points, as happens at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, in 1952. From 1953 onwards, the French driver will race as an independent both during the Grand Prix and in various events with sports cars, obtaining a third place driving a Gordini in 1954 at the International Trophy.


In 1955 Simon will be called to replace the German Hans Herrmann in Mercedes for the Monaco Formula 1 race, but more generally, starting this year, he will cover the role of test driver for the Stuttgart company and driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After leaving the Mercedes Simon will be hired by Maserati who will offer him the opportunity to drive the 250F. Maserati wants to build a super French couple, with Simon alongside Jean Behra. However, the 1956 season of the Trident house will be negative, and Simon will decide to leave Formula 1 and dedicate himself to endurance races.


With Sport cars, André takes an excellent third place at the 1000 Kilometers held in Paris, on the Montlhery circuit, driving a Ferrari 250 GT, paired with Jo Schlesser. A result that he will also get in the Auvergne Trophy and the Coupe de la Marne Debouteville, in Rouen, in 1961, always at the wheel of the Ferrari 250 GT. In 1962 Simon will again participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Maserati Tipo 151, paired with Maurice Trintignant, an occasion in which he will become the first to reach the speed of 300 km/h on the Hunaudieres straight. His last career race will be held at the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers on the 1965, driving a Ford Cobra Daytona shared with Jo Schlesser.


The Frenchman will be so disappointed with the car and the result that he will decide to leave the racing world for good, even though he had been chosen by the American company to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving the GT40, paired with Mario Andretti. In 1966 he will be the victim of a serious road accident and will spend two weeks in a coma, but he will be able to recover and decide to devote himself to the management of his garage until retirement, which he reached in 1984. In 2012, at the age of ninety-two, André Simon died in Evian les Bains, leaving the memory of his incredible feats.


Simone Centonze



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