13 March 2009

Louis Chiron - the Monegasque Gentleman Driver

Born in Monaco in 1899 and dying here in 1979, aged 80, this is Louis Chiron. As you've probably surmised by the goggles around his neck and car, he was a racing driver - one of the great pre-war Formula One racing drivers and one of the main contributors to the Bugatti legend. You can read more by clicking on the link.

This sculpture stands by the port of Monaco, not far from the famous swimming pool and so facing the track he loved so much. He is the only Monegasque driver ever to win the Monaco Grand Prix and one of the curves is named in his honour. Bugatti also named one of their cars the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron.

In 1929, Louis Chiron created quite a commotion at the German Grand Prix in Nürburgring. Competing were several Mercedes SSK cars but the first Mercedes came in more than 14 minutes after Chiron won the race. People say that Adolf Hitler was on his way to the circuit in a sedan equipped with radio and was listening to the race broadcast. He was convinced that a German with a Mercedes would triumph and wanted to be there to congratulate the winner. Once he realised that Chiron would prevail with his Bugatti, he ordered his chauffeur to make a U-turn.

Apparently he was so popular in Czechoslovakia, where he won the Grand Prix three consecutive times, that there is still lives a popular saying 'He drives like Chiron.'


Unknown said...

That's a good statue, always bathed in sunlight and with a luxurious backdrop. I wonder if he could afford a yacht?

B SQUARED said...

There was such a mystique attached to the drivers of that era.

Vanessa Bates said...

What a nice respectful place to put his memorial statue! What a great view :)

Clueless in Boston said...

Interesting history of the man and car racing, of which I know little. The story of the German race sounds apocryphal, but is a good one.

Lowell said...

Thanks for this. Nice photo and so much interesting commentary!

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