Wednesday 26th February 1908
Born on this day, Jean-Pierre Wimille, a French racer. A frequent Grands Prix winner in the pre-war racing scene, Wimille had become a Bugatti works driver. He was 22 years old when he made his Grand Prix debut, driving a Bugatti 37A at the 1930 French Grand Prix in Pau. In 1936, Wimille travelled to Long Island, New York to compete in the Vanderbilt Cup where he finished 2nd, behind the winner, Tazio Nuvolari. He also competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race, winning in 1937 and again in 1939. When World War II came, following the Nazi occupation Wimille and fellow Grand Prix race drivers Robert Benoist and William Grover-Williams joined the Special Operations Executive, which aided the French Resistance. Of the three, Wimille was the only one to survive. After the war he immediately won the first race in peace, the 1945 Coupe des Prisonniers, driving a works-supported Bugatti. He kept on winning and had there been a World Drivers Championship in 1947 and 1948 he would have been champion in both those years. In practice for a race of the Argentine 1949 Temporada series in Buenos Aires he was apparently blinded by the sun and his Simca-Gordini left the road, hitting a tree. Jean-Pierre Wimille died shortly afterwards from the sustained injuries and was posthumously awarded the Legion d’Honneur at his funeral.