Retro. Formula 1: The Louis Rosier Adventure – Le Mag Sport Auto

As part of the « retro » section of the  » Mag Sport Auto »A very special exchange happened which we had in the editorial staff and we hope that it will soon become a very beautiful story…

Louis Rosier: Forever among the pioneers of Formula 1

None of the greatest feats, the greatest men, stand the test of time. A few days ago, we remembered that François Cevert left us 48 years ago, and to whom we have already devoted an article a few months ago …

This time it was a granddaughter of a great champion who contacted us to share a conversation about her Grandfather. His name was Louis Rosier. From May 1950, at Silverstone, he took part in the inaugural round of the longest motor competition still in operation: the Formula 1 World Championship, a race in which he finished in the very honorable fifth place on Talbot Lago.

little girl françois cevert

At this inaugural race, where the Alfa-Roméo, Maserati and ERA were also present (we have already told in another article, the absence of Ferraris), Louis Rosier was therefore from this heroic era of the “big mills”, some of which were single-seaters. were derived from pre-war models.

Louis Rosier: The dark years

The war precisely, Louis Rosier was going to know it very closely, refusing the defeat of June 1940, he like other glories of motor racing in the 1930s (Jean-Pierre Wimille, Raymond Sommer and Robert Benoist), were going to join the ranks. resistance. If the first three survived the world conflict and disappeared in the race, Robert Benoist was arrested, deported to Buchenwald and executed by the Nazis.

Louis Rosier, a resistance fighter in the Espinasse maquis, used his own garage to sabotage the Gestapo vehicles. Knowing that he was wanted, he managed to escape, and for the anecdote on behalf of his little daughter, the German agents were going to learn at their expense piloting lessons on the roads of Puy de Dôme.

Louis Rosier was a loving husband and dad to his three children: Jean-Louis, Yvette and Jacques. His wife was captured and also deported to Buchenwald before being released. A trauma that will remain lasting in the life of the three children, and will remain hidden so as not to fall into the hands of the Germans.

Louis Rosier builder

Louis Rosier was the owner of a garage in Clermont-Ferrand which was to become the most important representative of the Régie Renault newly created after the conflict. Rosier is also a dealer of agricultural equipment and machinery.

In 1951, he designed a prototype based on Renault 4 Chevaux. In 1953, from a tray that raced at Le Mans, he designed, with the Italian coachbuilder Rocco Motto, a convertible based on 4 CV also, built in just over 200 units by Brissonneau. Shortly after, he imagines, still with Rocco Motto, a roadster based on mechanical elements from Renault Frégate (body entirely in aluminum, tubular chassis, engine pushed to 80 horsepower and 950 kg).

Gradually becoming an increasingly influential builder, which begins to displease the Régie, which has never really known (until very recently) what to do with its apprentice builders who imagine, assemble and build relevant, original and efficient vehicles. At the same time, in Dieppe, the youngest Renault dealer in France, Jean Rédélé, also designed a small, high-performance sports car, the Alpine A106. What would then have been the future of Louis Rosier as a manufacturer, if fate had not struck him on the Linas-Monthléry track in October 1956?

Like Jean Bugatti, who disappeared barely a few days before the outbreak of the Second World War, driving the Bugatti “Tank” that won at Le Mans a few months earlier, Louis Rosier had achieved the status of a person whose risks conferred on him by his role as a racing driver should no longer allow him to put his life in danger on the track.

louis rosier

The first weapons

Like many car champions of that time, he came to motor racing by motorbike. From 1924, he took part in regional races on a 1000cm 3, in this Auvergne that he loves so much, where he had been born in Champ-des-Beaufort in November 1905.

In 1948, he acquired a Talbot with which he finished 5th at the Forez circuit and 3rd at the Grand Prix de Nantes.

Louis Rosier was to obtain his first victory at the Grand Prix d’Albi in 1947. With numerous results, he became a sure bet for the Suresnes firm. He was crowned Champion of France four times in a row. In 1949 he won the Belgian Grand Prix over Talbot ahead of the Ferraris of Ascari and Villoseri. In 1950, he was to sign one of the finest achievements in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans …

The 24 Hours of Le Mans in its entirety minus two laps!

The Circuit de la Sarthe completely destroyed at the end of the war, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, could not organize the 24 Hours of Le Mans until 1949, the edition which celebrated the victory of the Ferrari 166m of Luigi Chinetti. , and Lord Selsdom. For his first participation in the Classique Mancelle, Louis Rosier associated with his son Jean-Louis still on Talbot ended the race with a retirement.

For the 1950 edition, the Suresne firm still trusts Louis and his son Jean-Louis on a Talbot T26, derived from the Grand Prix single-seater, faired and two-seater, the ACO regulations obliging each manufacturer to provide a two-seater version of their competition car. Louis Rosier and his son will have to face the Ferraris of course, but we must not forget the other French firms such as Delage, Delahaye or Simca-Gordini, also candidates for victory.

Confident in the performance of his Talbot, Louis Rosier started the race at a wiser pace than his opponents, Raymond Sommer set off with behind him, Allard with the surprising Cadillac engine prototype, Meyrat also on Talbot, Whitehead on Jaguar and Trintignant on Gordini. With the hours of racing passing, the Auvergne now holds second place behind Raymond Sommer’s Ferrari. Victim of technical problems, Sommer was forced to stop at his stand, Louis Rosier in the lead, the Clermontois broke the lap record held by Mazaud on Delahaye in 1939!

At midnight, the Chinetti- “Heldé” tandem on Ferrari, Meyrat-Mairesse on Talbot, Johnsson-Hadley on Jaguar are the last crews in a position to challenge victory.

Despite an improbable encounter with an owl during the night in the straight line of Hunaudières, and a ramp of rockers to be replaced on the T26 in the early morning, there is no longer any obstacle to the victory of Louis Rosier and his son at 24 hours of Le Mans.

Louis Rosier and his son Jean-Louis will offer the first French victory after the war to a French firm: Talbot (bought by Simca in 1958, it will disappear shortly after). It will take twenty-two years to see the “Bleu de France” cross the checkered flag first with the Matra MS 670 by Henri Pescarolo and Graham Hill (sold last year by Lagardère, Henri Pescarolo, l’Espace Automobile , Romorantin employees and passionate Matraciens appreciated …)

Initiator of the Charade circuit

Jean Auchatraire, first president of the Sports Association of the Automobile Club d’Auvergne, created the Rally of the water towns, then a speed circuit, in 1955, near the airport. But the 24 Hours of Le Mans disaster on June 11 of the same year led the government to ban city races. He then worked with the sparkling Raymond “Toto” Roche, director of the Reims circuit, president of the Automobile Club de Champagne and Louis Rosier, on the layout of a mountain circuit. Louis Rosier making the reconnaissance of the future route with his own car. The circuit will be accepted by the highest national authorities: the Circuit de Charade is inaugurated on July 27, 1958. Louis Rosier dying in 1956, Jean Auchatraire carries on his shoulders the realization of the project and its operation (a bend in the circuit bears the name of Louis Rosebush as well as a stele). Immediate success which brings him to the firmament of motorsport, Stirling Moss affirming that it is his favorite circuit.

Broke in full glory when everything smiled on him …

In 1956, associated with Jean Behra Louis Rosier won the 1000 kilometers of Paris. But in Montlhéry, on an event in which he did not want to participate, that the Swiss driver Benoit Musy had just lost his life a few minutes earlier, on his Maserati 3 liters; Louis Rosier lost control of his Ferrari Monza in the Ascari counter-curve, the car having flipped over on him. Evacuated to Arpajon hospital in a serious situation, his condition seemed to have improved enough to consider a transfer to Pouilly hospital. After twenty-two days of struggle, Louis Rosier was to pass away at the age of 51.

Élodie, her granddaughter and Christian, set out to revive the legend of Louis Rosier, his sporting exploits, of course, but of course the man, loving husband and father, great resistance, decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Resistance Medal.

In this fabulous project, which you can follow on social networks, in which we are fully associated, we are looking for archive images, press articles, news footage, works dedicated to Louis Rosier and which we will forward to Élodie Rosier . Thank you for contacting us and leave your details at this address and that we will forward.

On behalf of Élodie, Christian, the editorial staff of Mag Sport Auto, we thank you warmly.

Article published on 10/31/2021 at 2:00 p.m.

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