Louis Rosier (1905 - 1956) - One Of France's Best Known Drivers

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Louis Rosier (1905 - 1956) - One Of France's Best Known Drivers

Louis Rosier
Born in 1905,  Louis Rosier, a garagiste from Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne, had driven a blown SCAP 1100 cc sports car in local hill-climbs since 1928, graduating to one of the new Talbots of the Lago regime in 1938, which he campaigned further afield, including Le Mans - though without success.

The Albi Grand Prix

His first major victory came in 1947, in the Albi Grand Prix, with his old 4-litre 'streamlined, pseudo-racing' Talbot, with which he had taken seventh place at Spa a fortnight before and sixth place at Reims a week after that.

Such a rapid succession of major races had, inevitably, reduced the number of front-line racers competing at Albi; and 'the ranks were still further thinned by the Albigensian weather, which was overpoweringly hot, with few movements of air noticeable ... typical of the hottest part of the Midi in being like blasts from a furnace door'.

The Albi race was held over 40 laps of the fast, triangular Les Planques circuit, 5.5 miles round, with a lap record of 100 mph; the 100 degrees-in-the-shade weather played havoc with more sensitive carburations, and several of the ace Continental drivers blew their cars up driving too hard.

But while others retired, Rosier kept on driving his old Talbot with steady consistency, with the result that five laps from the end he was in the lead-and kept there, although harried from behind by Raymond Sommer's 1100 cc Simca. That year, the steady old Talbot also netted third place at Chimay in the Grand Prix des Frontieres, fourth in the French GP at Lyon, and third in the GP de Strasbourg.

The 280 bhp Lago-Talbot Racer

Then in 1948, Rosier acquired the first of the new 280 bhp Lago-Talbot racers, and promptly won the Coupe d;y Salon at 90.56 mph, though he could do no better than third at Albi. Tropical weather was against Rosier in the 1949 Le Mans, where, in company with his son Jean-Claude, he was driving a re-bodied GP Talbot, the car overheated after 21 laps when lying fourth, and under the rules was unable to refill the radiator without being disqualified. But in conventional racing, Rosier's Talbot was consistently highly placed-third in the British Grand Prix, first in the Belgian Grand Prix, third at Albi, gaining sufficient points during the season to establish him as Champion of France, a position which he was to hold for the next four years.

The 1950 Le Mans was a more auspicious event for the father/son Rosier team, with Louis driving for 20 hours out of 24 to win. That year, with his single-seat Lago-Talbot, Rosier also won the Dutch and Albi Grands Prix, and ventured to South America for the Argentine 500 Miles' Race, in which he was rewarded with second place; in 1951 he took first place in the Dutch GP and also won the Bordeaux Grand Prix.

Louis Rosier

Albi, Cadours and Sables d'Olonne

Two Ferraris, a 4.5 litre Formula One car and a 2-litre Formula Two car, were bought in 1952; with the F1 car Rosier won his 'favourite' race at Albi in 1952 and 1953, while with the smaller Ferrari he took firsts at Cadours in 1952 and Sables d'Olonne in 1953, but a change of major formulas in 1954 compelled another change of allegiance, this time to a 250F Maserati, backed up by a sports Ferrari.

Death at the Coupe du Salon

In 1956 Rosier, now famed as a builder of open sports conversions of the 4CV Renault, won his last major victory, co-driving with Jean Behra in the Paris 1000 km race at Montlhery, in a sporting Maserati. That October, on a wet track at Montlhery, Rosier's Ferrari spun off during the Coupe du Salon, and overturned. Three weeks later, Rosier succumbed to the head injuries he received in the crash. He was 51.

Louis Rosier in action in the Grand Prix Lago-Talbot; Rosier was one of France's best-known drivers and gained numerous racing successes before being killed in 1956.
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