1949 24 Hours of Le Mans: Simon Captures the Imagination
By: Jeremy McMullen
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| On the 26th of June, after 24 hours of racing and 235 laps, the Ferrari 166MM of Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon would come across the line to take the victory in the 17th Grand Prix d'Endurance. But while the victory would be certainly a memorable one, there would be one man that would not even make it to the finish but would capture the imagination of a French motor racing constructor and, as a result, would begin his motor racing career.
Andre Simon would be born in Paris in 1920. His father would own a garage just outside of the capital and would even produce some automobiles in the years leading up to the Second World War. When the war came, especially in France, everything was put on hold; there was no guarantee of a future, at least not one that didn't include the Third Reich.
With the end of the war, a wave of new life, a zest for excitement and a sense of living would sweep across the world and motor racing seemed to perfectly suit such a wave of enthusiasm. In the case of Simon, who was now in charge of his father's garage, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start racing. So, in 1948, Simon would take part in his first motor races. Immediately he would be successful. Driving a Talbot-Lago at Montlhery in 1948, Simon would come through to take his first ever victory. Other solid results during that first year of racing would cause Simon to come up on the radar of a number of small teams and privateer entries. And it would be these smaller teams that would launch a career that would see Simon drive for some of the best teams in some of the best cars.
It was clear Simon possessed raw talent. Seeing that 1949 would be just his second year of motor racing, and that he already had a victory to his credit, Simon would begin to find himself in demand. And, one week before Le Mans, Simon would find himself on the Simca-Gordini team along with Ernesto Tornqvist, Robert Manzon and Maurice Trintignant. At the time, the ride was nothing long term, but Simon would treat it as so and would finish in 7th place while Manzon and Trintignant suffered mechanical issues and were forced to retire.
Paolozzi, Remi. 'The Relay Runner', (http://8w.forix.com/simon.html). 8W: The Stories Behind Motor Racing Facts and Fiction. http://8w.forix.com/simon.html. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
'Races: Le Mans 24 Hours 1949', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/race/Le_Mans-1949-06-26.html). Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/race/Le_Mans-1949-06-26.html. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
'Le Mans 24 Hours 1949', (http://www.sportscars.tv/Newfiles/LeMans49.html). Sportscars.TV. http://www.sportscars.tv/Newfiles/LeMans49.html. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
'1949 24 Hours of Le Mans Results and Competitors', (http://www.experiencelemans.com/contents/en-us/d184_1949_Le_Mans_24_Hours_Competitors_and_Results.html). 24 Hours of Le Mans Posters and Memorabilia Shop. http://www.experiencelemans.com/contents/en-us/d184_1949_Le_Mans_24_Hours_Competitors_and_Results.html. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
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According to the online encyclopedia known as 'Wikipedia', the Mille Miglia is defined as the following:
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