Teams André Simon
Races: 12Andre Simon: One Overlooked and Underrated FrenchmanBy Jeremy McMullenPage: 1 2 next >>
Being one of the elite motor racing drivers of the world is an achievement in and of itself. Being a champion is truly a rare feat. But to be considered one of the best all-around drivers is truly something very special, but that is often overlooked and underrated. And one such overlooked and underrated all-around driver would have to be Andre Simon.
Andre Simon's resume reads like an adolescent dream. Often picked to drive some of the most potent cars for manufacturers at the height of their dominance, Simon would have the opportunity to drive some truly special cars for some truly special teams. Manufacturers like Gordini, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz would all come beckoning Simon for his talents. This would be a testament to the Frenchman's talents and abilities, but it would also make for one intriguing story. How could a man that many considered to be as quick as Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari be so unknown and overlooked? The fact is, there is no easy answer to that question, and that only adds to the intrigue.
Born in Paris in January of 1920, Andre Simon would be around automobiles all of his formative years. His father, Mathis, had a French car manufacturing company prior to the outbreak of World War II. In addition, Mathis had a garage located in the suburbs around Paris. Therefore, young Andre would practically grow up at the garage.
Unfortunately, Andre's early life would be marked by tragedy. At just the age of nine, Andre would lose his father. As a result, Andre would be raised by his uncle. By the time he was fourteen or fifteen, Andre would begin working in the garage in which he had inherited with his father's death.
Then came World War II. This would disrupt Andre's life as it would so many others. However, at war's end, he would return to his garage business, but would no longer be involved in car manufacturing.Being in his mid-twenties at the end of a long world war, it wouldn't be at all surprising Simon would come to have a zest for life and for motor racing. It was natural for Simon. He had grown up in a garage, and therefore, motor racing would be the natural course he would take. And, sure enough, in 1948 Simon would purchase a Talbot-Lago and would begin his motor racing career.
One of his first races, rightfully so, would take place at Montlhery. And in the end, Simon would prove just how natural motor racing was for him as he would come through to take the victory. He would go on to take part in a few other races throughout 1948 and would have some success, but not like that early victory at Montlhery. Still, the die was cast. The meteoric rise of Simon's career had begun.
|One year later, Simon would drive in a number of different races and would show himself to be a solid talent. However, no performance would garner as much attention as that which he and Pierre Flahault would put together in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driving a Delahaye 135 for Charles Pozzi, the two men would be running 2nd at one point before mechanical troubles forced them to drop a number of places. Fortunately, they were still able to continue. And this would be when Simon and Flahault would capture the attention of many. Injured, but not out, the two men would drive an absolutely marvelous race and would actually gain back many of the places they had lost while in the pits undergoing repairs. |
|1957||Maserati 250F||Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6|
|1957||500||Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6, Ferrari 625 2.5 L4|
|1957||Maserati 250F||Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6, Ferrari 625 2.5 L4|
|1956||Maserati 250F||Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6|
|1956||T16, T32||Gordini 23 2.5 L6, Gordini 25 2.5 L8|
|1955||250F||Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6|
|1955||Mercedes-Benz W196 R Streamliner||Mercedes M196 2.5 L8|
|1952||375S||Ferrari 500 2.0 L4, Ferrari 375 4.5 V12*|
|1952||500||Ferrari 500 2.0 L4, Ferrari 375 4.5 V12*|
|1951||11||Gordini 15C 1.5 L4s|
|1951||15||Gordini 15C 1.5 L4s|
The two men were fast, but Simon was fastest. The two men were charging hard to get back what they lost. Simon would push the hardest as he would end up turning the fastest lap of the race. This would be most impressive in a repaired car. Unfortunately, the car had already been wounded. And around the 19th hour, the car would finally succumb to its injuries and would be forced out of the race.
Still, Simon's performance managed to capture the attention of Amedee Gordini who would approach Simon about driving for his team. Agreeing to the deal, Simon would join a driver lineup that already included Jean Behra, Robert Manzon and Maurice Trintignant.
The move to Gordini, at least for 1950, would prove to be a fruitful one. In just his second full season of racing, Simon would finish 2nd no less than six times in Formula 2 races. And then, at the Circuit du Medoc, Simon would come home ahead of Roger Loyer and Raymond Sommer to take his first Formula 2 victory. His star continued to be on the rise despite his relative inexperience.Encouraged by such results, and with an incredible driver lineup, Gordini would decide to make the just to Formula One in 1951. And, in addition to taking part in some of the Formula One World Championship races, Gordini would take part in a slew of other races in order to capitalize on participation funding. Unfortunately, going up against such competition as Alfa Romeo and Scuderia Ferrari, the Gordinis would prove to be fragile and outclassed.
Simon would do what he could with what he had. Unfortunately, what he had couldn't really do anything, not with such competition as the Alfa Romeo 159 and the Ferrari 375. But, after two early retirements in the French and German grand prix, Andre would come through in the Italian Grand Prix to earn a fine 6th place. In fact, Simon's 6th place would prove to be the best result scored by the team in the World Championship the whole season long.
The 1951 season would be a difficult experience for Simon and for the whole Simca-Gordini team. Nagging reliability woes would often take away from fantastic performance that seemed destined for positive results. Still, despite the reliability woes, Simon was showing himself to be a real talent behind the wheel of a race car. This would, in no small way, be due to the type of person Andre was.
In spite of the unreliability of the Gordini T15, Simon would still manage to come away with some strong results in Formula 2. This would only help his career continue to rise. And his ability to shine while his car was working well would catch the attention of no less than Enzo Ferrari. Incredibly, when the World Championship was about to head into the Formula 2 and dominant Ferrari 500 era, Simon would be right there hired by Ferrari to be the team's fourth driver in some races running right there beside greats like Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Piero Taruffi.
But while nobody in their right mind would ever turn down driving for the best team at their peak, the situation at Scuderia Ferrari wasn't exactly the best opportunity for Simon. Besides the fact it was just his fourth season of competitive racing, he was on a team with the likes of Ascari and Villoresi. And when on a team with such drivers as those legends Simon's inexperience would come to be obvious. But more than that, it meant he would take a backseat to the two. And this would be Simon's experience throughout the 1952 season.
Often times, throughout the 1952 season, Simon would end up nothing more than a reserve driver. However, when he did get the opportunity to take part in a race at the wheel of a Ferrari 500, he would find his time at the helm wouldn't be determine as much by his performances as it would be by the fortunes, or misfortunes, of his fellow teammates.
Simon's education would come at his first World Championship race with the Scuderia Ferrari. The race would be the Swiss Grand Prix held at the Bremgarten circuit. Still, just four years into his racing career, Simon would put his Ferrari on the grid in 4th place. And while this would be his best qualifying performance and would certainly be a reason for excitement for any driver aspiring to drive in Formula One, his pace was such that he was nearly five seconds slower than Giuseppe Farina's pole-winning effort.
It is said in racing, 'Where one starts is unimportant. It is where one finishes that is important.' Unfortunately, during the 1950s, starting position spoke much more loud and clear than what many might think and that fact would bear itself out during the race.
Though he would start from 4th on the grid, Simon would make a quick getaway from the line and would soon be fighting for 2nd place. Simon would stay right there throughout the early part of the race. Unfortunately, Farina would retire from the race on lap 17 with magneto troubles. But Ferrari wasn't about to have its pole-sitter lose out on championship points and a possible victory. Unfortunately, Simon would pay the price for such an approach and he would be called into the pits so that he could hand his car over to Farina for the remainder of the race. Now it wouldn't matter, as the car would fail after 51 laps with, interestingly, magneto failure, but the events would certainly set the tone for Simon's experience with the Italian team. Page: 1 2 next >>