DRIVERS: LUCIEN BIANCHI

Name: Lucien Bianchi
Nationality: Belgium
Date of birth: November 10, 1934 - Milan, Italy
Date of death: March 30, 1969 - Le Mans Circuit, France

A name can often be misleading in motor racing because it is a world where people move around a lot. One might think for instance that Scotland's Dario Franchitti was an Italian but often one discovers that names do not reveal the person.

Lucien Bianchi has just such a name. His father was a mechanic with Alfa Romeo in Italy but was seconded to Belgium to work for jazz musician Johnny Claes, who raced in his spare time. Lucien and his brother Mauro were soon embroiled in the sport, Lucien's first event being on the Alpine Rally in 1951 when he was just 17 years old. Money was always a problem but Bianchi worked himself into a position to be competitive in sports car events, notably the Tour de France Automobile which he won in 1957 with Olivier Gendebien. He followed up with further wins in 1958 and 1959.

He won the Paris 1000 at Montlhery several times as well and in 1960 decided to try his hand at Formula 1 with an out of date Cooper. He then moved on to join the Emeryson chassis which were being run by the Ecurie Nationale Belge. After that experience he went back to touring cars, sportscars and became a regular in rallying as well and enjoyed success in all disciplines.

He won the 1961 Liege-Sofia-Liege for Citroen and later led the London-Sydney Marathon before being forced out when his Citroen was in collision with a non-competing car. He won a third victory in the Paris 1000 in 1961 and amongst his other wins were the Nurburgring 500 and the Watkins Glen Six Hours. He won the Sebring 12 Hours in 1962 at the wheel of a Ferrari which he shared with Jo Bonnier.

In 1968 he went back to Formula 1 as a member of the Cooper-BRM team. That same year his brother Mauro was seriously injured in a fiery accident at Le Mans which ended his career and left him badly scarred. Lucien however won the race as a member of the Gulf-sponsored JWA team and took his Ford GT40 to victory with Pedro Rodriguez. He then joined the Alfa Romeo sportscar team but early in 1969 he was testing for Le Mans when he suffered a mechanical failure on the Mulsanne Straight and the car went out of control and hit a telegraph pole. He was killed instantly.

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