DRIVERS: ANDRE PILETTE

Name: Andre Pilette
Nationality: Belgium
Date of birth: October 6, 1918 - Paris, France
Date of death: December 27, 1993 - Etterbeek, Belgium

The son of one of racing`s early pioneers, Theodore Pilette, Andre was inspired by stories of his father`s exploits although Theodore, who began racing in the 1890s in a De Dion-Bouton and later raced at Indianapolis, was killed while testing in 1921, when Andre was only three. A protege of Camille Jenatzy, Theodore had had a thriving business as the Belgian importer of Daimler-Benz and Bugatti automobiles.

As soon as World War II ended Andre began racing with an HRG sportscar. He was already in his thirties before racing picked up in Europe but in the early 1950s he was one of the drivers of Ecurie Belgique, which ran Talbot-Lagos in the first few seasons of the World Championship. This led to a job as Gordini driver in 1953 and some successes in minor events. In 1955, however, he became one of the founders of the Ecurie Nationale Belge, initially with Gordini chassis. He was also racing more and more sports cars and was a strong competitor at Le Mans in 1959 and 1960, finishing second in the latter year in a NART Ferrari. Ecurie Nationale Belge was not a success because of its decision to use the difficult Emeryson cars and although Andre had a couple more attempts in Formula 1 with rented machinery his focus switched to his son Teddy (Theodore) who soon became a frontrunner in Formula 5000 and later in CanAm as well.

Teddy would ultimately make to F1 as well although he too had a frustrating career because of poor machinery. Andre continued to race until the mid 1960s after which he set up the Pilette International School at Zolder, which launched the career of Thierry Boutsen in the 1970s. Andre died in 1993 at the age of 75 but the following year his son Teddy launched a new organisation called the Pilette Speed Tradition, which built a Pilette F3 car. Although this was not a big success, Pilette went on to run a team in the US Formula 3 series in 2000 using a Dallara chassis.

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