FEBRUARY 25, 2008

Paul Frere

Paul Frere, a celebrated racing driver and journalist, has died at the age of 91. The Belgian never fully recovered from an accident at the end of 2006 while driving a VW Golf near the old Nurburgring in Germany. Frere, 89 at the time, suffered a shattered pelvis, several broken ribs and punctures to both lungs.

Frere competed in 11 Grands Prix after winning the non-championship Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay in 1952. He was taken on by Ferrari and in 1956 finished second to Peter Collins in a Lancia-Ferrari at the Belgian Grand Prix. In addition to this in 1960 he shared a Ferrari 250TR with Olivier Gendebien to win the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Born on January 30, 1917 in Le Havre, France, Frere began racing motor cycles in Belgium in 1946 but two years later he switched to cars but did not really make his mark until 1952 when he made his F1 debut in Belgium with an Ecurie Belge HWM. He won the non-title Grand Prix des Frontieres on the Chimay road circuit after which he briefly graduated to the Ferrari Formula 1 team. He did three World Championship races that year, his best result being fifth. In the years that followed he did occasional F1 races, his best results coming with Ferrari in Belgium where he finished second to Peter Collins in 1956, three places better than he had the previous year. In 1960 he won the non-championship South African GP and the same year took victory for Ferrari at Le Mans with a 250TR which he shared with compatriot Olivier Gendebien. His successes in sports car racing included class wins at Le Mans and on the Mille Miglia in 1953. He also won the Spa 1000 and was on the pdoium twice at Le Mans before his famous victory.

Frere was also a celebrated automotive and race reporter and contributed to magazines all over the world. He published a number of books.