Henri Louveau

Henri Louveau

25/1/1910 - 7/1/1971

Louveau was born in the wealthy Paris suburb of Suresnes. Louveau had been a bicycle racer and a test driver for the Fiat concessionaries in Paris and for Fiat and Simca tuner Camérano. While with Fiat he had helped Gordini as a go-between with the factory. He then turned to racing and competed in the late 1930s in the Liege-Rome-Liege race and in the Le Mans 24 Hours. When the war broke out Louveau joined the French army and served with a rifle regiment in Algeria. As soon as the war was over he went back to racing. A meeting with Raymond Sommer was the turning point of his life. He was befriended by him and, still completely unknown, he was destined to become one of the more active and respected racers of this period by following his advice. He had purchased from the Treasury during the war an old Maserati 6CM, which was confiscated property and which he personally patched up so well that he won with it one of the races of the Bois de Boulogne prologue in 1945. The following year he competed in the major French races and finished second to Raymond Sommer in the Grand Prix du Forez and fourth in the Coupe de la Resistance in a Maserati 4CL. He was runner-up later that summer to Jean-Pierre Wimille in Perpignan and was second to Tazio Nuvolari at Albi. He later began entering cars for Sommer and the two shared victory in the Circuit des Trois Villes, a race between Lille, Roubaix and Tourcoing. For the Valentino GP that autumn he rented a Scuderia Milan Maserati. The following year he raced for Delage, scoring a number of good placings in French national races, including third in Marseilles and finished sixth at the Italian GP and second in the non-championship French GP at Lyons. He was back in a private Maserati in 1948 but by then the cars were no longer very competitive. In 1949 he took a Delage to a close second in the Le Mans 24 Hours and drove a 4.5-liter Talbot Lago in the 1950 Italian and 1951 Swiss Grands Prix. Louveau’s looks were those of a tough guy, athletic, handsome and photogenic, so he became very popular with the crowds, their feminine part particularly. He seemed - and sometimes acted - as if he was of irritable disposition, but he was just being outspoken. In truth he was a very generous man. Louveau was an aggressive but correct driver, who possessed a good team spirit and self-control while racing. As a matter of fact, Louveau ended his short career after two big crashes at Pau and Bern in 1951 where he crashed heavily into a lamp post in the second event, suffering leg and shoulder injuries. He said that this was a life-saving decision since he had realized that he had lost his self-control so he had acquired the tendency to drive beyond his limit. He continued to operate a garage at 52, rue Lecourbe in the 15th district of Paris, specializing in Delages and Maseratis, the two makes of his racing life, and starting a major business in car and truck rentals.

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