René Le Bègue

René Le Bègue

15/1/1914 - 24/2/1946

Le Bègue was a French racing driver who competed in Rallies and circuit races. A works Talbot driver, he won a number of races including the Monte Carlo Rally and the Coupe de Vitesse at Monthléry in 1937 and the 1938 Grand Prix du Comminges. He raced at Indy before the war but was killed in 1946 in a domestic accident.

Born in Paris, Le Bègue's racing career started in earnest in 1936, when he drove a Delahaye 135CS to 2nd at the Spa 24hrs, 4th at Comminges and 5th at Marseille.

He then won the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and was running fourth with Cattaneo in a works Talbot-Lago at the Mille Miglia, when he crashed into a ditch to avoid a cart. That year he also bought a Talbot T-150C which he took to 3rd at GP de la Marne, 2nd at the RAC TT, and won the Coupe de Vitesse at Monthléry.

In 1938 he teamed up with André Morel in the Talbot T-150C to win the 12hrs de Paris.

A works Talbot-Lago driver for 1939, he took the new Monoplace Décalée, to third in the GP de l'ACF (French Grand Prix) behind the dominant Auto Union Silver Arrows and won the GP du Comminges.

Early in 1940, Le Bègue and his wife, Dreyfus and Chinetti went to the USA to race a Masearti at the Indy 500 for Lucy O'Reilly Schell, mother of Harry Schell who went on to compete in F1. In the race Le Bègue and Dreyfus finished 10th. The Le Bègue's were the only ones to return to occupied France in 1941 and that was to get permission to take two Talbots to the 1941 Indy via Portugal.

Le Bègue and Jean Trévoux were non qualifiers but later raced the cars at the Land's End hillclimb, where Le Bègue finished third ahead of Trévoux.

Then Le Bègue enrolled in the Free France Army fighting in North Africa, Sicily and Monte Cassino. In 1946, with the war over, the young Le Bègue was voted vice-president of the the French Drivers Association (AGACI). But, before the season started, he was killed in a stupid accident when he was asphyxiated by the gas fumes of a defective boiler in his bathroom.

On June 9, 1946 the Grand Prix at Saint-Cloud was named the René Le Bègue Cup in his memory. It was won by Raymond Sommer.

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