Charles Pozzi

Charles Pozzi

27/8/1909 - 28/2/2001

Charles Pozzi was a racing driver who participated in one Formula One race in the year of its inception. He also competed in endurance races. He was the exclusive Ferrari importer for France for over 30 years and become a household name for anything to do with Ferrari.

Born Carlos Alberto Pozzi in Paris, France of Italian parentage but French enough for his father to die in the Great War in the French Army. His grand father was a sculptor who enjoyed a local fame in the region between Novara and Pavia where a branch of the family is still active in the manufacture of sanitary ceramics.

He became known as Charles, the French translation of his name. He was working as an automobile broker and his career as a racecar driver only began when he was already 37 years old.

In 1946 he was in Nice on the lookout for cars to buy when he came across an advertisement for a Delahaye 135MS Torpedo. He contacted the seller and found out that the car was due to run in the Grand Prix of Nice at the weekend. The vendor told him that he could buy the car after the race. However there was a fatality in practice and the owner deceided that since the car was sold it might be better not to go ahead with the race.

Marcel Turari, Pozzi's friend and mechanic suggested that he should drive the car instead. He qualified 10th having never raced before and finished the race in 7th. He also competed in the Grand Prix of Dijon and the Grand Prix of Nantes.

In 1947 he appeared in several racees including the French and Italian Grands Prix, finishing 5th and 7th respectively. In the Turin GP in Italy he took pole position ahead of the Maserati driven by Villoresi and Ascari.

In 1948 he won the Grand Prix du Comminges in the year that it was also the French Grand Prix, and after finishing 6th at the 1950 F1 French Grand Prix he earned a strong second place result at the Grand Prix de Rouen.

Charles Pozzi also raced in endurance events, making five appearances at the 24 hours of Le Mans. In the 1949 race, he had a problem with the cylinder-head of the 4.5 litre Delahaye. Back then you could only stop every 25 laps. Since he needed water badly, he stopped by some people having a picnic near the Tertre. Unfortunately they didn't have any so he ended up using milk. However as milk boils at around 90 degrees Celsius by the time he got to the grandstand there was cappaccino coming out of the expansion pipe!

The following year once againhe needed water. This time he found a farmer and managed to get the water in without breaking the seal. Unfortunately the seal eventually got lost and he was disqualified.

He won the Casablanca 12 hours race in 1952 and the next year won the two litre category at the 12 hours of Hyeres. In 1954, he repeated as winner of the Hyeres event and also won the Reims 12 hour race and the "Course de cote de Planfoy."

He never crashed during his career, "maybe because I was not fast enough" he once said.

After his retirement from racing, he founded Charles Pozzi S.A., the official importer of Ferrari and Maserati motor vehicles in France. In 2003, the company was acquired by the Ferrari company.

Pozzi died in 2001 in Levallois-Perret, a suburb in eastern Paris.

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