Benoît Falchetto

Benoît Falchetto

8/7/1885 - 4/8/1967

Falchetto raced mainly in France between 1928 and 1935 driving a Tony Speciale, Bugatti, Amilcar and latterly a Maserati 8CM. It was in hîs Amilcar Grand Sport that Isadora Duncan met her end.

Though French, Benoit Falchetto was half Italian and flew for the Italians in WW1.
In 1927 he was working at the Helvetica Garage in Nice, France and first came to prominence that year when he took Isadora Duncan out for a drive on the Promenade des Anglais in his 1924 Amilcar Grand Sport. There are a number of different stories as to how this came about but it would appear that Benoit had a eye for the ladies.
They had spotted each other a few days earlier at a Restaurant called Tétu just down the coast from Nice in Port Juan, near Juan Les Pins. Duncan was lunching with her friend Mary Desti and had nicknamed the handsome Benoit, 'Buggatti', mistaking the spelling and the Amilcar for one of Ettore's machines. The next time Falchetto visited the restaurant he found that she had left her number for him with the proprietor.
He called on her at her hotel on September 13th but was turned away by Desti as Isadora was sleeping and just left his calling card. The following day after returning from working on a customer's Maserati he was informed that an American lady had called wanting to buy the Bugatti. However the Helvetica Garage had no Bugatti for sale so Falchetto assumed that she meant the Amilcar. She had left the address of her studio and Falchetto went round with the car. She told him she didn't want to go for a test drive then and there but to come to her hotel at nine that evening. Falchetto duly arrived at the appointed time and Duncan came down to meet him.
Mary Desti followed her down and reported that before getting into the car, she said "Adieu, mes amis. Je vais a la gloire!" (Farewell, my friends, I go to glory). Later, Desti admitted that in fact Duncan's last words to her were "Je vais à l'amour" ("I am off to love"). Desti considered this unsuitable to go down in history as her final utterance.
Duncan often wore scarves which trailed behind her and on this occasion she had on an immense handpainted silk scarf, a gift from Desti, which was long enough to be wrapped around her body and neck and to flow out behind her. As Falchetto pulled away, it caught around one of the back wheels. Isadora Duncan was pulled out of her seat and died instantly from a broken neck. The tragedy gave rise to Gertrude Stein's mordant remark that "affectations can be dangerous."
In 1928, Falchetto finally got to race, driving a cyclecar called a Tony Spéciale. He finished second in the Circuit de la Riviera in Cannes on 1st April and fourth in the Grand Prix d'Antibes in Juan les Pins on the 9th April.
In 1931 he raced an Amilcar finishing third in the Circuit d'Esterel Plage in April at St. Raphael and winning the Grand Prix de Geneve at the beginning of June.
By 1932 he was racing Bugattis, winning the Nîmes GP in May and the Antibes GP in September in a T35B.
In 1933 with Louis Braillard, he formed Ecurie Braillard, financed by Braillard's sister Nelly.  Falchetto started the year racing a Bugatti T35B but at the Grand Prix de Monaco he raced a Type 51. At the Grand Prix de la Baule he came third in the Type 35B behind Williams and Marcel Lehoux. Another third place at the Grand Prix d'Albi, which was won by his team mate, Braillard in a Type 51.
In 1934, they bought two Maserati 8CM's and ran them under Ecurie Braillard banner. Braillard retired at the end of 1934 but the team carried on with Robert Brunet joining Benoit until the end of 1935. Falchetto won the Circuit de Picardie on 27 May and was second in his heat at the Grand Prix de Vichy. A fourth at the Grand Prix du Comminges in August was followed by a win at the Grand Prix d'UMF. This was an event organised by the French Motorcycling Federation and consisted of a number of races for motorcycles and both racing and sports cars.
In 1936 he was granted a concession on the Marquesas Islands by the Governor of the French Settlements in Oceania.
By 1946 he made an appearance back in Europe driving a Darl'Mat-Peugeot in the Coupe du Palais de la Mediterranée in Nice where he finished 5th and in 1947 he raced a Bugatti Special in the Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa-Francorchamps and the Grand Prix de Nimes, retiring in both.


Leave a comment