Annie Bousquet

Annie Bousquet

0/0/1923 - 30/6/1956

One of the best known female racing driver in France in the 1950's. She was both a rally and circuit driver, sometimes sharing the wheel with her close friend Gilberte Thirion. Perhaps over enthusiastic at times, during her short career from 1952 to 1956, she had several accidents. She was killed during the early stages of the 12 Heures de Reims.

Annie Bousquet born Annie Schaffer, in Austria, was the best known woman racer of France at the time. She was both a rally and circuit driver. In 1953 she raced a Renault 4CV in French events, gaining several results in the 750cc class, sometime sharing the wheel with her close friend Gilberte Thirion, as in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps when they drove a Fiat 1100 unfortunately retiring.

She had her first serious accident at Agen 1953, when the DB she was driving overturned in a corner that she took too quickly. But after a month in hospital, she bought a Porsche.

In 1954 she changed to a Gordini T17S, winning her qualifying heat at Nîmes G.P. and the 1100cc class at Agadir and Dakar races. She raced in the 1954 Mille Miglia, again with Gilberte Thirion finishing 55th overall and wining the Ladies Cup.

She aquired a Porsche 550 late in the year and took it to 8th overall and 2nd in the "Coupe des Dames" just behind Gilberte Thirion, in the Tour de France Automobile with Madame Beaulieu.

In 1955 she raced the Porsche in the 2-litre class, taking 2nd place overall in the 24 Heures Gran Prix de Paris - Bol d'Or at Montlhéry, with German team mate Josef Jeser.

At the beginning of 1956 Annie Bousquet's husband was killed in a road accident, skidding on ice. She then signed for Triumph and was 4th in her class in the 1956 Mille Miglia at the wheel of a Triumph TR2, and in June 1956, just a few days before her death, she raced at the 1000 Kms of Paris, at Montlhéry in the Maserati 150S of Alejandro De Tomaso.

She was killed during the early stages of the 12 Heures de Reims - sportscar race up to 1500 cc - a support race for the French F1 Grand Prix held the next day (Sunday 01 July 1956), she was scheduled to share a pale blue painted Porsche with Isabel Haskell (Isabel Haskell de DeTomaso), but crashed on the 17th lap at the bend before Muizon.

She was travelling quickly, at about 165 Km/h as she entered the corner. She ran wide and went down a bank. She was thrown out and broke her neck. She was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

In the opinion of Richard von Frankenberg, winner of the race with Claude Storez, her mistake might have been due to fatigue. While preparing for the Reims race, she had driven her Porsche spyder to Zuffenhausen for some modifications and, having collecting it, drove back to Reims just in time for the practice sessions. It would appar that she had not slept properly for at least one if not two nights. She was however, determinate to start the race and do the first hours.

The corner in which the accident happened, between Bretelle Sud and Bretelle Nord, was named in her honour.

After the accident the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organizer of the Le Mans 24 Hours banned female drivers from competing in their race, and this decision was revoked only in the 70s. The FFSA - French Automobile Federation - instituted the "Challenge Annie Bousquet" to give a special award to the female winner of the National Rally Championship.

Annie was a victim of her own enthusiasm which was clear to everyone but herself. During her short career from 1952 to 1956, she had several accidents: in 1953 at Agen, in 1955 at Agadir (Maroc) and in 1955 at Montlhéry during an attempt to brake the one hour record.

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