Pescarolo participated in 59 grands prix, debuting on September 22, 1968. He achieved 1 podium, and scored a total of 12 championship points. He wore a distinctive green helmet and still has a full beard that partially covers burns suffered in a crash.
Henri Pescarolo was born in the Calvados region in northern France. The son of a surgeon, he was in his third year of medical school when motor racing intervened. The French magazine Sport Auto organised a series of races for Lotus Sevens. 19 drivers were finally selected from the ten thousand that applied. Pescarolo was selected to represent Paris and he won the first race at Montlhery. However racing agained Johnny Servoz-Gavin (Savoie), Patrick Depailler (Auvergne) and Jimmy Mieusset (Lyon), it was highly competetive. Mieusset ended up as champion though Pescarolo won the hillclimb section.
He was offered a drive in Formula 3 at the end of 1965 and in 1966 was team mate to Servoz-Gavin and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in the Matra works team. Servoz-Gavin won that year but in 1967 Pescarolo took the title and moved into Formula 2 in 1968 with Matra. His career was stopped temporarily in the spring of 1969 when he suffered facial burns after crashing at Le Mans.
In 1968 and ‘69, he competed in three F1 races for Matra, before doing a full season in 1970. The high point of this period was third place at Monaco. He moved to Frank Williams’s team in 1971, finishing fourth at the British GP. A poor season in 1972 saw him switching his attention to sports car racing with Matra and he won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1972, 1973 and 1974. He would return to Le Mans on many occasions, ending his career with a record 33 participations in the event. He added a fourth victory in a Porsche in 1984.
In sports car racing he was enormously successful with 22 major victories including the Daytona 24 Hours in 1991. In the 1990s he competed on the Paris-Dakar Rally on eight occasions and became an important figure in the Filiere Elf, picking young drivers and helping to train them. He raced at Le Mans for the last time in 1999. In 2000 he started his own team, Pescarolo Sport, to run sports cars and has enjoyed some success in recent years.
In 1984 Pescarolo and Patrick Fourticq set the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic from New York-Paris in a single-engined plane and he was a stunt driver in the successful French film, Taxi, in 1998.