6/10/1918 - 27/12/1993
Record updated 27-Jun-07
AndrÃ© Pilette was born in Etterbeek, Belgium and was a Formula One driver. He participated in 14 grands prix, debuting on June 17, 1951. He scored 2 championship points.
The son of one of racing’s early pioneers, Theodore Pilette. Theodore was a protege of Camille Jenatzy, and began racing in the 1890s in a De Dion-Bouton. In 1913 he raced at Indianapolis finishing fifth. Theodore had a thriving business as the Belgian importer of Daimler-Benz and Bugatti automobiles but was killed en route to Brooklands in 1921, when Andre was only three. However Andre was inspired by stories of his father’s exploits,
At the end of World War II, Andre began racing with an HRG sportscar. After gaining some experience he joined the Ecurie Belgique, finally taking their Talbot to sixth place in the 1951 Belgian GP. Then, at the Dutch GP, he had the first of two huge accidents in which he was seriously injured (the second at Albi in 1952 wrote off the Talbot). He reappeared in Claes' Connaught at the Grand Prix at Spa in 1953, and then aligned himself with Gordini for 1954. He competed in only three Grands Prix, but raced in a good number of non-title races, his best results being second places at Chimay and Cadours.
In 1955, he became one of the founders of the Ecurie Nationale Belge, initially with Gordini chassis with which he won the Coupe de Paris.
He was also racing more and more sports cars and was a strong competitor at Le Mans in 1959 and 1960, finishing second in the latter year in a NART Ferrari. Ecurie Nationale Belge was not a success mainly because of its decision to use the difficult Emeryson car.
The 1956 season started well, but then he had another bad accident in practice for the German GP, which sidelined him for nearly two years. He finished fourth at Le Mans in 1959, and then second in 1960 with Ricardo Rodriguez in a NART Ferrari.
In 1961 Andre reappeared in single-seaters, with the ENB Emeryson-Climax, which proved a total flop, but, being a glutton for punishment, he was back in 1963 with an old Lotus 18/21 four-cylinder. In 1964, Barrie Carter bought the ex-Ian Burgess Scirocco and Tim Parnell ran it for Pilette. Parnell had a Climax V8 installed to replace the original BRM engine. The car was painted Belgian racing yellow. Pilette’s best result was 6th in the 1964 News of the World Trophy at Goodwood.
His focus then switched to his son Teddy who soon became a front runner in Formula 5000 and later in CanAm as well, and though he ultimately made it into F1, he too had a frustrating career.
Andre continued to race until the mid 1960s after which he set up the Pilette International School at Zolder, which launched the career of Thierry Boutsen in the 1970s. Andre died in 1993 at the age of 75.