23/10/1911 - 22/1/1954
Record updated 03-Apr-07
Ernest Friderich started out as a mechanic and became a works driver for Bugatti. He later established a dealership in Nice, France. He was the father of two racers, Paul & Renee Friderich.
Ettore Bugatti had previously worked with Ernest Friderich at Mathis and Deutz and so it was natural for him to rejoin Bugatti in 1909, after 2 years of military service, and then follow him to the new venture at Molsheim. Friderich was a good engineer and a competent racing driver and entered a little Type 13 Bugatti for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on July 23, 1911. Not only did it win it's class, but it was second overall to the 6-litre Fiat driven by Hemery. At this stage Le Mans was not a 24 hours race and was held on a circuit different from the later 24 hours one. Racing continued to be a major feature of the Bugatti marque for the next 28 years.
A few weeks before the war Ernest Friderich returned to France to join the 8th Artillery, whilst Ettore Bugatti went back to Milan with two racing cars. However before leaving they had removed and buried the camshafts from the other three 16 valve racing cars. The two racing cars Bugatti took to Italy were hidden in a cave which unfortunately flooded. It was not until 1915 that they were recovered and taken to Bugatti in Paris. Ettore had gone there with his family to design and built aero engines, work for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. In August 1915 Friderich was recalled from the front to work alongside Bugatti before being sent to America to supervise the building of a V-16 aero engine to be made by Duesenburg.
In 1914 the Bugatti works sent a 5 liter Type 24 to Indianapolis for the 500 mile race. To be more competitive, the stroke was increased to enlarge the capacity of the engine from 5,067cc to 5,657cc (390cid) and the car was converted to shaft drive. Friderich, driving the white number 34 Bugatti started 18th. Official records show that Friderich, who claimed he was in third place, was actually running near the back of the pack for much of the race until the pinion gear failed after 134 laps. The car was classified 15th overall.
At the first Italian Grand Prix at Brescia on September 8th 1921, the 16 valve Ernest Friderich scored an important victory for Bugatti in the Voiturette category. The race consisted of 20 laps on a non asphalted 17.3 km route that passed by Montichiari, south of Brescia. Friderich won covering the 348 km in less than 3 hours at the considerable avaerage speed of 115.7 km/hour. The Bugatti team finished in the top four places with Friderich folowed home by De Viscaja, Baccoli and Marco. The 16 valve T13 thus became known as the 'Bugatti Brescia'.
In 1920 Friderich won the Coupe des Voiturettes in a Bugatti Type T13 ina time of 4h 27m 46.4s and an average speed of 57.14mph.
In the 1923 French Grand Prix de Tourisme, a distance of 496 miles on a 14 mile course. Ernest Friderich finished third in Bugatti Type 32 'Tank'.
Friderich often helped young drivers and in 1930 he supplied Jean-Pierre Wimille and another rising star called Jean Gaupillat with a Bugatti Type 51 sportscar.
In 1932 Friderich drove a T55 and was only 4 laps behind the leaders Sommer and Chinetti, who were suffering from brake-problems. With nearly 12 hours still to go and closing at a rate of one and a half laps per hour a victory was on the cards. Unfortunately Friderich has to stop the car at 12h 20mins, because of a broken oil line.