Claude Bourillot

21/9/1924 - 29/8/1998

Record updated 21-Sep-20

French sports car driver who took a class win in the Mille Miglia in 1955. He also finished second in class at Le Mans in 1957. Married to the French actress Michèle Mercier, he ended up running off with her jewels and money leaving her pennyless.

Claude Bourillot

Claude Bourillot started racing in 1954 with an OSCA MT4. He entered the Rallye di Borgogna finishing second overall. His success continued into the next year where, after finishing 5th in the Criterium Neve Ghiaccio, he was 24th overall and took the class win in the Mille Miglia.

For 1956 he acquired a Maserati 150F which he drove with Pierre About. They failed to finish the Mille Miglia but at Le Mans they crossed the line in 9th overall and second in class.

He drove a Citroën DS19 with Pierre About in the Mille Miglia in 1957 finishing second in class.

In 1958 he purchased a Ferrari 250GT Tour de France Berlinetta (0973GT). He drove with Oliver Gendebien in the 3 Hour race at Pau taking the win in a Ferrari Berlinetta SF (0677GT).

His entry for Le Mans was not accepted but driving the 250GT with Masetti he finished 7th in the Tour de France Auto, 

In 1959 he came second in class at Montlhery in March and won his class there in May before selling the car.

He took a break from racing but returned after aquiring the ex-Scuderia Filipinetti 250GTO in 1963. In April 1964 he won the Rallye Bourgogne with Bouly and finished 10 overall and 3rd in class in the Targa Florio driving with Prince Michel de Bourbon Parme. He also took the car to the hillclimb at Urcy setting the second fastest time in the GT class.

He won the Rallye Bourgogne again in 1965 but in the Targa Florio, Prince Michel de Bourbon Parme crashed the car before Claude got to drive. With the car repaired he came second in class once again at the Urcy hillclimb.

In 1966 he finished 2nd in the Rallye Bourgogne. About this time he became president of the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile. After the tragic Monaco Grand Prix in 1967 he is qoted of having said "We are like aviators trying to land Boeing jets on the airfields of 1914." That year he was involved in the first occurance of one of the sports most famous traditions, the spaying of the Champagne. At the Mans a 36 year old Dan Guerney stood on the top step having won 

Standing on the victory podium, 36-year-old Dan accepted the winner’s bottle of Moët et Chandon champagne from Bourillot but rather than drinking it he shook the bottle vigorously and, after some difficulty opening it, he began spraying the other drivers, Henry Ford II, Carroll Shelby and anyone else in range.

Also involved in national politics, he was appointed the Chargé de Mission under president Alain Poher after General de Gaulle retired in 1969.

At some point there were elections to appoint a new board for the FFSA and Bourillot picked up a lifetime ban. Though we have not discoved quite why this was, it might have had something to do with the fact that during WWII, Jean-Marie Balestre, a founding member of the FFSA, was said to have worked as an undercover agent for the French Resistance but though the details of his activities during war are in fact unknown, Bourillot accused him of being a Nazi sypathiser and demanded that he was investigated.

He had been living with the French actress Michèle Mercier for some time and they married in 1970. Mercier was most famous for her role as Angélique, la marquise des Anges. At the time making her as well know as Brigitte Bardot. Her first husband turned out to be alcoholic and she didn't fare much better with Bourillot. They were together for 12 years and then one day he vanished with all her jewels and money leaving her penniless. They divorced in 1976.