Monday, January 5, 2015

Not you, "Bébel"!

Monaco 1972: A mesmeric performance


A few hours ago I was back from lunch, and I opened the website of the French magazine Auto-Hebdo to find that "Jean-Pierre Beltoise is gone. He has passed away aged 77".

Merde! Merde! Merde! 

Not you, "Bébel"! Not you!

For those who caught the passion for Motor Sport by reading the newspaper L'ÉQUIPE, and many French magazines, Jean-Pierre Beltoise was not a driver, he was a hero. And for my generation, who were teenagers in the late seventies, something of  a myth.

A very great racing driver has left us, one for whom the word versatile was created. He did race in almost everything, from bikes to single-seaters, from endurance to touring cars. And was pretty successful in all of them.

Moreover he was strongly impaired in the use of his left arm after a horrific accident during an endurance race at the Reims circuit in 1964. His elbow was left blocked after surgery. And he was lucky, as amputation was considered.

He never ever claimed to be disadvantaged by it. He stood up and fought. Hard.

Monaco 1972 would prove to be the race of his life. In very wet condition, starting from fourth in the grid, he lead at Sainte Dévote, and was never to be caught. Despite the spray, he managed to lap even the third (Emerson Fittipaldi). At the wheel of a BRM that was far from being the class of the field, (it would be the British constructor last victory), ahead of the "rainmaster" Jacky Ickx in his Ferrari.

Footage of Monaco 1972: A real hero

The maiden victory of Ayrton Senna in Portugal 1985, immediately comes to mind. Simply awesome.

He would later contribute greatly to the triumph of Matra in the World Sportscar Championship, (as endurance was called at the time), in 1973 and 1974. Winning the Nürburgring 1000 Kms. in 1974 with Jean Pierre Jarier, among other victories. Le Mans was not possible though.

There are no longer drivers like Jean-Pierre Beltoise, "Bébel", Drivers who soldier on without complaining. Can you imagine him claiming that his rivals had a left arm that worked correctly?

Neither do I.

He left us a few books, among them:

"Dying is forbidden"

Why didn't he follow his own recommendations?
True Motor Sport fans will miss him immensely.

Merci pour tout "Bébel"! Chapeau bas l'artiste!

Stay tuned.

 There is only one "MAGIC": AYRTON SENNA

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