It happened today – 30 January

It happened today

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

On 30th January 1917, the racing driver, writer and journalist, Paul Frere was born at Le Havre, France. His racing career went hand in hand with the journalism and reached its peak in 1960, when he won the Le Mans 24 Hours, paired with fellow countryman Olivier Gendebien at the wheel of a 250 Testa Rosso.

Enzo Ferrari had this to say about him in his book, “Piloti, che gente…” “I also knew a journalist-racer, the Belgian Paul Frere, who alternated racing with writing and I couldn’t say which he was best at. He also wrote a book about his experiences and it was pretty good. My impressions of him are similar to those I have of Taruffi. In fact I played a part in a decisive moment in his life. I knew how much he wanted to compete in and maybe win the Le Mans 24 Hours. So I invited him to team up with Gendebien in one of my cars, with an agreement that if he won, he would stop racing, thus complying with the prayers of his wife and three sons. He did win and kept his promise. He then asked me if he could have the steering wheel he’d been clasping when he took that last glorious win to hang it on the wall behind his desk.”

Before that important win at Le Mans, Frere had taken other prestigious victories, such as the 1957 and ’58 Reims 12 Hours, again teamed with Gendebien and always at the wheel of a Ferrari.

He also shone in single-seaters, taking part in eleven Formula 1 Grands Prix, three of them with Scuderia Ferrari: his best result was a second place in the 1956 Belgian Grand Prix in the D50.

He continued writing and testing cars up until 2006, when he had a serious accident on the old Nurburgring, while testing a Honda. He never recovered completely and died on 23rdFebruary 2008.

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