It happened today – 13 February

It happened today – 13 February

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

On 13th February 2005, Maurice Trintignant died in Nimes, France. Born in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes on 30th October 1917, Maurice began racing as a youngster, making his debut in 1938 at the wheel of the Bugatti which had claimed the life of his brother Louis, in an accident during the 1933 Picardy Grand Prix. After the war, he resumed racing and, in 1948 he came close to death in a frightening accident in the Swiss Grand Prix in Berne. In 1950, Trintignant began racing intermittently in the Formula 1 World Championship with Equipe Gordini, without much luck however, although he scored some wins in non-championship races.

His first contact with Ferrari came in 1952, when he raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours at the wheel of a 340 America entered by Ecurie Rosier, the same team with whom he made his Ferrari debut in the Formula 1 World Championship in the 1954 Argentinian Grand Prix. A fourth place in that race attracted the attention of Enzo Ferrari who brought him into the circle of works drivers. In Belgium and Spain, the Frenchman made it to the podium, but his best performance that year was victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours, in which he shared the wheel of a 375 Plus with Mike Hawthorn. He was gentle on cars which was always one of his strong points and probably was the key that delivered his one and only win with Ferrari in Formula 1 in 1955, which came nevertheless against the most prestigious backdrop of Monaco. That year, Trintignant and Giuseppe Farina had the singular distinction of finishing both second and third in the Argentinian Grand Prix, because of the rule of the time which allowed cars to be shared between drivers from the same team. In 1956, he raced for Vanwall before taking part in a further three Grands Prix with Ferrari in 1957, before getting another lease of life the following year when he won the Monaco Grand Prix again, this time at the wheel of a Cooper-Climax, as well as coming third in Germany. Trintignant raced in Formula 1 and in the Le Mans 24 Hours up to the mid-Sixties, although he never repeated the success of the previous decade.

He was the uncle of the actor Jean-Louis and retired to the village of Vergeze in the Gard department, of which he became mayor, as well as owning vineyards.

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