CONSTRUCTORS: GORDINI (EQUIPE GORDINI)
Name: Gordini (Equipe Gordini)
Amedee Gordini raced and tuned cars in the late 1930s, enjoying some success with his Fiat-engined sportscars and after the war kept the embers of French motor racing alive despite a continual lack of funding.
The first Gordini single-seaters came in 1946 when "Le Sorcier" ran Fiat-engined cars for himself and Jose Scaron. Gordini won races in Marseilles, Forez, Dijon and Nantes and Scaron won in Nice and St. Cloud. In the late 1940s the company expanded into workshops in the Boulevard Victor in Paris and while Scaron and former Le Mans winner Pierre Veyron concentrated on sportscar events Gordini used new aces like Robert Manzon and Maurice Trintignant, in addition to the established French star of the day Jean-Pierre Wimille. All three won victories for the company with Wimille winning at Nimes and Longchamps in 1947 and Trintignant winning the Grand Prix de Roussillon. In 1948 Wimille won an impressive victory at Rosario and Raymond Sommer won in Geneva. At the start of 1949 Wimille was killed in one of the cars in practice for a race in Buenos Aires. Trintignant took up the fight, winning races that year in France.
For 1950 Gordini supercharged a Simca engine for the World Championship and Trintignant, Manzon and new boy Andre Simon regularly appeared in F1 races. There were no major victories and the cars proved to be more successful in F2 form, in which Gordini's son Aldo occasionally participated. Simon won a poorly-attended French event at Lesparre in the Medoc but in most domestic races Raymond Sommer had the advantage in his Ferrari. When the Ferraris failed there were wins for Trintignant in Geneva and for Manzon at Mettet in Belgium and again at Perigueux.
In the course of 1951 Simca provided less assistance, and although Trintignant won at the F1 race at Albi (when no Ferraris appeared) Gordini struggled to beat Ferrari in the better supported F2. Johnny Claes won the GP des Frontieres that year for Gordini but as usual Ferrari was hard to beat with the works team in international races and Rudolf Fischer in French events. Manzon won at Mettet, Simon at Sables d'Olonne and Trintignant at Cadours. Aldo entered the World Championship French GP at Reims but retired. That year also saw the first appearances of Jean Behra in the little French cars.
The 1952 season saw Manzon and Behra joined by Prince Bira, and Behra won Gordini's most famous victory, beating Ferrari at Reims. Manzon was also ahead of the Italian cars at Montlhery but his car broke down. Most of the time the Gordinis were humbled by the Ferraris.
In 1953 there were minor wins for Trintignant at Chimay and Cadours and Harry Schell at Rouen but the Ferraris were again too strong to beat. At the end of the year Trintignant departed to drive for Ferrari and Behra and Simon were joined by a string of others including Jacques Pollet, Andre Pilette, Clemar Bucci, Paul Frere, Andre Guelfi and Fred Wacker. The only major win was Behra at Cadours.
The team reappeared only briefly in 1957 but then Gordini joined Renault as a consultant engineer and disbanded the F1 operation. He worked on the design of the Renault Dauphine which enjoyed much success in rallying in the late 1950s. In 1963 the premises in the Boulevard Victor were closed and the operation moved to Noisy-le-Roi and Gordini developed the Renault 8 for racing and rallying, including the influential Coupe Gordini series in 1966 where many of the top French drivers of the 1970s learned their trade. At the end of 1968 the Gordini company was merged into Renault and in February 1969 was moved to the Usine Amedee Gordini at Viry-Chatillon. This became the headquarters of Renault Sport and many of Gordini's young engineers went on to play important roles in the Renault Le Mans project and the Formula 1 turbo program.
Gordini died in 1979.