Only a damaged leg. Yours, Annie

A damaged leg noted a start of her life. Or did a damaged leg symbol a start of a finish of her life? No one knows how she herself would have set about revelation her story. Annie Bousquet over this universe some-more than half a century ago.

One thing is certain: racing story would have been deprived of a fable if Bousquet had not crossed her skis while zooming down a slope in Sestriere in 1952. Which is why, on a afternoon that altered her life, she was sitting in a hotel run where she happened to overhear dual Italians articulate about motorsports. One of them was Alberto Ascari, who would win a Formula One pretension that year and a next, usually to humour a deadly collision in Monza in 1955. Vienna-born Bousquet, née Schaffer, who was married to a Frenchman and had a ten-year-old daughter, was mesmerised by Ascari’s stories of a universe over dual hundred kilometers per hour—what a contrariety to her easeful existence, to days filled with tennis, skiing, and horseback riding. She soon resolved to rev adult her life.

From a record expostulate to a hospital

Her leg had frequency healed from her skiing collision before Bousquet entered her initial race, pushing a Renault 4CV in a Alpine Rally in France. When a delivery pennyless down she had to lift out. But conjunction automatic failures nor pompous remarks from a predominately masculine competitors could moderate her enthusiasm. Her pushing style, a hazardous multiple of bravery and cockiness, done her an early star of a sport. But channel a finish line, as she did in a 1953 Mille Miglia, tended to be a difference rather than a rule. She was constantly flirting with a boundary of physics, fueling an ever-greater craving for success, and streamer unswervingly for a day on that she would take her place in a annals of racing history.

Annie Bousquet, Porsche 550 Spyder, Montlhéry, 1955, Porsche AG

Speed record: Porsche race-car motorist Annie Bousquet in Montlhéry with her 550 Spyder in 1955.

On Aug 16, 1955, a women’s universe speed record was watchful to be damaged south of Paris during a Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry. As usual, Bousquet seemed cool to all risk—even during a place where her statue Ascari had mislaid his father in a racing collision in 1925. Her usually suspicion was to mangle a 1934 path record of 215 kmh, set by English racer Gwenda Hawkes, with whom she constantly found herself neck and neck. Bousquet entered a best foe automobile available: a Porsche 550 Spyder done specifically for her by a Wendler chassis-building association in Reutlingen. A Spyder in Racing Blue, it ran on motorsport fuel, rolled on special tires, and a cockpit was clad on a sides. Everything about a automobile had been optimized for this competition. And usually 3 and a half years after her initial race, Bousquet reached a apex of her career. Putting in an impossibly strong performance, she posted a speed of 230.5 kmh on her fastest lap. And cumulative her longed-for universe record!

But as had spasmodic happened before, Bousquet finished her day in a hospital. Euphoric about a path time, she had immediately resolved to set a new hour record as well. But a tire blew out during over 200 kmh, and her automobile crushed into a wall. Relief was tangible in Zuffenhausen when her telegram arrived: “Broken leg, not neck, in good spirits. Yours, Annie.”

Racing after pushing by a night

In a arise of this record drive, fitness incited a behind on Bousquet. In Jan of 1956, her father Pierre died in a automobile crash. In Jun of that same year, she entered a twelve-hour foe in Reims—and mislaid her possess life. A tragedy in a making: even after a genocide of her husband, Bousquet continued to race, organizing all on her own, including a lead-up to Reims. Her 550 Spyder was being remade by Porsche and wouldn’t be prepared until a day before a race. Bousquet picked it adult and gathering 5 hundred kilometers by a night to a circuit. Once there, she insisted on pushing a initial stint. In a seventeenth path her left front circle left a track, a automobile flipped over, and this time Bousquet pennyless her neck. The competition went on for eleven some-more hours as a other drivers raced past a site of a accident—some of them certainly reflecting on this unusual lady who, in her early thirties, would no longer be essay for even aloft speeds. In response to Bousquet’s unsure pushing character and death, a Automobile Club de l’Ouest, that put on a 24 Hours of Le Mans, stopped permitting women to compete—a anathema that wouldn’t be carried until 1971.

As for Annie Bousquet’s possess take on her fast-paced and distant too brief racing career, she competence have begun her story with this chronicle of a sentence: a damaged leg noted a start of my life.

Text initial published in a Porsche patron repository Christophorus, No. 387