Driver jean behra

Driver Jean Behra

Victory in motor sports is dependent on three factors: the skill and daring of the driver, the endurance of the vehicle and the patronage of Lady Luck. All three must work together to bring the driver from starter to champion finish. While any one factor may overwork to compensate for a deficiency in another ultimately a perfect blend is required to create the desired win with Lady Luck an important player in the game. And yet for reasons unknown to mere mortals there have been a few drivers whom Lady Luck declined to honor. Driver Mario Andretti once said, “Everything comes to those who wait except a cat.” And for driver Jean Behra, Lady Luck was a feline.

Behra was born on February 16, 1921 In Nice, France. In 1938, he began a racing career with motorcycles. However, World War II intervened and put his career on hold for the duration. Following the war, he returned to racing motorcycles for Moto Guzzi and won four French championships. Then in 1950 he started racing cars. At the end of that year, he was offered a slot on the Gordini team. Then in 1952 he out-distanced the powerful Ferrari factory team to win the untitled Grand Prix of Reims. In November of the same year he entered the Pan American road race in Oaxaca, Mexico driving solo for Gordini. He won the initial phase covering 533 kilometers at an average speed of 143 kph. And on the second day, he was again leading the pack until he spun out on a curve and plunged down a twenty-five meter rock embankment.

The years 1953 and 1954 were also unlucky for Behra as he not only scored no championship points but also had difficulty finishing in some races. So in 1955 Behra left Gordini and signed on with Maserati. But he could not win over the Mercedes team with Juan-Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. He did finish first in three non-championship races at Pau, Bordeaux and Bari. And in 1957, he won the Sebring 12 Hours partnered with Fangio. He started the 1958 season with high hopes driving for BRM but again was plagued with mechanical difficulties. Then in Goodwood’s Easter Monday race Behra experienced a brake failure and drove into a concrete wall. He narrowly escaped being pitched out of the car and although injured he was able to walk away.

Behra then moved to Ferrari but the mechanical problems followed. In 1959 he lost the lead due to engine problems and then again at the Grand Prix in Reims a piston failed. This was more than the Frenchman could handle so he accused Tavoni of unfair treatment at Ferrari. The argument ended with Behra punching Tavoni who then fired him.

A month later while racing the Grand Prix at Avus, Germany, and Behra lost control and plowed into a concrete post. He was flung into the air and hit a flagpole. Behra was buried in his hometown of Nice. He was loved by his fans for his ‘go-for-broke’ driving style in face of mechanical problems and respected by fellow competitors. Fellow driver, Juan Manuel Fangio characterized Behra as ‘too brave.’ While three thousand mourning fellow countrymen and fans together with the entire racing community attended his funeral Enzo Ferrari neither attended the masses nor sent condolences.

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