David Piper’s Legendary Green Racecars Are Invading France
Photography by Ted Gushue
Editor’s Note: Last month we ran gu mega feature on David Piper whom we met through our dear friend and colleague Jarrah Venables. Jarrah’s helping coordinate the largest retrospective on David’s collection and career at one of our favorite events in Europe, Les Grandes Heures Automobiles. We’ll be back there again this year, but to whet your appetite here’s a bit about the event from its organizers:
In just over two weeks, the 2017 Les Grandes Heures Automobiles (LGHA), being held over the weekend of 23-24 September at the legendary banked Linas-Montlhery Autodrome circuit, just south of Paris, will be staging a special celebration of the exceptional life and motor racing career of the British ex-Formula 1 and sports car privateer driver and team owner racer David Piper.
The special David Piper tribute at the 2017 LGHA will be the very first time that his racing career has been celebrated. This LGHA tribute at the Linas-Montlhéry Autodrome is a very fitting, as it’s a circuit for which Piper has many great memories, having raced and enjoyed success there on numerous occasions.
As well as attending the LGHA in person, David Piper will be bringing cars from his own career and private collection to Montlhery, supplementing a special display with other cars from private owners in which he either raced or which represent models he drove. These cars will be displayed together in the Montlhery paddock, with many of them also running around the banked Autodrome circuit in their relevant grids.
Cars from David Piper’s personal collection will include his famous bright ‘BP” green Ferrari 250 LM, as well as his Lola T70 MK 3B, Ferrari 365 P2 and Porsche 917K, the latter two being on static display.
Piper began racing in 1954 with an MG J4, before going on to compete in all of the major endurance races in a wide variety of cars, often partnered with some of the greatest racing names of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Events included the Le Mans and Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours, Kyalami 9 Hours, Tourist Trophy, Targa Florio, the British Grand Prix, plus the Paris 1000km, famously held at Montlhery.
Whilst being one of the top privateer racers, Piper also drove for other major teams, including John Wyer Automotive, Porsche, the Ferrari North American Racing Team (NART) and Scuderia Ferrari itself, with whom he had a very close relationship. His career saw Piper become one of the few drivers/entrants to successfully battle and triumph against major Works-teams.
His notable racing successes include winning the Kyalami 9 Hours race six times (five of those victories being back to back), victories at the 1965 Angola GP and Brands Hatch 500, the 1966 Paris 1000km at Montlhery and Oulton Park Gold Cup, plus the 1969 Coupes de Vitesse at Montlhéry (second in 1970 race).
Piper also played a major role in the production of Steve McQueen’s iconic ‘Le Mans’ movie, providing many cars and driving himself. It was during filming that he suffered a severe accident, something that would have halted most drivers’ careers, but not David Piper. David Piper Auto Racing continued racing cars with success as the historic racing scene developed. Today his collection is carefully preserved and rarely seen out in public, so this celebration is a rare treat for LGHA visitors to enjoy the cars and meet the man in person.
Joining the David Piper tribute at the 2017 LGHA will be thousands of other historic and classic cars and motorcycles on 23-24 September, including a number of significant and fascinating motor cars.
These will include half-a-dozen or so rarely-seen vehicles being sent over to the LGHA from the Peter Mullin Collection museum in California. Highlights of these will include the dominant 1927 Delage 15 S-8 grand prix racer, as well as five Voisin models, including the 1927 Montlhery record-breaking car. These will be joined by the Sebring 12 Hours-winning Jaguar D-Type, and the multiple World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb in action on his wild Pikes Peak-winning Peugeot 208 T16.
Away from the historic competition cars and motorcycles at the LGHA, a huge display of vehicles from many classic car and bikes clubs will be in attendance, as will a special supercar and performance GT display area. New cars and motorcycle manufacturers will also be participating, including Peugeot, Alfa Romeo, Effeffe, Fiat, Infiniti, Land Rover, Tesla, Nissan, Smart, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Subaru and Volvo, plus Honda, Yamaha and BMW Motorrad on two wheels.
On Sunday 24 September, Maison Aguttes will run a historic vehicle auction on-site, located in the heart of the Autodrome in the stylish Pavillon 1924 building. This well be joined by a sizeable exhibition area and autojumble.
For ticket information, please head over to LGHA’s website: http://www.lesgrandesheuresautomobiles.com