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Pironi and the family of Patrick Depailler


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#1 Marcel Visbeen

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Posted 29 January 2004 - 15:13

While elsewhere on TNF the discussion about Didier Pironi's character and his 'role' in the 1982 events continues, I got a package from France containing some items which came from the personal archive of Pironi.

Among the items was one piece that cought my attention immedeately.
It's a very thouchy, handwritten letter to Didier by a member of Patrick Depaillers family and it's dated August 15 1980 (exactly two weeks after Patrick died). In this letter Didier is thanked for all he did after the death of Patrick and especially the fact that he enabled the family to see Patrick for one last time.

This suggests that Patrick and Didier where close on a personal level. Maybe even friends. Can anyone shed a light on the relationship between the former teammates in this respect?

Another question is if anybody knows a little more about how Pironi handled the death of Depailler.

I have the idea that the letter is by Patrick's mother. It is signed P.Depailler, could this be anyone else (did Patrick have brothers or sisters?)

I hope somebody can shed a light on this, thank you.

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#2 No27

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Posted 30 January 2004 - 17:26

Would it be possible to put the content of the letter on this forum? I really doubt to ask because it might be against good taste. Any opinions about that?

#3 Marcel Visbeen

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Posted 31 January 2004 - 19:04

Originally posted by No27
Would it be possible to put the content of the letter on this forum? I really doubt to ask because it might be against good taste. Any opinions about that?


Thanks for your reaction No27.
All of a sudden I've got myself a moral dillemma! In principle I would like to share every information I have if it helps me to get more info on this subject, but I've been thinking about your request for a while and I have to say that at the moment I don't feel comfortable about putting the content of the letter on TNF.
Mainly because it's a private letter and it was never intended to be publisized. In fact I was kind of embarrassed myself to read such a personal letter and it just feels strange that I should be the one to make it public, without even contacting the writer. Hope you understand that.

That doesn't mean of course that I would like to know more about it. In fact I was a bit disappointed that nobody could help me with some of my initial questions.
I thought there must be some Depailler-fans around here?

#4 Crowthorne

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Posted 01 February 2004 - 09:35

Marcel

If you look at the document Hieronymus did on the life of Patrick Depailler, you will notice that he mentions the fact that when Patrick was born the family already had 2 daughters. The one sister was called Chantal. His parents were Marcel and Paule Depailler. For Hieronymus's document look at :
http://www.racing-da...e.com/PDBio.htm

#5 Marcel Visbeen

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Posted 01 February 2004 - 21:31

Thank you Crowthorne,
this was in fact where I got the confirmation from that the P.Depailler who wrote the letter could indeed be Patricks mother.

#6 Hieronymus

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 05:46

Marcel

Sorry for my late reply on your question. I am sure the letter came from Patrick's mother - Paule Depailler (nee Rolland). Patrick have two sisters, one is named Chantal. Patrick's father was Marcel Depailler, but he died around 1978. The mostle likely bet therefore is that the letter came from Paule Depailler.

#7 Hendy

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 06:40

I spent a season racing with Luic, his son. He was forbidden to race (his moms request) and was selling apartment buildings that he inhereted from his fathers death to pay for racing. He would be a bit different to JVi in the sense that he wore the identical helmet to his dad, the same suit, etc.

He was a very fast/crazy driver that has piles of talent. I haven't seen or heard much of his since. I think he did a few American Le Mans races in a "Courage" (aptly named)

#8 Hieronymus

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 06:54

Loïc Depailler now works as a journalist for a prominent French motor cycle magazine in Paris. Michèle Depailler, his mother, still lives in Clermont-Ferrand.

#9 uwe_sautter

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 11:10

does anybody know the exactly name of the French motor cycle magazine in Paris.
Thanks

#10 Depa

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 21:54

.. "Moto Revue" is the French motor cycle magazine ..

#11 No27

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Posted 03 February 2004 - 19:52

Keep the letter dry and secure, Marcel!

#12 T54

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 15:06

Loic Depailler is a nice kid, but he does not know much about a father he rarely saw, and he was too young to be fully aware when Patrick was killed.

Somewhere I have a picture of Patrick in his first official motorcycle race at Clermond Ferrand, piloting his 50cc modified Benelli like a kamikaze... and another at Monthlery with the same animal. It was 1961or 1962, can't recall this minute.

Didier Pironi grew up near Brunoy, south of Paris. He was rather discreet but one could see a flame in his eyes. His first "ride" was a 50cc Suzuki, then a very new bike in France. He bought it from me as I had purchased a brand new and very racy Italian bike, and could not afford to have two!
His cousin (who was the fastest of them all and did well in F3 and F2 before being killed in a freak accident on the road) and Claude Vigreux, a truly great motorcycle racer and the third winner of the "Volant Shell" after Jaussaud and Weber, taught him (and me!) how to drive really fast and very securely. He was one of the first to have figured out how to use down force (weight transfer by caressing the brakes into corners) to steer with better traction and subsequently faster, well before any hi-perf driving school ever taught it. This is what made these French drivers so fast in the late 1960's through the early 1980's, they just knew how to use brakes for other purposes than just slowing the car in a straight line. I remember when Jean Pierre Beltoise won at Reims (not "Rheims" please!!) with the MATRA-Cosworth F3 and beat the entire crop of British F3 racers with a slightly slower car, I was at the Thillois, and JP was about in 6th place. Coming out of the corner he was first and was able to barely hold this advantage as the faster Brabham BT15 and 21's almost swallowed him to the line.

Just memories now... :(

T54

#13 philippe7

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 15:57

Originally posted by T54
.


His cousin (who was the fastest of them all and did well in F3 and F2 before being killed in a freak accident on the road)

T54


Is the cousin in question José Dolhem ?

Thank you so much for sharing those personal memories of Depailler and Pironi with us, T 54 !

#14 Marcel Visbeen

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 16:23

Originally posted by philippe7


Is the cousin in question José Dolhem ?


I'm curious about the cousin too. I think T54 could be referring to another cousin because to my knowledge Dolhem was killed in a plane-crash.

#15 T54

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 17:04

Yes, it was Jose Dolhem. And I did not remember about the plane crash, my failing memory was of a road accident.

Jose was incredibly fast on the street. He drove a Mercedes-Benz "Batmobile", then a black 6.3. Jose's parents (as Didier's) were quite wealthy but looked upon auto racing with a weary eye.
The tires lasted a week, the brake pads not much longer. Our group was Didier Pironi, Claude Vigreux and Jose plus me occasionally, roaming the streets around Villeneuve St Georges and Boissy, south of Paris. Jose was treating the traffic like moving chicanes, causing the average French drivers to get very upset indeed, despite that they never saw him coming as he wooshed by, without ever endengering them other than by "post-jerky reaction". Today he would end in jail on a daily basis, but at the time, the French cops were absolutely powerless against a fellow driving faster than they ever could, and their radio transmission was not up to snuff...
Amazingly, no crash ever happened, despite some seriously close calls. I often saw speeds above 100mph in city traffic...
I remember one time when Claude Vigreux had a broken arm due to a slight "off" in the Alps in a Peugeot wagon (the local "navigator" told him that the next corner was 'flat-out" and it was in fact a hairpin. The 404 wagon ended about 25 feet down on top of a tree...) Jose, Didier and Claude were in a Jaguar 3.4, and I was a front passenger. My job was to steer and shift while Claude handled the pedals, while Jose and Didier gave us advice on when to brake at the absolute limit... It actually worked pretty well and we kept the thing on the road for weeks until his arm heeled. This was unfortunately one year before he got killed at Mettet (Belgium) while contesting the 500cc race lead from Billie Nelson because of the negligence of the Belgian race organisers.

This was 1967-68. I never saw Didier again until the first formula one Long Beach GP, where he picked me from the crowd and we renewed our childhood friendship. Didier is gone, and I keep preciously a red "Candy" driving suit he used in the Ferrari F1 as a memory of an exceptional, kind and gentle human being with great courage and will.
Regards,

T54

#16 Marcel Visbeen

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 17:25

Thank you very much for that story T54.
It really has an extremely sad feel to it when you realise that all three of your old friends are no longer with us. I can imagine you cherish memories like these...

#17 T54

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 19:49

And other good friends, like Jean Claude Guenard who was killed in the boat with Didier.
:(

T54

#18 philippe7

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 20:12

Originally posted by T54


This was 1967-68. I never saw Didier again until the first formula one Long Beach GP, where he picked me from the crowd and we renewed our childhood friendship. Didier is gone, and I keep preciously a red "Candy" driving suit he used in the Ferrari F1 as a memory of an exceptional, kind and gentle human being with great courage and will.
Regards,

T54


Once again, T54, thank you so much for sharing your personal memories of Didier....et en plus, this comes at a most appropriate time, after the unfortunate words posted a little while back...

I really feel you should appear on this forum more often, Monsieur P d L .....I know you have many fascinating stories to tell ( although probably more bike-oriented....)

Bonne soirée

#19 T54

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 20:18

after the unfortunate words posted a little while back...



I am unaware of such words because I have not been following this too closely. Can you give me a link please?
Regards,

T54

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#20 philippe7

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 20:32

Well, the offending words in question and the threads concerned have been closed/removed by our moderator/host , and I personnaly feel it was a wise decision . I'm sending you a private message about that in a few minutes, T54 .

#21 T54

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 06:44

Thanks Philippe7.

A bit shocking indeed. I remember Didier as the kindest and most gentle person albeit with a will of steel. These accusations are baseless slander from an over-heated irrational fan of Gilles. While they did not like each other much, there is NO WAY in my mind that this was anything but just a terrible racing accident.

T54

#22 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:23

philippe7 quote:

Well, the offending words in question and the threads concerned have been closed/removed by our moderator/host , and I personnaly feel it was a wise decision

===

Philippe7,

There is one thing about that removed thread I dearly regret.

Before I tell that however, I must perhaps explain a few things.

I must confess that I have been one of the people who had been hard on Pironi in that thread you refer to. I failed to express however that I (a big, big fan of Gilles, but one who also see his faults and errors too) don't hate Didier like many other Gilles fans do. I didn't do that before having read that thread and reacted in it. But with hindsight, I should have pointed that out more clearly. In fact I have been in touch about this matter with the moderator. Because it certainly wasn't my intention to see a thread closed (even removed!) and make Didier look so bad as it appeared I did.
The thread itself made me realise a few things on which I had to agree with the Pironi supporters, fan of him or not.
I don't want to re-fuel that tug of war about the entire Gilles/Didier situation again so I will keep my (after reading the thread: changed) opinions on that affair, Didier in general and 8 May 1982 for myself. Besides that, it is off topic.
I would like to ask everybody who reads this post: Please do the same. let's not get into that affair again. It has lead to the removal of one thread already and that is enough.


The one thing what I regret about the removed thread is this:

It mentioned a book about Didier coming up shortly. In fact, the authors of this book were posting within the thread too. And it is always nice to see authors post about their book and keep us updated.
Regrettably, with the removal of the thread, the links to the book are gone too. Which I regret because my interest in Didier is big enough to be very interested in the book. Though I must admit I am not entirely sure if I am interested in his Ferrari years because of being Gilles teammate and thus getting a different view on Gilles and the team again.
That's what I regret about the removal of that thread.
Hopefully: links to the book will appear here in this thread shortly?

Henri Greuter

#23 fvebr

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:39

http://www.didierpironi.net/index2.htm

#24 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 12:19

fvebr, thanks a lot for the efforts.


Henri Greuter

#25 philippe7

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 13:57

Henri

The thread in which the authors of the book posted is NOT removed, it is locked but still readable at http://forums.atlasf...ighlight=pironi ( last post by Don Capps 29/01 ) .

The thread removed was the original one with the unacceptable comment in the second post .

And the only reason I posted again on this current thread is that I was thankful to T54 for having written about his personal memories of Didier ( and, as I discovered later, having done so without at all having been aware of the controversy of those previous weeks ) I also feel that re-opening the debate would be bound to create some more trouble.

On a personal basis I also decided that, English not being my native language , I would refrain from expressing myself on touchy subjects, or trying to make clever jokes or funny comments , who could turn out to be wrongly put , and (rightly) misinterpreted by native speakers .

#26 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 14:39

Thanks Philippe7,

quote:

On a personal basis I also decided that, English not being my native language , I would refrain from expressing myself on touchy subjects, or trying to make clever jokes or funny comments , who could turn out to be wrongly put , and (rightly) misinterpreted by native speakers .


====

Good point.
On the other hand, I think that we, non English native's have the right to speak out even if we are misunderstood on occasion.
Think positive: We are able to communicate in at least two languages: I bet you that a number of members on this forum living in English speaking countries don't speak/write a second language good enough to dare express themselves in another language.
But I think the majority of Nostagia Forum members don't have any problems with people not being able to write fluent English. It's the input that one can deliver to the Nostalgia forum from which we all can learn that counts most of all.
At least for me that is.
I rarely see people giving hell to others because of inperfect English over here, the Reader's comment is a little different, I admit.
Thanks for your reply.

Henri Greuter

#27 T54

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 16:15

The most important to me is that irrational emotions in any language do not overwhelm basic reason. This forum appears to be one of the best and lots of research and documentation is made available than anytime in the past. Emotions matter none when accurate historical analysis is sought, and this should not be another forum for extremist and irrational point of view. Opinions of all kinds should be welcome, even when it entails the politics of the sport as expertly played by the Puppet Master, I.E. Ingeniere E.Ferrari. But let's base them on facts and not on fiction.

Regards,

T54

#28 tyrrellp34

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 05:37

Patrick and Didier see each other very often in the house of Jean-Pierre Beltoise, near Paris, where most ofthe Frensh driver used to come for holiday. I remember, that after Patrick's death Enzo Ferrari has sent a letter to Patricks mother and got a very special response from her which touched him a lot.

I remember that Didier mentioned after his F1 career, that he must replace Patrick very often in F1 and sportscar Racing, not only to win in Le Mans 1978, but also to lead the Tyrrell Team in 1978 and to take over his place in the Ligier team. What was the 4th time?? Some people mentain that Patrick Depailler have had a deal with Ferrari or Renault for 1981. I think, that after Marlboro F1 wants to have a Marlboro driver in the renault Team that just the Renault F1 Team would be a possibility for PD, after Jabouille moves to Ligier. After Patrick dies, comes the big chance of Alain Prost to drive the Renaul Turbo.

#29 tyrrellp34

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 05:44

Originally posted by No27
Would it be possible to put the content of the letter on this forum?


Sorry mates, it's maybe not a good idea to release a personal letter of the Depailler family here ):

#30 Hieronymus

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 12:25

T54

You mentioned earlier about the motorcycle races and the involvement of men like Depailler. Do you perhaps know of a good source or journal that will have race results of domestic French races from 1962-1965? I believe Patrick finished runner-up in the French 250cc championship in 1965. I have a copy from a French magazine where they rate him very highly at the time, together with men like Jacques Rocca, Alain Barbaroux, Albertini, Denis Dayan and Michel Beltoise.

Were Didier and José Dolhem cousins? I have read before that they were half-brothers?

From the book, L'Equipe de France de Formula 1" by Thierry Schimpff and Bernard Giroux (the other chap that also died in Didier's boat crash), I wish to quote the following comment from Depailler :

"Didier Pironi pour la fin, car c'est mon ami ..."

#31 T54

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 14:34

Documentation about Patrick's motorcycle racing results (his career was very short on two wheels) can be found in "Scooter & Cyclomoteur" published by the famed Moto-Revue. However these monthly magazines are rare today. I do have examples I kept showing Patrick in his first race at Clermond Ferrand in a 50cc race with the Benelli, prior to the world championship GP races in 1962. He finished 3rd if I recall. Racing small displacement (glorified mopeds!) sounds a bit trivial to some, but at the time it was a big thing in Europe (especially in Belgium, France, Spain and Germany) and the racing was incredibly competitive, even if the speeds hardly reached 90MPH with good wind... and that's all we could afford anyway. Rene Metge, Christian Bourgeois are two more who emerged from 50cc racing with great experience for future glory.

I also have another issue showing Patrick him at Monthlery also on the Benelli, where he finished 8th. I kept these issues (I have to dig them up from hundreds of boxes of old documents I have) because I was, as many young aspiring Frenchmen trying to follow the steps of Jean Pierre Beltoise, also in the same races and competing at the front.

Jean Pierre Beltoise lived in Orly with his wife Eliane (who died in a traffic accident) and there were weekly informal parties with many racing drivers, both cars and bikes, and journalists. Johnny Rives was a frequent guest. Didier Pironi was too young to be there at first but I am sure that he later attended. Patrick's attendence may have been more doubtful since he was living in Clemond Ferrand and hated Paris.
Regards,

T54

And now in route to Fontana for 3 days of vintage extravaganza and a ride in a Watson-Offy!
:drunk:

#32 tyrrellp34

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 22:21

Originally posted by T54
his career was very short on two wheels


4 years, from 1962-1966


since he was living in Clemond Ferrand and hated Paris...



Just in the beginning, later with Valerie he use to live in Paris and liked it very much

#33 Pironist

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 18:14

Didier Pironi and José Dolhem were cousins AND half-brothers as they had the same father (Louis Dolhem) but different mothers (Eliane and Ilva) who were sisters !

#34 T54

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 20:43

It was indeed a peculiar situation. Jose was one of the fastest drivers on open roads I have ever met, along with Jean-Pierre Beltoise and motorcycle ace Claude Vigreux. On this side of the pond, only Dan Gurney impressed me as much.

T54

#35 Dennis Hockenbury

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 21:00

Originally posted by Pironist
Didier Pironi and José Dolhem were cousins AND half-brothers as they had the same father (Louis Dolhem) but different mothers (Eliane and Ilva) who were sisters !

Perhaps this has been covered elsewhere, but why did Pironi have a different last name from his father?

#36 Pironist

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 20:38

as far as I know Didier Pironi's mother married an Italian named Pironi when she was pregnant with Didier. I'll clarify this asap.

#37 ensign14

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 20:49

Jeez, sounds like a sit-com set up..."My Wife The Sister-in-law"...

Or a soap opera...coming next: Eliane marries Giovanni whilst carrying his baby...but is it his?

#38 T54

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 21:04

It does not sound too funny when talking about two great champions of our time, both killed in action.

T54 :(

#39 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 23:21

Originally posted by T54
.....I remember one time when Claude Vigreux had a broken arm due to a slight "off" in the Alps in a Peugeot wagon (the local "navigator" told him that the next corner was 'flat-out" and it was in fact a hairpin. The 404 wagon ended about 25 feet down on top of a tree...).....


If only it had been a 404 sedan, they would have got round safely...

Fantastic insight, T54, really lovely stuff. And even if the poor kids' past was a bit 'interesting' we all remember them for other reasons... but what a life their poor mother had, to lose two of them. Like the Rodriguez brothers, a decade apart.

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#40 Dennis Hockenbury

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 23:55

I agree gentlemen, losing both sons is too tragic to comprehend.