The first French Grand Prix was held on a series of public roads near Lyon in 1914 and was won by a Mercedes. In 1947 there were no Mercedes but the Grand Prix was held again at Lyon on September 21 although on a much shorter temporary street circuit. Here is the talented Swiss “gentleman driver” Emmanuel “Toulo” de Graffenried in a prewar 1.5 liter supercharged Maserati 4CL entered by the Swiss Scuderia Enrico Platé. Enrico Platé was a prewar Italian driver who managed a team of cars, mostly Maseratis, for wealthy amateur clients.
As can be seen de Graffenried shows the results of having been struck by stones thrown up from other cars. Although he led for a time, he eventually retired with engine failure. The eventual winner was Monégasque Louis Chiron with a Talbot 26 monoposto.
Toulo de Graffenried, seen here earlier in the Lyon race, was 33 years old at the time of this Grand Prix. Like many other drivers of the immediate postwar years, de Graffenried had started driving in the 1930s but with modest results. After the war de Graffenried entered both Grands Prix and the earliest F1 races as well as numerous non-Championship races throughout Europe. His most important result was a victory at Silverstone in the 1949 British Grand Prix, driving a Platé-prepared Maserati 4CLT. As a result he had a few “rides” in 1951 with the Alfa Romeo works team.
After retiring from competition in the mid-1950s, the very popular de Graffenried created and acted as President of the Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemoll.com
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