Henri Pescarolo

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Born : September 25 1942

Biography Henri Pescarolo

Henri Pescarolo was born in Paris as the son of one of France’s leading physicians. Henri Pescarolo studied medicins  but was torn between his vocations and his passion for motor racing. The first car rides of Henri Pescarolo were in the Peugeot 203, at 9 years old. He learned the skills to master the car him self by observing how his father drove the car. In the end Henri Pescarolo never completed his medicine studies. As the father of Henri Pescarolo noticed the interest for motor racing of his son, he proposed him to share a wheel at a rally. This is exactly what happened and that can be seen as the ultimate trigger for Henri Pescarolo’s racing career..

Henri Pescarolo joins the AGACI school and it turns out he is the most talented driver in his racing class. Fast and imperturbable, Henry played his first championship with 3 wins, driving his Lotus Seven in the Cup of Provinces (1964-65). In 1965 Henri Pescarolo joins the Matra F3 team with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Jean-Pierre Beltoise. This was not the very best year in his motorsport career, as the Matra was actually not ready to compete in a good way in a championship. In 1966 Henri Pescarolo appears for the first time on the Le Mans 24H entry list with a DNF as a result.

In 1968 , Henry Pescarolo begins in the European Formula 2 Championship with his teammate Jean-Pierre Beltoise. That year he wins the title of Vice-European Champion and Vice-Champion of France F2 in 1968. It will attempt the same year for the 3rd time at the 24h of Le Mans and for the first time in F1.

April  1969, a series of victories will be violently interrupted by a very serious accident during the private test in Le Mans on the Matra 640. Henri Pescarolo survices the crash with serious burns and fractures tot the spine. The recovery takes several months, resulting in a temporary stop in the motorsport career of Henri Pescarolo who resumes racing August 1969.

In 1970 Matra establishes a F1 team, with Henri Pescarolo as one of the drivers. He finished 3rd in the GP of Monaco and will stall the title of champion of France F1 and F2. But for the F1 team, his season remains generally disappointing and Matra decided to replace him by Chris Amon. The following season, Henri PESCAROLO is recruited by the modest team of Frank Williams. He stops his F1 career without too many succeses in 1976

1977 24 Hours of Le Mans : Henri Pescarolo at the wheel of the Porsche 936/77 he shared with Jacky Ick
1977 24 Hours of Le Mans : Henri Pescarolo at the wheel of the Porsche 936/77 he shared with Jacky Ickx

Henri Pescarolo and Le Mans

In his race career, Henri Pescarolo competed no less than 33 times in the toughest endurace race of the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His first attempt was in 1966, teaming up with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in a Matra M620-BRM, but to no avail. They quit the race after 35 laps. The last 24 Hours of Le Mans for Henri Pescarolo was in 1999, 1969 was the only year in between 1966 and 1999 that Henri Pescarol is not participating. 1971 is the first year Henri Pescarolo completes the endurance race, and in what he way. Sharing the wheel of a Matra – Simca MS670 with Graham Hall, he wins the race. The 2 next years Henri Pescarolo teams up with Gerard Larousse. Good for another 2 victories. Henri Pescarol adds another victory of the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1976.

In 1977, the Martini Joest Racing Team hires Henri Pescarolo. His fellow driver in the Porsche 936/77 is Jacky Ickx. No succes for both drivers however, as they had to abandon the race with engine problems. More succes for the 2nd Porsche 936/77 entered by the Martini Joest Racing Team. Jurgen Barth and Hurley Haywood finished the job for the Martini Joest Racing Team and won the 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Porsche 936-001. One year later, Jochen Mass joined the duo Henri Pescarolo and Jacky Ickx in another attempt to win the 24 hours of Le Mans for the Martini Joest Racing Team. Unfortunately, they did not succeed in crossing the finish line after Jochen Mass crashed the Porsche 936-003 in the Porsche curves at the Circuit de la Sarthe. No succes for the other colleagues of the Martine Racing Teams either, even though a second place for Jürgen Barth / Jacky Ickx / Bob Wollek is not too bad.  Despite several more attempts the next years, Henri Pescarolo had to wait some more years  before he could win the 1984 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 956B of the Newman Joest Racing Team. The Porsche 956B was an updated version of the Porsche 956. 

Le Mans 1984 - Klaus Ludwig, Henri Pescarolo a in a Porsche 956
Le Mans 1984 – Klaus Ludwig, Henri Pescarolo a in a Porsche 956

Next to his very succesful race career at the 24 hours of Le Mans, Henri Pescarolo was quite succesful in sports car racing in general. In 1975 he won his first Championship of France, and that was the exact year Henri Pescarolo signed for Porsche Kremer to compete in the 1000 Km of the Nürburgring, among others. Henri Pescarolo made a very good season in the United States in 1991, as a member of the Joest Racing Team. He won the 24 Hours of Daytona and finished 3rd in the 12H of Sebring.

Henri Pescarolo still remains a popular driver, and is regularly seen on different race tracks and events like the Le Mans Classic or Spa Classic as a competitor or a guest of honor.

Complete race results of Henri Pescarolo on next page