Birthday : 1928-01-08
Deceased : 2008-05-21
Biography Gilberte Thirion
Gilberte Thirion was born January 8 1928 in Brussels. Her father was an industrial, her mother a model. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. She lived with her mother during the next years. Her father was into cars, as he drove Liege-Rome-Liege even before World War II.
Max Thirion was the Belgian importer of the American spark plugs Champion, and after her studies she started working for Champion. She soon became head of public relations, and therefore met some famous race pilots at different race tracks in Europe, among them Fangio and Alberto Ascari.
1952, at the age of 24, she visits the Brussels car show together with her father. She immediately falls in love with a remarkable car, the Porsche Gmünd SL. Father Max Thirion wants to buy the car as a gift to his daughter but unfortunately the car has been sold. However, after some time, he manages to buy that particular car since the original owner thought this car was too fast and too dangerous for him.
The car, Porsche Gmünd n°356/2-061, still resides in Belgium, owned by Jacques Mertens. In this car, she drove several races. At first she drove together with her father Max Thirion. Later she formed a , completely female, team with Ingeborg Polensky, wife of Helmut Polensky, which was the German importer of the Champion spark plugs. Together they drove races like Tour de France, the dutch Rallye of Tulips, 12 Heures d’Hyères Tour de Belgique.
She drove a Porsche 550 Spyder for the ‘Equipe Nationale Belge’, in 1956 she gained overall victory in the Tour of Corsica. She was awarded with the Belgian National Sport Trophy in 1957 for her achievements in racing. She became one of the most succesfull female belgian race pilots, if not the most succesfull.
After an illness of about a year, she passed way May 21, 2008 in Ukkel(Brussels)
Pictures courtesy of Jacques Mertens