Home town Fribourg remembers the tragic death of Jo Siffert 50 years ago at Brands-Hatch

On Saturday 23 October 2021, there were a lot of jackets, t-shirts, and polo shirts with various race numbers and Jo Siffert’s signature at the “Equilibre” theatre in Fribourg.
It is copiously filled with fans who have come to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of the city’s famous driver, who remains (sorry for Clay, Marc, Marcel, Sébastien, and the others) the best that Switzerland has ever known.

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Among the many events taking place throughout the year, a “Copil” (steering committee) has organized an event, intended to bring back fond memories to his supporters of the time and to introduce him to those (quite a few in the room) who are too young to have known him. After the usual greetings and thanks, Jacques Deschenaux, Siffert’s friend and press officer, took the floor to describe “Seppi” in his daily life.
Although Jacques Deschenaux’s career with Télévision Suisse Romande has been long, the same cannot be said of his singing career (which he acknowledges), but his version of Georges Brassens’ “Chanson pour l’Auvergnat” is surprising and sympathetic.

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After a short intermission, his mechanics (Michel Piller, Heini Mader, Edi Wyss) and his teammates, and sometimes adversaries, (Kurt Ahrens, Bernard Chenevière, Gérard Larrousse and François Mazet) depict a fast driver and a strong, courageous and loyal friend (like a certain Michel Vaillant…). Jean-Marie Wyder (author of the book “Il s’appelait Siffert, Jo Siffert “) coordinates the interviews, in French and German (helped by Jean-Marc Kohler) and is, sometimes, “brought back to order”, to avoid exceeding the time limit. It is true that the exercise could have been prolonged, as everyone had so much to say.
Surrounded by a Lotus and a Porsche 917K replica, all these speakers give the audience a very pleasant moment.

2 surprises for the audience

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Portrait of Jo Siffert, made on glass by the Bernese artist Simon Berger

The first one is the unveiling on stage of a superb portrait of Jo Siffert, made on glass by the Bernese artist Simon Berger.
The second is vocal, as the former French pilot Thierry Magne, now a singer-songwriter, presents the video clip of his song dedicated to Jo Siffert.
The time passes too quickly and after new thanks to the sponsors and authorities and a handing-over of gifts to the speakers, the light turns on again, meaning that it is time to go home, with many tasty, funny or sad anecdotes in mind.

The 75th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of Jo Siffert’s death will be commemorated, but the audience will probably not be the same…
Then the Porsche 917K heads for the ice rink, where it will make a remarkable appearance on the ice during the local club’s match.
Thank you and congratulations to the “Copil” for organising this event which will remain in the memory of those who attended.
On Sunday, a ceremony, which is held every year (but with a more confidential attendance), brings together more than 500 people on the grave of Jo Siffert.

Translated from French text  by  Jean-Jacques Puchat

Picture gallery Memorial Jo Siffert

Pictures courtesy Jean-Jacques Puchat