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Amédée Gordini was an orphan who had been born in Italy near Bologna and christened as Amedeo. He began working when 11 years old and was an infantryman with the Italian Army during World War I. Later a mechanic for Maserati, "Le Sorcier" settled in France by chance.
He was holidaying in Paris in 1926 when he ran out of money (echoing issues for his future Grand Prix team) and so had to stay. It was not all bad, for he married a local girl, took French nationality four years later and worked for Simca during the 1930s.
He made his debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours with a 995cc Fiat in 1935 and three further appearances in the race culminated in his only finish in 1939. With José Scaron as his co-driver, their Simca Huit finished 10th to win the 1100cc class, Biennial Cup and Index of Performance.
Part of the hastily assembled field for the first post-World War II race meeting of note in the Bois de Boulogne, his Simca was entered under the Equipe Gordini banner that day and won the Formule Libre Robert Benoist Cup.
Gordini soon stopped racing himself but gained greater fame as an entrant. His team was perennially under-funded and normally outpaced but was always a popular speck of pale blue in the sea of Italian red. He was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1952 and remained a treasured and respected member of the French motor industry, by Renault in particular, until his death in 1979.