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Andre Guelfi

Born:
6th May 1919
Mazagan, (now El Jadida, MA)
Died:
28th June 2016 (Aged 97)
Gustavia, West Indies
Nationality:
French
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Born in Morocco to Corsican parents, André Guelfi raced in France’s North African dependencies during the 1950s. He was a wheeler-dealer from the age of 10 and that urge to make a buck eventually cost him a fortune.

Already successful enough to finance his racing activities by 1950, Guelfi was the first retirement of that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. His factory-prepared Gordini won a minor sports car race at Agadir in 1953 and he was sixth in the 1954 Le Mans 24 Hours when sharing the class winning car with Jacques Pollet. Guelfi also made his first Formula 1 starts that year although his Gordini was engulfed in flames on the second lap at Pescara.

His racing activities were largely confined to sports car races in Africa for the next four years but Guelfi drove a private Jaguar D-type at Le Mans in 1958. That was an unhappy outing for his co-driver "Jean Mary" was killed early in the night.

Grand Prix appreance

Guelfi had bought a Formula 2 Cooper T45-Climax that year and he was in the field for Africa’s first world championship event at the end of the season. He was the slowest qualifier for the 1958 Moroccan GP but finished 15th overall and fourth in the F2 class.

That was his last international race although Guelfi continued to compete on the continent of his birth deep into the 1960s. He moved to Paris in 1971 and married President Georges Pompidou’s niece. With a growing business empire, he was mixing with the rich and influential and it seemed Guelfi could do no wrong.

However, he was implicated in the 1992 Elf Aquitaine scandal when found to be a conduit as elicit funds changed hands. Guelfi was found guilty and given a three year suspended sentence and €1m fine. Far from bashful, he wrote an account in his autobiography L’Original: D’un Village marocain aux secrets de l’affaire Elf.

Championship seasons