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Eric Offenstadt

26th December 1939 (Age 80)
Cognac, Poitou-Charentes
Most recent race (in database):

Eric "Pépé" Offenstadt began and finished his career on motorcycles, but he spent seven wild years on four-wheels.

He first raced a motorcycle in 1959 a year before legally allowed to. 1961 French 175cc Champion, he switched to cars with a Lola Mk5A Formula Junior with which he won a minor race at Schleiz.

Formula 3 and F2

Still driving a Lola, he finished as runner-up to Henri Grandsire in the 1964 French Formula 3 Championship and was also fifth in that year’s Monaco F3 race. He continued in F3 for another four years while also trying to establish his reputation in Formula 2. Sixth at Rouen-les-Essarts with a private Cooper T75-BRM was his best result from eight F2 races during 1965.

Offenstadt surprised Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and others by leading at Karlskoga in 1966 until he was knocked out of the race by an over-optimistic Jochen Rindt. He moved mid-season to Ron Harris’s factory Lotus team but third on Le Mans Bugatti circuit was his only podium of the year.

He remained with the team in 1967 for what was a difficult season developing the wooden Protos chassis. Fourth in a non-championship race at Hockenheim was his only finish of note and Offenstadt was replaced by Pedro Rodríguez after one crash too many.

He twice deputised in Rodríguez’s Ron Harris-run Tecno during 1968 when fifth at both Monza and Zandvoort. A member of Pygmée’s F3 team in 1966 and 1968, Offenstadt was chosen when the marque entered F2 in 1969. He crashed into Jean-Pierre Beltoise at the start at Reims and flipped during practice at Tulln-Langenlebarn when lucky to escape injury.

Return to motorcycles and subsequent life

Enough was enough and Offenstadt returned to bikes to finish sixth in the 1971 500cc World Championship on a Kawasaki. He was later an original and opinionated engineer before running La Vigne Gourmande restaurant near Paris during the 1980s. However, bikes proved irresistible and he returned to work for the Tecmas team in 1998.

Championship seasons