Jean-Louis Trintignant: the actor with the heart of a pilot

The world of motorsport is also mourning the French actor who passed away on 17 June 2022 at the age of 91. Jean-Louis Trintignant took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1980, following in the footsteps of his uncle Maurice, but his real passion was his rallies.

Umberto Schiavella


One of the greatest French actors, but also an illustrious driver. Jean-Louis Trintignant was the grandson of Maurice Trintignant, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1954 with a Ferrari 375 Plus, as well as the first French driver to win in Formula 1, also in a Ferrari, the 625, at the Grand Prix of Monaco 1955. Motorsport, a passion shared in the family and which was translated for the first time on the big screen by the young actor in the film “A man, a woman” directed in 1966 by Claude Lelouch where he played the role of a rally driver. Film that earned the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in the same year and the Oscar for best foreign film in 1967. The white Ford Mustang driven by the protagonist immediately became legendary, just in the year in which the house of oval blue triumphed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the GT40 Mk II. The passion for four wheels will also accompany Jean-Louis Trintignant in his personal life. It was in the early eighties that he met the rally driver Marianne Hoepfner, his partner, then his wife, they married in 2000. Jean-Louis Trintignant left his mark on the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans following the tradition inaugurated on the big screen by Steve McQueen, who was however denied participation by the financiers of the famous 1971 film, then started, between the curbs, with Paul Newman and up to the present day with Patrick Dempsey and Michael Fassbender, one of the rookies of the 24 Hours of Le Mans of this season.

The passion for rallies

In 1976 the actor made his debut on the dirt road at the Rallye du Var with an Opel Kadett GT / E. In 1977 it was the turn of the Rallye Auytomobile de Monte-Carlo with a Simca Rallye 2. Italian car, precisely an Alfa Romeo Alfasud Ti in 1979 for the Critérium des Cévennes race. In 1981 he will achieve two class victories respectively at the Rallye du Roussillon and at the Ronde Nationale de la Durance with an Alpine-Renault A310 1800 before moving on to driving a Porsche 924 during the Ivory Coast Rally, to an Opel Ascona 400 in the Rallye du Condroz and a Peugeot 505 TI, also at the Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo. The following year is still Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo, but with a Peugeot 104 ZS and still Porsche: 911 Carrera 3.0 at the Rallye de la Baule and 911 SC at the Rallye National du Périgord Noir. In the eighties the Paris-Dakar is the queen race. The raid attracts many famous people and Trintignant is no exception. In 1984, Trintignant’s last participation in the Monte-Carlo rally aboard the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6.

The passion for endurance racing

After the second overall place always won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979 by Paul Newman, Jean-Louis Trintignant also comes to the start of the 48th edition sharing, in 1980, the steering wheel of a Porsche 935 K3 of the German Kremer Racing team with compatriot Xavier Lapeyre and Mancelle Anny-Charlotte Verney. A few hours before the end of the race, he loses control of his car on the Mulsanne straight at almost 300 km / h, a bad accident from which, fortunately, he comes out unscathed. In 1982 he won the second position in the 24 Hours of Spa on a BMW with Jean-Pierre Jarier and Thierry Tassin.

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