Posted May 22nd 2012 6:31PM
On this day in 1956, a French Grand Prix driver became the oldest person to ever compete and finish in the sport at the ripe age of 55. That driver was Louis Chiron.
Chiron was born in 1899 in Monaco where as a young boy, he became smitten by the latest craze - the automobile. After serving as an artilleryman in the first World War, Chiron eventually began a driving career by racing for a man named Ettore Bugatti, whose legacy you are probably quite familiar with.
Over the course of his life, Chiron would race Ferraris, Daimlers, Alfa-Romeos, Lancias and of course Bugattis. After the second World War broke out, Chiron was again enlisted in active service. We can't imagine fighting in both world wars is in any way easy, but Chiron's love for racing persevered over the course of both wars.
After the war, Chiron and other pre-war drivers struggled to re-emerge on the racing scene, but they didn't find it easy. They were just too old fashioned. Chiron lost one of his best friends in a practice run when a car rolled over. The younger drivers of the time all wore helmets, but in Chiron's time, helmets weren't a staple.
The 1956 Monaco Grand Prix would be the stage of one of Chiron's most impressive feats. Here, as a 55-year-old man, Chiron would drive his Lancia hard and finish in 6th place, becoming the oldest driver to land such a feat. Although Chiron continued racing for the next five years, he didn't meet much success.
His last Grand Prix took place at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix where he unfortunately did not qualify. Chiron retired in Monaco and died there in 1979.
More after the jump.