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Joseph Schlesser, born the 18 from May of 1928 in Liouville (Lorraine, between Verdun and Nancy), was a versatile pilot motorist who showed his faculties on cars of all type and in races of all nature: from the small Panhard Dyna Junior of its beginnings in the l Rally of Lorraine 1952 to Honda RA-302 of formula l in the Grand Prix of France 1968, test in which, unfortunately, it was killed.

Jo to all march on the Honda with which it would be killed the 7 of Julio of 1968. The other pilot who competed with the mark was John Surtees (MV*)
In 1953 he had already won in the Glasses of Paris, before DePortago and Storez. Nevertheless, its professional race would begin only eight years before its death. Schlesser had emigrated to Madagascar (between 1954 and 1959) in order to reunite the small fortune precise to approach with good material the automobile competition. But it had not stopped practicing during his African adventure, overcoming in a fortnight of local tests to the controls of a Triumph TR2 and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Accompanied by his wife, Jo was 2º in the Liege/Rome/Liege 1957 with Mercedes.

In 1960 ll bought Cooper-Climax of formula that had been of Harry Schell, whereas to the sport category it had a Ferrari 250 GT (although the Tour de Corse of to that did it year with a Pacific Simca Étoile). Du Nord 1960 with Lotus would be winning in the Routes Rally Elite and 2º in the Tour de France of the same year (Ferrari 250 GT, with Loustel), result that would repeat in 1962 (Ferrari 250 GTO and Oreiller).

Joe Buzzetta next to Jo Schlesser leading Porsche 907 in Daytona of 1968. Months later Jo first race of F1 would be killed in his (MV*)
Its race had been seen, nevertheless, seriously it jeopardize when, in the training of April for the 24 Hours of Le Mans of 1961, it suffered a very serious accident on an official Ferrari (a 250 experimental GT/TR swb), when hitting against the 200 protections to Km/h (twelve fractures and ten days in comma). But it did not diminish its delivery. In spite of almost having left it a knee without game (and the affectation of a nerve that it prevented him to raise the foot of the accelerator), one acquired knowledge with Alfa Romeo, Lotus Elite, AC Shelby Cobra, Porsche 904, Abarth and others, shining in the winding highways and the races in hill, whereas with the Ferrari 250, Abarth 850, Aston Martin, Matra, Ford Mustang, Shelby Cobra, Ford GT40, Ford Mk ll, Porsche 907 and others, emphasized in the circuits, as much in speed trialses as of resistance, showing his gifts, their gros coeur and their capacity for the effort and the suffering. Jo became the main figure of French motoring, filling to the emptiness between the time of Maurice Trintignant and the one of Jean-Pierre Beltoise.

Since we have already seen, in 1962 he was 2º in the Automobile Tour de France, sharing with Henri Oreiller the Ferrari 250 GTO of this one; the following season would win in Critérium DES Cévènnes 1963 (Ford Falcon) while it specialized in single-seaters (champion of France of formula Junior and victories in Garda and Pergusa with its Brabham) without for that reason leaving the sport one of circuit (victory in the Glass of the Hall, with Aston Martin). But Jo was a pilot of ample phantom and, by those times, it even proved the stock to car NASCAR: in the Daytona's Speed Week 1964 calificatoria of the 21 was registered with Ford nº 23 by Bondy Long for the test of February, and the inexperienced Jo was described 8º and finished 9º, and so it gained a position (18º) in the grill of Daytona 500, two days later. With the Ford of ridge nº 46, Jo entered 12 positions after the winner, the great Richard Petty; that is to say, that classified 13º, a good place for a rookie that reported 1,200 to him $.

Honda RA302 of Schlesser on the verge of beginning the session of classification in Rouen. Jo would initiate the test 16º with a second time 8,4 slower than the one of first Jochen Rindt (MV*)
Multicampeón of France of several specialties, Schlesser runs with single-seaters, besides in the Junior, since he has seen himself, in formula Monomill, formula ll (victory in the GP of Rome 1964) and formula l, with successive Cooper-Climax, Brabham-Ford, Matra-BRM, Matra-Ford, McLaren-Ford and Honda. And he was with one of these last ones, rare Honda RA-302 of formula l, that the factory offered to him for the Grand Prix of France, a model not yet to point and of difficult pilotage, with which it killed itself in 3ª returned from the test, Sunday 7 of Julio of 1968 on a track flooded in the rain. The RA-302, due to Kobe engineer, took to an original V8 air cooled of 88 xs 61.4 mm, 2,987 cm3 and 430 10,600 HP to R/mn. Surtees, had proven that it intensively in Silverstone -and how he knew to make a will a car John Surtees! -, he refused to lead it, preferring to use the old RA-301 V12.

For Jo he was, probably, the last opportunity to pilot in race a formula l, supreme specialty that never had savored with options to score, and Bravo Jo did not want to waste it. In 1961 he had participated in the GP of Pau, and the 12 of November of 1967 he was 5º in historical the Great Prize of Spain, another nonpuntuable race that resumed the Grands Prix in this country after a drought of thirteen years and in that the recent circuit of the Jarama was accredited for formula I. It was the unique time that Jim Clark ran - and won in Spain to the steering wheel of a formula I, but lorenés took to a formula II (a Ford France Matra MS7-Ford 1.6 ls) in a grill clairsemée.

In Rouen-Them Essarts, however, the thing went in serious, and Schlesser was deluded with the possibility of scoring. Honda was evidently dangerous, but, in a similar case to the one of Dave MacDonald, the professional pundonor of Jo impelled to him to lead it. It was a race marked in the rain, as it corroborates the fact that it was gained by Jacky Ickx (Ferrari V12) and of that Pedro Rodriguez (BRM V12) marked the fast return. But, by then, approaching 3ª returned, when coming out in reduction of the Curve of the Six Frères, formula I red target and nº 18 of Jo had crashed against the slope, upsetting and catching fire.

One needs filmic sequence the trajectory of Honda reveals that Schlesser approaches the fast curve to rights somewhat abierto, as if outside victim of a subturn; but, immediately, the single-seater begins to sobreturn, which Jo corrects with a light contravolante, so that, in the apex of the curve, although occupying a centered position too much in the track, Honda seems directed well to leave the same accelerating frankly. Nevertheless, it begins then abrir the trajectory, trying to escape by the trangente in a new subturn very pronounced. The car goes to rectum towards the slope (crowned of spectators) and the shock seems inevitable while Jo restrains and steering wheel strip thoroughly, which seems to be successful, because, to a meter of the border, the single-seater returns correct course and it is oriented decidedly towards the exit of the curve. Nevertheless, insufficiently restrained, the border skids now of the four wheels, crossing and arriving until the slope, against which percute its left flank. He is impressive to state that, a second after that snapshot, a man can die, is going to die, dies.

The accident of Jo was impressive to the point of which several pilots were consternados after to see the rest of Honda (MV*)
In a study on acceleration, limit and mass transfer of adhesion, Bernardet affirms that the single-seater was below the extreme conditions, despite which it lost to be able directional and rectum by insufficiency left aerodynamic support that compensated the aviation lift of the front train in acceleration, which confirms errors of design in the aerodynamics and the geometry of suspension. According to William Boddy, the pilot cut the ignition to try to stop Honda, which moves to think that also it failed the brake to him.

After the collision, damn Honda caught fire immediately and their magnesium components prolonged the fire and the embers long time. Jackie Stewart (3º at the end of the race), was enormously impressed when seeing the rest in flames, of which, evidently, nobody could have saved, but did not know to identify the single-seater; the rest went of the test spying through its rear-view mirrors to those who followed to him to establish a mental list of surviving companions. Surtees (that, in spite of the drama, finished in 2ª position with the old man and heavy Honda V12, after Ickx) left the equipment in order season, and Honda retired of formula l (until 1983).

In its obituario of “Bus”, In Ireland it remembers to Jo with affection but without commitment. Thus it was In, that did not save praises nor reproaches when it thought that they were deserved. In the chronicle of that Great piropea French Prize to some pilots, the rookie Johnny Servoz-Gavin (“Gavin really was intent on making his to car go ace quickly possible ace and his descent of the hill was well worth watching. ”) or to the consecrated Jochen Rindt (“Rindt, who had eats back into the RACE, was being his flamboyant self, and his exit from the hairpin was to joy to watch. ”)

Then, of Schlesser Ireland says: “Without being AT all disrespectful to Jo Schlesser's memory, I would say there am was not among the top-line drivers if one were to asses puree ability; but if one was to take into account his raison d'être, there am would stand out in any company.”

The impressive Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe lead by Jo in the 12 Hours of Sebring of 1965. There 4º culminated (MV*)
Indeed, in spite of not being top-line to driver but an enthusiastic amateur who did not know to live if she were not to the steering wheel of a car of races, his delivery, his anger and the accumulated experience facilitated to him to be around any top-line to driver in several occasions. If there were to observe some of the feats of Jo, besides his victories of class with the Shelby Cobra GT in both American tests of resistance of the season 1965 (2º scratch in Daytona, with Keck; 4º in Sebring, with Bondurant) would incline, me by the two following ones: in the Tour de Corse of 1963, Schlesser released a Shelby AC Receive-Ford, to roadster considered inadequate (by its weight and its size, its rudimentary suspension and its great power) to the characteristics of the test, with its 20,000 curves (15 by kilometer). In spite of it, wasting fierceness and virtuosity (and finishing with the injured hands), the untiring Jo would have taken the rally (that went to stop at the hands of Trautmann/Chabert, on a Citroën DS19) of to have been able to have the spare wheels, retained by a strike in the customs of Orly. In order to change the tires, the equipment of Cobra had to disassemble old woman rubbers and to overcome the new ones in the same rims, which made him penalize 4 minutes (240 points).

In honor to its great friend, Guy Ligier named to all models of competition with denomination “JS” (Joseph Schlesser) (MV*)
Still there were hopes and Jo sends the indomitable beast of than 300 HP through serpenteante more crossed, obtaining the impossible feat of not penalizing in the Maison section Colonist/Calcatoggio; nevertheless, a new misfortune (wheel bloqueda and other 4 defective cat) makes him lose mn. Except for Jo, in this rally nobody could fulfill the imposed average of 60 Km/h without penalizing, but the final difference of 81 points between the 482 deTrautmann and the 563 of Schlesser was far below to which the stupid mishaps had cost him to this one. In spite of it, the Schlesser/Vanson pair was, besides 2º scratch, winner of category and class (GT of more than 1,600 cm3), just like another daring of the same species, Henri “ Titi ” Gréder (3º scratch and winner in Tourism of more than 2 liters with spectacular Ford only 2,300 Falcon nº 35 of cm3 and 100 HP).

The other feat realized Jo Schlesser the 26 of May of 1968, 42 days before its death, and it did not finish either in victory. Jo had been contracted by Porsche for the 1,000 Kilometers of Spa, sharing 907/8 2.2 liters with Mitter. In a race dominated by Ford GT40 John Wyer of the most shining Jacky Ickx, that evolved in its land to 200 Km/h of average under rain, neither the 908/8 3 liters (of Elford/Neerpasch and Herrmann/Stommelen), nor the other GT40 (Mairesse/” Beurlys ”, Hawkins/Hobbs) or the Ford-Cosworth Alan Mann de Gardner/Hahne could do shade to him. But, when Schlesser stands out to Gerhard Mitter in the 907, it leaves pasmado to everybody recovering 10 seconds by return the Co-équipier of Ickx, Brian Redman, arriving to unfold and, to blow of record of fast return (4 mn 0 s, to 211.5 Km/h), to recapture the terrain. Ickx returns to take the steering wheel from Ford 4.7 liters and, giving the best thing of himself, it manages to conserve the leadership until the goal, robbing to the veteran a tremendous victory. But, in spite of everything, Jo Schlesser, to its 40 years, finished demonstrating (in case it was necessary) that was as fast as fastest and, sometimes, more.

The nephew of Jo, Jean-Louis, is a successful one and recognized motorist. Jean-Louis disputed only two competitions of Formula 1, one with the equipment ram and another one with Williams (MV*)
Jo was named Chevalier of l'Ordre National du Mérite the same 1968, and edition 1976 of the Tour Car left from the new stage of the city of Nancy, constructed in memory of Schlesser. Guy Ligier, another pilot (champion of France of motociclismo 1959-1960, winning one in Magny-Cours 1965 with Ford GT40, 6º in the Grand Prix of Germany 1967, in NürburgRing, with a Brabham-Repco) besides partner and great friend of Schlesser, made the decision to resign to the pilotage in competition after the death of Jo, and wanted to perpetuate its memory when, in his stage of constructor of the highest automobile specialties, it denominated to all the Ligier prototypes with the initials of his friend: JS. Even after a long period without activity, in 2004 it returned to the construction of racers with a formula III whose denomination did not forget to the dear Jo: Ligier JS47; and Ligier/Martini JS49, appeared the following year, would be a tuna sport-prototype of learning (with 535 kg and 4 cylinders 2 liters of 240 HP).

In addition, the last name of Jo would be perpetuated in the world of the motoring of competition in the figure of its nephew Jean-Louis Schlesser, atypical pilot who, like his uncle, acceded to formula l to the edge of the 40 years, besides to have been champion of multiple specialties (tourism, sport-prototypes, rally-raids…); specialized in raids with vehicles definitively constructed by itself, it followed in active-duty in 2000, season in which managed his to 3er consecutive title in the Glass of the World of Raids of All Land. But the feats of this remarkable pilot do not make fall in the forgetfulness those of their uncle, an example of generosity in the effort and anger, and with so many sparks of talent…


The Press: 8 of Julio of 1968
The Nation: 8 of Julio of 1968
Bugler:: 8 of Julio of 1968
Bus: 11 of Julio of 1968 (In Ireland), pg. 36, 37, 38, 40 and 49
Speed: 13 of Julio of 1968 (photos JPI Cifra and AFP-Europe Press), pg. 14-15; 24 of Julio of 1971 (Aberto Mallo), pg. 25
L´Automobile: Julio-August of 1968, pg. 68; September of 1968, pg. 52 (Philippe Toussaint) and 84-88; February of 1972, pg. 64; April of 1974, pg. 94; August of 1974 (Christian Moity), pg. 75; October of 1974 (Christian Moity and Gérard Flocon), pg. 119; January of 1977 (William Borel), pg. 12
Jean-Pierre Beltoise: pg.129
CuatroRuedas: August of 1968, pg. 85 and 88-89; September of 1968 (P.F.), (photo) pg. 66
L ’ Année Automobile: 1968-1969 (Philippe DeBarsy): pg. 199
Michel Hubin: pg. 182 and 282
Science ET Vie: October of 1969 (J. Bernardet), pg. 113
Miguel DeCastro: pg. 733
Jackie Stewart and Eric Dymock/Olivier Marline: pg. 34 and 140
Car Club: April of 1971 (Sergio Flat Piccione), pg. 9
Erwin Tragatsch: DAS GS und R; volume 2, pg. 115
Sport-Car: August of 1973, pg. 71; August of 1977, pg. 7; August of 1978 (G.C.), pg. 7
Alberto Mallo: Dictionary, pg. 293
Savat encyclopedia of the Automobile: volume 9, pg. 240
Piero Casucci – Competition: pg. 94, 100 and 125
William Boddy: pg. 228 and 252
Cobra: pg. 176
Burchkalter/Shed: pg. 219
Rétro car: June of 1997, pg. 111; April of 1998 (Jean-Pierre Gabriel), pg. 6
It brushes Jones: pg. 33, 81, 94, 160, 206 and 250
Tremayne & Hughes: pg. 141
Javier of the Arc: “40 Years of Montjuïc”, pg. 239, 256 (photo) and 570
The Forum Nostalgia: 27 of December of 2001 (byrkus, Sceivlak, magic); 24 of January of 2002 (Prostfan); 28 of February of 2002 (Doug Nye); 15 of December of 2002 (Roger Clark)
100 Years of Sport Automobile: card 23
G.A. Engels (260903)

Photos: Forix.com - Lugnutsracing.com - Dfphotoservices.com - 20832.com

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