Annie Bousquet

Annie Bousquet was Austrian born but became famous as a female French driver in both rally and circuit races. With her racing career starting in 1953 in a Renault 4CV, she moved up the rankings beating many male and more experienced competitors. She had her first serious accident at Agen that year, when the Panhard DB 500 she was driving overturned in a corner that she took too quickly while trying to keep up with a very experienced racing driver. But after a month in hospital, in 1954 she was given the opportunity to race a Porsche, 550-05 which was originally built as a 1953 Paris show car which ended up racing in Brazil before its return to Europe in early 1954. Annie raced it to 8th overall and 2nd in the “Coupe des Dames” just behind Gilberte Thirion’s 356, in the Tour de France Automobile with Madame Beaulieu.

Although married with a daughter, Annie was the girlfriend of Porsche Racing Manager Hüschke von Hanstein at the time. He asked Josef Jeser to let her drive with him in Paris in his white 550 Spyder – 550-0016. In return, he would help Jeser with support in the upcoming Le Mans race. In 1955 she was co driver with him in the 2-litre class. When the race started in Paris, there was a serious accident with a driver losing his leg. Annie was so afraid that she didn’t continue racing that day. Jeser apparently drove for more than 20 hours in a row – using Pervetine, an opium based drug from the war to stay awake, taking 2nd place overall in the 24 Heures Gran Prix de Paris – Bol d’Or at Montlhéry.

Early in 1956, Annie’s husband was killed in a road accident, skidding on ice near Saulieu. Continuing her racing career, she then signed with Triumph and was 4th in her class in the 1956 Mille Miglia at the wheel of a TR2, and in June 1956, she raced at the 1000 Kms of Paris at Montlhéry in the Maserati 150S of Alejandro De Tomaso.

She still found the thrill of the Porsche 550 appealing and bought one of the Wendler built customer Spyders 550-0043 in May 1955. Annie crashed the car while attempting a Montlhéry speed record and it was returned to the factory again for repairs.  The new French blue Spyder was repaired and fitted with additional upgrades such as a wrap around windscreen plus other body and engine modifications.

She then entered the 12 Heures de Reims in the 1500cc class in July. She was to share the Porsche 550 Spyder with Isabel Haskell from the US, but crashed on the 17th lap at the bend before Muizon. In the run up to the race, she had driven her Porsche Spyder back from Zuffenhausen to Reims just in time for the practice sessions. It would appear that she had not slept properly for at least one, if not two nights. She was however, determined to start the race and do the first hours.

Travelling at over some 170 km/h, the Spyder’s left wheels ran off the race track and the spyder fishtailed and barrel-rolled, ending in one of the wheat fields that surrounded the track. Bousquet was ejected during the rolls, and laid some fifteen metres from the car, bleeding profusely from skull fractures. She was taken to Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Reims, where she died from her injuries. Richard von Frankenberg, winner of the race with Claude Storez, believed that her accident was due to the fatigue brought on from the previous days of getting her car in order.

After the accident the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organizers of the Le Mans 24 Hour race, banned female drivers from competing, a decision only revoked in 1971 when Marie-Claude Beaumont drove a Corvette there.

The corner in which the accident happened, between Bretelle Sud and Bretelle Nord, was named in her honour.

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