Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pseudonym: Pierre Levegh

Pierre Boullin was a short, solemn man known to his friends as "the Bishop." He was the key player in one of racing's most horrific disasters. In the third hour of racing at the 1955 Le Mans, Boullin swerved to avoid Mike Hawthorne and clipped the back of an Austin-Healey. His car somersaulted the air and landed on an embankment, spraying its parts into the grandstand. Some 83 people died and 76 were badly wounded.
Oddly enough the racing world does not know him as Pierre Boullin. His raced under the name Pierre Levegh, which was anagram constructed from his uncle's name. Why did drivers race under pseudonyms, and was it just the French?

1 comment:

  1. Known as "the Bishop" to his (English) friends because "Levegh" and "L'Eveque" sound the same. Key player? IMO "unfortunate victim" would capture it better. In view of the recently-discovered cine film -

    there is surely no doubt that Levegh (a) was not responsible for the tragedy and (b) had absolutely no chance of avoiding Lance Macklin's Austin Healy. Levegh was, I think, largely blamed at the time because he was conveniently dead; but the truth is that a nastyish accident was turned into a disaster by the fact that the road was too narrow and the spectators too close to it. I've wanted for decades to see Levegh exonerated. Now, I think, he has been