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Alain Bertaut 1928-2016: Driver, Journalist & ACO Vice President

A pillar of the ACO passes

This from the ACO:

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has lost one of its great members with the death of Alain Bertaut, former driver, journalist, tester, sporting marshal, director, ACO Vice-President and father of the famous Coupe R8 Gordini which brought up an entire generation of drivers.

Alain Bertaut had many lives, inseparable one from the other. First journalist at L’Equipe, then at L’Action Automobile et Touristique, where he became editor-in-chief, he forged a motorsports culture by (re)reading and courting drivers and engineers, which allowed him to gain impressive technical know-how.

From full-time journalist-tester, Bertaut became a driver-tester of Charles Deutsch creations, the famous CDs, the Yaoundé (Cameroon) native took the start at the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times between 1962 and 1967, winning the performance index along with André Guilhaudin in his first participation with a CD Panhard.

The car below is the DKW engined CD Mantzel he competed in the great race with in 1963


Though he ended the competition side of his career in 1967, Bertaut remained in motorsports. In 1966 he created the Coupe R8 Gordini which ushered in the renaissance of French motorsports and created a foothold for an entire generation of drivers. A fervent proponent of sporting fairness, he wanted regulations that gave everyone a chance, a principal he held dear when he became a part of the ACO.

2001 Le Mans 24For 20 years, Bertaut was responsible for the development and application of sporting and technical regulations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In that vein, he became a sporting marshal, then President of the College of marshals, all while serving as adjunct-director of the race and member of the FIA Endurance Commission. He was one of the linchpins of the rebirth of the 24 Hours of Le Mans beginning in 1992, but also of the creation of the American Le Mans Series.

A tireless advocate of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Alain Bertaut was unanimously appreciated and respected by drivers and journalists. A colleague and director since 1974, he was a pillar of the ACO for more than 40 years.

To his family and loved ones, the ACO extends its sincerest condolences.