The Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) paid homage to a British doyen of the 24 Hours of Le Mans… born before the first 24 hours !
|Eric Thompson stands in front of a photo from his era, taken at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Yesterday he exchanged his BRDC blazer for one adorned with "Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame".|
The meeting of two prestigious institutions, the ACO and BRDC was a moving one. It was yesterday at Silverstone, in the very exclusive Clubhouse with a first floor that offers a panoramic view of Brooklands corner. But this time, the emotion was not on the asphalt but on the green carpet where an exceptional personality received a top award.
Eric Thompson was born on the 4th of November 1919, he yesterday became the first man to appear in the "Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame" , the British driver and doyen of motorsport having participated in the most famous of endurance races. The first of his seven entries was in 1949, marking the rebirth of the 24 Hours after the war. With Ecurie Lapin Blanc, Eric Thompson was classified eighth, winning his class. He became an Aston Martin works driver and was ranked third in 1951.
The evening began in solemnity but the mood was lightened when the ACO President, Pierre Fillon, introduced his speech with the words: "Some say that the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the most famous English race." In response, the the nonagenarian Eric Thomson thanked "the National Health Service, without whom none of this would have been possible." Then it was the turn of Alex Brundle, the youngest British driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013, to present him the jacket adorned with the emblem "Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame." An unforgettable experience for these two men separated by 71 years of history, but united by the same passion.
In three weeks, during the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps WEC, a famous Belgian driver will receive the same honour.
ERIC THOMPSON AT THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS :
1949 - 8th HRG Lightweight LM (Thompson-Fairman)
1950 - DNF Aston Martin DB 2 ( Thompson-Gordon)
1951 - 3rd Aston Martin DB 2 (Macklin-Thompson)
1952 - DNF Aston Martin DB 3 (Parnell-Thompson)
1953 - DNF Aston Martin DB 3 S (Poore-Thompson)
1954 - DNF Lagonda DP 115 (Thompson-Poore)
1955 - DNF Connaught AL / SR (Thompson-Mac Alpine)
BRITISH RACING DRIVER'S CLUB
The BRDC wass founded in 1928 by Dudley Benjafield, (winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1927 in a Bentley), to represent the interests of British racing drivers. Derek Warwick, (winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1992 in a Peugeot) is the current President.