In addition to being a motor racing fan, auctioneer and gentleman driver Hervé Poulain was also a contemporary art and comic strip aficionado. Interests that he succeeded in combining in a novel way at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. While the Porsche 917 with its white-edged green and purple “psychedelic” design, second in 1970 with Gérard Larrousse and Willi Kauhsen at the wheel, is generally considered to be the first “Art Car” in Le Mans history, Poulain was undoubtedly the one who sustained the trend from 1975. That was the year he commissioned Alexandre Calder to paint the BMW 3.0 CSL he was going to drive along with Jean Guichet and Sam Posey for his Le Mans debut.
In 1998, for his tenth and final appearance at Le Mans, Poulain called upon Wolinski whose cartoons of females striking a variety of provocative poses subsequently adorned the roof, bonnet and doors of the No.68 911 GT2 entered by the Haberthur team. The driver line-up of Eric Graham, Jean-Luc Maury-Laribière and, of course, Poulain himself came 20th overall. This was the fourth time that Poulain had crossed the finish line at the wheel of one of his Art Cars after 1977 (9th in a BMW 320i decorated by Roy Lichtenstein), 1979 (6th in a BMW M1 painted by Andy Warhol) and 1995 (13th in a McLaren F1 GTR decorated by César).
Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO – Translated from French by David Goward
Photo: CLAUDE PARPEX
Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SATURDAY 6 & SUNDAY 7 JUNE 1998. An enthusiast of the comic strips put up for auction at Artcurial, auctioneer and gentleman driver Hervé Poulain called upon his friend Georges Wolinski for his final drive at the Le Mans 24 Hours.