In 1950, Louis Rosier took the start in his third 24 Hours of Le Mans, joining forces for the second time with his son Louis, Jr. also known as Jean-Louis Rosier, his teammate the previous year with Talbot-Lago.
While Ferrari first took the helm of the race with the 195 S driven by Raymond Sommer, Rosier snatched the lead in the third hour. He stayed behind the wheel for a shocking 23 hours 10 minutes, with two major hiccups interrupting his determined quest for victory.
Unbelievably, an owl hit the windshield of the #5 Talbot-Lago T26 GS. Though the frame remained intact, Rosier was no longer protected against the force of the air lashing his face. Then on Sunday shortly before 5:00, he was forced to pit to have a rocker arm changed out, losing 38 minutes. Louis, Jr. then took the wheel, but only completed two laps before returning the car to his father.
Louis Rosier and other marathonians
At the finish line, the Rosiers became the first driver line-up – and sole to this day – comprised of a father/son duo to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a total of 23 hours 10 minutes at the wheel for Louis Rosier, Sr.
The performance was not exactly uncommon at the 24 Hours at that time. In 1949, Luigi Chinetti won his third victory at the race after spending more than 22 hours in his Ferrari 166 MM. Not very confident in the driving skills of his teammate, British aristocrat Lord Selsdon, Chinetti offered him a pre-race evening with plenty of hard liquor in order to keep the wheel as long as possible the next day!
The 24 Hours from father to son
Other sons of drivers have proven their mettle and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A three-time winner in 1983, 1986 and 1987, Al Holbert is the son of Bob Holbert, one of the first Porsche dealers in the U.S. Bob claimed the top step on a class podium at the race in 1961, finishing fifth overall along with 1965 winner Masten Gregory.
The sons of three-time F1 world champion Jack Brabham, Geoff and David won at Le Mans 16 years apart with Peugeot, in 1993 and 2009 respectively. In 2009, David Brabham reached the top step on the podium with Alex Wurz. The son of Franz, previous three-time European rallycross champion, he clinched his second 24 Hours win after the one in 1996.
A distinguished Porsche driver of the 1960s, Eddie Barth won a class victory at Le Mans years before his son Jürgen scored his own overall win in 1977.
Will the Verstappen family be the next to continue this tradition at the 24 Hours? Only time will tell, but neither the father Jos (LMP2 winner in 2008), nor the son Max discount the possibility…
PHOTOS (Copyright - ACO ARCHIVES): LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, 24 & 25 JUNE 1950. At top, Louis Rosier (center) just after the checkered flag. To his right, his son Louis, Jr. also known as Jean-Louis Rosier. Above, the Talbot Lago T26 GS of the Rosier family in its garage.