uk | www. historics. uk vJ^#-AT brooklands Mick COMMENT FROM THE COCKPIT The graves of famous people garage door remote battery change little interest for me, although I confess to being morbidly drawn to car crash sites. Over the years, I’ve retraced the final miles of Jean Bugatti, Mike Hawthorn, James Dean and Alfonso de Portago.
Last February, after reading Shawn Levy’s page-turning biography of Porfirio Rubirosa, I ventured out early one morning to the Bois de Boulogne to find the spot where the flamboyant Dominican playboy lost control of his Ferrari. In the garage door remote battery change hours of Monday 5 July 1965 -after a long night at Jimmy’s club celebrating the victory of his polo team in the Coupe de France Rubirosa had vanished at first light in his silver-grey 250GT Series II Cabriolet. On the park boulevards that he knew so well, roaring along the Allee de la Reine Marguerite, the Ferrari mysteriously hit the kerb, glanced off a parked BMW and cannoned into a tree. Crushed by the Nardi steering wheel, Rubi-rosa’s last words were for Odile Rodin, his young fifth wife, but, before the ambulance reached the Marmottan hospital, the suave 56 year old who inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond had breathed his last. Political fixer, racing driver, polo player and legendary lothario who charmed the world’s most glamorous and wealthiest women, Rubi-rosa’s indulgent life from Caribbean childhood to Paris nightclubs was difficult to pace.
Rubirosa’s motor-racing exploits lasted longer than many of his noble contemporaries, but his first associations with the sport were heartbreaking. Drawn to the bravest, fastest competitors, Rubirosa became good friends with the French racer turned Resistance hero Jean-Pierre Wimille, who had married Olympic skier Christiane de la Fressange. In 1949, when appointed Dominican ambassador in Buenos Aires, Rubirosa was no doubt distracted from official duties by the glitzy polo and motor races held in the city. The death of his new buddy Wimille in practice, when he was blinded by the low sun around the demanding park circuit and smashed his Gordini into a tree no doubt stunned Rubirosa. But, as for Spanish ace de Portago, the sport’s 'In later years, Rubirosa relished garage door remote battery change runs home from his favourite haunts in a Mini Cooper' danger only fuelled its attraction.