On 6th October 1918, Andre Pilette was born in Paris. Son of former Indy 500 participant Théodore Pilette, he was a racing driver from Belgium. He participated in 14 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 17 June 1951. He scored 2 championship points. His son Teddy Pilette also became a racing driver, although his F1 career in the mid-1970s was much briefer.
André Pilette was one of the most prolific figures in Belgian motor racing, the middle of three generations of a famous racing family. His father Théodore, one of racing’s early pioneers, was the importer for Mercedes during the 1900s who raced for them in the French GP and at Indianapolis. Andre was himself followed by Teddy, who maintained the family tradition, being particularly successful during the 1970s in Formula 5000.
Andre’s career began with an HRG sports car and he impressed racing a supercharged Alfa Romeo 2300 in the post-war years. In 1948, in a 24 hours race at Spa, he shared an Aston Martin DB2 with Tony Rolt.
He scored many successes at national level, being Belgian champion in 1954, and contested nine World Championship Grands Prix at the wheel of Talbots, Connaughts, Gordinis and Ferraris.
He was sixth in the 1951 Belgian GP on his world championship debut but during the non championship Dutch GP a puncture caused his Ecurie Belgique Lago-Talbot T26C to roll. He raced Ecurie Belge’s Connaught A-type in 1953’s Belgian GP and 1954 saw him racing for Gordini, finishing fifth in the Belgian GP and second at Chimay.
In 1955 he was one of the founders of the Ecurie Nationale Belge, though spent a month in hospital after crashing a Ford during a saloon car race at Spa.
He returned to Gordini and finished sixth in the 1956 Monaco GP, sharing a type 32 with Elie Bayol. He then repeated that sixth place result in his home GP with a works Lancia-Ferrari D50 but crashed during practice for the German GP and unfortunately would not race again for two years while he recovered.
His return was marked by success in 1959’s Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing the fourth placed NART Ferrari 250GT with George Arents. He returned with the team the following year and finished second overall with team mate Ricardo Rodríguez.
ENB was reformed in 1961 and Andre finished sixth at Le Mans. There were further appearances in the world championship in 1963 and 1964 and his final F1 appearance was in the Belgian GP, with the Scirocco-Climax in 1964.
He continued to race until the mid 1960s after which he set up the Pilette International School at Zolder. Andre sadly died in 1993 but Teddy launched a new organisation called the Pilette Speed Tradition, which built a Pilette F3 car, and went on to run a team in the US F3 series in 2000 using a Dallara chassis.