Stoltz's Formula 1, Le Mans and Nazi film
That's a title and a half, and not something I thought I'd ever be writing up, but it's a fair description of the film. Eric Stoltz is set to direct a film about three motor racing Champions who worked with the French resistance during the World War II Nazi occupation of France.
The film will follow three men, William Grover-Williams who was the winner of the first Monaco Grand Prix, Robert Benoist who was a World War I fighter pilot and 1927 world champion, and Jean Pierre Wimille who was winner of the 1937 and 1939 24 Hours Le Mans.
Each of the men played an important part in the French resistance during the Second World War. In 1940 they escaped from occupied France and were trained by the British Special Operations Unit as soldiers, and spies, taught how to become a resistance to the German forces.
The film is called Racing Patriots, and the script is written by Dana MacDuff and Brandon MacDuff, two producers on the film. According to Variety the story will focus on what the champions accomplished when they returned to France with all this training.
Sounds a fascinating story, although the idea that they were once motor racing champions will quickly fade as the film tells their stories, stories which didn't always turn out so well as two of the champions were captured and placed in concentration camps with only one surviving the war.
William Grover-Williams worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and coordinated the Chestnut network in France, one of the SOE Section F networks operating in France with the resistance. He raced Bugattis and from 1928 to 1938 won the French Grand Prix twice, the first Monaco Grand Prix, the Belgian Grand Prix, and three Grand Prix de la Baule's.
Robert Benoist raced for Delage and won the French Grand Prix in 1925, but in 1927 he won the French, Spanish, Italian and British Grand Prix's, winning the championship title for the manufacturer. He raced occasionally for the Bugatti team and finished second in the 1928 San Sebastián Grand Prix in Spain. The following year he won the Spa 24 hours race in Belgium in an Alfa Romero. He retired in 1934 but a comeback with Bugatti in 1937 saw him winning the Le Mans after building the race programme at the team. During his time with the SOE he became a British Army Captain and back in France helped organise sabotage cells and distributed weapons from British supply drops.
Jean Pierre Wimille also raced with Bugatti, and carried a string of race victories too long to mention, suffice to say between 1932 and 1948 he won twenty Grand Prixs, including the French twice, the Italian, Swiss and Belgian, and he won the 24 Hours Le Mans twice. After his time in the resistance, fighting for France, he returned to racing and his career is quite legendary.
It's an interesting film, and with Eric Stoltz directing it has to peak your interest.