The racing enthusiast
Patrick Landon, manager of Renault historical department and car collection
Born: 7 May 1944, Marseilles, France
PATRICK LANDON'S life has been devoted to car racing.
'I fell in the cooking pot when I was young,' he said. His father, Francois Landon, was a driver. After winning the Le Mans 24 Hours race in the small-car class with a Renault 4CV in 1951, the then Renault Chairman Pierre Lefaucheux asked him to set up a racing department.
Patrick Landon, a teenager at that time, went to rally races and later worked for the Renault team as a mechanic. Because of a leg injury, young Landon never did become a driver. But he never lost his love for the sport.
In 1965, Francois Landon retired from Renault and bought a dealership in Ajaccio. His son soon came to help, but Francois missed racing and eventually returned to mainland France to manage Alfa Romeo France's racing department.
In 1969, he sold the Ajaccio dealership and Patrick Landon returned to Renault as racing co-ordinator for Renault subsidiaries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
He spent seven years travelling in countries such as Czechoslovakia, Romania, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, and the Ivory Coast, managing Renault teams.
In 1976, he joined the newly-created Renault Sport department, run by legendary rally driver Gerard Larrousse. In 1977, Larrousse appointed Landon manager of the rally team.
Good times were just starting for Renault Sport. In 1978 there was a victory at Le Mans. In 1979, Renault Sport claimed its first victory in a Formula One race at Silverstone in Britain. In 1981, an R5 Turbo won the Monte Carlo rally and the following year the Corsica rally.
'To be successful in car racing is a great advantage for a generalist carmaker like Renault,' says Landon.
Last year, when Renault quit racing, Alain Dubois-Dumee, Renault's vice president for communications, asked Landon to manage the company's historical department. The racing fanatic now looks over Renault's automotive treasures: a unique collection of more than 400 cars, from Louis Renault's first Voiturette car to a futuristic hybrid car-plane model.
Landon says: 'I left one passion for another.'