Simanaitis Says

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BERNARD CAHIER, PHOTO-JOURNALIST extraordinaire, represented R&T in Europe over four decades. I recall reading of his adventures with the Formula One contingent back in the 1950s; I had the pleasure of meeting him during a Newport Beach visit while I worked there.

Bernard was a man of great charm, full of fun in the era prior to international Grands Prix becoming so stolidly business-like; that is, before ascots and armbands were replaced by briefcases and electronic paddock passes.


Bernard Cahier, 1927–2008, French motorsports photo-journalist extraordinaire. Image by his son, Paul-Henri Cahier, also a motorsports journalist.

Cahier stories and photographs are memorable. Here are several of my favorites.

Bernard was photographing the 12-hour endurance race in Sebring, Florida, in 1957. He and other journalists were enjoying Coke-Colas at one of the tighter corners when Stirling Moss came by, driving his Maserati 300S one-handed while pretending to quaff an imaginary beverage with the other. On the next lap, Bernard gave Stirling a coke of his own. On the following lap, Stirling pitched the empty onto the grass.


Sebring, 1957. Bernard helps slake Stirling Moss’s thirst. Image by Smith Peter Kent from

In time, Stirling and his co-driver Harry Schell finished second there, two laps behind Maserati teammates Juan Manuel Fangio and Jean Behra.

Stirling’s beverage request encouraged Bernard to more good deeds. Two years later at the Portuguese Grand Prix held at Lisbon’s Circuito de Monsanto, Harry Schell got a corner refreshment from Cahier. Harry and his BRM were fifth of 10 finishers, in the points.


Bernard passes a water bottle to Harry Schell in his BRM, Portuguese Grand Prix, 1959. Image from The Cahier Archive.

This particular Portuguese Grand Prix was a memorable one for American enthusiasts: Kansas City’s Maston Gregory and his Cooper-Climax finished second to Stirling’s similar car. Dan Gurney and his Ferrari were third. Carroll Shelby and his Aston Martin came in eighth. Phil Hill had had an accident early on. And Harry Schell, born in Paris to ex-pat parents, had spent part of his youth in America and served as an officer in the U.S. Army Tank Corps during World War II.

Cahier’s ties with the U.S. were more than his role as R&T’s European Representative. In the early 1950s, he came from his native France to California to attend UCLA and worked at a foreign car dealership (with another young enthusiast, Phil Hill). It was during this time that Bernard met and married a California girl, Joan Updike.

Years later, Bernard worked with American film director John Frankenheimer in the 1966 movie Grand Prix. In fact, like other F1 people of the era, Bernard had a cameo role in the flick.


Joan Updike Cahier, California-born spouse of Bernard Cahier, with race driver and family friend Maurice Trintignant, 1955. Image from

Maurice Trintignant, Cahier friend and race driver, is in my favorite of Bernard’s photos. The 1960 U.S. Grand Prix was held at Riverside International Raceway, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. This was a genuine Formula One event, unlike earlier sports car “Grands Prix” held at this venue

Everyone sans Ferrari made the trip. Maurice Trintignant and his Maserati-engined Cooper was entered; others included Stirling Moss and Innes Ireland driving Lotus-Climaxes; Bruce McLaren and Jack Brabham in Cooper-Climaxes; and Joakim Bonnier in one of several BRMs. Phil Hill, on loan from Ferrari, drove another of the Cooper-Climaxes. Dan Gurney drove another BRM; and, as an all-American entry, Chuck Daigh raced Lance Reventlow’s Scarab.


Riverside Freeway, 1960. Image by Bernard Cahier.

Imagine Maurice Trintignant and his No. 18 Cooper-Maserati motoring along on the Riverside Freeway! The Raceway is long gone (it closed in 1989), and plenty of Riverside has changed. But commuters today would recognize where this Formula One car mixed it up with freeway traffic. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2016

One comment on “YIPPEE CAHIER

  1. Phil Henny
    September 17, 2016

    A great photographer, great story teller and long time good friend. R.I.P. Bernard.

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