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Brundle Has Two Jobs to Do at Grand Prix : Auto racing: Driver wants to help Jones, his teammate, and Jaguar, his team, win titles.

October 12, 1991|ALAN DROOZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"My co-driver passed out due to the heat and missed the pit stop," De Henning said. "We had to push the car back to the pit and finished fourth. We probably would have finished second."

Philippe de Henning, 48, is one of the more eclectic entrants in the Grand Prix. De Henning, who returned to auto racing in 1985 at the age of 42 after an 11-year hiatus, is an acclaimed fashion designer and graphic artist. He says his competitive zeal was rekindled after reading L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics" and his Spice Buick is sponsored by Bridge Publications, the Los Angeles-based publisher of "Dianetics."

De Henning was forced out of racing in 1974 when France banned auto competition during the oil embargo and he lost his sponsors. Drawing on his background as a photographer and painter, he became heavily involved in fashion design. Since then, he's moved into interior design on a large scale and he's currently working with a Paris museum on everything from its layout to its logo and stationery.

In the early '80s, he read Hubbard's book and found himself wanting to get back into racing to apply his new philosophy. When publishers learned of his tie to "Dianetics," they offered backing, providing him an opportunity to move into international competition.

In his first international race, the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1987, de Henning won his Prototype class, placed sixth overall and set a speed record the C2 class.

"Not only was I the best rookie," he said. "I won. Incredible."

In his second racing life, de Henning has since rung up several more victories, including the 1989 European Super Cup Championship.

He savors the chance to race in America again. His last U.S. appearance was at Del Mar four years ago.

"This is my first time back since '87 and I love it here," he said. "Racing is getting very businesslike in Europe. It's very professional here but they don't make you feel (pressured). The drivers are relaxed. And a lot of titles are still open so it's going to be quite exciting."

Racing Notes

Robby Gordon, in a Ford Mustang, had the top qualifying time Friday for today's Exxon Supreme Series race with an average speed of 86.592 mph. He was followed by Price Cobb in a Mazda RX-7 and Pete Halsmer in a Mazda RX-7. . . . Page Jones was the top qualifier for Sunday's Barber Saab Pro Series Race with an average speed Friday of 81.954 mph. Johnny Robinson was second, Robert Amren third.

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