Jean-Paul Driot, the founding father of the DAMS and e.dams operations, has died at the age of 68 after a long illness.
Driot founded DAMS in 1988 and remained in charge of the ultra-successful team until his death which was confirmed on Sunday morning.
He led one of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s most successful teams to date, e.dams, which has run with both Renault and Nissan manufacturer backing.
A successful businessman as a trader in the oil industry, Driot was a racing enthusiast from an early age and went on to nurture racing talents including Allan McNish, Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly and many others over three decades of competition.
DAMS originally stood for Driot Arnoux Motor Sports in deference to his former business partner, F1 race winner Rene Arnoux.
It later morphed in to Driot Associés Motorsport and it took several championship successes, most notably in international single-seater series from 1990 to 2014.
The team was originally born from the GDBA outfit which competed in the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship in 1987 and 1988. The team was in deference to a consortium of journalist and PR man Gilles Gaignault, Driot, businessman Pierre Blanchet and Arnoux.
It went on to take several titles, most notably with Erik Comas in 1990, Olivier Panis in 1993 and Jean-Christophe Boullion in 1994.
Driot, who also competed in national rallies and some circuit races himself in the 1970s, almost entered Formula 1 in 1995.
However, the project was stopped after insufficient finance was raised for the project which saw the DAMS F1 prototype tested briefly by Comas and Jan Lammers.
Driot instead turned his attentions to continuing in Formula 3000 and from 1997 endurance racing after striking up a relationship with the nascent Panoz organization.
DAMS went on to run customer sports car operations with the Lola T98/10 and Cadillac LMP car in the early 2000s.
Success for DAMS continued throughout that decade in single-seaters with GP2, Formula Renault V6, World Series 3.5 and the A1 GP series.
In 2014 Driot was instrumental in bringing DAMS into Formula E via a new strand of his company called e.dams.
Four-time F1 champion Alain Prost became a stakeholder in the team which helped to pull in Renault as a manufacturer entity.
This reaped many rewards including three straight teams’ titles between 2014-2017 and a drivers’ title for Sebastien Buemi.
By the summer of 2017 Driot oversaw the transition from Renault to Nissan for the 2018-19 season.
It was at this time that Driot started a battle with a serious illness which forced him to stop traveling to the majority of races last season.
However, he did make popular appearances in the paddock at Marrakesh, Paris and Bern, relishing the opportunity to attend the pre-event press conference at the latter event.
“It is an incredibly sad day not just for Jean-Paul’s family, DAMS and the Nissan e.dams team but our entire sport,” said Nissan global motorsports director Michael Carcamo.
“Jean-Paul never backed down from a challenge and his results speak for themselves.
“His organization has been an incredible partner for Nissan, it has been an honor to work alongside him and learn so much about this sport.
“The motorsport paddocks of the world have lost a very dear friend. On behalf of Nissan, we offer our condolences to his wife, two sons, all of his amazing team in Le Mans and his many friends and colleagues around the world.”
Speaking to e-racing365 in 2018, Droit said that motorsport was his greatest love because it fulfilled his passion for pure competition.
“I never manage through thinking I could be better or do as good a job as my drivers,” he said.
“What I want to do is to win as a team. If this means we develop some talents and give them chances for a great career and to make the good life then this is nice for me.”
Driot not only nurtured talent in the cockpit but also within his own team as several engineers and team members carved out successful careers.
Among them were current ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil, ACO tech chief Thierry Bouvet and former Lotus and McLaren team principal Eric Boullier.
Driot’s significant legacy in racing will live on for years to come as the DAMS organisation continues to race across several disciplines.
E-racing365 would like to express its condolences to Jean-Paul Driot’s family and his many friends in the motorsport industry.