Paul Treuthardt 1935 – 2017

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 15.14.34.pngIt is with immeasurable sadness that I must report the death of my friend and mentor Paul Treuthardt, from cancer at the age of 81. Paul was my travelling companion in Formula 1 for 10 years and taught me a huge amount about proper journalism and many other subjects. He was a man who was interested in everyone and everything, with an enquiring mind and an ability to cut through ephemera and get to the heart of the matter. His knowledge and enthusiasm for a wide variety of different subjects – from politics to music, technology to art and medicine to literature – was truly astonishing.

Although most people thought he was British, Paul was born in Australia the son of a Swiss teacher and an Australian-born artist, Enid Dickson, famed for her portraits of ballet dancers. Paul grew up in Sydney and was a trainee journalist on the Sydney Daily Mirror. In his teens he became a fan of motor racing, watching a young Jack Brabham competing on dirt tracks across NSW in the late 1940s. Paul would switch to news agency work in the early 1960s and moved to Europe with United Press International (UPI), based in London, before switching to Paris, where he joined the Associated Press. He could tackle any subject, but specialised in politics, dealing with President Charles de Gaulle, the May 1968 Paris uprising and the Vietnam War peace talks. He wrote about oil spillages in the North Sea and spent a year in Jordan and the Lebanon during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. He would later be a front line reporter during the Moroccan invasion of Spanish Sahara. Later he would became one of the leading experts on the development of AIDS, long before the disease became widely known. He was also involved in reporting events such as the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 and the sinking of the Zeebrugge ferry on the day he resigned from AP.

His passion for motor racing remained and he became the AP’s man in motorsport, largely because it was not an easy subject to follow and his fellow correspondents were happy to let him do it. He reported at the French GP from the late 1960s but was also a regular on the Monte Carlo Rally, at Monaco and the Le Mans 24 Hours. In this era he lived on a houseboat on the River Seine, moored next to the Place de la Concorde, and so became the primary English-language reporter during the celebrated FISA-FOCA War in the early 1980s, supplying all the major British motorsport magazines with the latest news in what was a highly complex and difficult subject.

The offer of the role of press officer of the Tyrrell F1 team led to the decision to quit AP and he spent four years working in PR, notably with Courtaulds, before deciding to return to journalism as a freelance F1 reporter, writing for publications all over the world, notably the Adelaide Advertiser and motorsport magazines in Japan. Although he lost the use of one eye a few years later, he continued to travel the world to all the races until his retirement. By then he was again settled in London, but kept a house near Dieppe where he spent his summers and where visits were always a pleasure.

He is survived by his adoring wife Gill, with whom he was married for 53 years, and their son Mark.

18 thoughts on “Paul Treuthardt 1935 – 2017

  1. A lovely tribute to a truly lovely man. Always hugely entertaining at our annual Christmas Avenue Communications reunions – everyone stopped talking when he began one of his brilliantly well informed stories, which always had us roaring with laughter. He’ll be very sadly missed.

  2. My sympathies for your loss, Joe.

    It’s sad that many people only learn of the achievements and quirks of others in posthumous tributes to them. Paul sounds like he had an interesting life as a journalist.

  3. I’m very sorry for your loss Joe. He enriched your life however, and for that you are grateful. Little is a better measure of being a successful human being. Condolences.

  4. Thank you Joe. You are a chronicler at its best. Deep respect for Sir Paul and condolence to his family. Kind regards, Sacha

  5. Hi Joe,
    Very sad news indeed. In 1987 I was working for Tyrrell and he invited me and my wife at the time, to dinner on his house boat. The evening was most convivial, spoilt only by the wake of the speeding bateaux mouches!!
    I remember him as a thoroughly decent bloke. Condolences to his wife Gill and son Mark.
    Regards,
    Nick Daymond.

  6. With the incomparably extensive first-hand knowledge of world affairs which he had acquired as a senior correspondent with the Associated Press, Paul brought a much-needed level-headedness to the press room. Even when up to his eyes with work as he coped with various looming deadlines, a few wise (if acerbic) words of advice to younger pressmen from him were greatly appreciated.

    His house-boat in Paris, the Almería, moored hard by the Place de la Concorde, was a natural meeting-place not only for journalists but also for influential figures in the motorsporting world. All were welcome. He and Gill regarded it as quite normal for passing hacks to flop on the floor of the boat’s salon.

    That tall dark-haired figure, who inflected both his native English and his adopted French with an almost imperceptible Aussie twang, was greatly missed when he chose to retire. The sport has lost an important figure who contributed much more to it than mere words.

  7. Always good company with a nice line in humour and a wealth of knowledge he would share only if requested, sometimes a rare quality in roving correspondents. He certainly knew his own mind and would happily engage in lively debate when the occasion demanded. I particularly remember two Tyrrell dinners at Magny Cours as seasonal highlights. Fond memories indeed

  8. I too had the great fortune to be one of the “passing hacks” who were houseboat guests aboard Paul and Gill’s beloved Almeria. One of my most treasured memories of those years of magic was a mild summers evening sitting on the open deck enjoying dusk falling upon the Seine, a bottomless glass and intelligent (I hope!) conversation with some of the finest people I have ever known. Thank you both, my dear old friends. — Pete

  9. Very sad, Paul and Gill were such a lovely couple and I have had many happy drinks and dinners with Paul over the years. Great journalist and never afraid to reveal the seams in our sport. Sorry Joe that you have lost such a good pal

  10. One of my favorite things about covering F1 races was seeing and talking with Paul. He was always gracious and interested in American racing and often helped bring this part time F1 correspondent up to speed. RIP, friend.

  11. My condolences to Gill, Mark and yourself Joe. Paul’s passing is clearly a great loss to you all.

  12. A very moving and personal tribute. Another one of your acquaintances that I would love to have had the time to speak with. Condolences.

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