Raymond Sommer was born on the 31st August 1906, the son of a wealthy carpet manufacturer and aviation pioneer. Raymond was a successful boxer and went to college in Manchester, England before returning to work for the family business in France.
He decided that he wanted to be a racing driver, persuaded his father to buy him a Chrysler Imperial and, in March 1931, he took part in his first road race, between Paris and Nice. The following year he bought an 8C and, when his team mate Luigi Chinetti became ill, Sommer drove 20 of the 24 hours at to win. Three weeks later he finished third to and Rene Dreyfus in the Nice Grand Prix and a week after that, he won the Grand Prix de Marseilles at Miramas.
In 1933 he joined the Montlhéry team while continuing to race his in sports car events and, sharing with Nuvolari, he won the 24 Hours for a second time. In 1935 he bought an P3 and won races at Comminges and but by 1936 the car was no longer competitive. That year he shared victory in the Grand Prix de l'ACF at Montlhéry with Jean-Pierre Wimille in a
In 1937 Raymond raced for Ferrari and competed in France with a Talbot sports car, winning the Marseilles Three Hours at Miramas and the Grand Prix de Tunisie and becoming French Champion. There was little success in 1938 although he led at before his car failed. He was French Champion again in 1939, racing as variety of cars.
During the war Sommer was a member of the French Resistance, but at the end of hostilities he brought out the 308 he had campaigned before the war and found immediate success, beating the 158 Alfettas at St Cloud, before joining , unsuccessfully, for 1947.
After suffering from an illness and involvement with the ill-fated CTA Arsenal project, Sommer joined Ferrari in 1948 but left midway through the following season to run his own Montlhéry , winning at and leading the . Raymond had signed by BRM for the marque's infamous debut at the .
On the 11th June, he won the 500 race at Angoulême in a Cooper Mk IV and followed this with a second to Moss at Daily Express Meeting, Silverstone on 26th August. Only a fortnight later, in September, Raymond Sommer became the first fatality in a Cooper when the steering failed on the 1,100cc Mk IV he had borrowed from John Cooper for the Haute Garonne Grand Prix at Cadours.