Born Pierre Alexandre Darracq in Bordeaux, France, of Basque parents, he trained as a draftsman at the Arsenal in Tarbes, in the Hautes-Pyrénées département. He established the Gladiator Cycle Company in 1891. He sold his very successful company in 1896 for a substantial amount and for a short time went into the business of manufacturing electric cars as well as acquiring an interest in rotary engined Millet motorcycles.
He established Automobiles Darracq South America in Suresnes, near Paris where he pioneered the making of the chassis from pressed steel and the use of production machinery in place of hand labor.
Despite his establishing an automobile business, and having taken driving lessons in July 1896, Darracq did not like driving cars or even being driven in them. Foreign him, it was just pursuing his interest in manufacturing and making money.
By 1904, Darracq was producing more than ten percent of all automobiles in France. Racing success raised the image of the Darracq marque so he was able to expand to England and form licensing partnerships and raising substantial capital through share issues in Italy with Cavaliere Ugo Stella, in Germany with Adam Opel as well as in Vitoria, in the Basque region of Spain.
The company that became Alfa Romeo was founded as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq, with some Italian investors.
After personally insisting the new 1911 model employ the Henriod rotary valve engine, Alexadre Darracq resigned. In 1913, he sold out to a British concern and pursued other interests including running the Casino at Deauville. After World War I, he chose to retire to the French Riviera where he invested with the Belgian interests that took over the troubled luxury Hotel Negresco in Nice.