Johnny Claes

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Johnny Claes
FIA Super Licence Flag of Belgium Belgium / Flag of the United Kingdom UK
Formula One World Championship career
Active years1950 Formula One season - 1953 Formula One season, 1955 Formula One season
TeamsÉcurie Belge, Gordini, Hersham and Walton Motors, Maserati, Ecurie Nationale Belge
Races25 (23 starts)
List of Formula One World Drivers' Champions0
Wins0
Podiums0
Career points0
Pole position0
Fastest lap0
First race1950 British Grand Prix
Last race1955 Dutch Grand Prix

Octave John "Johnny" Claes (11 August 1916 in London – 3 February 1956 in Brussels) was a Racing driver from Belgium, of Scottish mother and Belgian father. He was educated in England at Lord Williams's School.

Claes was one of several gentlemen drivers who took part in Grand Prix racing of post-World War II. His first contact with racing was at the 1947 French Grand Prix, where he served as interpreter for British drivers. He made his debut in 1948, in his own Talbot-Lago, raced under the Ecurie Belge banner. Although Claes never scored any points in the World Drivers Championship, he was, like many of his contemporaries, very active in non-Championship Grand Prix races and sports car races. His first win was at the 1950 Grand Prix des Frontières, held at the Chimay race track.

In April 1951 Claes crashed into a crowd while practicing at Sanremo, Italy. He was uninjured but an observer was killed and three onlookers were seriously injured.[1] In 1952 he exchanged his outdated Talbot for a Gordini, and later for a Connaught Engineering, always with the Ecurie Belge colours, but he also raced occasionally for works team, including Gordini and Maserati. He also won the 1953 Liège-Rome-Liège Rally and took a class win at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans. Claes teamed with Pierre Stasse to finish 12th in the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans. They drove a Porsche.[2] Together with compatriot Jacques Swaters, Claes finished third in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Later in 1955 Claes' health problems worsened, as he had contracted Tuberculosis. Claes sold his outfit to Swaters, who merged it with his own Ecurie Francorchamps to form Ecurie Nationale Belge. Claes entered occasional events until the end of the year, but finally succumbed to the disease in 1956, aged 39.

Besides motor racing, Claes was also an enthusiast of Jazz music, a jazz trumpeter and successful bandleader in Britain.


Complete World Championship Formula One results


(F1 driver results legend 2)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 WDC Pts.
1950 Formula One season Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot Straight-6 1950 British Grand Prix
11
1950 Monaco Grand Prix
7
1950 Indianapolis 500 1950 Swiss Grand Prix
10
1950 Belgian Grand Prix
8
1950 French Grand Prix
Ret
1950 Italian Grand Prix
Ret
NC 0
1951 Formula One season Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot Straight-6 1951 Swiss Grand Prix
13
1951 Indianapolis 500 1951 Belgian Grand Prix
7
1951 French Grand Prix
Ret
1951 British Grand Prix
13
1951 German Grand Prix
11
1951 Italian Grand Prix
Ret
1951 Spanish Grand Prix
Ret
NC 0
1952 Formula One season Gordini Gordini Gordini T16 Gordini Straight-6 1952 Swiss Grand Prix 1952 Indianapolis 500 1952 Belgian Grand Prix
8
NC 0
Ecurie Belge Simca-Gordini Simca-Gordini T15 Simca-Gordini Straight-4 1952 French Grand Prix
Ret
1952 British Grand Prix
14
Hersham and Walton Motors Hersham and Walton Motors HWM 52 Alta Car and Engineering Company Straight-4 1952 German Grand Prix
10
1952 Dutch Grand Prix
Vicomtesse de Walckiers Simca-Gordini Simca-Gordini T15 Simca-Gordini Straight-4 1952 Italian Grand Prix
DNQ
1953 Formula One season Ecurie Belge Connaught Engineering Connaught Type A Lea-Francis Straight-4 1953 Argentine Grand Prix 1953 Indianapolis 500 1953 Dutch Grand Prix
Ret
1953 French Grand Prix
12
1953 British Grand Prix 1953 German Grand Prix
Ret
1953 Swiss Grand Prix 1953 Italian Grand Prix
Ret
NC 0
Maserati Maserati Maserati A6GCM Maserati Straight-6 1953 Belgian Grand Prix
Ret
1955 Formula One season Stirling Moss Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 1955 Argentine Grand Prix 1955 Monaco Grand Prix 1955 Indianapolis 500 1955 Belgian Grand Prix
DNS
NC 0
Equipe Nationale Belge Ferrari Ferrari 500 Ferrari Straight-4 1955 Dutch Grand Prix
11
1955 British Grand Prix 1955 Italian Grand Prix

References


  1. Racing Car Kills Fan, New York Times, April 21, 1951, Page 12.
  2. Gonzalez Defeats Rolt-Hamilton In 24-Hour Le Mans Auto Race, New York Times, June 14, 1954, Page 26.
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