Johnny Claes

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Johnny Claes
Джонни Клэз.jpg
Born (1916-08-11)11 August 1916
Fulham, London, UK
Died 3 February 1956(1956-02-03) (aged 39)
Brussels, Belgium
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Belgium Belgian
Active years 19501953, 1955
Teams Écurie Belge, Gordini, HWM, Maserati, Ecurie Nationale Belge
Races 25 (23 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1950 British Grand Prix
Last race 1955 Dutch Grand Prix

Octave John "Johnny" Claes (11 August 1916 in London – 3 February 1956 in Brussels) was a racing driver from Belgium. Before his fame as a racing driver, Claes was also a jazz trumpeter and successful bandleader in Britain.

Early life and jazz career[edit]

He was born to a Scottish mother and Belgian father. He was educated in England at Lord Williams's School. In England, he began playing trumpet in a jazz band that included Max Jones on reeds, and another with Billy Mason on piano. In the 1930s he moved to the Netherlands, where he worked with Valaida Snow and Coleman Hawkins. He also worked with Jack Kluger's band in Belgium. Returning to England, he led his own group, the Claepigeons, making a recording in 1942. In the late 1940s he abandoned his jazz career and settled in Belgium as a professional racing driver.[1]

Racing career[edit]

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 He was uninjured but an observer was killed and three onlookers were seriously injured.[2] In 1952 he exchanged his outdated Talbot for a Gordini, and later for a Connaught, always with the Ecurie Belge colours, but he also raced occasionally for works team, including Gordini and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.[3] 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.

Complete World Championship Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 WDC Pts.
1950 Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot L6 GBR
11
MON
7
500 SUI
10
BEL
8
FRA
Ret
ITA
Ret
NC 0
1951 Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot L6 SUI
13
500 BEL
7
FRA
Ret
GBR
13
GER
11
ITA
Ret
ESP
Ret
NC 0
1952 Equipe Gordini Gordini T16 Gordini L6 SUI 500 BEL
8
NC 0
Ecurie Belge Simca-Gordini T15 Simca-Gordini L4 FRA
Ret
GBR
14
HW Motors HWM 52 Alta L4 GER
10
NED
Vicomtesse de Walckiers Simca-Gordini T15 Simca-Gordini L4 ITA
DNQ
1953 Ecurie Belge Connaught Type A Lea-Francis L4 ARG 500 NED
Ret
FRA
12
GBR GER
Ret
SUI ITA
Ret
NC 0
Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati A6GCM Maserati L6 BEL
Ret
1955 Stirling Moss Ltd. Maserati 250F Maserati L6 ARG MON 500 BEL
DNS
NC 0
Equipe Nationale Belge Ferrari 500 Ferrari L4 NED
11
GBR ITA

Non-Championship Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1950 Johnny Claes Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot L6 PAU RIC SRM PAR
DNA
EMP BAR
8
JER ALB
NC
NED
Ret
NAT
Ret
NOT ULS PES STT INT
Ret
GOO
Ret
PEN
Ret
1951 Johnny Claes Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot L6 SYR PAU RIC
4
SRM
DNS
BOR INT
8
PAR ULS
9
SCO NED
Ret
ALB
5
PES BAR
8
GOO
1952 Johnny Claes Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot L6 RIO SYR VAL
6
RIC LAV PAU
Ret
IBS ULS
DNA
Simca-Gordini T15 Simca-Gordini L4 MAR
3
AST INT
8
ELÄ NAP EIF
DNA
PAR
Ret
ALB FRO
Ret
MAR
6
SAB
3
CAE DAI COM
Ret
NAT BAU
8
MOD
NC
CAD SKA MAD AVU JOE NEW
Ret
RIO
HWM 52 Alta L4 MNZ
NC
LAC ESS
1953 Johny Claes Connaught Type A Lea-Francis L4 SYR PAU
Ret
LAV AST BOR
6
INT
15
ELÄ NAP ULS WIN FRO
NC
COR EIF ALB
6
PRI GRE ESS MID ROU
Ret
STR CRY AVU
6
USF LAC DRE BRI CHE SAB
Ret
NEW CAD SAC RED SKA LON MOD
NC
MAD BER JOE CUR
1954 Johny Claes Ferrari 166 Ferrari V12 BUE
6
SYR PAU LAV BOR INT BAR CUR ROM FRO COR BRC CRY ROU CAE AUG COR OUT RED PES SAC JOE CAD BER GOO DAI

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert Pernet. "Johnny Claes", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed May 12 2001), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
  2. ^ "Racing Car Kills Fan". The New York Times. 21 April 1951. p. 12. 
  3. ^ "Gonzalez Defeats Rolt-Hamilton In 24-Hour Le Mans Auto Race". The New York Times. 14 June 1954. p. 26.