Johnny Claes (CLAYS; born 11 August 1916 in Fulham, London, England, United Kingdom – died 3 February 1956 in Brussels, Belgium) was a Belgian racing driver, born in Fulham, England to a Belgian Father and Scottish Mother. Claes was a Jazz musician who became involved in motor Sports after a chance visit to the 1947 French Grand Prix.
Johnny ordering a Talbot-Lago shortly after this visit would compete in this car for much of his career and totalled 23 World Championship Grand Prix starts from 1950 to 1955.
Johnny found World Championship racing tough but would find success in the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally winning the event in 1953, even though his co-driver fell ill and Johnny had to drive single handed for 52 hours. Other successes were achieved in GP des Frontieres in 1950 driving a HWM and 1951 driving a Simca-Gordini. And in 1954 he finished 12th and achieved a class victory in a Porsche at Le Mans, followed up with a 3rd in the 1955 event, sharing the Ecurie Belge Jaguar with Jacques Swaters.
His health started to diminish in 1954 and he passed away suffering from tuberculosis in 1956 not long after his last competitive outing, sharing with Lucien Bianchi at the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally, finishing 3rd.
Formula One CareerEdit
Johnny struggled in 1950 in his Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago but was a popular diver. At the season starting British Grand Prix he started last and cruised around to an eleventh placed finish. At Monaco he qualified 19th and had a good view of the first lap carnage, picking his way through to finish 7th, a season high followed by 10th at Bremgarten.
In Belgium, for his home Grand Prix, Johnny was allowed to start after missing qualifying due to crashing his Team Truck on the way to the track. His racing car needed to be escorted to the track, driving along the road at night making it to Spa-Francochamps the morning of the race where he finished 10th, 3 laps down.
Formula One Statistical OverviewEdit
Formula One RecordEdit
|1949||Ecurie Belge||Talbot-Lago-Talbot||No Formula One Championship|
|Formula One World Championship|
|Vicomtesse de Walckiers||Simca-Gordini|
|Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati|
|1954: Did Not Compete|
|1955||Stirling Moss Ltd.||Maserati||0||NC||Report|
|Equipe Nationale Belge||Ferrari|
|Complete Formula One results|
|1954||Did not compete in any races|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)||DNS||Did not start|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap|
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