Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh of Siam, commonly known as Prince Bira, Prince Bira of Siam or "B. Bira" (beer-RAH, born 15 July 1914 in Bangkok, Siam (now Thailand) – 23 December 1985 in Barons Court, London, England, United Kingdom) was a Thai racing driver who competed in Formula One in its inception.
During his early motor racing career he enjoyed success with his privately entered ERA under his White Mouse Racing Team, and the pale blue and yellow colour scheme he used would become the national racing colours of Siam.
After his motor racing career Bira competed as a sailor in various disciplines at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, 1960 Rome Olympics, 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Bira was the only driver from South East Asia to compete in a Grand Prix until 2001 when Alex Yoong drove Minardi, as well as the only Thai driver until 2019 when Alexander Albon made his debut for Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Before Formula One World Championship Edit
In 1935, Bira was given a new ERA R2B by his cousin which of course was also painted pale blue and yellow and Bira named this car Romulus. Bira and Romulus came second in their very first race and Bira consistently raced well against more powerful Grand Prix cars of this era. In 1935 Bira achieved another second place and a 5th at Donington Park.
In 1936 Bira purchased a second ERA which he called Remus. He raced Romulus in International races and Remus in UK races. He also raced his cousins Maserati which he used to finish another 5th at Donington and 3rd at Brooklands.
In 1937, British driver Richard Seaman was signed to Mercedes, to his parents disapproval. Bira and his cousins then purchased Seaman's Delage (which Seaman had enjoyed much success in) and hired future Jaguar manager Lofty England as crew chief. But the cars underperformed and often Bira would race his now out of date ERA's instead.
The cousins were spending a lot of money on upgrades to the Delage, which sapped their racing fund, and this made them less competitive.
Formula One CareerEdit
In a mixed season Bira retired in Silverstone after being the marques highest qualifying driver, ahead of his teamate and the factory team but scored points as he finished 5th at Monaco, successfully negotiating his way around the first lap chaos when the field arrived at Tabac to find the track flooded.
Bira then went one better at Bremgarten finishing 4th ahead of works Maserati driver Felice Bonetto but, with an increased grid for the final race of the season, could not make it three point scores in a row in his next World Championship outing, retiring on lap 2 at Monza with engine trouble.
Bira had a good season, finishing 8th in the Championship, ahead of all other Maserati entries including the factory team.
Formula One Statistical OverviewEdit
Formula One RecordEdit
Note: For Formula One years, italics indicates an entry or constructor that did not participate in World Championship races.
|Front Row Starts||0|
|Distance Raced||5905 km (3669 mi)|
|Distance Led||0 km (0 mi)|
|Win Number||Grand Prix|
|1||1937 Campbell Trophy|
|2||1937 London Grand Prix|
|3||1938 London Grand Prix|
|Win Number||Grand Prix|
|1||1946 Ulster Trophy|
|2||1948 Zandvoort Grand Prix|
|3||1951 Richmond Trophy|
|4||1954 Frontières Grand Prix|
|Complete Formula One results|
|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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