Johnny Claes Biography: Octave John Claes was a Belgian racing driver of British origin. Claes was a jazz trumpeter and famous bandleader in Britain before his success as a racing driver.
Johnny Claes Biography
Johnny Claes Biography: Claes was born in Fulham, London, England, on August 11, 1916, to a Scottish mother and a Belgian father. He attended Lord Williams’ School in England. In England, he began playing trumpet in jazz bands with Max Jones on reeds and Billy Mason on piano. He moved to the Netherlands in the 1930s and worked with Valaida Snow and Coleman Hawkins. In Belgium, he also worked with Jack Kluger’s band. When he returned to England, he formed his group, the Claepigeons, and recorded a single in 1942. In the late 1940s, he abandoned his jazz career to become a professional racing driver in Belgium.
Johnny Claes Wiki
|Date Of Birth||August 11, 1916|
|Birth Place||Fulham, London, England|
|Died||3 February 1956|
Johnny Claes Career
Claes was one of several male drivers who competed in post-World War II Grand Prix racing. At the 1947 French Grand Prix, where he served as an interpreter for British drivers, he had his first contact with motorsport. In 1948, he debuted driving his own Talbot-Lago for the Ecurie Belge. Johnny never scored any points in the World Drivers Championship, but he was active in non-championship Grand Prix and sports car competitions, as were many of his contemporaries. His first victory came at the 1950 Grand Prix des Frontières in Chimay.
In April 1951, Claes crashed into a crowd while practicing for the San Remo Grand Prix in San Remo, Italy. However, one observer was killed, and three spectators were gravely injured. In 1952, he traded in his obsolete Talbot for a Gordini and then a Connaught, always with the Ecurie Belge colors. Still, he also occasionally raced for works teams, including Gordini & Maserati. He also won the 1953 Liège–Rome–Liège Rally and the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans in his class. Claes and Pierre Stasse finished 12th in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1954. They owned a Porsche. Claes finished third with compatriot Jacques Swaters in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans.