Did You Know?

Did you know that the field for the first ever world championship F1 race included a Swiss baron, a Thai prince and a well-known Jazz musician?


Bonus Facts

Rather fittingly for a race attended by royalty, the entry list had a distinctly aristocratic flavour. Among the 21 drivers that took the start were Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh (better known as Prince Bira or B.Bira), a notable racer and member of the Thai royal family.

Baron Emmanuel ‘Toulo’ de Graffenried, a Swiss driver who’d won the 1949 edition of the British Grand Prix in the pre-world championship era. Bira, who remains the only Thai to have raced in F1 competition, qualified his Maserati fifth at Silverstone but retired in the race when he ran out of fuel. Similarly De Graffenried failed to make the flag after his identical 4CLT-48 developed engine problems.


Octave John “Johnny” Claes was an English-born racing driver who competed for Belgium. Before his fame as a racing driver, Claes was also a jazz trumpeter and successful bandleader in Britain.

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