Four former F1 drivers are celebrating their birthdays today: Gus Hutchison and Jean-Pierre Beltoise (both 74 today), Tom Jones (68) and Johnny Dumfries (53).
An amateur racing driver born in Dallas, Hutchison won the United States Formula B title with a Lotus 41B in 1967, winning each of the first seven races he contested.
In late 1969, he bought a Jacky Ickx Brabham BT26 for a season racing in the SCCA Continental championship in 1970, and took the car to that year’s United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. He started 22nd and retired from the race.
Hutchison later competed in Formula 5000, using both March and Lola chassis’.
Having forged a successful career in motorcycles – indeed, he won no less than eleven national titles in the space of three years – Beltoise’s four-wheeled motorsport career almost ended as soon as it began, courtesy of a massive shunt at the Reims 12-hour race that badly broke his arm and restricted its movement ever since.
Having recovered, he moved to the F3 scene, and won at the scene of his tragedy in 1965 for Matra, with whom he graduated to F2, winning the German Grand Prix support race.
By 1968, he was duly rewarded with a full-time drive for Matra, who entrusted him with their own V12-engined machine. The highlight of his first full season was a brilliant drive to second place at the Dutch Grand Prix, doing enough to get himself noticed and promoted to Tyrrell in 1969, as Jackie Stewart’s number-two, while Matra stepped away to further develop their V12.
He supported Stewart’s title ambitions well, and finished runner-up to the Scot at Clermont Ferrand.
The Matra V12 returned for 1970, and Beltoise went back to the French squad, finishing on the podium at Spa and Monza. Victory, however, continued to elude him, as it would again in 1971.
For 1972, he was lured to BRM with the attraction of the role as lead driver. The team was now its terminal decline, but Beltoise finally notched up his single F1 victory – and the last for the team itself – in the monsoonal Monaco GP. It was a truly great wet-weather drive, acknowledged as one of the best seen on the streets of the Principality. Even Jacky Ickx – the wet-weather maestro – finished over a minute adrift of the Frenchman, and was one of the first to congratulate JPB on his achievement.
Beltoise would never win an official F1 championship race again, and suffered the indignity of BRM’s rapid freefall from grace, retiring at the end of 1974.
Click here for Jean-Pierre Beltoise’s complete F1 results.
One of the most little-known-about F1 drivers until recently, Jones was a handy wet-weather driver who rocked up to the inaugural Canadian Grand Prix in 1967 with a second-hand Cooper T82.
Having proven to be relatively on-the-pace in free practice, fate conspired against him when his car’s ignition cut out after a single slow-pace exploratory lap during qualifying, and he recorded a time almost 30 seconds slower than pole-sitter Jim Clark. Officials refused to allow him to start the race, in which it rained…
Better known by his royal titles as the 7th Marquess of Bute, or Earl of Dumfries, Johnny Dumfries made himself out to be a south London painter and decorator in a bid to thwart his true identity being discovered.
He needn’t have worried about his royal ties, as his motorsport talent was quite sufficient to see him quickly rise through the ranks. Joining British F3 in 1983, he landed a plum drive with Dave Price Racing in 1984, and swept all comers to take the British crown – and nearly, the European title as well – with a staggering total of 15 wins.
With perceptions of his ability sky-high, he graduated to F3000 for 1985, but couldn’t replicate the same results and was out of a drive by mid-season.
This was Johnny’s big chance, and while he certainly didn’t disgrace himself, he was very much the number two in the team where, as Clive James humorously put it: “Even the port-a-loo was set up for Senna”. He did, however, finish in the points in Hungary and Adelaide.
Lotus decision to take on Honda engines – and with Satoru Nakajima coming as part of the package – left no room at the inn for Johnny at the team and he was out of a F1 drive.
He did some testing with Benetton and then switched to endurance racing, driving for the likes of Porsche, Toyota and Jaguar. The major highlight of his motorsport career was undoubtedly the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours victory in a TWR Jaguar.
Click here for Johnny Dumfries’ complete F1 results.