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Tom Belso 1942-2020

January 13, 2020

Former Frank Williams Racing Cars driver Tom Belso has died after a long battle with stomach cancer.

Tom Belso, ‘The Smiling Dane’ was Denmark’s first Formula 1 driver. He began his motor racing career in touring cars in his native Scandinavia where he would become 1969 Scandinavian Champion in a Ford Escort, before making the jump to Formula 2 in 1972.

With 1973 came a move to Formula 5000, and subsequently to non-Championship Formula 1 races, including a 7th place finish in the 1973 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch.

By 1973, Frank Williams Racing Cars was in serious need of extra funding to remain solvent, and Sir Frank decided to rent out his second car to drivers who were keen to make an impression on the Formula 1 world alongside regular driver Howden Ganley.

Tom Belso, alongside Tim Schenken, Henri Pescarolo and others, duly took a turn in Williams’ ISO-Marlboro when he qualified for the 1973 Swedish Grand Prix.

Sadly for Belso, the money that was due to be paid to Frank in exchange for the drive failed to materialise and he was refused entry to the race.

He returned with Frank Williams in 1974 where he attempted to qualify for four Grand Prix, making it into half of them – the South African and Swedish Grands Prix – where he qualified 27th and 21st respectively.

At Kyalami his clutch failed on the first lap, but at Anderstorp, the scene of his first Grand Prix attempt, he made it to the finish, and eighth place.

Tom Belso continued racing in lower Formulae, but much of his post-F1 focus was on building up his business in Scandinavia manufacturing and distributing cereals.

He is survived by his wife Barbara and three children.


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