Charles de Tornaco

A Belgian aristocrat from a family which included a former Belgian Prime Minister, de Tornaco started racing in 1948, at the age of 21, when he bought a pre-war MG sports car and drove it in the Spa 24 Hours with his best friend Jacques Swaters.

Swaters later set up a team called Ecurie Belgique in order to run cars for his friend, these including a Veritas and a BMW 328. In 1950 they went a step further and acquired an old Talbot-Lago Grand Prix car and planned to race internationally. The Royal Automobile Club of Belgium complained about the name of the team and so they changed the operation to become Ecurie Francorchamps. In 1951 they acquired a Ferrari 166 Formula 2 car from Gianni Agnelli, and later a Ferrari 500.

When the World Championship switched to Formula 2 regulations in 1952 the team was able to race in Grands Prix. De Tornaco finished seventh at the Belgian GP, driving the Ferrari 500. Then, driving an HWM, he finished fourth in a non-championship event at Chimay. In 1953 he joined forces with another friend and raced at Le Mans in a Jaguar sports car, finishing ninth overall.

Three months later, however, de Tornaco crashed while practising for the Modena Grand Prix and rolled his Ferrari. He suffered serious head injuries and fractured his skull. There was no doctor present at the circuit and de Tornaco had to be taken to hospital in a private car. He died on his way there at the age of only 25.