Jacques Swaters

Jacques Swaters

30/10/1926 - 10/12/2010

Jacques Swaters is a former Formula One driver from Belgium and former team owner of Ecurie Francorchamps and Ecurie Nationale Belge.

Swaters was born in Woluwe-St-Lambert, Brussels, Belgium in 1926. After the war, in which he was involved with the Resistance movement, he was reading law at the University Catholique de Louvain when, in 1948, he bought a pre-war MG with the aim of going racing. A great enthusiast (he already owned a BMW 328), Jacques had been orphaned at the age of 12 and he used some of the money inherited from his father to make this purchase. He made his racing debut in the Spa 24 Hour race that year driving the MG driving with his friend, Paul Frère, who was also making his official racing debut. Together they finished 4th in class.

In 1950, he was one of the founders of Ecurie Belgique running assorted pre-war machinery for an ever-widening group of friends, including Roger Laurent and Andre Pilette. The Royal Automobile Club de Belgique disapproved of the name so it was changed to Ecurie Francorchamps. Initially Jacques drove a Veritas, but when Pilette was injured in the team’s Talbot-Lago Grand Prix at the 1951 Dutch GP, he stepped in to take his place.

In 1950, he was one of the founders of Ecurie Belgique running assorted pre-war machinery for an ever-widening group of friends, including Roger Laurent and Andre Pilette. The Royal Automobile Club de Belgique disapproved of the name so it was changed to Ecurie Francorchamps. Initially Jacques drove a Veritas, but when Pilette was injured in the team’s Talbot-Lago Grand Prix at the 1951 Dutch GP, he stepped in to take his place.

For 1952, they needed a new car and so Swaters purchased a Formula 2 Ferrari T500 from Gianni Agnelli, which was mainly raced by de Tornaco, but Swaters drove it in two Grand Prix the following year, his best result COMING in the 1953 German Grand Prix when he finished seventh, he also won the F2 Grand Prix de Berlin at AVUS that year.

Meanwhile Swaters had set up a garage in Brussels called Garage Francorchamps and in 1952 Ferrari asked Swaters to become the Ferrari distributor for the Benelux area.

For 1954, Jacques raced the Ferrari fitted with a 625 engine, but found greater success in sports car events with the team’s recently acquired Jaguar C-Type, taking fourth at Le Mans and third in the Reims 12 Hours with Laurent. At Le Mans in 1954 he shared the team’s D-Type with Roger Laurent to finish 4th and in the tragic 1955 race he partnered fellow countryman Johnny Claes to finish third. He finishing fourth at le mans in 1956 driving the same car, this time partnered by another Belgian driver, Freddy Rousselle. Jacques retired from racing after making a final appearance at the Sarthe circuit in 1957 with Alain de Change, retiring the Ferrari 290 MM after 73 laps due to engine problems.

In 1959 he was the force behind the establishment of the Ecurie National Belge team which entered Belgian racing yellow F2 Cooper-Climax cars for a variety of drivers including Lucien Bianchi, Olivier Gendebien, Andre Pilette, Andre Milhoux and Alain de Chagny in 1959.

The team continued the following season with Paul Frere and Mauro Bianchi (Lucien's brother) also being seen in the cars and for 1961 the team moved into Grand Prix racing, acquiring a pair of Emeryson-Maseratis. The team later switched to Lotus 18s and for 1962 reworked the Emeryson chassis and renamed them ENBs. They were not a success and the team faded away at the end of that season.

Ecurie Francorchamps however continued, entering races until the end of the 1970s. They were one of the most respected Ferrari privateer teams.

historicracing.com

Leave a comment

Comments