Jean Claude Rudaz

Jean Claude Rudaz

23/7/1942

A pilot and founder of an air freight business, Rudaz entered the Italian GP in 1964 but after qualifying well, his engine blew up and he failed to start the race.

Jean-Claude Rudaz was born in Grande Dixence, Sion in Switzerland. He started racing in Formula Junior in the early 1960s. In 1963 he finished 6th driving a Lotus Ford in the Formula Junior Coppa BP at Monza.

In 1964 he bought a Cooper T60 Climax V8 (FI-18-61) from Rob Walker to use mainly in hill climbs. However he did participate in a couple of non-championship F1 Grand Prix. ON the 12 April he raced in the Gran Premio di Siracusa, retiring after 25 laps with suspension failure and the BRDC International Trophy in May. Finishing 14th ahead of Bruce McLaren whose wheels were out of balance and Jo Bonnier who had qualified nealy 3 seconds quicker, so must also had had problems.

In June he drove for Rene Bonnet in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Aérodjet Renault R8 Gordini with Pierre Monneret. They retired with engine problems after 62 laps. In July he joined Bonnet's Formula 2 Team, replacing Gérard Laureau for the Trophée d'Auvergne at Clermont-Ferrand, finishing 14th in a René Bonnet 1 R8/Gordini.

In August, back in his Cooper T60, he was entered for the Gran Premio del Mediterraneo but destroyed his engine in practive and did not take any further part. Another casualy in practice was Brian Gubby who had a tire deflate, instantly throwing him into the retaining fence at nearly 170 mph leaving him with a badly injured back and a rather second hand Lotus 24.

On the 6th September Rudaz entered his only World Championship event, the Italian Grand Prix. He had qualified the Cooper T60 in 20th but then unfortunatley suffered another engine failure in practice and withdrew permitting Maurice Trintignant to make the grid in the dreadfully slow BRM P57, better know as 'Old Faithful'. He ran out of money towards the end of the year. Later in the month he also competed in the Tour de France Auto. Driving with Jean-Jacques Pagnon they retired the René Bonnet Djet with mechanical problems.

In 1965 he replaced the Climax engine in the Cooper T60 with a Maserati one and won at least one hillclimb before the throttle stuck open at the Lure hillclimb on May 16th. He hit a stone wall which punctured the fuel tank. In the ensuing fire, Rudaz escaped with minor burns, but the car totally destroyed as well as starting a forrest fire which took 24 hours to put out.

According to the wonderful book about Swiss racing drivers, 'Die Aussenseiter', he then moved to the Congo where he worked as a dishwasher, learned to fly and became an airline pilot. Due to the political climate he had to leave the country in 1967. He returned to Switzerland and in 1973 he founded Transvalair to operate as a passenger airline, flying tourists between the UK and the Sion and Valais regions of Switzerland. The company now specialises in freight forwarding and cargo handling. He was the President of FC Sion, his local football club, between 1978 and 1981.

In 1983 he wrote a book about his flying and though he still flyes, he has retired from comercial aviation.

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