Tom Belsø »
Foto: Morten Alstrups arkiv
In Denmark Tom Belsø will always be remembered as the first Dane to drive in Formula 1. But it was in a very different category of cars he built a name for himself in Denmark.
He made his debut in 1962 at Roskilde Ring in a Volvo 544. He worked as a mechanic for a driver and was given a chance to race the car in the final race of the year as a reward for his work. He won the race and in the following years he continued racing in homebuilt Volvos. Later he was picked up by Ford Denmark and was among the first to race an Escort Twin Cam in Denmark. In the late 60's touring car racing was huge in Denmark and Tom Belsø in a Twin Cam with the inner front wheel high in the air was a well known sight. Often in front of the race.
In 1970 he decided to try racing single seaters. He was 27 years old so it was fairly late to switch to a type of cars that touring car racers often found difficult. But still he went for it and moved to England to try himself at an international level.
His budget was next to nothing, but the talent was there and he succeeded in progressing to Formula 2 and Formula 5000. When the cars did not let him down, he was able to fight for victories. In 1973 he made contact with Frank Williams and the plan was that he should race a Williams in the Swedish Grand Prix. However, neither Belsø nor the team had much money and the chance came to nothing.
But in 1974 a deal was struck. Still it was not easy. The economy was tight and the car was not reliable. But in the Swedish Grand Prix in 1974 everything finally held together. Tom Belsø finished the race and became the first Dane to see the chequered flag at the finish of a Formula 1 Grand Prix. A memorable day - for Tom Belsø and for Danish motorsport in general.
Unfortunately it was also the peak of his carreer. The opportunities in Formula 1 dried out and halfway through 1974 the dream was over. Tom Belsø continued in Formula 5000 for a few years - still running at a shoestring. At times he showed his speed, but more often than not the car would break down.
In 1977 he retired from racing and concentrated upon building a successful business producing cereals.
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