Last weekend our Swiss member Jo Vonlanthen celebrated his 80th birthday.
Jo is always the life and soul of the party at Grand Prix Drivers Club events even though his racing career was relatively short.
Like many drivers of the period he started out in the Volkswagen powered Formula Vee what was very popular in Switzerland and Germany and then progressed to Formula 3 and was to become 1972 Swiss Formula 3 Champion driving a Tecno but he had his best results in Formula 2 with 3rd place in the Rome Grand Prix at Vallelunga finishing third in his GRD773 behind the March’s of Jacques Coulon and Vittorio Brambilla. In 1975 he was fifth in the Portuguese F2 Grand Prix with a March 742..
This last result found him picked by Frank Williams to race in the 1975 Non-Championship Swiss Grand Prix at Hockenheim finishing 13th but in his debut race in Grand Prix Formula 1 in the Austrian Grand Prix. In the Austrian race, he was given his start after Wilson Fittipaldi crashed in practice.
Jos has never lost his enthusiasm for racing even though some of his more recent races have been during a number of the Club’s General Assemblies when we have had some amusing kart races.
However, as his 80th birthday approached he came out of retirement and drove some laps of Hockenheim last year at the age of 79 driving his GRD 273.
Happy Birthday Jo from everyone in the Club