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Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh of Siam, commonly known as Prince Bira, Prince Bira of Siam or "B. Bira" (beer-RAH, born 15 July 1914 in Bangkok, Siam (now Thailand) – 23 December 1985 in Barons Court, London, England, United Kingdom) was a Thai racing driver who competed in Formula One in its inception.

During his early motor racing career he enjoyed success with his privately entered ERA under his White Mouse Racing Team, and the pale blue and yellow colour scheme he used would become the national racing colours of Siam.

After his motor racing career Bira competed as a sailor in various disciplines at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, 1960 Rome Olympics, 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Bira was the only driver from South East Asia to compete in a Grand Prix until 2001 when Alex Yoong drove Minardi.

Before Formula One World Championship Edit

Bira, educated at Eton and Cambridge, first raced alongside his cousin Prince Chula Chakgrabongse in a Riley at the Brooklands Speedway in England.

1930 Bira

Bira loved his ERA

In 1935, Bira was given a new ERA R2B by his cousin which of course was also painted pale blue and yellow and Bira named this car Romulus. Bira and Romulus came second in their very first race and Bira consistently raced well against more powerful Grand Prix cars of this era. In 1935 Bira achieved another second place and a 5th at Donington Park.

In 1936 Bira purchased a second ERA which he called Remus. He raced Romulus in International races and Remus in UK races. He also raced his cousins Maserati which he used to finish another 5th at Donington and 3rd at Brooklands.

In 1937, British driver Richard Seaman was signed to Mercedes, to his parents disapproval. Bira and his cousins then purchased Seaman's Delage (which Seaman had enjoyed much success in) and hired future Jaguar manager Lofty England as crew chief. But the cars underperformed and often Bira would race his now out of date ERA's instead.

The cousins were spending a lot of money on upgrades to the Delage, which sapped their racing fund, and this made them less competitive.

Formula One CareerEdit

1950Edit

1950 2 Bira

Bira Maserati at Monaco

In 1950 Prince Bira drove for the Swiss Enrico Plate Maserati team alongside Toulo de Graffenried.

In a mixed season Bira retired in Silverstone after being the marques highest qualifying driver, ahead of his teamate and the factory team but scored points as he finished 5th at Monaco, successfully negotiating his way around the first lap chaos when the field arrived at Tabac to find the track flooded.

Bira then went one better at Bremgarten finishing 4th ahead of works Maserati driver Felice Bonetto but, with an increased grid for the final race of the season, could not make it three point scores in a row in his next World Championship outing, retiring on lap 2 at Monza with engine trouble.

Bira had a good season, finishing 8th in the Championship, ahead of all other Maserati entries including the factory team.

1951Edit

Formula One Statistical OverviewEdit

Formula One RecordEdit

Year Entrant Team WDC Points WDC Pos. Report
Pre-Championship
1935 "B. Bira" ERA N/A Report
1936 Prince Chula of Siam Maserati N/A Report
1937 Prince Chula of Siam Maserati N/A Report
"B. Bira" Delage
1938 Prince Chula of Siam
Squadra Subauda
"B. Bira"
Maserati Not classified Report
1939 "B. Bira" Maserati N/A Report
1940–1945: no races run (World War II)
1946 "B. Bira" Maserati N/A Report
ERA
1947 "B. Bira" ERA N/A Report
Maserati
1948 Equipe Gordini Simca-Gordini N/A Report
"B. Bira"
Scuderia Enrico Platé
Prince Chula of Siam
Maserati
Prince Chula of Siam ERA
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari
1949 Scuderia Ambrosiana
"B. Bira"
Scuderia Enrico Platé
Enrico Platé
Maserati N/A Report
Formula One
1950 Enrico Platé Maserati 5 8th Report
1951 Ecurie Siam
Enrico Platé
"B. Bira"
Maserati 0 NC Report
1952 Equipe Gordini Gordini 0 NC Report
Simca-Gordini
"B. Bira" Maserati
1953 Connaught Engineering Connaught-Lea-Francis 0 NC Report
Scuderia Milano
"B. Bira"
Autocourse
Ecurie Siam
Maserati
HW Motors HWM-Alta
1954 Officine Alfieri Maserati
"B. Bira"
Maserati 3 17th Report
1955 "B. Bira" Maserati 0 NC Report

Note: For Formula One years, italics indicates an entry or constructor that did not participate in World Championship races.

Career StatisticsEdit

Entries 23
Starts 19
Pole Positions 0
Front Row Starts 0
Race Wins 0
Podiums 0
Fastest laps 0
Points 8
Laps Raced 902
Distance Raced 5905 km
Races Led 0
Laps Led 0
Distance Led 0 km

Race WinsEdit

Pre-ChampionshipEdit

Win Number Grand Prix
1 1937 Campbell Trophy
2 1937 London Grand Prix
3 1938 London Grand Prix

Non-ChampionshipEdit

Win Number Grand Prix
1 1946 Ulster Trophy
2 1948 Zandvoort Grand Prix
3 1951 Richmond Trophy
4 1954 Frontières Grand Prix

Career ResultsEdit

Complete Formula One results
Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts Pos
1950 Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Monaco 48-star U S flag Flag of Switzerland Flag of Belgium Flag of France Flag of Italy 5 8th
Ret 5th 4th Ret
1951 Flag of Switzerland 48-star U S flag Flag of Belgium Flag of France Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Germany Flag of Italy Flag of Spain 1945 1977 0 NC
DNA DNA Ret
1952 Flag of Switzerland 48-star U S flag Flag of Belgium Flag of France Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Germany Flag of the Netherlands Flag of Italy 0 NC
Ret 10th Ret 11th
1953 Flag of Argentina 48-star U S flag Flag of the Netherlands Flag of Belgium Flag of France Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Germany Flag of Switzerland Flag of Italy 0 NC
Ret 7th Ret 11th
1954 Flag of Argentina 48-star U S flag Flag of Belgium Flag of France Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Germany Flag of Switzerland Flag of Italy Flag of Spain 1945 1977 3 17th
7th 6th 4th Ret Ret 9th
1955 Flag of Argentina Flag of Monaco 48-star U S flag Flag of Belgium Flag of the Netherlands Flag of the United Kingdom Flag of Italy 0 NC
DNA


Key
Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
1stWinner Ret Retired
2ndPodium finish DSQ Disqualified
3rd DNQ Did not qualify
5thPoints finish DNPQ Did not pre-qualify
14thNon-points finish TD Test driver
NCNon-classified finish (<90% race distance) DNS Did not start
[+] More Symbols

NotesEdit

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