‘Toulo’ de Graffenried

The passing of ‘Toulo’ de Graffenried has broken one of the few remaining links with the earliest post-war grands prix. The Swiss racer’s finest result was winning the 1949 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. 

Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried, born in May 1914, was a notable driver in the early years of the World Championship and raced for the works Alfa Romeo team before retiring in 1956 to concentrate on his Alfa Romeo dealership. Later he took on a PR role for the Swiss-based Philip Morris tobacco company and was a regular visitor to F1 races until the 1980s.

‘Toulo’, as he was known, started racing in 1936, having been inspired by races at Bremgarten in his home town of Berne. It was on the daunting, cobbled 4.5-mile street circuit that de Graffenried had some of his best results.

After winning the pre-World Championship 1949 Silverstone race in a Maserati 4CLT/48, he contested five rounds of the 1950 championship, with sixth places at home and at Monza. Over the next six years, he picked up several top-six finishes, with a career-best fourth place in the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.