Despite Belgium being a rather small country, the least we can say it that it has no history in car and motorsports history. In the beginning of previous century Belgium had some quite famous car manufacturers like FN , or Imperia. As a matter of fact, the latter reborn from the deaths just a while ago.
After the end of the 2nd World-War, some young guys in Belgium, born in wealthier families started doing what they really liked : enjoying their passion for speed and cars, and they started racing with only one goal : reach the top. John Claes, Jacques Swaters, Charles de Tornaco, Paul Frère ,Christian Goethals are just a few names of a group that traveled from one rallye to the other, exploring several countries and racing several racetracks. And nowadays it's hard to imagine, but these pioneers did it all without any form of sponsorship, they paid everything themselves, from cars to fuel, the the travelling, the technicians and spare parts. No wonder they were soon nicknamed "The Belgian Gentlemen Drivers".
I think all belgians should be proud off these guys. They started a history back then and that history is still continuing. Our most famous name in motorsports is without any doubt Jacky Ickx, multiple Le Mans Winner to name just one of his great achievements. Thierry Boutsen is another great driver with belgian roots. Didier de Radigues is probably our most famous bike racer and our most recent pride is ofcourse Jerôme d'Ambrosio, third driver in the Lotus F1 Team.
Central person in the exhibition was Jacques Swaters, who unfortunately deceased in december 2010. Swaters was a vivid Ferrari racer, driver, collector wo it's no wonder that many of the cars at the exhibition were Ferraris, once raced by Jacques in person, being one of the cars of the Ecurie Franchorchamps, the team Jacques co-founded, or a car that once belonged to his unique collection of Ferrari's. Lots of documents ,Trophies ,and miniatures in relation to Jacques Swaters were on display.
However, our favorite car was good represented too as you can see . The rare Porsche 911 SCRS, an ex Gaban rallye car and probably familiar to regular visitors of Liebe zu Ihm, was brought from a private collection to the exhibition, as well as the Porsche 550 Spyder from the D'ieteren Collection (Original, or recreation ? Any additional information is welcome). Another true racer is the marvellous green Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, as far as I know the only Porsche 904 in belgian possession.
The exhibition was only temporarily, and the exhibit took place in Autoworld Automobile Museum , which is located in one of the halls of the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels.The hall was built in 1880 as a celebration to the 50th anniversary of the Kingdom Belgium. And what really makes the circle complete, is that the hall once hosted the first auto shows of Belgium, from 1902 to 1936.
Text : Liebe zu Ihm
Pictures : Liebe zu Ihm