|First race||British Grand Prix||Silverstone||May 13, 1950||Race results|
|Last race||British Grand Prix||Aintree||July 16, 1955||Race results|
An old Etonian, Tony Rolt came into racing on the back of a distinguished record in the war where he won the Military Cross during the evacuation of France in 1940. He then spent several years as a prisoner of war, latterly at Colditz where he was involved in the legendary attempt to escape using a home-built glider.
He had already made his racing debut in 1936, and in 1937 he twice won Coronation Trophy races at Donington Park, and drove his ERA "Remus" to victory there in the prestigious 200-mile British Empire Trophy in 1939. He continued where he left off after the war, sharing a car with Peter Walker at the first F1 championship grand prix at Silverstone in 1950 and subsequently secured a works drive with Jaguar. His other two Formula One drives were with Walker, but all three ended in early retirements.
In 1953 he shared the winning Jaguar C-type at Le Mans 24 Hours with his friend Duncan Hamilton, and they finished second in a D-type the following season. He quit racing as a result of the 1955 tragedy at Le Mans and threw his energies into engineering.
He formed Dixon Rolt Developments with Freddy Dixon, which pioneered the viscous coupling and advanced safety systems such as anti-lock braking, and secured financial backing from tractor magnate Harry Ferguson. In 1961 his firm, by now Ferguson Developments, built a single-seater four-wheel drive racing car which Stirling Moss drove to victory in a non-championship F1 race at Oulton Park.
The four-wheel drive idea went to the USA and was incorporated in the Jensen FF, and Rolt became very wealthy on the back of his engineering developments. When he died in 2008 he was the last survivor of F1's first championship race.
Martin Williamson November 2009