31st January 1930 – 11th June 1972
Joakim Bonnier was born in Stockholm to a wealthy family, and began racing motorcycles when he was 17, then took up rallying when he was 21.
He entered Formula One in 1956, sharing a Maserati 250F with Villoresi in the final race of the season at Monza, but managed only three laps before the car was retired with engine problems.
In 1957 Bonnier drove three races for Scuderia Centro Sud and one under his own banner. All four entries were again with the Maserati 250F, and his best and only finish was 7th in Argentina.
1958 was both a breakthrough season, and one that might have ended Bonnier's career. He began the season racing the familiar if outdated Maserati, then went on to earn his first drives for the works BRM team later in the season. But after his first race for his new BRM team in Monza, he had a terrible accident driving a 1500cc Maserati at Imola.
Bonnier was thrown out of the car and suffered concussion, several cracked ribs, and a broken vertebra, as an altercation on a fast corner left his car flying through the air, then skidding 75 feet along the ground on its side.
In spite of his injuries, Bonnier was back behind the wheel of his BRM a month later for the F1 season finale in Casablanca, where he finished a creditable fourth, scoring his first points in the F1 Championship.
Jo Bonnier's first full season at BRM led to a notable success, and a first for both him and the team.
After all three BRM cars had retired in the first race of the season at Monaco, Bonnier went on to take pole position for the second race at Zandvoort.
In the race he saw off Moss and Brabham to take his, and the BRM team's first ever World Championship Formula One victory.
After a decade of disappointment Jo Bonnier had finally brought BRM the victory that it so needed. For that reason alone, he will always have an important place in the history of British Racing Motors.
But if anyone at BRM was hoping that the victory was a sign of a potential Championship challenge to come, they were about to be disappointed. Admittedly the car was more reliable and quicker than it was in 1958, and the team managed to secure third place in the Constructors' Championship, but there were no more victories in 1959.
Unfortunately 1960 brought more disappointment. Bonnier's only points scoring finishes were fifth places in Monaco and the United States. The new BRM was unreliable, and the team ended the season with just eight points.
Jo Bonnier left BRM at the end of the season.
Bonnier then joined Porsche for the 1961 & 1962 seasons, where a fifth and sixth place in each year were the only points scoring finishes.
R.R.C. Walker Racing Team
From 1963 to 1965 Bonnier drove for R.R.C. Walker Racing Team, racing Coopers for the first year, and Brabhams for the next two. Unfortunately, a few fifth and sixth places were the best results and in his final season with the team he scored no points at all.
Joakim Bonnier Racing Team
Jo Bonnier then formed his own racing team and for the next six years raced under the names Anglo-Suisse Racing Team, Joakim Bonnier Racing Team and Ecurie Bonnier. The venture met with little success and by the time his racing career ended in 1971, his only Chamionship Grand Prix victory was the one he'd scored for BRM back in 1959.
That's not to say he wasn't succesful though. He won the 1960 Targa Florio, co-driving a works Porsche 718 with Hans Herrmann, he won the 1962 12 Hours of Sebring with Lucien Bianchi, and he won the Targa Florio again in 1963 with Carlo Mario Abate in another works Porsche 718.
In 1964 he drove a Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari with Graham Hill, taking a 330P to second place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and to a win at Montlhéry, while a 12-hour race in Reims also gave him a first place in a 250LM. He then won the 1000km Nürburgring in a Chaparral in 1966 with Phil Hill, his last win in a major sports car event.