He was his own man. Running his own ‘Ecurie’ against the better prepared teams efforts, he managed to upset the establishment on many occasions. The happy and popular Dutch aristocrat Carel Godin de Beaufort (Maarsbergen, April 10, 1934 – Cologne, August 2, 1964) was the quintessential privateer of the late fifties and early sixties. His orange Porsche housed a free spirit, at unease with the pomp and circumstance of a racing world trying to come to grips with a growing level of professionalism.
Jonkheer Carel Pieter Anthonie Jan Hubertus Godin de Beaufort was a Dutch aristocrat. His family was well known in banking and political circles. In 1882 the family acquired Maarsbergen Castle, near Amersfoort, and in 1888 Karel Antoine Godin de Beaufort was named finance minister. His brother, Willem Hendrik de Beaufort, later served as Dutch Foreign Minister.
Carel Godin de Beaufort started in his teens, getting into trouble for driving the cars of family guests when they visited Maarsbergen Castle in the late 1940s.
In 1955 he bought an MG and took part in a few local rallies before acquiring a Porsche 1500 Super and racing it at Zandvoort. The following year another competitor Mathieu Hezemans sold him a Porsche 550 Spyder and the pair raced the car at various events around Europe, including the Mille Miglia and Le Mans.
In 1957 he got hold of a Porsche 550A-RS and drove it in the Formula 2 category at the German Grand Prix finishing third in his class and 14th overall. He drove the same car at the 1958 Dutch Grand Prix circuit and finished 11th and the Le Mans 24 Hours finishing 5th. He then began driving a factory Porsche 718 RSK, although he drove his first proper F1 car – Hans Hermann’s Maserati in the 1959 French Grand Prix.
He enjoyed some success in sports cars but also had lucky escapes, not least at Avus in 1959 when he went over the North Wall (where Jean Mary Behra was killed) and landed in a car park down below. He drove the car back through the paddock and out onto the race track before being black flagged. In 1960 he tried his hand with a Formula 2 Cooper Climax.
With a change of regulations for 1961 the F2 car became eligible for F1 and de Beaufort’s orange Porsche, run by his own ‘Ecurie Maarsbergen’, was a regular sight at F1 races in the years that followed, achieving several good results, notably second in the non-championship Grand Prix and third in a similar race at Zeltweg.
Carel Godin de Beaufort died after an accident at the Nurburgring during practice for the 1964 German Grand Prix.
He knew full well the Eifel track he regarded as his own would give him the only opportunity to shine and keep himself in the picture. After arriving in the paddock on Friday, he set out on Saturday practice, entertaining the paddock crowd by wearing a Beatles wig before starting on a series of slow reconnaissance laps. Then, on his fifth lap, Carel decided it was time to push the Porsche 718. The car suddenly veered off the track at the infamous Bergwerk corner. He was thrown out of the car into the trees and suffered massive injuries to his head, chest and legs.
On arrival, the rescue team found Carel suffering from serious injuries. The decision was made to transport Beaufort to nearby Koblenz hospital where a broken thy, a fractured chest bone and several concussions of the skull were diagnosed. Immediately after the word reached Holland, Carel’s mother and the family’s personal physician flew out to Germany. On his arrival in Koblenz, Prof. Dr. Nuboer advised that Carel was to be transported to a neurological center in Cologne.
Up until Sunday evening doctors fought for his life but at half past ten Carel was pronounced dead. His death was not announced until Monday, after which the news filtered through to the Dutch press. The initial report is very poignant, as it states that Beaufort’s life is “no longer in danger”… His family later issued a memorial card (front and inside). Incidentally, the card leaves the date and town where he died beyond doubt, as there have been resources which state the August 1 and 3 dates, and towns such as Düsseldorf and Koblenz.
Carel Godin de Beaufort was buried at the family estate at Maarsbergen near Arnhem, in the presence of many Dutch and international racing drivers. Graham Hill, Bob Anderson, Baron Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Ben Pon were among the friends to carry his coffin.
The atmosphere was completely different from what people had become used to at the unique post-Zandvoort bashes Carel hosted at Maarsbergen. The repaired Porsche 718, that had suffered hardly any damage during the accident, was presented to the Driebergen Automobile Museum by Carel’s mother.