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From Colditz to Silverstone: the incredible tale of Tony Rolt

F1’s first race took place 70 years ago this week and featured a war hero who went on to win Le Mans before becoming a successful engineer and businessman

Seventy years ago this week, Formula One thundered into action for the very first time. The sport is celebrating its anniversary, its longevity and the pantheon of drivers who have become household names, but when F1 began that weekend at Silverstone, it was also host to a little-known hero.

Tony Rolt’s name is written into F1’s opening chapter but his story demands a broader canvas. He was a youthful prodigy, a soldier decorated for gallantry, a serial escapee in the second world war and designer and builder of the Colditz glider, a Le Mans winner and a successful engineer and businessman.

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