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John Kvarnström RIP

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#1 Tomas Karlsson

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 08:13

One of the big Swedish stars from the 50ies, John Kvarnström, passed away on November 12th at the age of 89.
John started racing with a big Plymouth in 1947 and had a Hudson-based racer built for him for the next year. Kvarnström won the big races in Helsinki and Copenhagen in 1949 and he and his hideous Hudson became one of the leading stars in the Nordic special class on ice and gravel for several years. The Hudson was pensioned and Kvarnström got himself an Allard and in 1954 he bought a Ford-based special that had been rebuilt to a sportscar. Kvarnström shone with that Ford spl at the international sportscar race at Hedemora that year.
In 55 he drove Bonnier's Alfa Romeo 6C in the sports car race at Kristianstad and for the next season he bought Gunnar Carlsson's Ferrari Monza. It resulted in yet another victory in the big Helsinki race in May. In the WC race at Kristinastad in August Kvarnström, together with Erik Lundgren, won his class and was placed fourth overall behind three factory Ferraris. In practice for the '57 race his old Ferrari was totalled against a tree, by the co-driver Olle Persson, but Kvarnström co-drove Gunnar Carlsson's car to a 7th place in the WC event.
Kvarnström later got another old Monza, but didn't race as much in the following years.
Kvarnström was an amateaur driver and would most certainley have been a big international star if he ever would have been given the possibility. His driving style was very smooth and he became a big favourite by the spectators at the Rally to the Midnight Sun, where he ususally drove big american cars, such as Ford Crown Victoria or Edsel (!). He even drove a Ferrari 250 GT in the rally!
Kvarnström more or less quit in 1960, but he was seen in the Swedish rally as late as 1966 (second in class in a Ford Corsair).
I met him several times, and he helped me a lot in sorting out the history of the 50ies racing. He was a very gentle man and a good story teller.

Edited by Tomas Karlsson, 18 November 2009 - 08:17.


#2 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 09:20

Sad news.
Only few drivers all around the world can boast of a 4th place in a World Sportscar Championship, indeed.

Tomas, there was an actor by the same name in Sweden, correct? (I recall a movie with Pernilla August... not sure...)

And, if I remeber well, in the late 1960s (or early 1970s) one of the members of the Swedish Formula 3 "patrol" that competed in Europe, alongside Ronnie Peterson, Ulf Svensson, Reine Wisell, Torsten Palm and others was one Jonas Kvarnström (or Qvarnström ?). Was he related?

#3 Tomas Karlsson

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 13:59

I don't know of any real actor by that name, but there was a child actor with that name (or was it Johan?) in a film with Pernilla August a couple of years ago.

Jonas Qvarnström was a very good F3 driver in the late 60ies and early 70ies. I saw him in historic racing a couple of years ago and he didn't seem to have lost any of his speed. He is not a relative to John as far as I know. There are a lot of Kvarnströms in Sweden (Kvarnström = Millstream).

#4 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 15:40

Sad news , I remember his name from Illustrerad Motor Sport. Thanks for the nice little story Tomas.

Edited by Bjørn Kjer, 20 November 2009 - 15:41.