Gerhard Berger

February 9, 2009 by  
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On August the 27th, 1959, Gerhard Berger was born in Worgl Austria and went on to become a major name in the world of Formula 1 racing. Berger has an incredible track record, having competed in 14 seasons of Formula One. His best ranking was his two third-placed season finishes during which he won ten Grand Prix races, made it to the podium 48 times, 12 poles and 21 fastest laps, two more than Ayrton Senna, a good friend of his. It can be said that Gerhard Berger is a F1’s most experienced driver in all of Formula One history with his 210 starts. He can also be merited with being the winner of Benetton’s first and last wins, with eleven years in between them.

With European Formula Three, Berger won numerous times and from there he moved to Formula One in 1984 and drove for the ATS team. In 1985 he joined the Arrows for one full season, but it was only when he made a move to Benetton-BMW the following year that his F1 career really went places. In 1986 he won his first Grand Prix in Mexico, which caught Ferrari’s eye and he was soon with them for the 1987 season. Gerhard managed to win the last two rounds of the season and was seen as the 1988 Championship favorite. But with the McLaren team made up of Prost and Senna, who won 15 of the total of 16 rounds, it was not to be.

Nigel Mansell joined Berger at Ferrari in 1989. However, the car failed to produce the needed results and Gerhard was fortunate to survive a fiery crash during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Fortunately with relatively few injuries Berger was able to join from mid-season on. Then from 1990 to 1992 Berger moved to McLaren and joined Ayrton Senna, but Senna’s brilliant pace was difficult to match. Gerhard Berger was an immensely popular figure in Formula One and up until 2003 was seen in the pitlane as Competitions Director at BMW, overseeing their successful return in Formula One racing until 2006 when he took up shares with Scuderia Toro Rosso. He later sold his 50% share in the team back to Mateschitz in 2008.

Mugello Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Located in the beautiful Tuscany region of Italy, with its 5.245 mile track and a total variance in altitude of 41,19 meters, the Mugello Moto GP Circuit presents car and bike manufacturers with ideal conditions for rigorous testing and is regularly used by Ferrari for putting its F1 cars through their paces during development. So although Mugello is not a venue for an FIA Formula One World Championship race event, it is nonetheless closely linked with this exciting sport.

With a history going back to 1914, when the first race was held on a road circuit, Mugello has hosted some legendary drivers and seen the development of innovative racing cars through the decades. The World Wars interrupted events at Mugello, but during the sixties, large crowds of spectators were drawn by the excitement on the track as auto racing started to develop, going from strength to strength.

Today, Mugello Moto GP Circuit boasts up-to-date facilities and hosts a variety of events, as well as being the testing ground for some of the world’s most technologically advanced racing cars.

Jody Scheckter

February 9, 2009 by  
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South African born Jody Scheckter is amongst the world’s top Formula One drivers of the past. Perhaps infamous because of his dangerous antics, but famous for his skill and speed, Scheckter has certainly etched his name into the history of auto racing.

Jody David Scheckter was born on 29 January 1950 in the town of East London, South Africa. He moved to Britain in 1970 and at the age of 22 began making a name for himself in Formula One. Scheckter’s debut was in a 1972 race at Watkins Glen, seated behind the wheel of a McLaren. In 1973 he took the Formula 5000 championship and competed in 5 F1 races. Unfortunately Scheckter tended to be a reckless driver and was involved in several accidents. At the British Grand Prix in 1973 his car spun out of control causing a massive pileup of race cars, quickly ending the race. This disastrous race nearly brought his F1 career to an end. In time Scheckter changed his attitude and adopted safer driving methods whilst making the best of his skills.

Tyrrell offered Jody Scheckter a full-time driver spot in 1974, which he accepted. In 1976 Scheckter drove the impressive Tyrrell P34, a 6-wheeled vehicle. Scheckter decided to join the new Wolf team in 1977. He took a win in the team’s first race. Following the 1978 season with Wolf, Jody Scheckter joined Ferrari. Many of his critics felt that he would not manage well under Ferrari’s management, but they were quickly proved wrong. In 1979 Jody Scheckter won the World Championship. He decided to retire in 1980 after an unsuccessful year of racing.

Upon retiring Jody Scheckter assisted his sons Tomas and Toby to pursue their careers in auto racing. Today he is an organic farmer and the founder of FATS (Firearms Training Systems). He has also appeared in documentaries regarding health issues. Despite his relatively unpopular start as an F1 driver, Jody Scheckter went on to make a real name for himself and is a legend in the sport of Formula One racing.

Mark Donohue

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born in Summit, New Jersey, on 18 March 1937, Mark Neary Donohue Junior was a brilliant American racecar driver. Mark Donohue had a reputation for being able to set up his own car and drive it consistently. The bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering that he received from Brown University in 1959 must have certainly helped him in this regard. He started racing casually at the relatively young age of 22 in a 1957 Corvette – the car which gave him his first win. He started networking with a number of different SCCA drivers and eventually met Walt Hansgen. Hansgen was an experienced race driver who recognised Donohue’s talent and became his mentor. He encouraged Donohue to make good use of both his natural driving talent and his great working knowledge of vehicle mechanics – something which always proved to be an advantage to Donohue.

In 1965, Hansgen invited Mark to co-drive a Ferrari 275 at the Sebring Endurance Race. The team finished eleventh in the race and Donohue was catapulted onto the international sports car racing scene. The following year Donohue was signed up to drive a GT-40 MK II racecar for the Ford Motor Company. His first year with the company was rather unsuccessful and he finished 51st. The following year, he again raced for Ford – this year with much more success. Despite constant disagreements with his co-driver Bruce McLaren, the team managed to finish 4th in the endurance classic. In 1967, Mark Donohue dominated the United States Road Racing Championship in a Lola T70 MkIII Chevy. He was driving for Roger Penske – one of the most influential figures in his racing career. During that year he won six of the eight races he competed in. The following year, Donohue continued to enjoy a superior season – dominating in most of the races despite mechanical problems with his McLaren M6A Chevrolet.

Things continued to go well for Mark Donohue and before long he started his Trans-Am career which was also highly successful. He raced his first Indianapolis in 1969, finishing seventh and taking the rookie of the year award. The following year he finished second and in 1972 he won the race. During all this time he continued to drive for Roger Panske. In 1973, Donohue took to NASCAR racing driving in the Winston Cup Series. During this time Penske had been working with Donohue to help develop the 917/10 Porsche. Donohue offered his extensive enginnering knowledge to help make the Porsche the best car on the track – though not all the choices he made where good ones. Before long the two started working on the 917-30 – the car which came to be known as the ‘Can-Am Killer’. The body was completely reworked to make it more aerodynamic, while the car features a 5.4 litre turbocharged Flat-12 engine which could reach an output of 1500 bhp. The car dominated every competition it entered, except one, and is still today seen as one of the most dominant racing cars to ever be created. Donohue went on to enjoy a short Formula One racing career before his untimely death in 1974 in a racing accident. He was eventually inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990.

Mario Andretti

February 9, 2009 by  
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Mario Andretti – a name spoken with respect in auto racing circles. A master on the Formula One and NASCAR track, Mario Adretti has certainly left a major mark on the history of auto racing. Andretti, an Italian-American, has had a remarkable driving career with 4 IndyCar title wins and numerous F1 victories.

Mario Gabriele Andretti, along with his twin brother Aldo, was born on 28 February 1940 in Italy. In 1948 due to the occupation of his homeland by Yugoslavia, his family promptly departed, finally coming to reside in Nazareth of Pennsylvania, USA. Andretti’s racing career began in 1959 as he raced around a dirt track in a Hudson. His first year of racing saw Mario Andretti coming in 3rd place at the Indianapolis 500. 1964 was the year Andretti began racing in the USAC series. He also took part in a variety of forms of auto racing such as drag racing.

Mario Andretti also had a keen interest in Formula One. His first race was at Watkins Glen in 1968 and his first win for Ferrari was in 1971. Andretti’s focus really shifted to F1 driving in the mid-1970s. He began driving for the Parnelli team. He took the Lotus to its limit, developing a fantastic racing car that took an amazing full lap lead at Mount Fuji track. 1978 was a remarkable season with 6 wins in his brilliantly designed Lotus 79. Unfortunately after his previous grand successes as a Formula 1 driver, Andretti failed to gain victory from 1979 onwards. However his career in F1 reminded all why he was a champion as he competed with Ferrari in 1982. Andretti continued racing IndyCars during the ’80s.

Through his racing days Mario Andretti received much recognition, along with many awards and titles. Amongst these are the 1978 F1 World Champion, Inductee of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000 and Inductee of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996. He was even named “Driver of the Century” in 2000 by Associated Press and RACER magazine. Andretti was honored by the Italian government in 2006, by being awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.

Today Mario Andretti is a successful business man. He has set up the Andretti Winery in Napa Valley and has business interests in car dealerships, petroleum, the Mario Andretti Racing School as well as the Andretti Indoor Karting and Games center. However, Mario Andretti will always be remembered as one of the greatest race car drivers ever.

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