Juan Manuel Fangio

February 9, 2009 by  
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Juan Manuel Fangio, also known as “The Maestro”, a legendary race car driver. Master of Formula One when it first began, Fangio was a 5-time World Champion. His record of wins was only recently defeated by Michael Schumacher who himself said that he could never be greater than Juan Manuel Fangio.

Juan Manuel Fangio was born in Argentina on 24 June 1911. His parents were originally from Italy. Fangio’s grand racing career began in 1934. He chiefly took part in long-distance races on the dirt roads of South America. Fangio won the Gran Premio del Norte of 1940, a race that takes some 2 weeks and covers a distance of 10 000 km. Following World War Two, Fangio began racing in Europe. Although one of the oldest drivers around, Juan Manuel Fangio quickly caught the eye of spectators. Fangio’s success truly came when he began racing with Alfa Romeo in 1950, winning his first championship title in 1951. In 1952 he was racing for Maserati when he sustained a neck injury in an accident at Monza. The next year he continued with Maserati, coming in second for the season. Fangio moved to Mercedes in 1954. He once again took home the World Championship title. Mercedes later discontinued participating in racing after the Le Mans disaster of 1955.

Juan Manuel Fangio went on to race for Ferrai in 1956 and won his fourth title. Maserati once regained Fangio in 1957. He again cruised to victory, winning his fifth title. Very few will forget his remarkable performance at Nurburgring of Germany. Fangio drove his last race in 1958, the French Grand Prix. An amazing driver many believe that no one will ever meet Fangio’s record for wins against starts.

Following his retirement as an F1 driver, Juan Manuel Fangio became a representative of Mercedes-Benz. He became an International Motor Sports Hall of Fame inductee in 1990. In 1995 Juan Manuel Fangio died at a grand age of 84 and is now buried in the Balcarce cemetery in Argentina. The tale of Fangio is one that will continue to be told for many generations to come and Formula One fans will never forget Fangio, the racing legend.

Keke Rosberg

February 9, 2009 by  
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Also known as the Flying Finn, Keijo Erik Rosberg was considered to be one of the most exciting and daring racing drivers of all time. His fast and furious style of driving livened up races, entertained fans and earned him his place in the Hall of Fame. Though not a terribly successful Formula One driver, Rosberg enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the driver’s seat of many different vehicles. In fact, his winnings eventually allowed him to purchase his own Lear jet as well as property in Munich, England, Austria and Ibiza. More than this, though, his unique style of driving made him into a sort of racing legend – a hero who never gave up but instead was determined to try harder.

Rosberg was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1948, to Finnish parents who were studying in Sweden at the time. Though both parents held down secular jobs on returning to their home country, both competed in rallies regularly. Thus racing was a passion which entered Rosberg’s life from a very young age. Whilst still a toddler he managed to crash the family car into the garage door. Shortly afterwards the undeterred Rosberg took to karting. By the time he was a teenager he was an accomplished kart racer looking forward to pursuing new goals.

Originally he intended to follow the footsteps of his parents – holding down a secular career whilst pursuing his passion part time. But his career path was on a collision course with motorsports and by 1973 he was Finnish kart champion five times over as well as a Scandinavian and European champion. In 1975 he decided to change his game somewhat and he moved up to Formula Vee and Super Vee at which he was also highly successful. Before long he began racing Formula Two and travelling the world in order to compete. He nicknamed himself ‘Keke’ so that the media could remember his name. Keke Rosberg was so successful at racing that it became his profession – one which supported him well. When the money ran low, Rosberg would endorse products or throw in a sale’s pitch which would see him through to his next big winning.

His Formula One career took off with a bumpy start since he was unable to drive for any top-rated teams. Thus management and equipment always brought him down though he handled each car so aggressively that it competed with the best. In 1980 he got a lucky break when Alan Jones unexpectedly retired and Keke Rosberg was the only available replacement. Now at the wheel of a more reliable vehicle, Rosberg was whizzing around the track and keeping fans gasping. Two years later he only had one Grand Prix win under his belt but he also had enough points to become the 1982 World Champion. Unfortunately, Keke Rosberg’s hard-hitting style of driving started to wear him out. He had pushed every car he’d driven to its absolute maximum and he’d earned respect from fellow competitors and admiration from fans. He eventually retired from Formula One racing but stayed in the industry, caring for the future careers of Mika Hakkinen and Nico Rosberg amongst others.

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.

Nelson Piquet

February 9, 2009 by  
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Nelson Piquet Souto Maior or as most people know him, Nelson Piquet, was born on August 17, 1952 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nelson’s father was a Brazilian government minister and did not approve of his son’s racing career, and so forced his son to use his mother’s maiden name Piquet instead.

Nelson Piquet is a Brazillian racing driver who was a successful Formula One world champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987. There are very few other racing drivers who have been able to win at least three world championships in all of Formula One’s history. Other then Nelson there was Juan Manuel Fangio (5), Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Alain Prost (4), Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher (7).

Nelson was Brazilian go-karting national champion in 1971 and 1972 as well as local super-V 1976 champion. After succeeding there he took British Formula 3 on and was considered a prodigy during the 1978 season when he broke Jackie Stewart‘s record of wins in one season. From there he was promoted to Formula One. Piquet was indeed talented.

In 1986 Piquet saw himself in direct and intense competition with his rival, Nigel Mansell. Both had similar characters, highly-strung and delicate temperaments. As top drivers in the same team there was indeed intense competition for the title to the point that they would deprive each other of points rather than working together. This led to Alain Prost winning the most ferociously disputed championships Formula One had ever had.

Since 2000 Nelson Piquet has helped and supported his son Nelson Piquet Jr. in his racing career. The racing star was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in the year 2000.

Al Holbert

February 9, 2009 by  
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Al Holbert was born, Alvah Robert Holbert, on 11 November 1946 at Abington in Pennsylvania. This legendary American NASCAR driver, won the IMSA Camel GT series five times. Al Holbert’s father, Bob Holbert, was a racing car driver himself, and he ran a Volkswagen-Porsche dealership, out of Warrington, which is close to Philadelphia.

Al Holbert, during his studies as Lehigh University, worked for Roger Penske, where Mark Donohue started to influence him to drive. His very first victory was behind the wheel of a Porsche, in 1971. Holbert turned professional racing driver in 1974, and walked away with the IMSA title in 1976 and again in 1977, whilst driving a Chevrolet Monza. Holberts’ 19 career races, in the NASCAR series, was raced between the years of 1976 to 1979. He primarily drove for James Hylton during the nineteen races, in which Al Holbert had finished in the top ten, four times.

In 1983, Holbert took the Cam-Am championship title, together with the IMSA GTP title, whilst driving a March83G, powered by Porsche, as Porsche were not able to get the 956 ready for that year’s competition. In the 1984 Indianapolis 500, Holbert took fourth place. During the years 1987 to 1988, he led the Porsche Indy Car initiative. Holbert also took the 24 Hours of Le Mans title in the years 1983, in 1986, and again in 1987. He secured the 24 Hours of Daytona in the years 1986 and in 1987, and also won the 12 Hours of Sebring title in 1976 and again in the year 1981.

By this time, and with so many successes under his belt, Al Holbert headed up the Porsche North America’s Motorsports Division, and was also the racing team owner of Holbert Racing. Holbert had realized, in 1988, that the Porsche 962 had carried him through his early years of racing, and that they had become outdated with the new generation racing cars, like the Electramotive’s Nissan GTP racer and the Jaguar XJR-9. This inspired Holbert’s idea to produce an open top Porsche powered racing car, for the customer teams.

Al Holbert had visited the IMSA Columbus Ford Dealers 500 in Ohio, on 30 September 1988. Just after takeoff, Holberts’ plane started to develop engine problems. He was heading towards residential houses, but managed to steer his plane away, just before he crashed. Holbert did not survive the crash. His team was to be disbanded at the end of the racing season, and his race number, number 14, was to be retired by IMSA. Kevin Doran was recruited as the chief mechanic for Holbert Racing, an later became the team owner.

In 1993, tribute was paid to this brilliant driver, and competitor, who’s death left a gaping hole in the racing community, but also left behind a racing career that is still spoken about today. Alvah Robert “Al” Holbert was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, in 1993.

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