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.