Juan Manuel Fangio
Juan Manuel Fangio (Balcarce, June 24, 1911 - Buenos Aires, July 17, 1995) was an Argentine racing driver, Formula 1 world champion in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957.
Nicknamed El Chueco, he competed in 52 Grands Prix, winning 24 and climbing the podium 35 times. He got 29 pole positions and 48 starts from the front row. His record of 5 world titles held out for 48 years and was only surpassed in 2003 by Michael Schumacher. He holds the highest percentage of pole positions achieved in his career: the Italian-Argentine driver started in first position in 55.8% of the Grand Prix disputed; at 46 years and 41 days he is also the oldest rider to have won a world title.
He had a precise but spectacular driving style, as well as a deep knowledge of mechanics, having been involved in the repair business since he was a child. Complete racer, he was also able to distinguish himself in competitions with covered wheels: to remember his numerous placings in the Mille Miglia, the victories at the Carrera Panamericana in 1954, at the Nürburgring in 1955 and at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1956 and 1957.
He was of Abruzzese origins, the son of Italian emigrants in Argentina: his father Loreto (1880-1972) was born in Castiglione Messer Marino, in the province of Chieti, and his mother Erminia D'Eramo (1885-1975) was originally from Tornareccio, in the same province.
The beginnings in Argentina
The debut in the world of motor racing took place on 25 October 1936. Fangio, at the wheel of a Ford A car, which apparently had previously been used as a taxi, took part in the Benito Juárez Circuit Award. After qualifying in seventh place, he was forced to retire following a mechanical failure while he was in third place; the race was marred by a serious accident in which the car driven by Juan Estanyo, overturning following a skid, caused the death of the co-driver Armando Tesone. The second race was no longer fortunate: Fangio, who arrived late at the start, joined the group with one lap late and was later disqualified and forced to stop.
In 1939 he also began to participate in road competitions and it was in 1940 that, in one of these races, the Gran Premio Internacional del Norte, he won his first victory at the wheel of a Chevrolet coupé. The competition lasted two weeks over a course of more than nine thousand kilometers; Fangio finished with a time of 109 hours and 35 minutes and more than an hour ahead of the runner-up, Daniel Musso.
In 1941 there were two more road victories, the first in Brazil, in the President Getúlio Vargas Award, the second in Argentina's Turismo Carretera. After a forced stop due to the war, in 1946 Fangio went back to racing also in open-wheel races, taking the first good placings with two second places.
In 1947 he took his first victory at the wheel of a single-seater at the Grand Prix of the City of Rosario. During the year he won two more Formula Libre tests and one on the road. In 1948 there were two more victories in free formula and two in road competitions and for the first time then Fangio took part in a European race; in France he took part in Simca-Gordini cars at the Reims Grand Prix: he started both the Formula 2 and Formula 1 races, but was forced to retire due to mechanical problems in both competitions ..
At the end of the year he took part in the Turismo de Carretera test called the South American Grand Prix, a car marathon lasting almost three weeks over a 9500 kilometer course. Fangio was the protagonist of a terrible accident during the seventh stage: his Chevrolet went off the track, overturning numerous times; the Argentine pilot suffered neck injuries, while his co-pilot Daniel Urrutia was catapulted out of the cockpit