What a delight it was to read about the Fittipaldi Grand Prix team in the December issue. As a founding member of the FFF (Fittipaldi Fan Fraternity) the article stirred many fond memories.
Although his record of two Formula One World championships, two (not one) Indy 500 wins and the CART championship stands comparison with most racing greats, Emerson’s achievements have never really been acknowledged by the racing ‘purists’. His only weakness, if you could call it that, was that he allowed emotion to encroach into his racing. Had he had the calculating self-promotion of a Senna or Schumacher he could have kept Ronnie Peterson out of the JPS Lotus team in 1973, and probably romped to the title that year. Likewise, in 1976, he could have stayed at McLaren and conceivably won the title again. Two crucial decisions, two titles lost?
However he is judged in racing history, for many of us Emerson Fittipaldi will always be a hero. My favourite memory of him comes from 1993, after winning his second Indy 500. In the garage area, surrounded by hundreds of clamouring fans, Emerson and my mother (who ran his fan club throughout the wilderness years in F1) danced around in circles, hugging and crying together. Twelve years since they’d last met, this was the instinctive reaction of a truly great man.
I am, yours, etc. Chris Bailey, Bedford
PS: Roy James ran a Royale RP21 Formula Ford 1600, backed by MRD at Brands Hatch, throughout 1996.