The jury: Bill Boddy, Adam Cooper, Gordon Cruickshank, John Davenport, Andrew Frankel, Paul Fearnley, Alan Henry, Mark Hughes, Preston Lerner, David Malsher, Nigel Roebuck and Simon Taylorr
Al Unser Jnr
In his 273 Champcar starts, ‘Little Al’ scored just seven pole positions, but 31 wins. As long as he was there or thereabouts on the grid, he could rely on his genius at car set-up and resolute calm in dices to get him to the front. The result was two CART titles (1990 and ’94) and two Indy 500 wins (’92 and ’94). But these attributes also helped him win in IMSA, stare down NASCARs hard men in IROC and win in the Indy Racing League. His F1 tests, however, proved ‘inconclusive’. DM
• took pole and victory in his second-ever SuperVee race, 1980
• won 1982 Can-Am title with Rick Galles’ squad
• scored two wins and a second in Daytona 24 Hours
• won IROC series twice and finished second six times
In the seven years book-ended by his world championship-winning seasons of 1962 and ’68, Hill never finished outside the top six in the GP rankings. But his ‘Mr Motor Racing’ title was earned by his quick-in-anything ability.
Winning Indy was a high-profile achievement, but never forget that he had few peers in GTs, was a major force in saloons, whatever their size — A35 to Galaxie — and that his Le Mans win was merely the culmination of sportscar excellence. DM
• excelled in small sportscars: won in Lotuses 11, 15, 17, 19 and 23
• scored win for Jaguar E-type on its debut, Oulton Park 1961
• only man to win F1 world title, Monaco, Le Mans and Indianapolis
• completed a Lotus 56 turbine qualifying 1-2 at 1968 Indy 500
Rene Arnoux won the 1975 Formula Super Renault title.
Third in the points race was Didier Pironi. Sandwiched between these two future F1 superstars was Jean Ragnotti — a future star of rallying, touring cars, ice racing, rallycross and Le Mans.
‘Jeannot’ is a natural, an unaffected character as turned on by stunt driving in films as he was by winning the Monte (1981) or Corsica (1982 and ’85). A man happy to put his career in Renault’s hands when other more competitive drives were on offer. PF
• scored two fourths (1977-78), one pole (’80), one FL (’82) at Le Mans
• won a French F3 race at Montlhery in 1973
• won 1977 French rallycross championship in an Alpine A310
• won French rally championship twice: 1980 and ’84
In recent times, this Indianan has replaced Jeff Gordon as the young-gun talent of NASCAR, winning this hard-fought title for the first time this year after three impressive campaigns.
Yet he’d always wanted to go the single-seater route. After a stellar kart career, he switched to midgets, and in 1995 became the only driver to win USAC’s triple crown: midget, sprint and Silver Crown titles. But CART shunned him and IRL wasn’t quite the ticket — even though he was its champion in 1997. PF
• set pole position as an Indianapolis 500 rookie, 1996
• first NASCAR rookie to finish in overall top five for 33 years, 1999
• broke Dale Earnhardt’s sophomore record with six wins in 2000
• won America’s national karting championship in 1987
This Belgian was one of the very greatest sportscar drivers.
Along with his four Le Mans 24 Hours victoires came three wins at Sebring, two at Reims and three on the Targa Florio. But he performed well elsewhere, too. He won the 1955 Liege-Rome-Liege rally in a Mercedes 300SL, as well as three Tours de France.
He adapted to front -and rear-engined F1 cars: at Monza in ’58, he qualified his Dino ahead of Phil Hill and von Trips; three years later, he drove a Cooper to second in the French GP DM
• won his class in the 1954 Giro d’Italia, driving a Plymouth
• finished second on Liege-Rome-Liege twice before eventual victory
• finished fifth on F1 debut and scored points in six of first nine GPs
• qualified third in final GP, at Spa 1961, in a Ferrari ‘Sharknose’
This German ‘computer’ brought a racing style and approach to rallying, so it should be no surprise that he proved to be very handy on the circuits as well as the stages.
Once a European rally champion (1974), and twice a world champion (1980 and ’82), Rohrl’s career changed direction in ’88, along with Audi’s game plan. The next three seasons brought him wins in Trans-Am (two), IMSA and DTM (one each) in a variety of wild quattros. PF
• won 14 WRC events, including four Monte Carlo rallies
• set new Pikes Peak record at first attempt, 1987
• won 1981 Silverstone Six Hours in a Porsche 935
• won 1980 Brands Hatch Six Hours in a Lancia Beta Monte Carlo
He was an F1 sensation, we all know that. Peterson could match his speed, but neither were the complete package. And nor did they display such a breadth of talent.
Jackie should have won the 1966 Indy 500 (Rookie of the Year was his consolation). He shared a Ferrari 330 P4 with Amon to finish second in the BOAC 500 of ’67. Most impressive of all, however, were his two wins in a fearsome Lola T260 in the ’71 Can-Am series against the dominant McLarens. DM
• won 14 of 23 races in Ecurie Ecosse’s Tojeiro-Buick in 1963
• won the Marlboro 12 Hours in a Lotus Cortina with Mike Beckwith
• shared Rover-BRM turbine at Le Mans with Graham Hill in 1965
• won four Formula Two races for Matra in 1967
Poor Gerard! He drove a Matra MS670B to two Le Mans 24 Hours victories, yet is more famous for co-driving the losing Porsche 908 in 1969’s epic dice with the Icicx/Oliver GT40.
Larrousse found glory in the Sebring 12 Hours (1971), on the Targa Florio (’74), and won shorter sportscar races, too, but most impressive is that he adapted to become a highly effective pilot in single-seaters (up to F2 level) and rallying, becoming a works driver in the latter for Alpine-Renault and Porsche. DM
• finished second on 1969 Monte Carlo Rally in a Porsche 911
• finished fourth in 1975 F2 championship, scoring one win
• won Tour de France on three occasions: 1969, ’71 and ’74
• won 1974 European two-litre sportscar title
In 1960, John Surtees achieved the 350 and 500cc World Championship double for the third consecutive season. It was also the year that he took his first steps in the four-wheel arena — and he was startlingly successful.
He made his Formula Junior debut in March, finishing second in a Cooper. He made his Formula Two debut in April, again finishing second in a Cooper. By May he had made his Formula One debut, for Lotus. By July he had scored his first F1 points, a second place at Silverstone. By August he had his first F1 pole position and race lead under his belt, at Portugal’s challenging Oporto circuit.
Best remembered for being the only world champion on two and four wheels, his other achievements tend to be overlooked: he won the Nurburgring 1000Km and German GP in the same year, 1963; he won the first Can-Am championship, in ’66; he won a Formula One race, the 1971 Oulton Park Gold Cup, in a car bearing his own name.
Even if he’d never sat on a bike, he’d still be in this list. PF
• scored six wins, 10 second places, eight poles and 11 FLs in 111 GP starts
• won three ‘Down Under’ races, one in 1962, two in ’63
• won four Can-Am races, three in 1966, one in ’67
• won four world championship sportscar races: nine poles and 11 FLs
• set three-in-a-row pole and fastest lap for Nurburgring 1000Km, 1964-66
• led 1962 Goodwood 11 in a Ferrari GTO until tangling with a spinning Clark
• won five F2 races, including two in his final season, 1972
• last man to win GPs for two makes in same year, Cooper and Ferrari in 1966
• won 1966 Mexican GP and Riverside Can-Am race on successive weekends
• won Oulton Park Gold Cup three times: 1965, ’70 and ’71 •
Adaptability is a definite plus when it comes to inclusion on this list. And in Nuvolari’s heyday, drivers were forced to adapt even on the straights. In his report of the 1932 French GP at Reims (which Nuvolari won in an Alfa Romeo) Rodney Walkerley wrote that, `Nuvolari came past the pits going in several directions at once’. Tracks were bumpy, surfaces were often loose, and suspensions were sketchy. Many of the races of yesteryear were akin to what we might call rallies today. Indeed, the 1931 Targa Florio (which Nuvolari won in an Alfa Romeo) wasn’t much more than a punishing mudplug.
The ‘Flying Mantuan’ is remembered as a tyro who extracted every last ounce from his car, and yet he won numerous long-distance sportscar races — Le Mans, Targa Florio (twice), TT (twice), Mille Miglia (twice). He was no car-breaker, clearly. But even if his machine did begin to fall apart around him, he was often able to bring it home.
Oh, and he won GPs in front- and mid-engined cars. PF
• won 1933 TT in an MG K3, his first time using a pre-selector gearbox
• became the first man to achieve 200mph on a public road, 1935
• won Italy’s national car and motorbike titles in 1930
• led 1948 Mille Miglia until closing stages, aged 56
• adapted quickly to mid-engined Auto Union, winning three major races
• caught Varzi unawares in 1930 Mille Miglia by driving without headlights
• won first time out in Maserati 8CM, 1933 Belgian GP
• won at Monaco, Reims, Pescara and Monza in ’32. Also won Klausen hillclimb
• finished second in 1947 Mille Miglia in an 1100cc Cisitalia
• finished fourth at Tripoli in 1935, in Alfa Romeo’s unwieldy ‘Bimotore’
Rarely was Donohue the absolute quickest driver on the track in any category in which he raced. But he was damn smart, and was peerless as a test driver. At a time when downforce and slicks were still relative black arts in motorsport, Mark’s intuition often won through.
That is not to decry his driving talents: whatever he drove in Can-Am, — Lola, McLaren or Porsche — Donohue was a force. It was a similar story in Trans-Am. And at Indy, he never started the 500 lower than fifth, in five attempts. When a car had been worked on by ‘Captain Nice’, a team owner knew that it went to the grid honed to fulfill its true potential.
No wonder, therefore, that he was a talisman for Roger Penske’s team in its formative years. No wonder Roger coaxed him out of retirement at the age of 37 for the squad’s first steps into F1. No wonder that, although qualifying the PC1 and its replacement March around the mid-teen grid positions in 1975, Mark persevered to score points finishes. No wonder that motorsport fans around the world grieved on August 19, 1975. DM
• won 1972 Indy 500 in a McLaren-Offenhauser
• qualified eighth and finished third on F1 debut, 1971 Canadian GP
• won 1969 Daytona 24 Hours sharing a Lola T70 with Chuck Parsons
• won Trans-Am title three times, and took a total of 29 victories from 57 starts
• dominated 1973 Can-Am with Porsche 917/30, winning six of eight rounds
• inaugural IROC champion, winning three out of four races in a Porsche 911
• set world closed-course speed record of 221.12mph at Talladega in 917/30
• won two Indycar races in 1971 — Pocono 500 and Michigan 200
• took US Road Racing Championship in 1967 (T70) and ’68 (Ford GT40)
• won NASCAR’s 1973 Western 500 at Riverside in an AMC Matador
‘Get the hell outta my way!’ Aj Foyt was coming through, come what may, and there weren’t a whole lot of drivers who could do much about it, whatever the discipline, whatever the track, whatever the decade.
The man who started a record 35 consecutive Indy 500s wasn’t just up for longevity awards. To the very end of his career he remained a hard-as-nails racer, and though there was a major dissipation in that daunting oval speed which yielded 53 poles in his 369 Indycar starts, there were occasional flashes of the old brilliance: he started his 34th bid for Brickyard glory, in 1991, from the front row. This from a man who had scored his first midget race victory in ’53, his first sprintcar win in ’57.
Foyt’s single-mindedness was — is — daunting, especially as far as rest and recuperation are concerned. In January 1965, he suffered a huge shunt in a NAS CAR race at Riverside, breaking his back. Yet in that year’s Indycar series, he set 10 pole positions — a record that still stands.
It’s our loss that he only did two races here. He won one, of course. DM
• won Le Mans (1967), Daytona (’83 and ’85) and Sebring (’85)
• won USAC stock car championship in 1968, ’78 and ’79
• won Indy 500 four times: 1961, ’64, ’67 and ’77
• won USAC dirt car championship in 1972
• won 67 Indycars races and seven championships (both records)
• won 1972 Daytona 500, one of six NASCAR victories
• won 1978 Indycar race at Silverstone
• scored first sportscar win in 1963, at Nassau
• won 10 Indycar races from 13 starts in 1964
• won 1960 USAC sprintcar championship, Eastern Division
Juan Manuel Fangio
First the obvious stuff. Five Formula One world championship titles, all with different makes — Alfa Romeo, Maserati/Mercedes, Mercedes, Ferrari and Maserati.
Now the not-so-obvious stuff. Let’s start by snuffing out the myth that Fangio couldn’t hack it in sportscars: two Sebring victories (1956 and ’57), one Carrera Panarnericana win (’53), two Mille Miglia second places (’53 and ’55), and a 1955 Le Mans success snatched away by his team’s decision to withdraw. He was an excellent long-distance racer.
More not-so-obvious stuff: his battles with the Galvez brothers in the South American cross-continent races of the 1940s were epic. Fangio’s victory in the 14-day, 6000km Gran Premio Internacional del Norte at the wheel of a cut-and-shut Chevy coupe packed as much rallying into it as does a modem WRC season.
The final bit of not-so-obvious stuff: Fangio qualified third for the 1958 Race of Two Worlds at Monza in the Dean Van Lines Special. PF
• contested 14 races in 1955: first or second in 12, twice retired from lead
• won 24 of 51 world championship GP starts: 29 poles and 23 FLs
• won Argentine National Championship in 1940 and ’41
• set eight poles and one fastest lap in world championship sportscar races
• set two pole positions in reworked W154 Mercedes in 1951 Argentina races
• won first four European races he contested, in 1949
• won 1941 seven-day GP Presidente Getulio Vargas cross-country race
• won first time out for Ferrari, 1949 Monza F2 race
• won five non-championship F1 races, as well as three GPs, in 1950
• won 1955 Eifelrennen in a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR
Jones is most famous in the UK for his contoversial performance in the 1963 Indy 500, leaving Jimmy Clark’s Lotus to slide around on the oil slick being dropped by his roadster, as he headed off to Victory Lane. But even if you believe in rough justice, his Brickyard defeat of 1967 was almost too cruel.
Many fans regret that Parnelli only made it to Formula One as a team boss, for his 12 poles and six wins in Indycars are an unrepresentative tally.
He made racing single-seaters on dirt ovals into an art form, moulded those skills into a mesmerising and revolutionary technique on paved ovals, and proved an excellent road-course racer, too. The latter attribute gave him a decided edge in stock cars and Trans-Am; he excelled at Riverside in NASCAR (won in 1967, pole in ’70) and sportscars (won the ’65 California Grand Prix).
That he converted this on-track prowess into success off the beaten track at Baja is breathtaking. Little wonder he is an icon in the US. DM
• won 1970 Trans-Am championship in a Ford Mustang
• won 1963 Indy 500 from pole, driving ‘Ol’ Calhoun’, a Watson-Offy roadster
• qualified fifth for – and led – his first Indy 500, 1961’s ‘Rookie of the Year’
• won 25 midget races between 1960 and ’67
• won USAC National Sprintcar championship in 1961 and ’62
• won Baja 1000 off-road in self-built 4×4 in 1971 and ’72
• first man to lap Indianapolis at more than 150mph, on his way to pole in 1962
• won 1964 National Stock Car title
• scored four victories and three poles in NASCAR between 1957 and ’70
• entered just seven events in 1966 USAC Midget championship – and won five
Gurney’s European road-race leanings meant that he missed out on the usual American racing school of hard knocks on the dirt ovals. But his cleancut, urbane manner did not mean that he was scared of mixing it with Foyt and Jones in every other form of Yankee motorsport — as well as taking on the likes of Clark and Hill at the Niirburgring and Spa. Quite the opposite in fact.
The months of May and June in 1967 were a case in point.
May: Gurney won a Trans-Am race in a Mercury Cougar, clocked the fastest speed in Indy 500 practice, and then promptly jetted to Monaco where he gave a brief indicator of his Eagle-Weslake’s potential, charging up to third before its fuel metering unit belt broke.
Another transatlantic flight later, he qualified second for Indy and was following Pamelli’s runaway STP Paxton Turbine when he discovered that the stopcock which allowed him to switch between left and right fuel tanks was jammed. The long pit visit that ensued dropped him out of contention. The Paxton failed three laps from victory…
June: Gurney qualified second at Zandvoort, only for his Eagle to be grounded by fuel injection problems. But the following weekend he won Le Mans for Ford, co-driven by AJ Foyt. Incredibly, he was to enjoy another large slice of mom’s apple pie the very next weekend.
At Spa, his Eagle again qualified second, only this time it flew. His achievement of becoming the first American to win a GP in an American car since 1921 would have been remarkable even without the fact that it was his team that had built the car.
Put simply, Gurney could drive anything, from a delicate 1.5-litre F1 to a hulking Holman & Moody NASCAR. It’s no wonder that Andretti and Donohue wanted to be just like him. PF
• won NASCAR’s 500-miler at Riverside five times: 1963-66 and ’68
• won USAC’s Rex Mays 300 lndycar race at Riverside twice: 1967-68
• scored four wins, three poles and six FLs in 86 GP starts
• scored only world championship GP victories for Porsche and Eagle
• finished second, third and fourth in second, third and fourth GPs
• scored Ford’s only Can-Am win, Bridgehampton 1966
• won three world sportscar races, including 1960 ‘Ring 1000Km with Moss
• ran 130.43mph in a self-built hot-rod at Bonneville, 1950
• won GT category at 1964 Le Mans in a Cobra Daytona Coupe
• won two Can-Am races in his only three starts with McLaren, 1970
• finished fifth in 1963 Daytona 500 with Ford
• won a 1963 Oulton Park saloon car race in a Ford Galaxie
• finished second, second and third in last three Indy 500s: 1968-70
• won non-championship 1962 Solitude GP and ’67 Race of Champions
• won seven Indycar races in total, scoring 10 pole positions
• won five races (1960-63) in Ford V8-engined Lotus 19 sportscar
• won 1963 Bridgehampton 500Km in an AC Cobra
Jochen Rindt and Jacky Ickx did not form a mutual admiration society, and the imperious Austrian probably enjoyed declaring his only F1 rivals to be Stewart and Amon. Over the course of a whole season that might have been true, but there were days when all were put firmly in the shade by Ickx.
Jacky was, for example, ‘King of the Nurburgring’. As well as his startling performance in an F2 Matra in 1967, his three poles and two wins (’69 and ’72), there was his one-off race for McLaren in 1973. Fourth on the grid, well ahead of regular M23 pilots Revson and Hulme, he went on to finish third.
He was also near supreme in the wet. But the fact remains that such a huge talent, winner of his ninth grand prix (his seventh in an F1 car), really should have won more than eight of his 116 starts.
It is some solace for his fans that he found a niche (more of hollow in which to wallow) in sportscars. He defined them, in fact. He was almost unbeatable in 1972 in Ferrari’s 312PB, adding a second Sebring 12 Hours garland to the one he collected with a Ford GT40 in ’69. Ironically, however, he failed to win his home race, the Spa 1000Km that year. No matter: he won it in ’67, ’68 (both GT40), 74 (Matra), ’82 and ’83 (both Porsche 956). Thus, having beaten Porsche in that epic duel at Le Mans in ’69, he went on to become synonymous with the marque, winning Le Mans four times for it.
As his F1 career limped to a conclusion with Iso-Williams, Ensign, Wolf and Ligier, Ickx continued to be one of the strongest forces in sportscars — and became a star in desert raids. As well his 1983 Paris-Dakar triumph, he won the Baja Aragon in ’89, and as recently as ’95 —just days after his 50th birthday — he won the diesel class in the Paris-Dakar. DM
• finished second in 1989 Paris-Dakar with Peugeot
• won 1966 over-1600cc European touring car championship
• scored Kyalami 9 Hours and Watkins Glen 6 Hours hat-tricks
• won 1979 Can-Am championship for Jim Hall: five victories
• record six Le Mans 24 Hours wins (1969, ’75-77, ’81-82)
• qualified third for 1967 German GP in an F2 Matra
• won 1966 Spa 24 Hours with Hubert Hahne in a BMW 2000 Ti
• beat Lauda’s Ferrari to win 1974 Race of Champions in a Lotus 72
• finished second in 1969 and ’70 F1 championships
• won 1972 world sportscar championship with Ferrari: six wins
• scored point in first grand prix in a Formula One car, Monza 1967
• won 40 world sportscar races, 19 with same co-driver Jochen Mass
• won 1977 Bathurst race with Allan Moffat in a Ford Falcon
• won 1982 and ’83 world sportscar championships with Porsche
• won 1967 Formula Two championship: three victories
• beat Jochen Rindt to win 1969 Oulton Park Gold Cup for Brabham
In January 1968, Vic Elford, the reigning European Group Three rally champion, became only the third Englishman to win the Monte Carlo Rally, sharing a Porsche 911 with David Stone. There was no time to celebrate, though, for Elford had to fly immediately to Florida to contest the Daytona 24 Hours for the first time. He won, too, after doing the lion’s share of the driving in a works Porsche 907.
In March, Elford’s 911 beat Frank Gardner’s Ford Cortina to win the 2-litre class in the opening round of the British Saloon Car Championship.
One week later, Elford returned to the States and finished second at Sebring, again sharing a 907 with Jochen Neerpasch.
In April, Elford beat Gardner once more, this time at Silverstone, but not before he and Neerpasch had finished third in the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch. That same month, Elford also made his single-seater debut, finishing seventh in the F2 Eifelrennen aboard the wooden Protos.
May was even more remarkable. It began with perhaps his greatest drive, scything more than a minute from the Targa Florio’s lap record while recovering time lost to punctures to win in a 907, this time co-driven by Umberto Maglioli. Two weeks later, he was co-driven by Siffert, no less, in the Nurburgring 1000Km, the pair of them guiding the 908 to its first major win.
June was relatively quiet, barring leading a lap of the F2 Monza Lottery race. But in July, Elford made his GP debut. He qualified the bulky Cooper T86B-BRM dead last at Rouen, but it rained for the race and he used his rally expertise to finish a remarkable fourth. It was his third single-seater race.
In August, he qualified the Cooper an amazing fifth at the Nuirburgring, and at the end of September, he brought it home fifth in the Canadian GP at the daunting St Jovite. Need we say more? PF
• won a 1970 Trans-Am race at Watkins Glen in Jim Hall’s Camaro
• set pole position (1969) and fastest lap (’70) at Le Mans
• won Deutschland, Tulip and Geneva rallies in 1967, all in a Porsche 911
• won first televised rallycross event, 1967
• qualified privateer McLaren M78 sixth for 1969 German GP
• finished third in 1964 RAC Rally in a Ford Cortina
• set two poles in ground-effect Chaparral 2J Can-Am car in 1970
• scored points four times in his 13 GP starts
• won six world championship sportscar races: four poles, seven FLs
• began his career as a rally co-driver
• won the Nurburgring 1000Km three times: 1968 and ’70-71
• won 1964 Alpine Rally in a Ford Cortina GT
• won 1971 Sebring 12 Hours in a Porsche 917
• finished 10th in 1972 Daytona 500 in a Plymouth
• won class on 1964 Tour de France, 11th overall in a Ford Lotus Cortina
• led 1969 Le Mans in a Porsche 917 until three hours to go
• won GT class at 1973 Le Mans in a Ferrari Daytona
AJ Foyt told Nigel Roebuck: “Jim Clark was a fantastic race driver. I never saw a better one.” One of Britain’s rallying legends, Roger Clark, was rocked by his namesake’s pace on the 1966 RAC Rally. Jack Sears, British saloon car ace, declared: “I was never passed by a Lotus-Cortina while I was driving the Galaxie. The only one that threatened to was Jimmy.”
Indycars, rally cars, touring cars, Jimmy was an ace in all of them — and much more besides. He could dominate a whole national meeting. At a rainy Goodwood for the 1965 Easter Meeting, for instance, he raced a Lotus-Cortina, a Lotus 25 F1 car and a Lotus 30 sportscar — and won in the lot of them, setting fastest lap each time. And that was no exception. Whatever the category, Clark was the yardstick.
So why did he never win Le Mans? Because of a falling-out between Colin Chapman and the ACO after they banned the Lotus 23 from the 1962 event. Why did they do that? Because, in the previous WSC race at the Nurburgring, Jimmy’s little 1.5-litre car had pulled out a two-minute gap over the four-litre Ferraris and Astons. Clark’s mastery of the tricky Lotus 30 (and 40) demonstrated powerful sportscars held no fear for him either. Nor did NASCAR: he took part in the 1966 season-closer at Rockingham, Carolina, and was up to 12th place when his car packed up.
Clark never won the Monaco GP, granted, but he set pole there four times. Given more time — fate allowed him just eight seasons in F1, remember — this race would have fallen to the quiet Scot.
Whatever he was given to drive, Jimmy was exceptional. The Hon Patrick Lindsay, a great historic racer, watched in awe as Clark took his 30-year-old ERA around Rouen quicker than he himself had ever done. DM
• sensation on 1966 RAC Rally: fastest on three stages, second on seven
• won 12 of 20 races contested in a Jaguar D-type, 1958
• set first 100mph sportscar lap of a British circuit, at Full Sutton in 1958
• finished third in 1960 Le Mans in an Aston Martin DBR1
• finished fifth in his second-ever grand prix
• took pole, fastest lap and victory in 1963 Milwaukee 150, in a Lotus 29
• won Indy once, finished second twice; started from pole once, second twice
• scored 25 wins and 33 pole positions, and led 43 of his 72 GPs
• won in Lotus 30 at Mallory in ’64; took second in a Lotus 40 at Riverside
• won 19 non-championship Formula One races
• won 13 Formula Two races
• won three Tasman Cups — 1965, ’67-68 — with a total of 14 wins
• won 1960 Formula Junior title
• ran fourth in first GP, 1960 Dutch
• won 1964 British Saloon Car Championship in a Lotus-Cortina
• qualified second in Gerhardt-Ford for 1967 Indycar finale
Has anyone got a bigger thrill from sitting in a racing car than this charismatic man? Probably not. He retired after 35 super-competitive years, aged 54 – and has kinda regretted ever since. Which is one of the reasons why he’s raced at Le Mans since. The French endurance classic is the biggest race to have eluded him he almost won it in 1995 – and given another competitive drive there, he’d jump at it.
Just as he did when he and brother Aldo rolled out their Hudson ‘jalopy’. Just as he did when the Mataka brothers offered him a ride in their Offy midget Just as he did when Colin Chapman made his F1 dream come true. Just as he did when Ferrari sent out a clarion call in 1982.
Mario Andretti was the skinny kid who mixed it with tough guys like AJ and Parnelli on the he-men tracks of Langhorne and Salem. He was the hot-shoe rookie who ushered in Indycar racing’s road-course period. He was the `wop’ outsider who upstaged NASCAR’s ‘rednecks’ at Daytona in 1967. He was the arch technocrat driver who painted the ground-effect Lotus 79 to the road. He was the prodigal son who received a papal-like greeting at Monza in ’82. He was the revered Indycar figurehead who’d still race as hard as nails, even if it was his son, or nephew, who was rubbing wheels with him.
Okay, so there’s no rallying as we know it on his cv, but his early career proved that high-speed opposite-lock on loose surfaces held no fear for him – nothing goes as sideways, as fast, or for as long, as a full-shot sprintcar.
And then there are his wins on dirt, pave, flat or banked, short or long oval, on superspeedway, road course, street circuit and airfield track, in midget, sprinter, Indycar, sportscar, NASCAR, F1, IROC and F5000.
A better road-racer than Foyt, a better Indycar driver than Gurney, as good a test driver as Donohue: Mario Andretti, America’s greatest all-rounder. PF
• won first-ever race in 1959, in a self-built Hudson
• won NASCAR’s ‘blue riband’ Daytona 500 at first attempt, 1967
• won first-ever road-course race, at Lime Rock in 1965
• won Indycar championship four times: 1965-66, ’69 and ’84
• won sprintcar’s ‘blue riband’ Hoosier 100 in 1966 and ’67
• won eight world championship sportscar races, including three Sebrings
• set pole position on F1 debut, Watkins Glen 1968, in a Lotus 49C
• won Pikes Peak hill-climb in 1969
• won Formula One world championship in 1978
• won 12 grands prix: scored 18 poles and set 10 fastest laps
• set pole at first attempt in F1 turbo car, Monza ’82, in a Ferrari 126C2B
• won 1979 IROC championship
• won 1974 USAC dirt-car championship
• won 52 Indycar races: set 67 poles and led 7857 laps (both records)
• scored one Indy 500 victory, in 1969, but led race 11 times
• scored last Indycar win and pole (234.275mph) in 1993, aged 53
• won 1971 South African GP — his first GP start with Ferrari
It had to be didn’t it? A Clark-type innate feel for any car he plonked his backside in. A Mario-like variety of vehicles and visceral love of the sport. An Ickx-like domination of sportscars and uncanny balance in the wet. Yep, Stirling Craufurd Moss had everything – including rallying success.
When his rival hotshoes were toasting their feet in front of a roaring fire, mercurial Moss was desperate for something to race, rally, whatever. Hence his tackling of the very snowy 1952 Monte Carlo Rally in a mundane Sunbeam-Talbot 90. He finished second, at his first attempt, missing out on a remarkable victory by just 4sec. He finished sixth the following year and then went on to register the first of three consecutive penalty-free Alpine rallies. This was not a stage event in the modem sense, but it was rough-n-tough, with plenty of loose, and any Coupe d’Or (of which Moss was a proud recipient) was hard-won, product of hours of on-the-edge (yes, there were precipices, too) driving. Rallying, though, became less of a draw for Moss when ‘warm’ racing Down Under, or in Nassau, became an option.
But even closer to the modem form of rallying were the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio of the 1950s, iconic events which Moss won in the same year, 1955. When pressed, he will always defer to Fangio’s single-seater talents, but there is no doubt that, even at this early stage in his career, Moss had the measure of him in sportscars. (Ickx, with all due respect, ‘only’ had to beat Bell, Stuck, Mass and Ludwig once F1 and sportscars had begun their inevitable divorce). If the fragile single-seaters of the day sometimes seemed incapable of sustaining Stirling’s speed, nothing appeared beyond him in more rugged two-seaters – apart from Le Mans, a race which he disliked, which he often shone in, but which he never won.
A Formula One world championship title (yes, that old chestnut) and Indycar success are the other large holes in his curriculum vitesse. But all his contemporaries and every spectator – knew he was by far the best, post-Fangio, and that was surely more than enough.
And there can be no doubt also that he would have shone at Indy, as Clark did, but his career-ending shunt came just before the British invasion of the Brickyard. He was a bit sniffy of his American rivals at the 1958 Race of Two Worlds – venturing onto Monza’s bankings in the wet to show the gawping Yanks what was what – but the chance for this true patriot to prove to America the value of British expertise would have focused his mind.
And then there was his unceasing quest for the Next Big Thing: the set-up adjustability of Kiefts 500, Jaguar’s Dunlop disc brakes, Cooper’s mid-engined F1 ‘revolutionary’, Ferguson’s four-wheel drive – all benefited from Moss’ unalloyed enthusiasm for experimentation.
He missed out on the downforce era – an aspect of the sport he might have railed against but would have surely mastered but his career did span the front – and mid-engined eras: from drum brakes to discs, from ‘classical’ slow in, fast out to ‘new age’ early turn-in, high entry speeds. His keynote 1961 performances in Rob Walker’s nimble but underpowered Lotus ushered in a driving style that spawned Clark and Jackie Stewart; yet Moss had also matched Fangio in the power-on opposite-lock stakes.
At a time when a top-liner was expected… no, positively encouraged, to jump out of his F1 and into a sportscar, before doorhandling a saloon, no-one did it with more relish or elan than Moss. He was the man to beat in everything. And to think that his brilliant career was becoming still more diverse and successful when it shuddered to an unforgiving halt PF
• won more than 170 of 500-plus events contested approximately one in every three
• won first three races entered, at Brough in 1947, in a Cooper MkII-JAP
• won 13 world championship sportscar races, including a Nuirburgring 1000Km hat-trick
• won first time out in a sportscar race, 1950 Tourist Trophy at Dundrod
• scored first world championship GP victories for Vanwall, Cooper and Lotus
• scored only win for four-wheel-drive F1 car, 1961 Oulton Park Gold Cup, in Ferguson’s P99
• won 16 of 66 world championship GPs contested: set 16 poles and 19 fastest laps
• scored first major international win for disc-braked car, 1952 Reims 12 Hours, in a Jaguar C-type
• won seven TTs 1951, ’52, ’55 and ’58-61 in XK120, C-type, 300SLR, DBR1 and 250GT
• won 1954 Sebring 12 Hours in a 1500cc OSCA
• helped to cram 16,851 miles into a week with a XK120 Coupe at Montlhery in 1952
• finished 13th in only go-kart race, 1960 Nassau Speedweek
• scored first world championship F1 win for a mid-engined car, 1958 Argentine GP, in a Cooper T43
• won 1959 British Formula Two Championship
• one of only two non-Italian Mille Miglia winners
• set five 1500cc world speed records in ‘lay-down’ MG EX181, at Bonneville in 1957
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