F1 Corner: A Brief History of Juan Manuel Fangio

By Mike | 17th July 2013 | Category: History | Leave a comment


Image via Flickr user: Horacho07

Formula One has had many heroes over the years. Each of these famed drivers achieved their renowned status by performing astonishing feats, pushing their cars beyond their limits. One of the most famous of these daredevils was Juan Manuel Fangio who won race after race to become a five-time world champion. In order to continue the memory of this great driver, we at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts would like to commemorate his achievements on the day of his death in 1995. While he may not be with us today, what he created was a legacy unlike any other, merging car and driver in a way previously thought impossible.

Juan Manuel Fangio was born on June 24, 1911 in Balarce, Argentina. Being the fourth of six children, he soon became known as El Chueco, the ‘bandy legged’, as he bended his left leg when he played football. A name that stuck with him throughout his life, football soon wasn’t enough as the young Juan developed an interest in cars, dropping out of school in order to become a full time mechanic as 16.

This interest in cars led him to start racing, taking part in various Argentinian competitions from 1934, eventually winning the Argentine National Championship in 1940 and 1941 in a Chevrolet.  Taking part in competitions all around the world at a young age, he eventually took part in the Argentine Grand Prix and was crowned champion of the Argentine TC in 1946 after beating Oscar Galvez.

Onboard | Juan Manuel Fangio

After an already impressive career on various circuits, Fangio eventually joined Formula One at a mature age, beginning in the 1948 French Grand Prix at Reims. While he did not race again until the following year at Sanremo, he dominated the event, winning it without breaking a sweat. This success caused Fangio to join Alfa Romeo and won each of the three races he finished, almost winning the championship. But almost winning wasn't enough and in following year he dominated the Swiss, Spanish and French Grand Prix’s, finally taking the title.

While he wished to continue this pace, in 1952 Alfa had to withdraw, resulting in the driver unable to defend his position. Indeed, even when he joined Maserati in 1953, he was unable to regain the position despite setting record times.

He retained his stranglehold over the sport in 1954 when he joined Mercedes-Benz, winning eight out of twelve races in his W196 Monospoto, resulting in his World Championship win in 1954 and 1955. In order to continue racing at the pinnacle of the sport, Fangio joined Ferrari in 1956 and won his fourth title and rejoined Maserati in 1957 to win his fifth.

While he continued to be part of the automotive world, he did not play as active a role in the community after his fifth win. However, his achievements were honored by a number of organizations including the Konex Foundation as well as the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. He set a series of records that have yet to be broken today, shaping the sport forever. While he may not be with us today, he created a legacy that few could question.  So next time you turn to watch F1, remember Fugio, as the sport we’re watching today wouldn’t be the same without him.

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