Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway

Emerson Fittipaldi

Emerson Fittipaldi (born December 12, 1946 in São Paulo, Brazil) is a highly successful Brazilian automobile racing driver, winning world championships in both Formula One and CART, and the Indianapolis 500 twice.

Family

Emerson Fittipaldi is the youngest son of prominent Brazilian motorsports journalist and radio commentator Wilson Fittipaldi Sr and his wife Juzy, a Polish refugee. He was named after American author and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Both his parents had raced production cars shortly after the Second World War and Wilson Sr was also responsible for the first Mil Milhas race in 1956, in São Paulo, having been inspired by the 1949 Italian Mille Miglia. Emerson unsurprisingly became a keen motorsports enthusiast from an early age.

Emerson Fittipaldi is the younger brother of former Formula One driver and team owner Wilson Fittipaldi. He is the uncle of former CART, Formula One and NASCAR driver Christian Fittipaldi. He was married to Maria Helena from 1970 to 1982. They had three children together, Juliana, Jason and Tatiana. He was married again, to Teresa, in the mid 1980s. They have one daughter, Joana, and a son, Luca. Now, he has another son, Emerson Fanucchi Fittipaldi, born in March 6 2007, with his new wife, Rossana Fanucchi Fittipaldi.

In his youth in Brazil, Emerson was known as 'Rato' - mouse, which contrasts with 'Tigrão' - big tiger - for his brother. By the end of his career he was most commonly known as 'Emmo' in the United States and the UK.

In September 1997, Fittipaldi, while recovering from injuries in a crash at Michigan International Speedway a year earlier, was flying his private plane across his orange tree farm estate in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The plane lost power and plunged 300 feet to the ground. He suffered serious back injuries. He would recover, and became a born again Christian.

Career history

Aged 14 Fittipaldi was racing motorcycles, and aged 16 hydrofoils. While racing one day, his brother Wilson took off at 70mph and landed upside down - they both decided that although he had survived, they would no longer race hydrofoils and moved onto to racing karts.

The pair moved to racing Formula Vees, and built up a company with their parents. In his second season in single-seaters, Fittipaldi won the Brazilian Formula Vee title at 21 years old. He left for Europe in 1969, with the ambition to convince team owners of his talent in three months. After some podiums and his first victories in Formula Ford, Fittipaldi was previously trained and then susequently engaged by the Jim Russell Driving School Formula Three team.

Formula One

Fittipaldi continued to win, drawing the attention of Colin Chapman, who was looking for a driver to support the Austrian Jochen Rindt in the 1970 Formula One season. The team's No 3 driver, he ended up becoming No 1 driver after Rindt was killed at Monza and John Miles left the team. Thrust into the spotlight by leading F1's top team, he proved up to the task and won for Lotus in its first race post-Rindt.

In his first full year as Lotus' lead driver in 1971, Fittipaldi finished sixth in the drivers' championship as the team further developed the previous season's Lotus 72. Armed with what was arguably the greatest Formula one design of all time, the Lotus 72D, Fittipaldi proved unstoppable in 1972 as he won five of 11 races and easily won the F1 Drivers' Championship from Jackie Stewart by 16 points. At 25 he was then the youngest champion in F1 history (his record was eventually topped by 24 year-old Fernando Alonso). It appeared he might do it again in 1973. But after three wins from four attempts with the 72D, he began to struggle in the new 72E that was unveiled mid-year. It resulted in the reverse of the previous year, Stewart beating Fittipaldi for the Drivers Championship by 16 points; though the combination of the 72D and E's points earnings were enough to gain Team Lotus the 1973 F1 Manufacturers Championship.

Fittipaldi left Lotus to sign with the promising McLaren team. Driving the highly efficient McLaren M23, he had three victories in 1974, reached the podium four other times, and beat out Clay Regazzoni in a close battle for his second championship. The following season, he notched two more victories and four other podiums, but was second to a dominant Niki Lauda. However, at the height of his F1 success, Fittipaldi shocked everyone by leaving McLaren to race for older brother Wilson Fittipaldi's Copersucar-sponsored Fittipaldi Automotive team.

It was hardly a world class organization and the double champion regularly struggled, even failing to qualify for three races in his time there. Despite this, he remained with the team for five seasons but only managed a best finish of second. Emerson Fittipaldi decided to retire from racing at the end of 1980. He has since said that his last two years in Formula One were very unhappy: "I was too involved in the problems of trying to make the team work, and I neglected my marriage and my personal life", although at the time he cited the deaths of many of his colleagues as his reason. He was only 33, but had been racing in Formula One for a decade. He had failed to finish seven of the last ten races that year and had several times been outpaced by his Finnish teammate Keke Rosberg (a future champion himself). He moved into the management of the team alongside his brother. The team struggled on for another two years with minimal sponsorship, going into receivership at the end of 1982.

CART

After leaving F1 in 1980, Fittipaldi took time out from major racing for four years, returning in 1984 in CART. The 38-year old spent his first season acclimatising to IndyCars, driving for two teams before joining Patrick Racing as an injury replacement. He stayed five years with the team, recording six victories and solid finishes in the overall standings. In 1989 he had five wins and finished in the top five in every race he completed, giving him a CART championship. Among his wins was a dominant performance in the Indianapolis 500 where he led 158 of 200 laps and won by two laps, but only after a dramatic duel with Al Unser, Jr. in the closing laps of the race. With both drivers a commanding six laps ahead of third place Raul Boesel, Unser ran down Fittipaldi after a late-race restart and passed him for the lead on lap 196. Three laps later, Fittipaldi used lap traffic to his advantage to pull alongside Unser on the backstretch. Neither driver would give way, and the two cars touched wheels as they went through turn three side by side. Unser's car spun out of control to hit the outside wall, while Fittipaldi was able to maintain sufficient control to keep his car moving straight. In spite of the altercation, Unser saluted Fittipaldi from the infield with a double thumbs-up sign as he brought his car through turns three and four on the subsequent caution-slowed final lap.

Roger Penske hired Emmo for his racing team in 1990 and he continued to be among the top drivers in CART, winning a race with Penske for six straight years. In 1993 he added a second Indianapolis 500 victory by taking the lead from defending Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell on lap 185 and holding it for the remainder. The race was more well known for him breaking Indy victory lane tradition when he drank a celebratory bottle of orange juice instead of the traditional bottle of milk. He was only the second driver to not drink milk at Indy since the tradition was founded in 1936 (and firmly established in 1956). Fittipaldi owned several orange groves in his native Brazil, and wanted to promote the citrus industry. He was widely criticized and ridiculed for the action, even though he later took a sip of milk (after the television cameras were off).

Fan reaction to the milk snub was highly negative, and he was booed a week later at Milwaukee. In the years following, many fans continued to hold the action against him. In interviews since, Fittipaldi explained his action, and apologised for the wave of negativity that followed. Fittipaldi returned to Indianapolis to drive the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car for the 2008 Indianapolis 500. Despite coming clean, he was again booed and heckled by some fans during the Public Drivers' Meeting.

Approaching 50, he was still with Champ Car in 1996 when an injury at the Michigan International Speedway ended his career. Fittipaldi did not return to the series as a driver after the injury but in 2003 he made a return to Champcars as a team owner.

Fittipaldi is currently acting as team principal for the Brazilian A1 GP entry.

In 2005 Fittipaldi made a surprise return to competitive racing in the Grand Prix Masters event held at Kyalami in South Africa, finishing second behind former CART sparring partner Nigel Mansell.

In 2008, Emerson and his brother Wilson entered the Brazilian GT3 Championship, driving a Porsche 997 GT3 for the WB Motorsports team.

Indy 500 results

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish
1984 March Cosworth 23rd 32nd
1985 March Cosworth 5th 13th
1986 March Cosworth 11th 7th
1987 March Chevrolet 33rd 16th
1988 March Chevrolet 8th 2nd
1989 Penske Chevrolet 3rd 1st
1990 Penske Chevrolet 1st 3rd
1991 Penske Chevrolet 15th 11th
1992 Penske Chevrolet 11th 24th
1993 Penske Chevrolet 9th 1st
1994 Penske Ilmor-Mercedes 3rd 17th
1995 Lola Ilmor-Mercedes Failed to Qualify

Award

He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.

Complete Formula One World Championship results

(F1 driver results legend 2) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Pts.
Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 49C Ford V8 RSA
ESP
MON
BEL
NED
FRA
GBR
8
GER
4
AUT
15
10th 12
Lotus 72C Ford V8 ITA
DNS
CAN
USA
1
MEX
Ret
Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 72C Ford V8 RSA
Ret
ESP
Ret
6th 16
Lotus 72D Ford V8 MON
5
NED
FRA
3
GBR
3
GER
Ret
AUT
2
CAN
7
USA
NC
World Wide Racing Lotus 56B P&W gas turbine ITA
8
John Player Team Lotus Lotus 72D Ford V8 ARG
Ret
RSA
2
ESP
1
MON
3
BEL
1
FRA
2
GBR
1
GER
ret
AUT
1
CAN
11
USA
Ret
1st 61
World Wide Racing Lotus 72D Ford V8 ITA
1
John Player Team Lotus Lotus 72D Ford V8 ARG
1
BRA
1
RSA
3
2nd 55
Lotus 72E Ford V8 ESP
1
BEL
3
MON
2
SWE
12
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
NED
Ret
GER
6
AUT
Ret
ITA
2
CAN
2
USA
6
Marlboro Team Texaco McLaren M23 Ford V8 ARG
10
BRA
1
RSA
7
ESP
3
BEL
1
MON
5
SWE
4
NED
3
FRA
Ret
GBR
2
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
ITA
2
CAN
1
USA
4
1st 55
Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M23 Ford V8 ARG
1
BRA
2
RSA
NC
ESP
DNS
MON
2
BEL
7
SWE
8
NED
Ret
FRA
4
GBR
1
GER
Ret
AUT
9
ITA
2
USA
2
2nd 45
Copersucar-Fittipaldi Fittipaldi FD04 Ford V8 BRA
13
RSA
17
USW
6
ESP
Ret
BEL
DNQ
MON
6
SWE
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
6
GER
13
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA
15
CAN
Ret
USA
9
JPN
Ret
17th 3
Copersucar-Fittipaldi Fittipaldi FD04 Ford V8 ARG
4
BRA
4
RSA
10
USW
5
ESP
14
MON
Ret
SWE
18
12th 11
Fittipaldi F5 Ford V8 BEL
Ret
FRA
11
GBR
Ret
GER
DNQ
AUT
11
NED
4
ITA
DNQ
USA
13
CAN
Ret
JPN
1978 Fittipaldi Automotive Fittipaldi F5A Ford V8 ARG
9
BRA
2
RSA
Ret
USW
8
MON
9
BEL
Ret
ESP
Ret
SWE
6
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
4
AUT
4
NED
5
ITA
8
USA
5
CAN
Ret
10th 17
Fittipaldi Automotive Fittipaldi F5A Ford V8 ARG
6
BRA
11
USW
Ret
ESP
11
BEL
9
MON
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
21st 1
Fittipaldi F6 Ford V8 RSA
13
Fittipaldi F6A Ford V8 GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA
8
CAN
8
USA
7
Skol Fittipaldi Team Fittipaldi F7 Ford V8 ARG
NC
BRA
15
RSA
8
USW
3
BEL
Ret
MON
6
FRA
Ret
15th 5
Fittipaldi F8 Ford V8 GBR
12
GER
Ret
AUT
11
NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
CAN
Ret
USA
Ret

See also

References

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