Anyone who truly has a love of racing has surely heard of what must be one of the best drivers that ever lived… Juan Maunel Fangio. If for some strange reason you don’t know who he was just sit down the candy and step away from the computer.
I have been very lucky to know or have known many of the greatest drivers of racing history but I never got to meet Juan Fangio. Better know and “The Master” he was a race car driver from Argentina, who dominated the first decade of Formula One racing. He won five Formula One World Driver’s Championships Ã¢â‚¬â€ a record which stood for 46 years Ã¢â‚¬â€ with four different teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati), a feat that has not been repeated since. How impressive is that for a resume? The statue above is a tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio that graces the streets of Monaco. What a fitting tribute it is and I can not think of a more fitting place for it to rest.
I can tell you that I am good friends with Phil Hill who knew Juan Fangio in a very special way. as a friend and a competitor. Phil is one of the greatest of all times right up there with Fangio and in fact besides a list of acheviments parraled only by he likes of Fangio, Phil has won more races for Ferrari than any other driver. Now that’s not bad either.
One of my favorite Fangio/Hill stories is about my good friend Larry who used to tell me about the story his Uncle used to tell him about the time he got to shake Juan Fangio’s hand. So one day I was telling Phil Hill about that story and so Phil autographed a poster for Larry saying something like, “I also shook the hand of Fangio.”
Speaking of Larry and Juan Fangio… Larry sent me an article written by one of our idols Chris Economaki, and in it he wrote a story I had not heard about. A couple weeks ago I told Larry I had watched a great movie that took place in Cuba and in the beginning of the movie they talked about Juan Fangio racing in Cuba. Then Larry found this article and sent it to me. Economaki writes about the time Juan Fangio was kidnapped by dictator Fidel Castro. “In 1950 Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped by loyalist of Castro at that time a Communist rival of Batista, holding Fangio in a house of ill repute atop a Mercedes dealership on the Malecon. Every time Fangio was asked about this incident, he smiled in delivering his reply.”
I have always loved the stories that seem so special and adventuresome when told by race car drivers and this has got to be one of the best and where else would you expect to find a house of ill repute than atop a Mercedes dealership? It couldn’t be above a Chevy dealership because everyone knows they would have to much F’ing overhead and that would never do.
Juan Manuel Fangio died in Buenos Aires in 1995, at the age of 84. He was buried in his home town of Balcarce in Argentina.
And just check out the photo below while Fangio makes the car slide thru the corner like a ballerina would glide gracefully across the stage. Anyone who is a race car driver would notice his eyes are still looking ahead in the direction he intends to drive to. It’s all part of the dance.