Juan Manuel Fangio was born on June 24, 1911 in Balcarce, province of
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He abandoned school at the age of 12
and got a job as an apprentice in an iron-works factory and at a auto repair
shop where he washed pieces of engines and learned to assemble and
disassemble engines; opening the door to his passion for cars.
As time went by, he learned more about
mechanics and improved his driving skills. He used the auto-repair shops'
car to pick up and deliver orders in neighboring towns crossing different
terrains and occasionally a lagoon.
In 1929, he run his first race in a
four cylinder Chevrolet '28 in with Manuel Ayerza as co-pilot. In 1934, he
began competing in argentine circuits, which were very dangerous due to the
bad shape of the tracks where many drivers lost their lives. In 1938, he
made his debut in the Gran Premio Argentino of the Turismo Carretera
category, driving a Ford cupe '37, with Luis Finochietti, and arrived in
In 1940 Fangio drove a Chevrolet in the
"Gran Premio Internacional del Norte", a race
between Buenos Aires to Lima, (Peru) of almost five thousand kilometers
crossing the finish line in the first place after 109 hours of race. The
race took almost two weeks with daily phases and resulted in his first
victory in the car racing. In this competition the car repairs were made by
the pilot and the co-pilot at the end of every tiring phase.
Many victories followed and a rivalry
between Ford and Chevrolet was born. At that time, Ford was being
represented by Oscar Galvez and Chevrolet by Juan Manuel Fangio, but the
rivalry resulted in the start of a friendship the would last forever.
Fangio was the Argentine champion in 1940 and 1941, but the world's economy
was in decline due to the second world war and the lack of tires and the
recession determined the temporary suspension of the races. During this
period he became a truck salesman. He traveled back and forth in different
towns and was very successful in his new job. People respected his
professionalism and his honesty as a business person.
The races resumed towards the end of the war and the Automovil Club
Argentino started organizing international races of "special cars, now known
as formula 1, with the best national and international racers.
On the 15th of February of 1947 Fangio went back to the tracks and got the
third place at the Retiro Circuit in Buenos Aires. Afterwards, the
government of Juan Perón funded Fangio's trip to Europe and in 1949, at 37
years of age, he started winning races in the European circuit. In 1950, he
made his debut with Alfa Romeo's formula 1 team and was victorious in San
Remo's Ospedaletti circuit. That same year he
participated in the First Formula 1 Championship that took place in Silverstone
(England), where he had to
abandon due to mechanical problems.
On May 21, 1950 he obtained his first
victory in the World Grand Prix of Monaco, Montecarlo, with an Alfa Romeo
158, after escaping a collision that left nine cars out o the race in the
first lap. A few months later he was world champion's runner-up in Italy's
Grand Prix, where his teammate Nino Farina got the
On October 28, 1951 he obtained
the Worlds Drivers Championship Award after winning the Pedralbes Grand Prix
in Barcelona, Spain, with an Alfa Romeo 159, being the last race with Alfa
he debuted with the British BRM of 4500 cm3
in France's Albi Grand Prix,
where he abandoned the race; and later that year he suffered the worst
accident of his career when he went out of the track during the first lap of
the Monza Grand Prix while driving a Formula 2 Maserati
The previous day, Fangio
raced in Belfast (Northern Ireland) and lost his connection to Paris, so he
drove all night to be on time for the Monza Grand Prix, arriving half an
hour prior to the race. With his reflexes notably reduced due to the
tiredness, he made a mistake while changing gears and the Maserati hit the
side of the track and went flying. Fangio broke his neck and had cervical
injuries that forced him to step of for the rest of the season.
He was back on his feet for the 1953
season, and on the 13
of September he won again in the Formula 1 category
leading in the Italian Grand Prix, and obtaining
the second place in the world championship.
In 1954 he started racing for Mercedes Benz, who allowed him to race for
Maserati while the Mercedes cars where not available; and it was then that
he obtained the World Championship for the the second time.
ran twelve Grand Prix
Maserati, winning eight;
and leading to the beginning of a winning spree of four consecutive prizes.
In 1955 he won again with Mercedes Benz
and his teammate Stirling Moss
nicknamed him "El Maestro" (The Teacher) in s sign of respect and
admiration. On September 11, 1955, with a win in Italy, he obtained his
Third World Championship in Formula 1 and decides to leave Mercedes Benz and
join Ferrari with whom he got his Fourth World Championship.
In 1957 he went back to race for Maserati and got his Fifth World
Championship on board of a Maserati
In a race in Nurburgring,
while leading by 28 seconds over the Ferraris driven by Hawthorn y Collins; Fangio
made a pit stop and lost the 28 seconds he led plus an additional 48
seconds. With only 12 laps left he made an astonishing recovery and in the
previous to last lap he passed Collins and
subsequently passed Hawthorn near the curves,
winning the race by 3.6 seconds. This exceptional maneuver is considered a
"driving monument" in the history of formula 1 races.
In February of 1958, Fangio was acknowledged as the author of the
"Worlds' Most Outstanding Accomplishment in Sports" and received the Annual
Award from the French Academy of Sports.
That unbelievable race was his last
conquest in Formula 1 and that same Juan Manuel Fangio
decided to retire from the professional circuits
after a long list of races and a glorious career.
1972, the racetrack "Juan
Manuel Fangio" was inaugurated in his hometown of
Balcarce and in 1974
he was named honorary president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina.
At the beginning of
the 80's, Juan Manuel Fangio
started to suffer heart conditions that resulted in a successful bypass
The honors continued
and on November 22, 1986 a museum named "Centro Tecnológico y Cultural Museo del Automovilismo Juan Manuel Fangio"
was inaugurated in
On the 17th
of July of1995, at 84 years
old, he died in the city of Buenos Aires,
surrounded by the love of friends and family, in a country that always
His winning score may
never be topped.