Sabine Schmitz

German professional motor racing driver and television personality Sabine Schmitz sadly died 16 March 2021 following a battle with “an extremely persistent cancer”. She was born in Adenau Germany 14 May 1969. Schmitz and her two elder sisters grew up in the “Hotel am Tiergarten” (in the basement of which is the Pistenklause restaurant) in Nürburg within the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Following occasional drives with the family car on the Nordschleife, all three Schmitz sisters started racing, however only Sabine continued and collected victories. Schmitz won in CHC and VLN race events, the VLN endurance racing championship in 1998. she won the 24 HoursNürburgring in 1996 and 1997 as Sabine Reck, all with a BMW M3 Group N entered and co-driven by local veteran Johannes Scheid. In 2006 Schmitz and Klaus Abbelen drove the #97 Porsche 997 in the Nürburgring VLN endurance racing series, entered by Land Motorsport and  finished third in the 24h in 2008

Schmitz also trained as a Hotelfachfrau (graduate in hotel and catering business) and sommelière. During her marriage to a hotelier she lived in Pulheim, but after her divorce in 2000, up until 2003, she owned a bar-restaurant in Nürburg named the Fuchsröhre (Foxhole) after a track section. She was also a qualified helicopter pilot.

Schmitz came to mass public attention driving one of the two BMW M5 “ring taxis” around the 20.8 km-long race track in an entertaining manner. Schmitz went around the track more than 20,000 times, increasing by approximately 1,200 per year. Her familiarity with the circuit earned her the nicknames “Queen of the Nürburgring” and “the fastest taxi driver in the world”. She said her favourite parts of the track are the Schwedenkreuz (“Swedish Cross”) and Fuchsröhre (“Fox Hole”). Schmitz’s company, Nürburgring-based Sabine Schmitz Motorsport, offers advanced driver training and a “ring taxi” service for passengers. Schmitz herself ceased driving the “ring taxi” in 2011.

As a result of her popularity as “the fastest taxi driver in the world”, and her charisma, Schmitz became an occasional motorsport guest commentator, known for her gleefully dry descriptions of driving incidents. Since September 2006, Schmitz has co-hosted a motoring show on German television, D Motor on the DMAX TV channel. In each show, she takes on another challenge, for example Schmitz in a Ferrari 360 vs. a 1200 hp Race Truck, or Schmitz in a Formula Renault race car vs. a race sidecar. 

Her first appearance on British television was on the 2002 BBC programme Jeremy Clarkson: Meets the Neighbours, where she took Clarkson around the Nürburgring in the “ring taxi”. In 2004, Schmitz gained further recognition in the United Kingdom after appearing in Top Gear guiding presenter Jeremy Clarkson around the Nürburgring in a Jaguar S-Type diesel, in which he set a lap time of 9 minutes 59 seconds. Prompting her to comment “I tell you something, I do that lap time in a van”. She later did a lap in the Jaguar S-Type, and set a time of 9 minutes 12 seconds, beating him by 47 seconds and also drove a Ford Transit diesel van round the Nurburgring to prove her point and was just 9 seconds slower

In March 2015, The Guardian featured a satirical article calling for Schmitz to be the new presenter of Top Gear, concluding that “She has appeared from time to time on Top Gear in the past, and shown herself to possess exactly the right mix of knowledge and boisterousness for the job every time. Plus, she is both German and a woman, a combination of traits so alien to the majority of Top Gear viewers that the whole show would probably self-destruct within an hour of her taking the job”. Schmitz was selected as a presenter on the revamped Top Gear and has also appeared on Fifth Gear.

Murray Walker OBE🏁🏎🏎💨

Semi-retired Formula One motorsport commentator and journalist Murray Walker, OBE sadly died 13 March 2021. He was born 10th October 1923. For most of his Formula One Commentating career he worked for the BBC, but when it lost the contract for F1 coverage to the company ITV, Walker continued his commentating after the change of broadcaster.He has a distinctive, enthusiastic commentary style. Since 1978, British television commentary of the Formula 1 seasons has been used by other broadcasters right around the world, including Australia and Japan. He was an exponent of the commentator’s curse, noting in an interview that he might say how well a driver was racing or that they would probably win the race, only to have them retire or crash out of the race shortly thereafter, hence his catchphrase “…Unless I’m very much mistaken…” which might lead shortly after to a correction “…And I am very much mistaken…” to introduce the correction of the foregoing comment if it turned out in the event to be incorrect.

He is known for his gentlemanly and considerate conduct, seeing the best in drivers who had attracted controversy. He rarely criticised drivers and preferred to give the benefit of the doubt in attributing blame for incidents. One example of this was during the 1994 Australian Grand Prix where, following the controversial crash between Michael Schumacher and Walker’s close friend Damon Hill which decided the World Drivers’ Championship in the German’s favor, Walker, unlike his fellow commentators at the time, most notably former 500cc Motorcycle World Champion Barry Sheene, declined to blame Schumacher outright for the crash. Here are some of Murray Walker’s best quotes:“

“It’s raining and the track is wet”
“He is shedding buckets of adrenalin in that car”
“With half the race gone, there is half the race still to go”
“Anything happens in Grand Prix racing and it usually does”
“Do my eyes deceive me, or is Senna’s Lotus sounding rough ?”
“As you look at the first four, the significant thing is that Alboreto is 5th”
“Senna is 3rd with Mansell 2nd and Piquet 3rd!”

“This will be Williams’ first win since the last time a Williams won.”
“You can’t see Alesi’s Ferrari because it isn’t there!”
“You might not think that’s cricket, and it’s not, it’s motor racing”
“……..and Schumacher has just completed lap 77 out of 73.”
“..and Micheal Schumacher is leading Micheal Schumacher”
And Michael Schumacher is actually in a very good position. He is in last place.
“There is nothing wrong with the car except that it is on fire.”
“A sad ending, albeit a happy one”
“So this being Michael Schumacher’s 10th race in his 151st year in F1″
“There are 7 winners of the Monaco Grand prix on the starting line today and four of them are Michael Schumacher“.
Fantastic!! There are four different cars filling the first four places!!“Senna 1st, Prost 2nd and Berger 3rd that makes up the top four!”
“Here at Brands Hatch Will Gollop has a clear lead over Will Gollop”.

Murray: There’s a fiery glow coming from the back of the Ferrari
– James: No Murray, that’s his rear safety light
Murrary: “What’s that? There’s a BODY on the track!!!
-James: “Um, I think that that is a piece of BODY-WORK, from someone’s car.

Murray (To Damon Hill)): When did you realise that you had a puncture, Damon?
– Damon Hill: When my tyre went down, Murray!“
“Frentzen is taking, er…, reducing that gap between himself and Frentzen.
”Michael has moved up to the position that..that…that…the other one isn’t“
Two McLarens on the first row of the grid, two Ferarri’s on the first row of the grid…”
“Jenson Button is in the top ten, in eleventh position.
Upon seeing Pedro Diniz’s Sauber catch fire ” Fire! Fire!, Diniz in the oven”
“…and HERE COMES DAMON HILL IN THE WILLIAMS!!!!…..this car is absolutely unique!….except for the one behind it….which is exactly the same…”

Niki Lauder🏁🏎💨

Formula One legend Niki Lauda was born on 22 February 1949 in Vienna, Austria, His paternal grandfather was the Viennese-born businessman Hans Lauda. Lauda became a racing driver despite his family’s disapproval. After starting out with a Mini, Lauda moved on into Formula Vee, but rapidly moved up to drive in private Porsche and Chevron sports cars. Then he got into the fledgling March team as a Formula Two (F2) driver in 1971. He was quickly promoted to the F1 team, but drove for March in F1 and F2 in 1972. Although the F2 cars were good March’s 1972 F1 season was catastrophic so Lauda, joined the BRM team in 1973. Lauda was instantly quick. However his big break came when his BRM teammate Clay Regazzoni left to rejoin Ferrari in 1974 and team owner Enzo Ferrari asked Regazzoni to suggest a replacement and he recommended Lauda.

During the 1970s, Ferrari s fortunes revived under Luca di Montezemolo and Lauda finished second-place at the 1970 Argentine Grand Prix and won the Spanish Grand Prix after achieving six consecutive pole positions however, a mixture of inexperience and mechanical unreliability meant Lauda won only one more race that year, the Dutch GP. He finished fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.The 1975 F1 season started slowly for Lauda, not finishing higher than fifth in the first four races but he then won four out of the next five races in the new Ferrari 312T. His first World Championship was confirmed with a third place finish at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza; Lauda’s teammate Regazzoni won the race and Ferrari clinched their first constructor’s championship. Lauda won the race of the year, the United States GP. He also became the first driver to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in under 7 minutes. Never one to be awed by the trappings of success, Lauda famously gave away any trophies he won to his local garage in exchange for his car to be washed and serviced. despite tensions between Lauda and di Montezemolo’s successor, Daniele Audetto, Lauda dominated the start of the 1976 F1 season, winning four of the first six races and finishing second in the other two. By the time of his fifth win of the year at the British GP, he had more than double the points of his closest challengers Jody Scheckter and James Hunt, and a second consecutive World Championship appeared a formality. It would be a feat not achieved since Jack Brabham’s victories in 1959 and 1960. He also looked set to win the most races in a season, a record held by the late Jim Clark since 1963.

A week before the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, Lauda urged his fellow drivers to boycott the race, largely due to the 23 kilometre circuit’s safety arrangements. Most of the other drivers voted against the boycott and the race went ahead. On 1 August 1976 during the second lap at the very fast left kink before Bergwerk, Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off the track, hit an embankment, burst into flames and rolled back into the path of Brett Lunger’s Surtees-Ford car. Unlike Lunger, Lauda was trapped in the wreckage. Drivers Arturo Merzario, Lunger, Guy Edwards and Harald Ertl arrived at the scene a few moments later, but before they were able to pull Lauda from his car, he suffered severe burns to his head and inhaled hot toxic gases that damaged his lungs and blood. As Lauda was wearing a modified helmet, the foam had compressed and it slid off his head after the accident, leaving his face exposed to the fire. Although Lauda was conscious and able to stand immediately after the accident, he later lapsed into a coma. Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns to his head, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and his eyelids. He chose to limit reconstructive surgery to replacing the eyelids and getting them to work properly. Since the accident he has always worn a cap to cover the scars on his head.

Lauda was replaced by Carlos Reutemann and Ferrari boycotted the Austrian GP in protest against McLaren driver James Hunt at the Spanish and British GPs. Surprisingly, Lauda returned to race only six weeks (two races) later, at Monza and finished fourth in the Italian GP where he wore a specially adapted AGV crash helmet so as to not be in too much discomfort. In Lauda’s absence, Hunt had reduced Lauda’s lead in the World Championship standings and stood three points behind Lauda before the final race of the season, the Japanese GP. Lauda qualified third, one place behind Hunt, but retired after two laps. Hunt led much of the race before his tires blistered and an inevitable pit stop dropped him down the order. He recovered to 3rd, and won the title by a single point. Niki Lauda’s incredible rivalry with James Hunt is also the subject of the film Rush starring Chris Hemsworth. Lauda had a difficult 1977 season, despite winning the championship. Lauda disliked his new teammate, Reutemann, and felt he had been let down by Ferrari so he announced his decision to quit Ferrari at season’s end, Lauda left earlier due to the team’s decision to run the unknown Gilles Villeneuve in a third car at the Canadian Grand Prix. Five years after his first retirement, Lauda won his third title driving a McLaren MP4/2. having joined Brabham in 1978 for a $1 million salary, Lauda endured two unsuccessful seasons, notable mainly for his one race in the Brabham BT46B, a radical design known as the Fan Car: it won its first and only race at the Swedish GP, but Brabham did not use the car in F1 again; after other teams vigorously protested the fan car’s legality. Lauda next drove the Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo which began the 1978 season at the third race in South Africa. The BT46 suffered from a variety of mostly minor troubles that forced Lauda to retire the car 9 out of 14 races. However, when it ran it ran well, with Lauda winning the sole outing of the fan car in Sweden, and also winning in Italy, as well as 2nd in Montreal and Great Britain, and a 3rd in the Netherlands. At the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, Lauda informed Brabham that he wished to retire immediately, as he had no more desire to “drive around in circles”. Lauda, who had founded a charter airline, returned to Austria to run the company full-time.

In 1982 Lauda returned to racing, feeling that he still had a career in Formula One. After a successful test with McLaren, the only problem was in convincing then team sponsor Marlboro that he was still capable of winning. Lauda won the Long Beach Grand Prix. Before the race at the Kyalami race track in South Africa, Lauda organised a ‘drivers’ strike over the new contracts, and The drivers, with the exception of Teo Fabi, barricaded themselves in a banqueting suite at Sunnyside Park Hotel until they won. Lauda won a third world championship in 1984 by half a point over teammate Alain Prost, due only to half points being awarded for the shortened 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. he also won the Austrian Grand Prix. Initially, Lauda did not want Prost to become his teammate, as he presented a much faster rival.

However, during the two seasons together, they had a good relationship. The whole season continued to be dominated by Lauda and Prost, who won 12 of 16 races. Lauda won five races, while Prost was able to win seven Grands Prix. However, Lauda, who was able to set records for most Pole Position in a season during the 1975 season, rarely matched his teammate in qualifying. Despite this, Lauda’s championship win came in Estoril, when he had to start in eleventh place on the grid, while Prost qualified on the front row. However, Lauda was able to come in second and claimed the title. 1985 was a poor season for Lauda, with eleven retirements from the fourteen races he started. He did not start the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps after crashing and breaking his wrist during practice, and he later missed the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. He did manage 4th at the San Marino Grand Prix, 5th at the German Grand Prix, and a single race win at the Dutch Grand Prix. This proved to be his last Grand Prix victory and also the last Formula One Grand Prix held in the Netherlands and in 1985 Lauda retired.

Other Birthdays and Anniversaries happening on 22 February

  • British soldier, author, and Scout movement founder Robert Baden-Powell, was born 22nd February 1857 (d. 1941)
  • Olave Baden-Powell, English founder of the Girl Guide was born 22nd February 1889
  • Robert Pershing Wadlow, the World’s tallest ever human was born 22nd February 1918
  • English singer/songwriter James Blunt, was born 22nd February 1974
  • English radio DJ Chris Moyles, was born 22nd February1974
  • American actress Drew Barrymore, was born 22nd February 1975

Enzo Ferrari

Italian motor racing legend and entrepreneur, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team and Ferrari automobile marque Enzo Ferrari, was born February 18, 1898 in Modena, Italy. Ferrari grew up with little formal education but a strong desire to race cars. At the age of 10 and seeing 1908 Circuit di Bologna, he decided to become a racing Driver.During World War I he was assigned to the third Alpine Artillery division of the Italian Army. His father Alfredo, as well as his older brother, also named Alfredo, died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Ferrari became severely ill himself in the 1918 flu pandemic and was consequently discharged from Italian service. Upon returning home he found that the family firm had collapsed. Having no other job prospects, Ferrari eventually settled for a job at a smaller car company called CMN (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali), redesigning used truck bodies into small passenger cars. He took up racing in 1919 on the CMN team, but had little initial success.

He left CMN in 1920 to work at Alfa Romeo and racing their cars in local races he had more success. In 1923, racing in Ravenna, he acquired the Prancing Horse badge which decorated the fuselage of Francesco Baracca’s (Italy’s leading ace of WWI) SPAD S.XIII fighter, given from his mother, taken from the wreckage of the plane after his mysterious death. This icon would have to wait until 1932 to be displayed on a racing car.In 1924 Ferrari won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara. His successes in local races encouraged Alfa to offer him a chance of much more prestigious competition. Ferrari turned this opportunity down and did not race again until 1927. He continued to work directly for Alfa Romeo until 1929 before starting Scuderia Ferrari as the racing team for Alfa.Ferrari managed the development of the factory Alfa cars, and built up a team of over forty drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. Ferrari himself continued racing until 1932.

The support of Alfa Romeo lasted until 1933. Only at the intervention of Pirelli did Ferrari receive any cars at all. Despite the quality of the Scuderia drivers, the company won few victories. Auto Union and Mercedes dominated the era, but Ferrari achieved a notable victory when Tazio Nuvolari beat them on their home turf at the German Grand Prix in 1935.In 1937 Alfa took control of its racing efforts again, reducing Ferrari to Director of Sports under Alfa’s engineering director. Ferrari soon left, but a contract clause restricted him from racing or designing cars for four years.In response, Ferrari organized Auto-Avio Costruzioni, a company supplying parts to other racing teams. Ferrari did manage to manufacture two cars for the 1940 Mille Miglia, driven by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni. During World War II his firm was forced to undertake war production for Mussolini’s fascist government. Following Allied bombing of the factory, Ferrari relocated from Modena to Maranello. It was not until after World War II that Ferrari could start making cars bearing his name, founding today’s Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947.

The first open-wheel race was in Turin in 1948 and the first victory came later in the year in Lago di Garda. Ferrari participated in the Formula 1 World Championship since its introduction in 1950 but the first victory was not until the British Grand Prix of 1951. The first championship came in 1952–53, with Alberto Ascari. The company also sold production sports cars in order to finance the racing endeavours not only in Grands Prix but also in events such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans. Ferrari’s decision to continue racing in the Mille Miglia brought the company new victories and greatly increased public recognition. However, increasing speeds, poor roads, and nonexistent crowd protection eventually spelled disaster for both the race and Ferrari. During the 1957 Mille Miglia, near the town of Guidizzolo, a 4.0-litre Ferrari 335S driven by the flamboyant Alfonso de Portago was traveling at 250 km/h when it blew a tire and crashed into the roadside crowd, killing de Portago, his co-driver, and nine spectators, including five children. In response, Enzo Ferrari and Englebert, the tyre manufacturer, were charged with manslaughter in a lengthy criminal prosecution that was finally dismissed in 1961. Many of the firm’s greatest victories came at Le Mans (14 victories, including six in a row 1960–65) and in Formula One during the 1950s and 1960s, with the successes of Juan-Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961) and John Surtees (1964).

By 1969 the problems of reduced demand and inadequate financing forced Ferrari to allow Fiat to take a stake in the company. Ferrari had previously offered Ford the opportunity to buy the firm in 1963 for US$18 million but, late in negotiations, Ferrari withdrew once he realised that he would not have been able to retain control of the company sporting program. Ferrari became joint-stock and Fiat took a small share in 1965 and then in 1969 they increased their holding to 50% of the company. (In 1988 Fiat’s holding rose to 90%). In 1974 Ferrari nominated Luca Cordero di Montezemolo sporting director. Niki Lauda won the championship in 1975 and 1977. After those successes and another title for Jody Scheckter in 1979, the company’s Formula One championship hopes fell into the doldrums.1982 opened with a strong car, the 126C2, world-class drivers, and promising results in the early races. However, Gilles Villeneuve was killed in the 126C2 in May, and team mate Didier Pironi had his career cut short in a violent end over end flip on the misty back straight at Hockenheim in August. Pironi had been leading the driver’s championship at the time. Ferrari remained chairman of the company until his death in 1988 but the team would not see championship glory again during his lifetime.

Jenson Button MBE

Formula One racing Driver Jenson Button MBE was born 19 January 1980. He began karting at the age of eight and achieved early success, before progressing to car racing in the British Formula Ford Championship and the British Formula Three Championship. He first drove in Formula One with the Williams team for the 2000 season. The following year he switched to Benetton, which in 2002 became Renault F1, and then for the 2003 season he moved to BAR. They were subsequently renamed Honda for the 2006 season, during which Button won his first Grand Prix in Hungary, after 113 races.

Following the withdrawal of Honda from the sport in December 2008, he was left without a drive for the 2009 season, until Ross Brawn led a management buyout of the team in February 2009, and Button suddenly found himself in a highly competitive, Mercedes-engined car. He went on to win a record-equalling six of the first seven races of the 2009 season, and secured the 2009 World Drivers’ Championship at the Brazilian Grand Prix,having led on points all season; his success also helped Brawn GP to secure the World Constructors’ Championship. For 2010, he moved to McLaren, partnering fellow British racer and former world champion Lewis Hamilton. After finishing fifth for the team in 2010, Button finished the 2011 season as runner-up to World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Button remained at McLaren for the 2012 season, again partnering Hamilton. Button qualified second to Hamilton, Winning the 2012 Australian Grand Prix And went on to qualify second to Hamilton at the following race in Malaysia, eventually finishing14th after a collision with the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan.bButton finished second in the Chinese Grand Prix two weeks later. Button qualified fourth behind his team mate Lewis Hamilton at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix Button, But and retired on lap 55 due to an exhaust failure. Button qualified in 11th position At the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix Button qualified in 11th and finished 3rd at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim but was later promoted to second after Sebastian Vettel was penalised. He started in Pole Position for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps eventually winning after leading the whole race. He qualifies second at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, but retired. Button qualified in fourth position for the Singapore Grand Prix, eventually finishing second behind Vettel and qualified third for the Japanese Grand Prix but received a five place penalty starting Eighth eventually finishing fourth behind Kabui Kobayashi. Button retired from the Korean Grand Prix after colliding with Kobiyashi and Nico Rosberg. Button finished fifth at the Indian Grand Prix, behind team-mate Hamilton and fourth atheist Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Button won the Brazillian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hülkenberg collided, and finished fifth in the Championship.

In 2013 Button announced his intention to stay with McLaren until his retirement, partnering Mexican driver Sergio Perez, and finished ninth at the Australian Grand Prix. He sadly retired form the Malaysian Grand Prix. Button finished Forth at the Brazilian Grand Prix after a disappointing season. Danish driver Kevin Magnussen replaced Sergio Perez for the 2014 season. For 2014 The rules changed enabling drivers to pick a car number lasting for their Formula One career. Button picked number 22 which was the car number he raced under during his World Championship winning year for Brawn GP in 2009. Button finished the Australian Grand Prix in 4th place being promoted to third after Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified for rule-breaking and went on to finish the season Eighth in in Drivers Championship.

Button completed two further years with the McLaren team in 2015 and 2016 before stepping back from full-time racing to take an ambassadorial and reserve driver role. He returned for a one-off appearance at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix in place of Fernando Alonso which elevated him to joint second with Michael Schumacher in the list of all-time F1 starts. From the 306 races that Button has started he has won 15, with a total of 50 podium finishes.

Richard Burns

Former English rally driver Richard Burns was Born in Reading, Berkshire on 17 January 1971. He started driving at the age of eight, in his father’s old Triumph 2000. At eleven Burns joined the Under 17 Car Club, where he became driver of the year in 1984. Two years later Burns drove a Ford Escort at Churchill’s Welsh Forest Rally School near Newtown, Powys for the day and from that moment on he knew what he wanted to do. He joined the Craven Motor Club in Reading where his talent was spotted by rally enthusiast David Williams. In 1988 he entered his first rallies in his own Talbot Sunbeam. The car was too basic to make much impression and in 1989 he had to borrow other competitors cars in order to progress, he also rallied the stages of Panaround, Bagshot, Mid-Wales, Millbrook, Severn Valley, Kayel Graphics and the Cambrian Rally. In 1990 he joined the Peugeot Challenge in a Peugeot 205 GTI & got his first taste of a World Rally Championship event in Great Britain as a prize for winning the Peugeot Challenge that year. In 1991 Burns met Robert Reid,who became his co-driver for the next 12 years. For 1992 Williams bought Burns a Group N Subaru Legacy and with the support of Prodrive won the National Championship. Prodrive saw him as a promising driver for the future.In 1993 he joined the Subaru Rally Team for the British Rally Championship alongside Alister McRae, driving a Subaru Legacy. He won four rounds, the Vauxhall Sport, Pirelli, Scottish, and Manx International, and became the youngest ever British Champion. He finished seventh on that year’s snowy RAC Rally.

In the wake of his 1993 success, Burns remained with Subaru for the 1994 and 1995 seasons, contesting the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, which included the New Zealand and Australia Rallies, and also his home WRC round. His best result was third on the 1995 RAC Rally, behind team mates Carlos Sainz and winner and world champion Colin McRae. During 1996 he drove for Mitsubishi Ralliart at international level, winning the 1996 Rally New Zealand in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo . In 1998, he won the Safari Rally, piloting a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. He also won that year’s Rally Great Britain & the constructors’ Championship went to Mitsubishi.Burns moved to the Prodrive-run Subaru World Rally Team under David Richards for the 1999 season, joining Juha Kankkunen and Bruno Thiry as part of the factory team driving Subaru Impreza WRCs, replacing Colin McRae. Burns worked his way to a career high of second place in the drivers’ standings. He also led Subaru to second in the constructors’ series behind the Toyota team. He was a long-time contender for the title in 2000, but crashed out on the Rally Finland in mid-season handing the championship to Marcus Grönholm who had been competing in his first year as a full-time factory driver. Sadly Burns failed to finish the 2001 Monte Carlo Rally or the 2001 Swedish Rally, although he finished Fourth in Portugal and second in Argentina and Cyprus behind Ford’s Colin McRae. Burns won his first and only individual rally victory of the season in New Zealand, Burns then finished second on the Rally Australia. Burns’ finished the 2001 Rally of Great Britain in third place behind Peugeot duo Marcus Gronholm and Harri Rovanpera after his two main rivals for the Championship,Carlos Sainz and Colin Mcrea both crashed out enabling him to become the first Englishman to win the World Rally Championship. When Richard passed the finishing line at the final stage of the final rally in 2001, Burns uttered words thought to be paying tribute to his codriver Robert Reid: “You’re the best in the world”.

To commemorate the title success, Subaru produced a special edition of the Subaru Impreza in the UK called the RB5. Burns joined Peugeot for the 2002 season, but could not match the pace of team-mates Marcus Grönholm and Gilles Panizzi . Burns rejoined Subaru, for the 2004 season. However, In November 2003 Burns suffered a blackout while driving with Ford driver Markko Märtin to the rally. He was withdrawn from the event and was later diagnosed with an astrocytoma, a type of malignant brain tumour. He had Treatment during 2004 followed by surgery in April 2005 which was described as “very successful”. However the tumour could not be completely destroyed. On August 2005 a fan day was made, where his fans were invited to see his private car collection, but he was unable to drive himself so his co-driver Robert Reid drove his private cars on his behalf.Late on Friday, November 25, 2005, four years to the day after winning the World Rally Championship, Burns died in Westminster, London, aged 34, after having been in a coma for some days as a result of a brain tumour.

A memorial service for Burns was held at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea on Thursday 22 December 2005, with readings from BBC TV’s Jeremy Clarkson and Steve Rider, and a tribute paid by one of Burns’ closest friends, photographer Colin McMaster. Subaru also paid tribute to Burns at Castle Combe in 2006, when over 50 Subaru Impreza RB5s took to the track, including the RB5 number #001 driven by Alex Burns, Richard’s father. During the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed, a charity was founded in his name with a purpose to “inspire and support people with serious injury and illness”, named RB Foundation. The foundation also raises money for the Michael Park Fund, which deals with improving safety in motorsport events.Subaru released a special edition Impreza WRX STI in 2007 – the RB320 – in memory of Burns

Lewis Hamilton MBE 🏎🏁

Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton MBE was born 7th January 1985 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. He started his Motorsport career when at at the age of ten, he approached McLaren team principal Ron Dennis at the Autosport Awards ceremony and told him, “I want to race for you one day … I want to race for McLaren.” Less than three years later McLaren and Mercedes-Benz signed him to their Young Driver Support Programme. After winning the British Formula Renault, Formula Three Euroseries, and GP2 championships on his way up the racing career ladder, he drove for McLaren in 2007, making his Formula One debut 12 years after his initial encounter with Dennis.

Lewis Hamilton’s became the youngest ever driver to secure a contract with McLaren which later resulted in an F1 drive. In his first season in Formula One, Hamilton set numerous records, while finishing second in the 2007 Formula One Championship, just one point behind Kimi Räikkönen. He won the 2008 World Championship, ahead of Felipe Massa by a single point. Clinching the crown thanks to passing Timo Glock in the wet on the final lap, taking fifth place, Autosport subsequently dubbed him as Last Lap Lewis. He has stated he wants to stay with the McLaren team for the rest of his F1 career. Following his 2008 title Hamilton struggled with less competitive McLarens, and in spite of taking quite a few Grand Prix wins he was not able to challenge for the 2009 championship, and finished a close fourth in 2010, being in mathematical contention until the final round.

At the start of the 2011 season Hamilton dismissed Red Bull Racing as “just a drinks company”.Hamilton began the season finishing second in theAustralian Grand Prix, despite having to deal with a damaged floor on his McLaren.In the Malaysian Grand Prix, he finished seventh, receiving a 20-second time penalty post-race for weaving whilst defending and unsuitable driving, dropping him to eighth place. Hamilton took his first win of the season in China. He then finished fourth inTurkey and second in Spain. Hamilton crashed out of the Canadian Grand Prix after colliding with team-mate Button. In Monaco, he qualified tenth after the third qualifying session was red-flagged and received a drive through penalty after he bumped into Massa at the Hotel hairpin. Later, Alguersuari crashed into Hamilton, breaking his rear wing and Petrov also crashed so the race was red-flagged and restarted unfortunately Hamilton collided with Maldonado at Sainte Devote, for which he was given a 20 second time penalty . Hamilton took his third victory of the season at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

At the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton collided with Webber at the first corner before rejoining behind his team mate. A few laps later Hamilton tried to pass teammate Button but retired with a broken driveshaft. At Valencia and Silverstone Hamilton finished fourth and took his second victory of 2011 at Hockenheim. In Hungary Hamilton finished fourth after five pitstops and receiving a drive-through penalty after colliding with Paul di Resta. He finished fourth at Monza after a race long battle with Michael Schumacher. In Singapore Grand Prix, Hamilton collided with Felipe Massa which left Hamilton needing a new front wing and a drive through penalty. Hamilton tangled with Massa once again at the Japanese Grand Prix before finishing fifth. At the Korea Grand Prix Hamilton qualified pole position, ending a run of 16 consecutive pole positions for Red Bull., but was overtaken by World Champion Sebastian Vettel who Eventually won the race with Hamilton finishing second. At the Indian Grand Prix, Hamilton was penalised three places on the starting grid, after a yellow flag infraction in Friday practice, finishing seventh after yet another incident with Massa. Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while at at Brazil retired from the race and finished fifth overall in the championship.

Hamilton remained at McLaren alongside Button for the 2012 season.Hamilton finished third at the Australian Grand Prix, after being passed by Button and Vettel. He was overtaken by Fernando Alonso and Sergio Pérez, at the Malaysian Grand Prix, eventually finishing third. He also finished third in China, with Nico Rosberg and Button ahead. Hamilton finished eighth in Bahrain and was also involved in a controversial racing incident with Rosberg, with Rosberg appearing to push Hamilton off track while he attempted to overtake. At the Spanish Grand Prix, stewards demoted Hamilton to the back of the grid; but despite this, Hamilton finished eighth, ahead of Button, who had started in tenth. Hamilton won the Canadian Grand Prix for the third time, after overtaking Fernando Alonso and also won the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton and championship leader Fernado Alonso both retired from the Belgian Grand Prix after a pile up caused by Romain Grosjean . Hamilton then won the 2012 Italian Grand Prix . Hamilton suffered gearbox failure at the Singapore Grand Prix. He also retired from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, before winning the United States Grand Prix in Austin.Hamilton’s season ended with another pole position and retirement in the Brazilian GP, after colliding with Nico Hülkenberg

In 2013 Hamilton ,joined the Mercedes-Benz works team partnering Nico Rosberg, finishing in Fifth place at the Australian Grand Prix and third in Malaysia taking his first podium for the team. At Monaco Hamilton struggled with the car under braking and Prior to the race, both Red Bull and Ferrari had lodged formal complaints against Mercedes regarding testing. Hamilton won the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix, Becoming the first British driver to win a Formula One race in a Mercedes works car since Stirling Moss did so at the 1955 British Grand Prix, at Silverstone ,with Kimi Räikkönen in second. Although he did not score any podiums for the rest of the season, a string of point finishes helped him end the season in fourth place.

Hamilton stayed with Mercedes Benz for the 2014 season where A new rule allowed the drivers to pick a unique car number that they will use for their entire career. Hamilton picked #44, the same number he used during his karting days. Hamilton retired from the Australian Grand Prix with Rosberg winning. However Hamilton won the Malaysian Grand Prix with Rosberg finishing second in a Mercedes one-two, the first since 1955. Hamilton eventually won again In Bahrain, Turkey, Canada, China, Spain with Nico Rosberg finishing second. Hamilton finished second at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix behind Rosberg and Despite starting 20th in the German Grand Prix Hamilton managed to finish third. He started from the Pit-lane for the Hungarian Grand Prix eventually finishing third ahead of Rosberg. Hamilton and Rosberg both retired from the Belgian Grand Prix after colliding. He then won the Italian, Singapore Russian, United States and Japanese Grands Prix to achieve five consecutive victories for the first time in his career. His tenth victory of the season was also his 32nd career victory, the most of any British driver. Hamilton became the World Champion after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and also won 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

Emerson Fittipaldi🏁🏎🏎💭

Brazilian Formula One driver Emerson Fittipaldi, was born December 12th 1946, and throughout a long and successful career he has won the Indianapolis 500 twice and championships in both Formula One and CART. By the Age of 14 Fittipaldi was racing motorcycles, and aged by the age of 16 hydrofoils. Howevever While racing one day, his brother Wilson took off at 70 mph (110 km/h) and landed upside down – so wisely they both decided that although he had survived, they would no longer race hydrofoils and moved onto to racing karts instead. The pair then moved up 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 first trained and then subsequently engaged by the Jim Russell Driving School Formula Three team. 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 dominant 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. 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 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.

Emerson Fittipaldi decided to retire from Formula One racing at the end of 1980 & 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.

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 if the race. Fittipaldi returned to Indianapolis to drive the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car for the 2008 Indianapolis 500. Approaching 50, he was still with Champ Car in 1996 when an injury at the Michigan International Speedway ended his career with 22 wins. In 2003 he made a return to Champcars as a team owner. Fittipaldi was the acting 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 and was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001

Petter Solberg/Alec Issigonis

Norwegian professional rally and rallycross driver Petter Solberg was born 18 November 1974 in Spydeberg in Østfold. He debuted in the World Rally Championship in 1998 and was signed by the Ford factory team in 1999. The following year, Solberg started his successful partnership with the Subaru World Rally Team.With the Subaru works team, Solberg finished runner-up to Marcus Grönholm in 2002 and then became the first Norwegian to win the drivers’ world title in 2003. In the following two seasons, he finished runner-up to Sébastien Loeb. Following Subaru’s withdrawal from the WRC at the end of the 2008 season, Solberg secured private backing to start the Petter Solberg World Rally Team and competed with aCitroën Xsara WRC and a Citroën C4 WRC. He switched to rallycross after the 2012 season.

Chequered

British car designer Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis, CBE, FRS was born 18 November 1906. He is remembered chiefly for the groundbreaking and influential development of the Mini, launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959. Issigonis went into the motor industry as an engineer and designer working for Humber and competed successfully in motor racing during the 1930s and 1940s, racing a supercharged “Ulster” Austin Seven, later fitting it with a front axle of his own design, leading to employment at Austin. This greatly modified machine was replaced with a radical special completed in 1939, constructed of plywood laminated in aluminium sheeting. The suspension was also of advanced design, with trailing arm front suspension attached to a steel cross-member, and swing axle rear, all with rubber springs made of catapult elastic. This car was remarkably light, weighing 587 lb. Austin supplied a “works” specification supercharged side-valve engine. Issigonis usually won, even when entered in the 1100cc class if there was no 750cc category.

minicooper

Most events entered were sprints, but he also raced at circuits.In 1936, he moved to Morris Motors Limited at Cowley working on an independent front suspension system for the Morris 10, which was later used on the MG Y-type. He worked on various projects for Morris through the war then started work on an advanced post war car codenamed Mosquito that became the Morris Minor, which was produced from 1948 until 1971. In 1952, just as BMC was formed by the merger of Morris and Austin, he moved to Alvis Cars where he designed an advanced saloon with all-aluminium V-8 engine, and experimented with interconnected independent suspension systems. At the end of 1955, Issigonis was recruited back into BMC – this time into the Austin plant at Longbridge, to design a new model family of three cars. The XC (experimental car) code names assigned for the new cars were XC/9001 – for a large comfortable car, XC/9002 – for a medium-sized family car, and XC/9003 – for a small town car. During 1956 Issigonis concentrated on the larger two cars, producing several prototypes for testing.However, at the end of 1956, following fuel rationing brought about by the Suez Crisis, Issigonis was ordered to bring the smaller car, XC/9003, to production as quickly as possible. By early 1957, prototypes were running, and by mid-1957 the project was given an official drawing office project number (ADO15) so that the thousands of drawings required for production could be produced

In August 1959 the car was launched as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Seven, which soon became known as the Austin Mini. In later years, the car would become known simply as the Mini. Due to time pressures, the interconnected suspension system that Issigonis had planned for the car was replaced by an equally novel, but cruder, rubber cone system designed by Alex Moulton. The Mini went on to become the best selling British car in history with a production run of 5.3 million cars. This ground-breaking design, with its front wheel drive, transverse engine, sump gearbox, 10-inch wheels, and phenomenal space efficiency, was still being manufactured in 2000 and has been the inspiration for almost all small front-wheel drive cars produced since the early 1960s.

In 1961, with the Mini gaining popularity, Issigonis was promoted to Technical Director of BMC. He continued to be responsible for his original XC projects. XC/9002 became ADO16 and was launched as the Morris 1100 with the Hydrolastic interconnected suspension system in August 1962. XC/9001 became ADO17 and was launched, also with the Hydrolastic suspension system, as the Austin 1800 in October 1964.The same principle was carried over for his next production car the Austin Maxi, However by then he had become more aware of the cost considerations of vehicle manufacture and in service warranty costs which were crippling BMC. It certainly appeared by the Maxi development era that Issigonis wanted to “do his own thing” as cost cutting and development costs spiraled. He would instead research work on his Mini replacement the 9X with its compact transverse engine.

With the creation of British Leyland in 1969 Issigonis became “Special Developments Director”. Issigonis (nicknamed “The Greek god” by his contemporaries) was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967 and was awarded a knighthood in 1969. Whilst he is most famous for his creation of the Mini, he was most proud of his participation in the design of the Morris Minor. He considered it to be a vehicle that combined many of the luxuries and conveniences of a good motor car with a price suitable for the working classes – in contrast to the Mini which was a spartan mode of conveyance with everything cut to the bone.Sir Alec officially retired from the motor industry in 1971. Issigonis continued working until shortly before his death in 1988 at his house in Edgbaston, Birmingham, and was cremated at the Lodge Hill Crematorium in nearby Selly Oak.On 15 October 2006 a rally was held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, England, to celebrate the centenary of Sir Alec’s birth.There is a road named “Alec Issigonis Way” in Oxford Business Park on the former site of the Morris Motors factory in Cowley, Oxford

Tiff Needell

British racing driver and television presenter Timothy “Tiff” Needell was born 29 October 1951. He is best known as a former co-presenter of Top Gear and current co-presenter of Fifth Gear. Needell first raced at a driving school at Brands Hatch in 1970. He progressed to Formula Ford, his progress assisted by the use of a Lotus 69 FF he won in an Autosport magazine competition. He later sold his Lotus and used the money to buy and race an Elden Mk10. Needell’s Formula Ford period culminated in his acquiring a Crossle 25F with which he won the Kent Messenger FF Championship after competing for only half of the remaining season. This success landed him a partly paid drive in the Formula Ford 2000 Championship in a Hawke chassis provided by McKinstry Racing. Needell was completely dominant in that car and series which provided him with the springboard into Formula 3. The remainder of the 1970s saw Needell as a front runner in the British Formula 3 series and then in the Aurora British Formula One championship. In 1979 he was unable to graduate to the F1 World Championship due to the lack of the correct licence, but he was back in 1980, driving two Grands Prix for Ensign, qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. However, he had an engine problem and did not finish the race. He subsequently failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix.

In 1988 and 1989 he competed in the British Rallycross Grand Prix in a Metro 6R4 prepared by Will Gollop’s motorsport team. He achieved a good result in 1988 finishing 4th in the B-Final in what was his first rallycross event, however, the 1989 event was cancelled due to heavy fog after the practice sessions. Needell made his first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1981 driving a Ibec-Hesketh 308LM alongside Tony Trimmer. They failed to finish and again in 1982 this time paired with Bob Evans and Geoff Lees in an Aston Martin Nimrod NRA/C2. However the following year Needell finished 17th driving a Porsche 956. In 1985 Needell briefly led the 24 hours driving the Aston Martin EMKA C84/1 and would eventually finish 11th. His best result at Le Mans was 3rd in 1990. He then had a couple of years in the British Touring Car Championship with Nissan, before returning to sports cars in 1995, driving a Porsche at Daytona and a Jaguar XJ220 at Le Mans. He then drove the Lister Storm for 3 years, reaching 3rd overall at Daytona in 1997 before gearbox problems dropped them to 19th. In 1998 he finished 2nd in the GT1 championship and won the Silverstone Golden Jubilee Trophy race. Since then, Needell’s racing career has mainly consisted of racing tin-tops (hard-topped cars), with varying levels of success in sports cars, historic racing and touring cars. He achieved particular notoriety after an accident with Nigel Mansell at the 1993 TOCA shoot out race at Donington Park.

Needell is also known in the United Kingdom as a television presenter and motoring journalist, in particular in association with the BBC TV series Top Gear which he started co-hosting in 1987. In 2001, when the BBC cancelled Top Gear (the show was brought back in 2002), Needell and the whole cast defected and signed with Five to produce and host a new motoring show named Fifth Gear. He does however, still contribute to Top Gear magazine. Needell has also co-presented ‘MPH’ at Earls Court in 2003, 2004, 2005 with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond and in 2006 with Jeremy Clarkson and James May (because Richard Hammond was recovering from his accident). He also appeared very briefly in the 2005 Top Gear Comic Relief special, Stars in Fast Cars. In 2009 he appeared on James May’s Toy Stories featuring the building of a Scalextric around Brooklands, and also visited James’ LEGO house. In 2011, he appeared on Top Gear, driving the Ariel Atom V8 in a race against a BMW S1000RR around the Top Gear Test Track. The segment was done in humour, with James May supposedly driving the Atom V8, only for it to actually be Tiff. He was also one of several people suspected of portraying the elusive masked racing driver The Stig on Top Gear.