To have a record five Grand Prix titles that were only beaten decades later by a man named “Schumacher” takes an impressive amount of skill. Juan Manuel Fangio is perhaps the greatest driver ever; believe it or not, the statistics show that the Argentinian won about 46% of the Grand Prix races he’d started. And that was just Grand Prix.
Sports cars, grand tourers, formula cars…Fangio raced them all—in an era where “safety” meant two bales of hay inside a corner, instead of just one. He inspired millions to follow their dreams, including friend Horacio Pagani, who designed the Zonda hypercar with Fangio’s input. But perhaps his most enduring legacy is how he’s still referred to as, simply, “the maestro”.
1. “You need great passion, because everything you do with great pleasure, you do well.”
2. “Before going into the army, one thinks that one is a god. In the army, you realized that you were nothing more than a number, a small cog”
3. “I believe that on that day in 1957, I finally managed to master the Nürburgring, making those leaps in the dark on those curves where I had never before had the courage to push things so far.”
– Referring to the 1957 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, called one of the greatest racing victories ever, after Fangio clawed back nearly a minute of lost time, setting the lap record nine times in the process
4. “There are those who keep out of mischief, and there are the adventurers. We racing drivers are adventurers; the more difficult something is, the greater the attraction that comes from it.”
5. “I will not demonstrate it, I will race it.”
– This four-lap “demonstration” at Australia’s Sandown circuit took place in 1978, when Fangio was 66 and driving a car 12 years older than Jack Brabham’s Repco-Brabham. The only thing more amazing than Fangio’s astonishing performance is noticing how the racers and mechanics in the pit lane—who should be working—are absolutely captivated by the duel.
6. “You cannot think, ‘If I don’t win, I don’t eat.’ No, when I race, I have no financial problems. After the race, yes, but during the race, my mind is strictly on racing—not the consequences.”
7. “It is finished.”
– said after competing in his last Grand Prix
8. “Driving fast on the track does not scare me. What scares me is when I drive on the highway and get passed by some idiot who thinks he is Fangio.”