Fangio dies at 84 after long illness

DERICK ALLSOP

Juan-Manuel Fangio, one of the greatest sportsmen, let alone racing drivers, of all time, has died after a lengthy illness at the age of 84. He was admitted to Buenos Aires Hospital a few days ago with pneumonia.

The son of poor Italian immigrants to Argentina, he became a hero on the track and an ambassador off it. He won a record five world championships and 24 of his 51 grands prix during the 1950s, and never tarnished his reputation with controversy, as those embroiled in Formula One's latest acrimony might be reminded.

Fangio won the first of his titles in 1951, at the age of 40. He took four more in consecutive seasons, from 1954 to 1957, whereupon he became the oldest champion in the history of the sport. He retired the following year. Stirling Moss, friend, admirer and adversary, has always maintained that as a driver and a man Fangio had no equal.

"He was such a champion," Moss said. "I saw a lot of him and drove right behind so closely that we were known as 'The Train'."

He drove for some of the legendary marques - Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes and Ferrari - and always with the combination of style and strength that enabled him to outpace the rest well into his 40s.

It is generally reckoned his outstanding performance was in the 1957 German Grand Prix, at the formidable, 14-mile long Nurburgring. A lengthy pit-stop left his Maserati 48 seconds behind Ferrari's British pair of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins. But he eventually won by 3.6sec from Hawthorn, breaking the lap record 10 times in the process.

Fangio was born in Balcarce, in the province of Buenos Aires, on 24 June, 1911. His father was a stonemason but he started work as an apprentice mechanic at the age of 13 and learned how to prepare and race cars with his brother, Toto.

He made his racing debut in a modified taxi and had his first win in an endurance event, across the Andes to Peru. He went to Europe in 1948 to take up professional racing and competed in the inaugural Grand Prix World Championship two years later.

He narrowly escaped death at Monza in 1952, and saw many of his colleagues killed on the track. He quit racing, saying: "My best friends died in stupid accidents and I didn't want to go on."

Following his retirement, he returned to Argentina a folk hero. A race track and museum have been built in his honour at Balcarce.

"I never took an unnecessary risk," he said in an interview shortly before his death. "I always knew my limits."

Fangio's wake will be held at the Argentinian Automobile Club's central building in Buenos Aires. His funeral takes place in Balcarce today.

All-time great, page 22

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all