Juan Manuel Fangio
Honorary President: 1962 - 95
World Champion: 1951, 54 - 57
Juan Manuel Fangio: 24 June 1911 – 17 July 1995), nicknamed El Chueco (“the bowlegged one”, also commonly translated as “bandy legged”) or El Maestro (“The Master”), was a racing car driver from Argentina, who dominated the first decade of Formula One racing, winning the World Drivers’ Championship five times.
From childhood, he abandoned his studies to pursue auto mechanics. In 1938, he debuted in Turismo Carretera, competing in a Ford V8. In 1940, he competed with Chevrolet, winning the Grand Prix International Championship and devoted his time to the Argentine Turismo Carretera becoming its champion, a title he successfully defended a year later. Fangio then competed in Europe between 1947 to 1949 where he achieved further success.
He won the World Championship of Drivers five times—a record which stood for 46 years until beaten by Michael Schumacher—with four different teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati), a feat that has not been repeated. A member of the Formula 1 Hall of Fame, he is regarded by many as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time and holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One – 46.15% – winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered. Fangio is the only Argentine driver to have won the Argentine Grand Prix, having won it four times in his career—the most of any driver.
After retirement, Fangio presided as the honorary president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina from 1987, a year after the inauguration of his museum, until his death in 1995. In 2011, on the centenary of his birth, Fangio was remembered around the world and various activities were held on the occasion of his birthday.
Fangio, unlike later Formula One drivers, started his racing career at a mature age and was the oldest driver in many of his races. During his career, drivers raced with almost no protective equipment on circuits with no safety features. Fangio had no compunction about leaving a team, even after a successful year or even during a season, if he thought he would have a better chance with a better car. As was then common, several of his race results were shared with team mates after he took over their car during races when his own had technical problems. His rivals included Alberto Ascari, Giuseppe Farina and Stirling Moss. Throughout his career, Fangio was backed by funding from the Argentine government of Juan Peron.