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Juan Manuel Fangio Left Us 20 Years Ago to Date

On the 24th of June, 1911, a racing legend nicknamed El Chueco was born. Otherwise known as El Maestro, Juan Manuel Fangio died on the 17th of June, 1995. It was a black day for racing, but the Argentinian driver’s legacy soldiers on thanks to the man’s illustrious career. Mr. Fangio, we salute you!
Juan Manuel Fangio driving a Mercedes-Benz racecar 1 photo
After abandoning school to pursue knowledge in cars and how they work, Fangio then took up racing in ’38. His first competition saw El Chueco drive a Ford. Two years after competing in the Truism Carretera, Fangio started competing with Chevrolet. He went to win the Grand Prix International Championship, and then flied over to Europe for further racing between ’47 to ’49.

It was on the Old Continent where the legend of Juan Manuel Fangio kicked into overdrive. Since Formula 1 was born in 1950 to his retired from the series in 1958, the one we refer to as El Maestro went to win the World Championship of Drivers five times. This record stood in place for 47 years, until Schumacher upped the ante. Still, Schumacher didn’t manage to win the World Championship of Drivers with four teams.

Oh, and what glorious teams Juan raced for in F1: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati. Despite the fact Fangio participated in 52 Formula 1 Grand Prix events during his stint in the series, the man went to win 24 of 52 races. This still represents the highest winning percentage (46.15 percent) in the sport.

Before he retired in 1958, Fangio was kidnapped at gunpoint by two unmasked men of two Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement. He went off to live the tale and remained a good friend of his captors after 29 hours in custody. Following his retirement from Formula 1, the racing legend competed in other formulas, then went through a number of operations to correct heart and kidney conditions. Before he died in ’95, El Chueco was appointed Honorary President for Life of Mercedes-Benz Argentina, which is speaking volumes.

At his funeral, the 84-year-old Fangio was accompanied by two rather famous pall-bearers: Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss. Schumacher once said that “Fangio is on a level much higher than I see myself,” but you know what? Fangio's magnificence is best observed by watching him drive the legendary Maserati 250F in Italy. Then again, Fangio and the Maserati 250F1 at the Nurburgring in 1958 wasn't a bad combo either.

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