Juan Manuel Fangio was one of the greatest racecar drivers of the twentieth century. The son of italian immigrants, he was born in 1911, in Balcarce, Argentina. Cars became an important part of his life at a very early stage (when he was 13, he worked as an apprentice at an auto repair shop). He made his first appearances in professional car races in 1936, at the age of 25, and by 1940 and 1941, he had already won his first racing championships.
But his name would brighten the world`s motor racing scene during the 1950s decade, known as the golden age of racing, at which time the International Motor Racing Association instituted the Formula One F1 and Formula Two F2 categories.
Early in the decade, in 1951, he won his first world championship behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 159 (manufactured in Italy) in Pedrables, Spain. This was also the final race for the Alfa Romeo motor racing team. The following year, a terrible accident on the Monza circuit, which almost cost Fangio his life, forced the driver out of competition for seven months, and he was unable to race for the remainder of the season.
In 1954 he participated in his second world championship race. Fangio had signed a contract with Mercedes Benz, which authorized him to race with another motor racing team while the german cars were being readied for competition. He began the season driving a Maserati 250 F, and ended it piloting a Mercedes Benz W 196, christened The Silver Arrow.
At the time Fangio became the the world´s champion for the second time, in 1955, the Mercedes Benz team withdrew from competition after one of his cars caused a true massacre at Le Mans. This event marked the beginning of 1956, impelling the champion driver to sign a contract with Ferrari ( the italian team over which Fangio had always triumphed) which, this time, granted him first place on the winner´s platform for the third time in his life.
He returned to the italian Maserati team in 1957 and, once again, conquered the world title for an unprecedented fifth time, a recordwhich, to this day, no one has been able to break. One year later, with 206 races and 51 Grand Prix under his belt, Fangio finally reckoned that his career as a professional racecar driver had come to an end.
On July 17 1995 Fangio died at the age of 84.
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