Juan Manuel Fangio

Race Car Driver

Juan Manuel Fangio was born on June 24th, 1911 in Balcarce, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina and is the Race Car Driver from Argentina. Discover Juan Manuel Fangio's biography, age, height, physical stats, dating/affair, family, hobbies, education, career updates, and networth at the age of 84 years old.

Date of Birth
June 24, 1911
Place of Birth
Balcarce, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Death Date
Jul 17, 1995 (age 84)
Zodiac Sign
Entrepreneur, Formula One Driver, Racing Automobile Driver
Juan Manuel Fangio Height, Weight, Eye Color and Hair Color

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About Juan Manuel Fangio

Juan Manuel Fangio (American Spanish: [ˈfanχjo], Italian: [ˈfandʒo]; 24 June 1911 – 17 July 1995), nicknamed El Chueco ("the bowlegged" or "bandy legged one") or El Maestro ("The Master" or "The Teacher"), was an Argentine racing car driver. He 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 and 1949, where he achieved further success.

He won the World Championship of Drivers five times—a record that stood for 46 years until beaten by Michael Schumacher—with four different teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Maserati). He holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One at 46.15%, winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered. Fangio is the only Argentine driver to have won the Argentine Grand Prix, which he won four times in his career, more than any other 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 in his honor.

Early life

Fangio's grandfather, Giuseppe Fangio, emigrated to Buenos Aires from Italy in 1887. Giuseppe managed to buy his own farm near Balcarce, a small town near Mar del Plata in southern Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, within three years by making charcoal from tree branches. Giuseppe brought his family, with his 7-year son Loreto, later the racing driver's father, to Argentina from the small central Italian town of Castiglione Messer Marino in the Chieti province of the Abruzzo region. His mother, Herminia Déramo, was from Tornareccio, slightly to the north. Fangio's parents married on 24 October 1903 and lived on farms, where Herminia was a housekeeper and Loreto worked in the building trade, becoming an apprentice stonemason.

Fangio was born in Balcarce on 24 June 1911, San Juan's Day, at 12:10 am. His birth certificate was mistakenly dated 23 June in the Register of Balcarce. He was the fourth of six children. In his childhood he became known as El Chueco, the bandy-legged one, for his skill in bending his left leg around the ball to shoot on goal in football games.

Fangio started his education at School No. 4 of Balcarce, before transferring to School No. 1 and 18 Uriburu Av. When Fangio was 13, he dropped out of school and worked in Miguel Angel Casas auto mechanics' workshop as an assistant mechanic. When he was 16, he started riding as a mechanic for his employer's customers. He developed pneumonia that almost proved fatal, after a football game where hard running had caused a sharp pain in his chest. He was bed-ridden for two months, cared for by his mother.

After recovering, Fangio served compulsory military service at the age of 21. In 1932 he was enlisted at the Campo de Mayo cadet school near Buenos Aires. His driving skills caught the attention of his commanding officer, who appointed Fangio as his official driver. Fangio was discharged before his 22nd birthday, after taking his final physical examination. He returned to Balcarce where he aimed to further his football career. Along with his friend José Duffard he received offers to play at a club based in Mar del Plata. Their teammates at Balcarce suggested the two work on Fangio's hobby of building his own car, and his parents gave him space to do so in a rudimentary shed at the family home.

Early racing career

After finishing his military service, Fangio opened his own garage and raced in local events. He began his racing career in Argentina in 1936, driving a 1929 Ford Model A that he had rebuilt. In the Tourism Highway category, Fangio participated in his first race between 18 and 30 October 1938 as the co-pilot of Luis Finocchietti. Despite not winning the Argentine Road Grand Prix, Fangio drove most of the way and finished 5th. In November of that year, he entered the "400 km of Tres Arroyos", but it was suspended due to a fatal accident.

During his time racing in Argentina, he drove Chevrolet cars and was Argentine National Champion in 1940 and 1941. One particular race, the 1940 Gran Premio del Norte, was almost 10,000 km (6,250 mi) long, one that Fangio described as a "terrible ordeal". This rally-style race started in Buenos Aires on 27 September, and ran up through the Andes and Bolivia to Lima, Peru, and then back to Buenos Aires, taking 15 days, ending on 12 October with stages held each day. This horrendously gruelling race was held in the most difficult and varied conditions imaginable- drivers had to traverse through hot and dry deserts, insect-ridden jungles with crushing humidity, and freezing cold and sometimes snowy mountain passes with 1,000 feet (300 m) cliff drops at extremely high altitude- sometimes in total darkness, all on a mixture of dirt and paved roads. Early in the race Fangio hit a large rock and damaged the car's driveshaft, which was replaced in the next town. Later on at an overnight stop in Bolivia one of the townspeople crashed into Fangio's car and bent an axle- he and his co-driver spent all night fixing it. Following this repair the fanblade got loose and punctured the radiator, which meant another repair before it was later replaced. They drove 150 miles (240 km) through scorching desert with no water, and during a night stint the headlights fell off and they were secured with his co-driver's necktie. The weather in the mountains was so cold that Fangio drove with his co-driver's arms around him for hours. These mountainous routes in Bolivia and Peru sometimes involved going up to altitudes of 14,000 feet (4,300 m) above sea level—a 40 percent reduction of air thickness, making breathing incredibly difficult and the engine being severely down on power. When Fangio finally got out of the mountains and back to Buenos Aires, after traversing all these external challenges, Fangio had won this race, which was his first big victory.

In 1941, he beat Oscar Gálvez in the Grand Prix Getúlio Vargas in Brazil, which was a 6-day, 3,731-kilometre (2,318 mi) public road race starting from and ending at Rio de Janeiro, going through various cities and towns all over Brazil such as São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. For the second time, Fangio was crowned champion of Argentine TC. In 1942, he took tenth place in the South Grand Prix. In April he won the race "Mar y Sierras", and then had to suspend activity due to World War II. In 1946, Fangio returned to racing with two races in Morón and Tandil driving a Ford T. In February 1947, Fangio competed at National Mechanics (MN) at the Retiro circuit, and on 1 March, he started the race for Rosario City Award. Subsequently, Fangio triumphed in the 'Double Back Window' Race.

In October 1948, Fangio however suffered a personal tragedy in another gruelling race, this time a point-to-point race from Buenos Aires to Caracas, Venezuela- a 20-day event covering a distance of 9,580 kilometres (5,950 mi) through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and finally Venezuela. Fangio, with his co-driver Daniel Urrutia battled hard with brothers Juan and Oscar Galvez, and Domingo Marimon throughout. On the 10th day, on the Lima to Tumbes stage in northern Peru, on coastal roads along the Pacific Ocean, Fangio was driving at night in thick fog generated from the ocean in near-pitch black darkness when he approached a left-hand bend at 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph) near the village of Huanchaco, not far from the small city of Trujillo. With his cars' lights not helping him much thanks to the thick fog, he approached the bend too fast, lost control of the car and tumbled down an embankment, and Urrutia was thrown out of the car through the front windscreen. Oscar Galvez stopped to help Fangio, who had neck injuries, soon found the badly injured Urrutia. Another competitor, Luciano Marcilla, stopped and took Fangio and Urrutia to the nearest hospital in the town of Chocope 50 km (31 mi) away. Fangio survived but 35-year-old Urrutia did not, suffering multiple fatal cervical and basal skull fractures. Domingo Marimon won the race, but the race was a disaster and was marred by the deaths of 3 spectators and 3 drivers (including Urrutia). Fangio believed he would never race again and entered a depressed state after the death of his friend, but he soon got out of his saddened state, and his successes in Argentina caught the attention of the Argentine Automobile Club and the Juan Peron-led Argentine government, so they bought a Maserati and sent him to Europe in December 1948 to continue his career.

Later life and death

When Fangio attended the 1958 Indianapolis 500, he was offered $20,000 to qualify in a Kurtis-Offenhauser by the car's owner, George Walther, Jr (father of future Indy 500 driver Salt Walther). Fangio had previously attended the 500 in 1948 at which time he expressed his interest in competing the race. However, he was unable to qualify with a car that did not work properly. Walther allowed Fangio to stand aside (before a contract with British Petroleum came to light), still he did not want another driver to take over Fangio's position.

During the rest of his life after retiring from racing Fangio sold Mercedes-Benz cars, often driving his former racing cars in demonstration laps. Even before he joined the Mercedes Formula One team, in the mid-1950s, Fangio had acquired the Argentine Mercedes concession. He was appointed President of Mercedes-Benz Argentina in 1974, and its Honorary President for Life in 1987.

Fangio served as the flagman for the Argentine Grand Prix from 1972 to 1981, and for NASCAR's Winston 500 in 1975.

Fangio was the special guest of the 50th anniversary 1978 Australian Grand Prix at the Sandown Raceway in Melbourne (7 years before the Australian Grand Prix became a round of the World Championship in 1985). After awarding the Lex Davison Trophy to race winner Graham McRae (who stated that meeting Fangio was a bigger thrill than actually winning the race for the 3rd time), the legendary Argentinian drove his 1954 and 1955 World Championship-winning Mercedes-Benz W196 in a spirited 3 lap exhibition against 3 other cars, including the 1966 World Championship winning Brabham BT19 driven by Australia's own triple World Champion Jack Brabham. Despite his car being over 10 years older than the Repco Brabham, Fangio pushed the Australian all the way to the flag. Before the "race", Fangio (who at 67 years of age and not having raced competitively in 20 years, still held a full FIA Super Licence) had stated his intention of racing and not just putting in a demonstration drive.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Fangio underwent successful bypass surgery to correct a heart condition. He had also been suffering from kidney failure for some time before his death.

In 1980 Konex Foundation granted him the Diamond Konex Award as the best Sportsman of the decade in Argentina. In 1981 Fangio travelled to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, where he was reunited with his Tipo 159 Alfa Romeo from 1951 and the 1954 Lancia D50 for a couple of demonstrative laps. For the event Fangio was joined by old friends and fellow racers, including Toulo de Graffenried, Luigi Villoresi and Giorgio Scarlatti as well as former Alfa Romeo managers from the 1950s Paolo Marzotto and Battista Guidotti.

Following his retirement, Fangio was active in assembling automotive memorabilia associated with his racing career. This led to the creation of the Museo Juan Manuel Fangio, which opened in Balcarce in 1986.

Fangio was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990. He returned to the spotlight in 1994, when he publicly opposed a new Province of Buenos Aires law denying driving licences to those over 80 (which included Fangio). Denied a renewal of his card, Fangio reportedly challenged Traffic Bureau personnel to a race between Buenos Aires and seaside Mar del Plata (a 400 km (250 mi) distance) in two hours or less, following which an exception was made for the five-time champion.

In 1990, Fangio met the three-time world champion, Ayrton Senna, who had genuinely felt the encounter had reflected the mutual affection for both drivers.

Juan Manuel Fangio died in Buenos Aires in 1995, at the age of 84 from kidney failure and pneumonia; he was buried in his home town of Balcarce. His pallbearers were his younger brother Ruben Renato ("Toto"), Stirling Moss, compatriot racers José Froilán González and Carlos Reutemann, Jackie Stewart and the president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina at the time.

In the early 1950s, Fangio was involved in a road accident when he was forced to swerve to avoid an oncoming truck. The car, a Lancia Aurelia GT clipped a pole, spinning twice and threw Fangio out, which led him to sustain grazed elbows. One passenger stated the incident was the first time Fangio had been so terrified.

Fangio was never married, but was involved in a romantic relationship with Andrea Berruet with whom he broke up in 1960. They had a son named Oscar 'Cacho' Espinosa (1938) who was acknowledged as the unrecognised son of Fangio in 2000. Five years later, in 2005, Rubén Vázquez (1942) also claimed to be the son of Fangio through a relationship with Catarina Basili, whom Fangio had dated during a brief separation from Berruet. In July 2015, an Argentine court ruling ordered exhumation of Fangio's body after Espinosa's and Vázquez's claims to be the unacknowledged sons of the former race car driver. In December 2015, the Court confirmed that Espinosa was indeed Fangio's son, and in February 2016, it was confirmed that Rubén Vázquez was also Fangio's son. In June 2016, a DNA analysis concluded that Juan Carlos Rodríguez (1945) was the brother of Espinosa on paternal side with a 97.5% certainty. He was born from another brief relationship with Susana Rodríguez, who was 16 years old at the time. Fangio's paternity was ratified in May 2021 with a 99.9997% probability.

His nephew, Juan Manuel Fangio II, is also a successful racing driver.