Monday, April 12, 2010

Clay Regazzoni One Of LCP Most Famous Pilotos

Clay Regazzoni.

Without the intent of sensationalizing a tragedy the sole purpose of this article is to show just how well respected La Carerra Panamericana is even by some of the greatest names in racing. So much so that as in this case nothing would stop this man from competing in it again and again. Gods Speed Clay.

One of the world's most famous race car drivers, Gianclaudio Giuseppe "Clay" Regazzoni (September 5, 1939 – December 15, 2006) was an Italian speaking Swiss racing car driver. He competed in Formula One races from 1970 to 1980, winning five Grands Prix. His first win was the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in his debut season, driving for Ferrari. He remained with the Italian team until 1972. After a single season with British Racing Motors Regazzoni returned to Ferrari for a further three years, 1974 to 1976. After finally leaving Ferrari at the end of 1976, Regazzoni joined the Ensign and Shadow teams, before moving to Williams in 1979, where he took the British team's first ever Grand Prix victory, the 1979 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

This painting, signed by Jackie Steward, Ken Tyrell and Derek Gardner was from his 1980 accident when he crashed during the 1980 United States Grand Prix West, held at Long Beach after the brake pedal of his Ensign failed at the end of a long, high-speed straight travelling at approximately 174 miles per hour. The crash left Regazzoni paralyzed from the waist down, ending his competitive career.

After this accident, Regazzoni became known for his activities in helping disabled people get equal opportunities in life and society. Despite his disability, Regazzoni was determined to live as full a life as possible and his rehabilitation became an inspirational story. Later on he won back his racing license and became one of the first disabled persons to participate in high-level motor sports. Although his injuries made an F1 return impossible, Regazzoni raced with some success in rallies like the Dakar Rally and the 12 Hours of Sebring. These achievements paved the way for the wider acceptance of disabled persons in motoring and motorsports. In 1994, he returned to the Long Beach Grand Prix (at that point an IndyCar race) to compete as a Pro in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

Not only was Clay Regazzoni known for his driving ability but he was equally known a a tough guy and one who was well known for escaping wrecks that many others would never have survived. After reading about many of his crashes it's impossible to believe he survived most of them. With regards to La Carrera Panamericana he raced several LCP crashed 3 times.

This photo shows the hand controls he helped design and which are used today in many automotive applications both street and racing.

Thank you Fabricio de la Cajiga for these 4 photos.

Sadley, on December 15, 2006, Regazzoni was killed when the Chrysler Voyager he was driving hit the rear of a lorry on the Italian A1 motorway, near Parma. Crash investigators estimate that he was travelling at approximately 62 mph. His funeral was held on 23 December and was attended by Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda, among many luminaries from the Formula One world.

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