Emerson Fittipaldi
Emerson Fittipaldi
Category: Open Wheel
CLASS OF: 2001
Official Nomination Bio

Emerson Fittipaldi's racing idols while growing up in Brazil were Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. Now, drivers like current CART champ Gil de Ferran and his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves say they looked up to "Emmo."

Why not? Fittipaldi is at the top of an ever-growing list of Brazilian drivers to stand out in the world's elite open-wheel racing series. He also a member of a very elite club of drivers to win both the world driving championship and the Indianapolis 500.

Fittipaldi took only three years to move from karts through Formula 3 and Formula 2 to Formula 1, where he became the third member of Colin Chapman's Team Lotus.

The fast Brazilian took the number-one Team Lotus seat after Jochen Rindt was killed during practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1970. Later that year, Fittipaldi won his first F1 race, the U.S. Grand Prix.

Injury slowed him in 1971, but Fittipaldi came back the following year to win five races and three poles to become the youngest world champion in history at age 25.

He finished second in the points in 1973 and left for McLaren, where he had three wins, two poles, four other podium finishes and his second world title in 1974.

Fittipaldi finished second in 1975, then formed his own F1 team. Ultimately that effort wasn't very successful and the team was disbanded after the 1982 season.

Fittipaldi tended to his multiple business interests for a couple of years after retiring from F1. But in 1984, he was re-born in the CART series.

In his first full CART season, 1985, he started all 15 events and finished with 10 top 10s and his first Champ Car win, a .40-second thriller over Al Unser in the Michigan 500.

Fittipaldi joined Patrick racing in 1986 and became one of the most successful drivers on the tour. After a win and two poles in '86, he had back-to-back victories in '87 and '88.

In winning the 1989 CART championship he had five race wins, including a heart-stopping wheel-to-wheel duel with Al Unser Jr. to win the Indy 500. That win made him the first foreign driver since Englishman Graham Hill in 1966 to win at Indy.

Fittipaldi moved to Marlboro Team Penske in 1990 and won many more races including the 1993 Indy 500.

When he finally retired from racing for good after suffering neck injuries in a crash at Michigan Speedway in 1966, and later back injuries in a small airplane crash, Fittipaldi had amassed 22 wins, 17 poles, 2,624 laps led and more than $14.2 million in earnings.

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