Tribute to Fallen Race Drivers

Archive for the ‘Open-Wheel’ Category

Michele Alboreto

In Open-Wheel on October 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm
Michele Alboreto Courtesy of Audi Media

Michele Alboreto
Courtesy of Audi Media

24 Hours of Le Mans Champion – 1997

Petit Le Mans Champion – 2000

12 Hours of Sebring Champion – 2001

Winner of 5 Formula One Grand Prix

Michele Alboreto was one of the most respected drivers of his generation. Born in Milan, Italy on December 23rd, 1956, Alboreto’s career would complement the versatility of his skill-sets in multiple forms of motorsports. His racing days began in 1976, but it wasn’t until 1978 in the Formula Italia series he broke through, grabbing two wins in the process. The next three years the Italian ran through the junior Formula series, winning the European championship in Formula Three in 1980.

Progressively he gained recognition and moved to Formula One, making his debut for the Tyrrell Racing Team at the 1981 San Marino Grand Prix. The final race in the 1982 season saw Alboreto take his first career Formula One victory in the Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas. After brief success with mid-level teams Alboreto finally got an opportunity in 1984 to drive with a premier team in F1, Ferrari. In his opening season with the “prancing horse” the Italian drove to a solid fourth place in the championship, but in 1985 Alboreto had his most incredible season in Formula One. Alboreto scored eight podiums with two wins in 16 starts, after a supreme showing much of the season the Ferrari driver retired in the final four events of the season, finishing second to Alain Prost in the championship. He raced with Ferrari until 1988, thereafter becoming a journeyman driver for multiple teams until finally leaving Formula One after the 1994 season.

During the early years of his racing career Alboreto got the opportunity to drive for Lancia beginning in 1980, teaming with Walter Röhrl and Eddie Cheever to score three runner-up finishes in four races during their debut season. In 1981, the duo of Alboreto and Cheever were joined by Carlo Facetti to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The drivers pushed the 1.4 liter turbo Lancia to finish eighth overall and a second in class. It was Alboreto’s first start in the legendary race. That same season Alboreto won his first endurance race in the Six Hours of Watkins Glen.

Alboreto piloting the famously dominant Audi R8 for Joest Racing. Courtesy of Audi Media

Alboreto piloting the famously dominant Audi R8 for Joest Racing.
Courtesy of Audi Media

It only seemed natural that once his career in Formula One was finished that he would eventually return to sports car racing. That return brought with it some of the greatest drives of Alboreto’s career. In 1997 driving for Joest Racing and teamed with Tom Kristensen and Stefan Johansson, the Italian broke through to get the biggest win of his career, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The group raced their LMP class TWR Porsche WSC-95 to a race high 361 laps to finish first overall and in class. The closest LMP class competitors managed to complete only 336 laps on the legendary French circuit. In 2000, Alboreto found the podium once again at Le Mans, driving for Joest Racing once again, but this time with manufacturer Audi. That year Audi and Joest Racing swept the podium with all three of their LMP900 machines, completing a combined total of exactly 1,100 laps.

One of Alboreto’s standout victories also came in America at the traditional Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia. The Italian teamed with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello to drive the LMP class Audi with Joest Racing. McNish set the stage by winning the pole, and setting the fastest race lap. The trio completed 394 laps and scored an impressive 3-lap victory over the second factory Audi team led by Tom Kristensen. During the 2000 campaign, Joest Racing with Audi managed to sweep three of the greatest endurance races in the world: 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The final victory for Michele Alboreto came at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2001. Teaming once again with Capello, the two  were joined by Frenchman Laurent Aiello. Racing the famed Audi R8 in the LMP900 class, the three drivers set off for one of the most competitive races in the events storied history. A duel set up between both factory Audi’s as the two fought hard into the night, both completing 370 laps. The R8 led by Alboreto managed to pull out the victory by just .482 seconds, still the closest finish in the 12 Hours of Sebring’s history.

Just over a month later, on April 25th, 2001, the world lost Michele Alboreto. The Italian fell victim to a tire failure while testing his Audi R8 in Germany.

“I know Alboreto was the last Italian on the podium at Monza before me. I was lucky enough to race together with him in touring cars, and he was a great person, really special. I want to dedicate the result to his memory.”

~ Giancarlo Fisichella, after his podium finish at the 2005 Italian Grand Prix ~

Joey Barnes – Tribute Racing

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George Amick

In Open-Wheel on April 13, 2013 at 4:16 am

George Amick

“Little George”

Oct. 24, 1924 – April 4, 1959

16 USAC National Midget Feature Wins

1957 Turkey Night Grand Prix Champion

Runner-Up in 1958 Indianapolis 500

3 USAC Championship Car Wins

 Born in Vernonia, Oregon, and known to those as “Little George”, he was an all around American. Proud to serve and returning from WWII, George Amick made a name for himself as a race car driver. Known as a force to be reckoned with in the USAC National Midget ranks, he finished among the top ten in the points championship all three seasons he competed in the Midget class. Amick then moved from that class to what is now known as IndyCar (then known as USAC Championship Car) with 38 wins under his belt, including a prestigious win in the 1957 Turkey Night Grand Prix.

 One thinks of his awareness for others when, in his rookie year at the Indianapolis 500, he eased the pressure off his team-mate Jimmy Brian. That 1958 Indianapolis 500 was the debut of another rookie who would become an eventual racing legend, A.J. Foyt, it was also the unfortunate and somber death of another, Pat O’ Conner. Many thought Amick could have overtaken Brian in the last twenty laps for first place. “Little George”, was worried he might push his team-mate into a fatal mistake, so he came in with an easy 2nd and Jimmy took 1st at the Indianapolis 500. Anyone can go online and get this info about George “Little George” Amick, but what one may not get is how much talent, promise, and record setting potential George Amick had. On the last lap, at the only USAC Championship Car race ever held at Daytona, one cannot help but wonder, was it out of honor that it was the last hosting of the Indy at Daytona? Was it blown equipment, driver error, or just the adrenaline of it being the last lap that caused his fatal accident? We may never know the cause, but he is a treasure to world of motorsports.

 Any and all memories, photos, and comments regarding George Amick and his life, please feel free to leave your comments!!

 Kyle Gooldy – Tribute Racing

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Greg Moore

In Open-Wheel on December 30, 2012 at 2:44 am

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April 22, 1975 – Oct. 31, 1999

5 CART Wins

12 CART Podiums

1995 Indy Lights Champion

Greg Moore was a champion off the track as he was on the track. No matter the circumstances he was someone who was always humble, always grateful, and always had a smile on his face. That character carried through his peers in the short time he spent with them. It just goes to show that a little bit does go a long way.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The Canadian born driver began racing go karts in 1986, and in 1989 and 1990 he won the North American Enduro Kart Racing Championship. He then moved on to win Rookie of the Year in the Esso Protec Formula 1600 series and finishing 4th overall in the points. 1992 saw Moore claim the USAC Pro Formula Ford 2000 Championship and Rookie of the Year title with 4 wins and 4 poles.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The first season in the Indy Lights Series the world got a little peak of what Greg Moore was capable of, in 1994 at Phoenix International Raceway he became the youngest driver to hold a pole position and win; but it was 1995 that the youngster broke out and hit his stride. The 1995 season saw Moore claim 7 poles and 10 wins in 12 races (including 5 straight wins), along with 375 out of 583 total laps led, also claiming the Indy Lights Championship and becoming the all-time winner of the series.

Forsythe Racing brought in Moore as a rookie in the CART Series in 1996. Moore had tough competition for the Rookie of the Year title, finishing Runner-up to winner Alex Zanardi. By 1997 he would hold another youngest winners accomplishment, taking home the trophy at the Milwaukee Mile (at 22 years, 1 month, 10 days old – the record held until 2001), he also won at Detroit the following week. 1998 he would claim the pole at Homestead and claim 2 wins at Rio de Janeiro and the U.S. 500.

It was in 1999 that Greg seemed poised to fulfill his potential in the series. He opened up the season with a pole and a win at Homestead. He ran well and led the Championship for the first few races. At seasons end in the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway, it would be Greg Moore’s last race. The world lost a great star in Moore, and a future Champion. He would have opened the following season at Penske Racing, but upon his death the seat was filled by Helio Castroneves. In light of the sportsmanship and character of Greg Moore the series came up with the Greg Moore Legacy Award.

“Greg is the reason you see drivers get on so well before the race and still race each other hard on the track. He’s the guy who taught all of us that you can race a guy on the track and still be friends at the end of the day.”

~ Dario Franchitti  ~

Joey Barnes – Tribute Racing
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