Emerson Fittipaldi (born December 12, 1946, São Paulo, Brazil) was a highly successful open-wheel racer, winning championships in both Formula One and CART.
"Emmo" began racing in Europe in 1969 in Formula Ford cars, and progressed quickly to F1, joining Lotus during the 1970 season. The team's No 3 driver, he ended up becoming No 1 driver after teammate Jochen Rindt was killed at Monza and John Miles decided to leave as well. Thrust into the spotlight by leading F1's top team, he proved up to the task and won for Lotus in its first race post-Rindt. In his first full year as Lotus' main man in 1971, Fittipaldi finished sixth in the drivers' championship as the team experimented with a new chassis, the Lotus 72D. The equipment proved unstoppable in 1972 as Emerson won five of 11 races and won the drivers' championship from Jackie Stewart by 16 points. At 25 he was the youngest champion in F1 history. It appeared he might do it again in 1973 but after three wins from four attempts with the 72D, he began to struggle in the new 72E that was unveiled mid-year. It resulted in the reverse of the previous year, Stewart beating Emerson by 16 points.
Fittipaldi left Lotus to sign with the promising McLaren team. Driving the highly efficient McLaren M23, he had three victories in 1974, reached the podium four other times, and beat out Clay Regazzoni in a close battle for his second championship. The following season, he notched two more victories and four other podiums, but was second to a dominant Niki Lauda. However, at the height of his F1 success, Fittipaldi shocked everyone by leaving McLaren to race for older brother Wilson Fittipaldi's Copersucar racing team. It was hardly a world class organization and the double champion regularly struggled, even failing to qualify for three races in his time there. Despite this, he remained with the team for five seasons but only managed a best finish of second.
After leaving F1 in 1980, Fittipaldi took time out from major racing for four years, returning in 1984 in CART. The 38-year spent his first season acclimatising to IndyCars, driving for two teams before joining Patrick Racing as an injury replacement. He stayed five years with the team, recording six victories and solid finishes in the overall standings. In 1989 he had five wins and finished in the top five in every race he completed, giving him a CART championship. Among his wins was a dominant performance at the Indianapolis 500 where he led 158 of 200 laps and won by two laps. Roger Penske hired Emmo for his racing team in 1990 and he continued to be among the top drivers in CART, winning a race with Penske for six straight years. In 1993 he added a second Indy 500 victory, although the race was more well known for him breaking Indy victory lane tradition when he drank a celebratory bottle of orange juice instead of the traditional bottle of milk.
Despite approaching 50, he was still in Champcars in 1996 when an injury in Michigan ended his career. Fittipaldi didn't return to the race track after the injury but in 2003 he made a return to Champcars as a team owner. Fittipaldi's nephew, Christian has also raced Formula 1 and CART and as of 2003 was working on a NASCAR career.
The Monaco Grand Prix - did you know?
Eight drivers claimed their maiden Formula One pole positions on the tricky street circuit: Juan Manuel Fangio, Tony Brooks, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, John Watson, Didier Pironi and Jarno Trulli. - Bruce McLaren celebrated a ...
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