POWERED BY HONDA
Being the only man in history to have been born with a moustache, perhaps it came so much easier for him to become the fastest man in history with a moustache (no offense to Graham Hill, but we’re talking about il leone here). Seen here finally breaking his duck after nearly five seasons, taking his first victory in front of his home crowd that would later dub him “Our Nige”, Nigel Mansell became a cult hero in England and later in Italy during his brief spell for Ferrari. Such was the fanfare for their main man, when Mansell took victory at the British Grand Prix during his dominant 1992 title winning season, the fans stormed the track including one silly fellow who tried to jump on board with onto to break his leg. The only time I’ve seen a crowd so bananas for a guy is clips of Brazil during Senna’s heights.
The reason why he endeared himself to so many wasn’t because of the moustache, and certainly wasn’t because of his attitude off the track: in short, he was a moaner with an inferiority complex who thought the entire world was out to get him. It was because of the way he drove. Such tenacity made Gerhard Berger look tame, made Ayrton Senna look like the king of finesse, and made the tifosi draw parallels to their hero Gilles Villeneuve. Despite all the drama and politics off the track, despite the in house wars between Mansell and his team mate Nelson Piquet (a well known ruthless bastard), Nigel always seemed to put it all out of his mind as soon as the visor went down.
For British fans of the era, there was none finer. He is elevated well above the status of any other single title winner, and rightfully so (sans perhaps John Surtees because of the whole only-guy-to-win-a-title-on-two-and-four-wheels thing). Remember that overtake he did to Piquet down Hanger straight? I love that. And the dual down the brand new Barcelona straight with Senna? Pure grit.
A forgotten driver of the 80’s, Swiss driver Marc Surer had heavy backing during his career due to his ties with BMW, and despite two separate incidents where he broke his legs he managed to carve a small niche for himself as a journey man driver, bouncing between teams due to his BMW backing. His career highlight (apart from having married not one but two Playboy bunnies) would perhaps be his fourth place finish for the lowly Ensign team at Jarama in 1981, setting the fastest lap on the way.
His career ended after a shock crash while rallying in his Ford RS2000 which severely injured him and took the life of his co-driver Michael Wyder. He was retained by BMW, however, as a driver coach and later head of Motorsporting, and remains involved in historic Formula 2 events. German F1 fans would probably know him best, however, from his commentating for Sky Sports Germany.
Marc Surer, 1985 European Grand Prix, Brands Hatch.
famous first corners … Paddock Hill bend
Lotus drivers Mario Andretti & Ronnie Peterson leading the pack down the first turn at Brands Hatch during the 1978 British Grand Prix, both cars would however fail to finish the race
Love this corner. Bring back Brands.
a rare mistake …
Alain ‘le professeur’ Prost going over the limit of his McLaren-TAG MP4/2C during a tyre test at the Brands Hatch circuit in 1986
elementary my dear Watson …
John Watson putting his Brabham BT46 on the third step of the rostrum during the 1978 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch
Catch a fire!
Jacques Laffite’s turbo engine catches fire, British Grand Prix, Brands Hatch, July 13th, 1986 © Sutton Images