Being a dedicated student of the arcane (or having entirely too much time on my hands), I once calculated that in the entire history of Formula One, from its inception in 1948 to present day, only nine drivers ever managed to compete in three successive decades. They are Harry Schell, Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham, Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti, Nelson Piquet, Riccardo Patrese, and Pete Lovely. That’s right. Popular vintage racer Pete Lovely not only drove in Formula One, but did it in three decades.
An SCCA national champion in 1955, Lovely was indeed a skilled racer, but he would be the first to dismiss any comparisons to the GP stars with whom he shares the tri-decade distinction. Pete Lovely’s accomplishment was unique, though, because his whole F1 career was spent as an independent – a privateer. Well, nearly his whole F1 career.