Juan Manuel Fangio, at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz W 196 R, en route to victory in the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
I stood back watching, as Monterey feted the Fangio marque. Fangio marque? Yes, Juan Manuel Fangio is the only person, to date, to be so honored by the Monterey Historics. A weekend packed with his cars, his victories, and a reenactment, as far as it was possible, of his glorious career. And, biased though I was, I believe he deserved it. He was, after all, the only man to have won five Formula One World Championships until Michael Schumacher came along decades later. Such homage left this mechanic from the potato-growing town of Balcarce, 250 miles south of Buenos Aires, completely unruffled. He was like visiting royalty, but that’s not how he meant it to be. It was just his way. And people loved him for it.
It took me back to 1951, and my school days in Australia, when Juan Manuel Fangio won the first of his five Formula One World Championships behind the wheel of the mythical Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 and Stirling Moss was making his F1 debut at Bern, Switzerland, in the less-mythical HWM. I idolized them both and greedily devoured every newspaper and magazine article, every radio program, and every cinema newsreel I could find about them.
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