Nelson Piquet was born on August 17, 1952 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The son of a government official he spent much of his childhood in the Brazilian capital, Brasília. At the age of 14 he was participating in kart races and was crowned Brazilian kart champion in 1971 and 1972. In order to keep his racing activities a secret from his family he initially raced under the name of Piket but his continued success meant that he could not keep the secret for much longer.
In 1976 Piquet was crowned Brazilian Formula Super Vee Champion. For 1978, he graduated to British F3, where he became BP champion and was offered a test session with Mclaren. McLaren declined to hire the young Brazilian but Bernie Ecclestone, owner of the Brabham team, did not hesitate. Partner to two-time World Champion Niki Lauda he inherited the team leadership upon the Austrian’s retirement. In 1980, he scored his first victory at the United States GP West on the streets of Long Beach, California. Losing a hard fought battle with Alan Jones for the title he reached that goal the following year.
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