Nigel Ernest James Mansell OBE was born the 8th of August 1953 in Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, England. His early childhood was unremarkable puctuated by frequent moving. He like other young boys was attracted to the exploits of Brutish sports figures including Jimmy Clark. After considerable success in kart racing, he would graduate to the British Formula Ford championship in 1977, despite suffering a broken neck in a testing accident. By now married he somehow convinced his wife Rosanne to sell the family home to finance a move into Formula 3.
In between crashes and breakdowns a certain Colin Chapman saw enough to offer the erstwhile Brit a tryout with Lotus to become a test driver for the Formula One team. Lotus, a shell of its former glory provided the car for his Formula One debut, at the 1980 Austrian Grand Prix, a fuel leak in the cockpit seemed to put him in his place and left him with painful first and second degree burns. There was never a better example of Nietzsche’s dictum, “Was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn stärker”, directly translated as “What does not kill him makes him stronger”. Mansell became very close to the legendary Lotus boss Colin Chapman and was devastated by his sudden unexpected death in 1982. Out of a sense of loyalty to his departed mentor he stayed with the team for two more years.
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