Three-time world champion Jackie Stewart will pay tribute to Formula 1 great Juan Manuel Fangio on Wednesday when the Argentine’s last remains are moved to a new resting place in a museum alongside his cars. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first of five Fangio World Championships with four different manufacturers.
“I carry his remains in his racing car collection. He was the greatest driver of all time,” said Stewart at the Mexico City Grand Prix this weekend. The Scotsman gave Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas a replica of Fangio’s 1950s helmet and goggles to take pole position.
Stewart, 82, was one of six porters who carried the 84-year-old’s coffin to the cemetery during the 1995 funeral in the Argentinian town of Balcarce, west of Mar del Plata. The other five, including former Fangio Stirling Moss teammate and Argentinian riders Carlos Reutemann and Jose Froilan Gonzalez, have since died.
The procession around Balcarce on Wednesday, ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix next weekend, will feature cars from the museum and local clubs. “I’ll never forget what happened that day,” Stewart recalled of the funeral in Gerald Donaldson’s biography of the man whose five titles were only surpassed by Michael’s seven. Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.
“There must have been 10,000 people gathered outside in the square, standing there in total silence. Absolutely unbelievable. And suddenly they just started clapping – 10,000 people clapping in slow motion.” They were all in. tears – 10,000 people in tears – and they all wanted to touch Fangio’s coffin … it was one of the most important things I have ever done in my life. I was a big fan of him.
“More than a fan, a great admirer of the way he led his life, presented himself and represented the sport.” Fangio dominated the first decade of Grand Prix racing and won the 1951 and 1954-57 world championships before retiring in 1958.
A new mausoleum was built at the museum a few blocks from his birthplace in 1911.
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