Sunday, December 25, 2016

Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. Born In São Paulo, Brazil - December 25, 1943

December 25, 1943
Wilson Fittipaldi Jr.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil.
Wilson Fittipaldi Jr is a former Formula One driver and team owner. He is the eldest son of prominent motorsports journalist and radio commentator Wilson Sr and his wife Juzy, who had both raced production cars shortly after the Second World War. He is the older brother of CART champion and double Formula One world champion Emerson Fittipaldi. He is the father of former CART, Formula One and NASCAR driver Christian Fittipaldi.

Wilson Jr started racing the karts that he and his brother built in Brazil in the 1960s, before moving on to Formula Vee. He made a brief trip to Europe in 1966 to race in Formula Three, but the opportunity fell through due to conflicts with the team he drove for in Brazil. He did not return to England until 1970, following his brother's success in Formula Two. That year he raced a Jim Russell Driving School entered Lotus 59 in British Formula Three, beating Carlos Pace and works Lotus driver Dave Walker, among others, to a victory at a BARC Championship round at Silverstone. At various times during the year he was also competing with future Formula One champions Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Combined with some other good results, particularly in the latter part of the year, including wins in two non-championship rounds, this enabled him to move up to the European Formula Two championship for 1971. Here he scored several more good results racing alongside his brother for Team Bardahl-Fittipaldi in Lotus and March chassis, including a second place behind François Cevert at Vallelunga.

These results were sufficient to gain him a deal with the Brabham Formula One team for the 1972 season as a pay driver. He participated in 38 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix. He was a moderately competitive midfield runner.

Wilson took a break from driving in 1974 to set up a Brazilian Formula One team. The team, initially known as Copersucar-Fittipaldi, did not have great success in their first racing season in 1975. Wilson was the sole driver and managed only six finishes, the highest of which was a 10th, failing to qualify several times. Wilson stepped down from driving to look after the management of the team in 1976 when his brother, Emerson, joined the team from McLaren.

Wilson has occasionally returned to competitive driving. In the 1980s and early 1990s he drove in the Brazilian Stock Car championship, winning several rounds. In 1994 and 1995 he was victorious for Porsche in the classic Mil Milhas race founded by his father, on the former occasion sharing the car with his son Christian. In February 1998 he announced his return to competitive driving in the Brazilian Stock Car championship. In 2000 he was a guest driver for Mercedes-Benz at the Nürburgring round of the FIA European Truck Racing Cup, finishing 8th and 11th. In 2008, Wilson and Emerson entered the Brazilian GT3 Championship, driving a Porsche 997 GT3 for the WB Motorsports team.
From L-R; Wilson Sr., Christian, Wilson Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi.

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