F1 legend Clay Regazzoni has died today at the age of 67 following a car accident near Parma, Italy. The Swiss-born driver died after his Chrysler Voyager was involved in a multiple vehicle pileup on the A1 motorway to the west of the town.
Clay, born Gianclaudio Giuseppe in Lugano in 1939, was a fabulously talented driver who started 132 F1 Grand Prix, won four races for Ferrari, gave Williams their maiden victory at Silverstone in 1979, and also drove for BRM and McLaren. He almost won the World Championship in 1974, narrowly losing out to Emerson Fittipaldi by only three points.
His F1 career was cut short in the 1980 US Grand Prix West in Long Beach, when an accident caused by terminal brake failure, left him in a wheelchair. Despite his disabilities, Clay returned to motorsport and drove in the Dakar Rally in a specially adapted car. In addition, he also provided F1 commentary for Swiss TV, and wrote a very moving autobiography documenting his life, “E’ questione di cuoreâ€ (It’s a matter of heart).
Speaking at the news, Frank Williams said, “Clay won the very first Grand Prix for the Williams Team in 1979 at Silverstone, this was probably the most important event ever to occur in the history of our time in Formula One. He was a gentleman and always a pleasure to have with us in the team. (Co-owner) Patrick (Head) and I and other team members will always remember him.”
Ferrari s President Luca di Montezemolo also honoured the team s former driver, a person the Tifosi adopted, “the death of Clay Regazzoni has robbed us of a man of courage and generosity who lived his life demonstrating those values.â€
“I remember him not only as one of my drivers during unforgettable times, but also as a true supporter of Ferrari. For him, races had to be tackled with boldness and on the limit, from the first to the final lap.â€
“I celebrated a first World Championship win with him and Niki in 1975, and I will never forget his great victories at the wheel of our cars, both in Formula 1 and sports cars. This is a very sad moment for me, especially as his “Swiss-Neapolitan” character meant he was also a unique person away from the race tracks and so many memories of him now come to mind.â€