Clay Regazzoni, one of Ferrari's greatest icons

1975 Italian Grand Prix - Clay Regazzoni

© / Cahier Archive

Although he never succeeded in becoming Formula 1 world champion, Clay Regazzoni is undoubtedly one of the sport's great talents with a name and personality that continues to shine bright down the years.

On his way to winning the 1970 European Formula Two championship, he stepped up to F1 with Ferrari making his mid-season début in the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort alongside Jacky Ickx.

He finished that race in fourth and repeated the feat at Brand Hatch a few weeks later. He claimed his first podium at the Osterreichring and took the first of his five career victories at Monza to the delights of the Tifosi.

Despite taking part in only eight of the season's 13 races, Regazzoni finished 1970 in third place in the drivers championship, which was won by Jochen Rindt by five points over Ickx. He would do even better in 1974 when he was runner-up to Emerson Fittipaldi.

He took part in 74 Grands Prix for Ferrari before moveing to Ensign in 1977. However he and the team struggled for reliability and consistency. He moved to Shadow Racing the following year and then to Williams in 1979 where he achieved the team's first-ever win in its home race at Silverstone.

Regazzoni's F1 career ended in 1980 when brake issues resulted in a crash during the 1980 US West Grand Prix which left him paralysed from the waist down. It didn't stop him racing in events such as Paris-Dakar Rally and the Sebring 12 hours. He used hand controls in place of foot pedals, paving the way for the wider acceptance of disabled people in motorsport.

Regazzoni died on December 15, 2006 when his Chrysler Voyager hit the rear of a lorry on the Italian A1 motorway near Parma. The exact cause of the crash was unclear, although there were reports that he had suffered a stroke or heart attack just prior to the accident.

“A bon viveur, a dancer, a footballer, tennis player and, when he had nothing better to do, a racing driver," Enzo Ferrari wrote in his book Piloti,che gente. "That’s how I’d describe Clay Regazzoni. "The brilliant, timeless Clay, the ideal guest of honour for any sort of fashionable event - a great source of stories for women’s magazines!"

"He honed his style and temperament, as one of the bravest, to the point where he became really professional. His rivals always respected him.”

1974 German Grand Prix - Clay Regazzoni

© /Cahier Archive

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