Eliseo Salazar

Eliseo Salazar

14/11/1954

The only Chilean to make it to F1, Eliseo Salazar participated in 37 Grands Prix, debuting on March 15, 1981. His most famous moment came in 1982 when he was assaulted on live TV by Nelson Piquet. Salazar had just taken him out as he was being lapped.

<br />Born in Santiago, Chile, Eliseo Salazar came to Britain in 1979 to contest the Vandervell F3 championship, making a good impression despite running the temperamental 'ground-effect' Ralt RT5.

In 1980 he switched to the Aurora British F1 series with the RAM Racing Williams FW07. He won three races, including the International Trophy, but finished second to his team-mate, Emilio de Villota, in the championship.

With good financial backing, Salazar joined March the following season but was unhappy and switched to Ensign. Surer who was the current Ensign driver had picked up points early in the season and was sacked for his efforts to be replaced by the fee-paying Salazar. In truth it could have been worse and Salazar once again drove quite well, finishing sixth at Zandvoort.

Eliseo then joined ATS in 1982. He finished fifth at Imola, but spent the season largely in the shadow of Manfred Winkelhock. Probably his most famous career moment came when he collided with the over-taking race leader Nelson Piquet in the 1982 German Grand Prix. After both drivers got out of their stricken cars, the angry Piquet started to punch and kick Salazar, to the shock and amazement of the millions of F1 fans watching the race live on TV.

With limited optinon in 1982, Salazar returned to RAM for 1983 but after a string of non-qualifications he was dropped for Jacques Villeneuve (not the 1997 world champion, but his uncle and brother to Gilles).

He then turned to sports car racing in IMSA. After a good season in 1994 he was offered a drive in Indy Cars with Dick Simon for 1995. Salazar liked the ovals and fitted in very well. He finnished fourth at the Indianapolis 500 that year and the stayed on with Simon for 1996 as he moved to the rival Indy Racing League.

Since then Salazar has returned on three separate occasions from huge accidents in which he suffered broken limbs. He has one IRL victory, the last round in 1997 at Las Vegas. He also continued to race sports cars, in a Ferrari 333SP and latterly a Riley & Scott.

In November 2005, Salazar competed in the inaugural race of the Grand Prix Masters, as a late replacement for Alan Jones.

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