Nigel Mansell

Nigel Mansell

8/8/1953

Nigel Mansell OBE is a British former racing driver who won world championships in both Formula One and CART. He is the only person in history to hold both titles simultaneously and was the first person to win the CART title in his rookie season.

Nigel Ernest James Mansell was born in Upton - on- Severn in the heart of England to Eric and Joyce Mansell on August 8th 1953; the third of four children. His childhood was fairly nomadic with many house and school moves due to his father's employment.

Academically Nigel was fairly average, however his competitive and determined spirit was already evident. He swapped Latin for chess after proving he was capable of making it into the school team, no mean feat. This competitiveness stayed with him during sports lessons - losing at games was already not an option.

His experience as the new boy at so many different schools made him tougher, the intimidation he endured during these years made him cope with all life could throw at him and rather than just overcome hurdles he learnt to stride them with confidence. Something he does to this day.

Nigel's love of fast driving and possibly some of his skill was inherited from his mother. At an early age he was hooked on her passion for speed. This passion was to take him to the top of the World. However, it was Nigel's father who was the inspiration behind his karting. He was regularly taken to watch the races at the local track. Not one to stand on the sidelines for too long he soon bought his own kart - a crude contraption powered by a lawn mower engine. The cost was £25. Soon Nigel was racing round the allotments beating all comers! At aged 10 (although the minimum age was 11) he got his first licence. He was ready to race and race he did! After a couple of defeats Nigel won his first race at age 14. The psychology was in place - approach every competition believing that winning is everything and losing doesn't exist.

As Nigel's father said Karting was fun but motor racing was serious. To realize his ambition of Formula 1 racing Nigel knew he had to climb the ladder and get noticed by a Formula 1 team. The only route was via British Formula Ford and Formula 3.

Nigel invested £15 in a one day lesson in Formula Ford. It was a wise move. He was good, he won his first race and in 1977 became the Formula Ford Champion.

The next step was to Formula 1 was Formula 3. Nigel was once again self financing. In 1978 he began racing in Formula 3. Not such an auspicious start as in Formula Ford, he came second. Money, however, was short, so in 1979 Nigel became a Formula 3 paid driver. It was a difficult time for Nigel, however with a combination of talent and luck he got to achieve his dream and finally moved to Formula 1. The rest is history!

The route to complete success is never easy and Nigel Mansell overcame more hurdles than most; including limited finances and serious injuries. Sheer grit, determination and self belief coupled with his driving skills ensured that his ambition was bound to become reality.

Nigel became a fully fledged F1 driver in 1981 with the Lotus team. He received his first podium after just 5 races - a sign of things to come!

Just 4 years later in 1985, Brands Hatch saw his first win. A year later in Adelaide the tyre of the Williams Honda exploded costing him a race finish - and more importantly the coveted World Championship by a single point.

1989 saw Nigel in the scarlet red car - number 27 FERRARI. He was the last driver to be picked by Enso Ferrari and this proved to be a wise choice for the late team owner. Nigel was nicknamed Il' Leone for his aggressiveness on the race track winning on his first time out for the Italian team in Brazil - A truly memorable race weekend.

Nigel returned to the Williams team in 1991 with the sole goal of winning the World Championship. The 91 season was successful and the following year on the 16th August - his daughter Chloe's birthday - in Hungary he won the long awaited moment: to stand on the podium as the 1992 Formula 1 World Champion.
  
Nigel Mansell officially became an Indy car driver in 1993. Indy car was heavier and slower than F1 and took adjusting to. Nigel learnt and adjusted and drove fast. It took him 12 years of trying to win the F1 world championship. He won the Indycar title on his first attempt.

In 1994 he quit CART part way through the seasona and made a retirn to Formula One. After the untimely death of Ayrton Senna, he returned to Formula One with Williams replacing rookie David Coulthard for the French Grand Prix and the last three races of the season. Mansell was paid approximately £900,000 per race, compared to Williams' lead driver at the time, Damon Hill who was paid £300,000 for the entire season. Mansell won his last Grand Prix, the Australian Grand Prix, which was the final race of the season having out-qualified the two contenders for the title, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher, in the process.

Mansell found himself at McLaren in 1995, but missed the start of the season as the cockpit was not big enough. Then, frustrated with his car's handling characteristics, he chose to retire after just two races.

Mansell made a brief return to racing in 1998 in the British Touring Car Championship, driving in a Ford Mondeo for three rounds.

On the 16th July 2005, Mansell took part in a Race of Legends exhibition event at the Norisring round of the DTM. He competed against Jody Scheckter, Alain Prost, Mick Doohan, Emerson Fittipaldi and Johnny Cecotto, each driver having an opportunity to drive the Audi, Mercedes and Opel offerings. Prost was announced as the winner by the DTM organisers.

Mansell became a financial stakeholder and a driver in the new Grand Prix Masters series. Following a period of testing and developing the car, Mansell made a successful race comeback by winning the inaugural race of the series in Kyalami in November 2005.

After the success of the race at Kyalami, four dates were scheduled for the GP Masters Series in 2006, including one at Silverstone. Mansell won the season opener at Qatar in April 2006 from pole position. The Monza round of the series was cancelled due to noise limitations at the venue, whilst technical issues quickly ruled him out of the Silverstone race.

He also made a comeback to Brands Hatch, scene of his first Grand Prix win, in May 2006, driving some demonstration laps in the BMW M3 GTR that Andy Priaulx drove to victory in the 2005 24 Hours Nüburgring, as part of the World Touring Car Championship event.

Nigel had always played golf as a means of focusing and relaxing, however as he is no longer racing full time he has swapped one type of driving for another. And, as with racing he practises hard and still has the same determination to win.

Nigel is a world-wide ambassador for Sunseeker Powerboats and spends as much of his time he is able aboard RED 5 his 94ft Sunseeker yacht based in the Mediterranean.

He is the president of UK Youth, a charity that provides tools to build young people's self esteem, and DREAM-A-WAY, who's aim is to send people physical and learning difficulties on holidays and day trips.

Nigel is eligible to play on the European Seniors tour and Woodbury Park, owned by him, hosted the inaugural Nigel Mansell Classic PGA Seniors tour on the 22nd August 2003.

With thanks to Nigel Mansell

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