Gian Carlo's father competed in his own cars in the late 1940s and, after his death, Gian Carlo took over the racing part of the business. He ran customer cars in Formula Two between 1972 and 1979, briefly running a private Formula One Ferrari 312T as Scuderia Everest in 1976. In 1979 he set up the Minardi Racing with financial backing from Piero Mancini.
Minardi was born in Faenza, Italy and has spent his life with cars. As a young boy, his family managed a Fiat dealership and an Agip fuel station, and currently manages Iveco and Selenia dealerships. His father, Giovanni Minardi, who died when Giancarlo was young, was also heavily involved in motor racing. In 1948 ,Giovanni built the GM 75, a small two-seater with a six-cylinder, 750cc engine designed by Oberdan Golfieri.
He began his racing career in 1968, buying a Faccioli tuned Fiat 500, achieving good results in the various hillclimbs he competed in. Subsequently he began rallying a Fiat 124, after which he hung up his helmet and decided to devote his energies to Scuderia del Passatore. From 1972 to 1974, the team achieved excellent results in Formula Italia, its driver, Giancarlo Martini, being crowned runner-up in the 1972 championship, and then lifting the title in 1973.
Renamed Scuderia Everest, the team competed in the European Formula Two Championship in 1975 and 1976, with a March BMW. In 1976, it entered into a three-year collaboration with Ferrari, an arrangement that saw it provided with a Ferrari 312B3 Grand Prix car in order to provide initial F1 experience to emerging young talent on the Italian motor racing scene.
In 1977, Ferrari supplied the Faenza-based team with Dino V6 engines, which were used to power Everest's Ralt and Chevron F2 (1978) chassis.
In 1979, Minardi became a constructor in his own right, forming Minardi Team. Four highly successful seasons in Formula Two followed, characterised by consistently good results and a notable victory at the Misano round, in 1981.
In 1985, Minardi made the next logical step, and debuted in Formula One. In 1991, Ferrari announced it would provide Minardi with a supply of its V12 engines. This marked the first time a private team had been able to use "works" Ferrari engines. The choice of Minardi should not have come as a surprise, however, since Enzo Ferrari had always had a strong affinity with Gian Carlo Minardi.
In 1994, to ensure the team's survival, Minardi entered into an alliance with Scuderia Italia. Two years later, Gabriele Rumi and Flavio Briatore acquired the majority stake in Minardi. Briatore, however, severed his connections with the team at the end of 1997, Gabriele Rumi subsequently acquiring his shares and becoming majority shareholder. Gian Carlo Minardi worked alongside Gabriele Rumi as a General Director of the team until the end of 2000.
2001 saw another change in the ownership of the Minardi team with Australian Paul Stoddart buying the company, although Giancarlo retained the role of Managing Director, with particular emphasis on the development of young drivers.
Driver development is an area in which Giancarlo is considered to have significant aptitude. He has identified and given breaks to many drivers who subsequently went on to achieve successes with other teams and in other formula's. Drivers such as Giancarlo Fisichella, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli all had their Formula One debut with Minardi.
Giancarlo currently resides in Faenza, Italy. He is married to Mara and has one son named after his father Giovanni. He has two brothers: Giuseppe, who has taken over the Fiat dealership and Nando who now runs the truck concession. Giancarlo is currently the chairman of the football club Faenza FC.