After 3 articles so far on , I would like to share with you how it is like for a petrol head to meet a lot of the big names in motorsport.

  • Luca di Montezemolo, Born on August 31st , 1947. President of Ferrari. Luca di Montezemolo is the successor of Enzo Ferrari at the head of the company after Enzo’s death on August 14th, 1988 till today. I met Luca during the Ferrari finali mondiali in Valencia – Spain in November 2012 during a gala dinner. I was invited to that event by a friend who races in the Ferrari 458 Challenge. When I told my friends that I want to take a picture with Luca, they told me he will not even speak to you. I decided to take the chance. To my surprise, Luca agreed to take a picture with me and chatted with me for about 15-20 minutes. He told me that he knows that Ferrari has a very good market in Beirut and he wishes to visit Lebanon one day when the circumstances allow. I can tell you he is a very humble and down to earth man.

With Luca Di Montezemolo

  • Mark Webber. Born on August 27th, 1976 Australian Red Bull F1 driver and winner of 9 F1 races. Though he was with a top team, Mark never won a world championship and some say he was always in the shadow of Sebastian Vettel (4 times world champion).  I met Mark in 2003 in Dubai during the launch of the Jaguar F1 team at the time. Mark is also very humble but when I met him in 2003 he wasn’t that famous and known like he is today.
  • Sir Jackie Stewart, born on June 11th, 1939 is a British former Formula One racing driver from Scotland. Nicknamed the “Flying Scot”, he competed in Formula One between 1965 and 1973, winning three World Drivers’ Championships (1969, 1971, and 1973). I met Jackie on the same event when I met Webber in Dubai in 2003.

With Sir Jackie Stewart

  • Ari Vatanen, Born on April 27th, 1952 is a Finish Rally driver and one of the “flying Fins”.  World champion in 1981. He won 10 rallies in the world championship in addition to a lot of rallies and events all over the world. In 1984, Vatanen signed to drive the Peugeot 205 T16 for Peugeot’s factory team. From the 1984 1000 Lakes Rally to 1985 Swedish Rally, Vatanen won five world rallies in a row. Close to death after a major accident on the 1985 Rally Argentina, Vatanen spent 18 months winning a personal health battle over serious injury and depression. He went on to make a complete recovery and his return to motorsport in 1987 saw him go on to win the Paris-Dakar Rally four times; with Peugeot in 1987, 1989 and 1990, and with Citroën in 1991. He became the center of controversy when his car was stolen whilst leading the same rally in 1988. I met Vatanen in Dubai in 2004 during the UAE Desert Challenge Rally where he was invited as a guest by Nissan.

With Ari Vatanen

  • Markku Alén. Born February 15th, 1951, in Helsinki is a Finnish former rally and race car driver. He drove for Fiat, Lancia, Subaru and Toyota in the World Rally Championship, and held the record for most stage wins (801) in the series, until Sébastien Loeb overtook it at the 2011 Rally Catalunya. Alén’s catchphrase “now maximum attack” became well-known.  Alén never won the world championship itself, despite being for a long time the driver with the most wins to his credit. However, he did win the FIA Cup for Drivers in 1978, the precursor to the World Championship for Drivers established in 1979. In 1986, he was the world champion for eleven days, until Peugeot’s appeal went through and the results of Rallye Sanremo, which Alén had won, were cancelled. I met Markku in Finland in 2013 while I was following the Neste Finland Rally (formally known as the 1000 Lakes Rally which he won 6 times).

With Markku Alén

  • Marcus Grönholm. Born on February 5th, 1968 in Finland is a Finnish former rally driver. Driving for Peugeot, he won the World Rally Championship in 2000 and 2002. I met Marcus in Finland in 2013 while I was following the Neste Finland Rally.

About The Author

Cars and Motorsports have fascinated me since I was a kid. Born in 1968, my hobby for cars and motor sport in general started in 1980. Despite working in the telecommunication sector since 1996, my passion for the sound of engines never faded over the years. I make sure to follow the Local Lebanese motorsport events live and I do my best to watch similar events live abroad whenever I have the chance. I am married with two wonderful kids.

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