Hooniverse Asks- Who's Your Favorite Race Driver?

They say that racers are wired differently, that they have faster mental reflexes and an innate sense of hubris. That being said, we all have our favorites, whether it’s from NASCAR, Formula One, WRC or another tire turning competition.
Me, I’ve always liked Mario Andretti. He’s so fast, and not just behind the wheel of a single series. Andretti has won four IndyCar championships, one Formula One World Championship, and an IROC title for good measure. On top of that he oversees a dynasty of racers and lends his name to some very tasty wines!
There are others who I admire, mostly British, people like Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Sir Sterling Moss, but I always come back to the Italian as the one I’d most like to be.
But what about you? Is there one driver who rests on the shoulders of all others , in your estimation? If so, for what reason do you hold them in such high esteem? Is it someone who is currently living, and have you ever met them? Did that meeting live up to your expectations? So many questions for a Monday. Let us know, which racer gets your pole position.
Image sources: [Autoracing1.com, stamfordraceway.com]

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47 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Who's Your Favorite Race Driver?”

  1. Alff Avatar

    Him ^

  2. c0de Avatar

    Ayrton Senna.. it's because of him that I started watching Formula One… and because of Michael Schumacher that i stopped..

    1. dmilligan Avatar

      Yeah, Senna was fun to watch and Schumacher was boring as hell.

  3. skay¢og Avatar

    Dan Gurney. This is a photo of Gurney talking to A.J. Foyt. Notice the "Gurney Bump" on the roof of the Ford GT40 MK II, put there to accommodate Gurney's 6'3" height.
    <img src="http://www.sportscardigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/021009-2208-196724hours8.jpg"&gt;

  4. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

    John Force. He's freaking insane. Win or blow it up trying!

  5. Armand4 Avatar

    Reading The Unfair Advantage made me a big Mark Donohue fan. Here's a guy who started out as an engineer who raced for laughs on the weekend and clawed his way to the top, moving from his own Elva Courier to a factory Ford GT40 in about 5 years. Along the way, he was one of the first to apply real scientific principles to setting up a race car, testing with the Penske team until every car was just right before he raced. He dominated Trans-Am, won the Indy 500, and even won a Nascar race… in an AMC Matador. Then, he got a ride in the Porsche 917, a car that nearly every other driver found absolutely terrifying. And he told the Porsche engineers that until he could spin the tires in top gear at the end of the longest straight on every racetrack, he wanted more power. He was known for his brains, but the man proved over and over again that he also had guts.

  6. BGW Avatar

    Mark Donohue. He did some remarkable stuff in a short period of time and was remarkably humble and frank about it all.
    Honorable mentions to Bill Auberlen for being America's most underrated driver and to Ricardo Patrese for, well, this:
    [youtube xqUsrNIKzFo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqUsrNIKzFo youtube]

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      probably one of the best videos I have ever watched…

    2. engineerd Avatar

      That sounds a lot like my drive to church yesterday. And it's only 4 blocks away.

    3. coupeZ600 Avatar

      That's how my wife acts when she rides in the Z600
      "You're going to get us killed!"
      "I haven't broken a single law, it's just that it's tiny and it makes everything look faster"
      "Aaargh! I'm getting out!" (I loved that part of the video, but in my car you probably could get out)

    4. RacinG73 Avatar

      Thank you for sharing this. It was awesome. 🙂 I showed it to my wife. She's pretty lucky my race car only has one seat.

  7. Al Navarro Avatar
    Al Navarro

    Second on Senna. I started watching/paying attention to F1 in the mid to late 1980s, and I was impressed by the fact that Senna was so great in the rain. I have several Senna collectibles (photography, models, books) and remember exactly where I was the day he died.
    Another thing I liked about Senna was his focus. He really didn’t care if he pissed anyone off, he just wanted to be the fastest.

  8. PFG Avatar

    All-time: Jim Clark. He towered over his peers, who were themselves merely the greatest collection of talent in the history of F1.
    Current: Fernando Alonso.
    Local: Tom Berry.

  9. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I have to vote Johnny Rutherford. He was "my guy" all through childhood because he hosted the Saturday TV show "The Racers," which was really what turned me onto cars in the first place.

  10. scroggzilla Avatar

    My favorite ever? I don't thing I could narrow it down to a single driver. I greatly admire the generations of drivers that competed in the 50's, 60's and early 70's. For a variety of reasons, there were dozens of drivers who excelled at multiple disciplines. Each weekend, a different car at a different circuit in a different form of racing. Or some weekends, different car, different form of racing, same circuit (For example, many of Jim Clark's touring car victories came in support races for that weekend's F1 event). As racing became big business in the mid-70's, racing stars could afford to race in one series exclusively and the racing all-arounder vanished. Today, I can only think of one active driver that suceeds in multiple forms of racing. And that's Tom Kristensen.

    1. Tomsk Avatar

      Tony Stewart's quick in multiple disciplines, as well: an IRL title (albeit when it was still an all-oval series and most of the top drivers and teams were still in CART), two NASCAR titles, still damn quick in his occasional dirt track forays, and would have won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2004(?) had the suspension not broken. Most of all, he seems to want to spend as much of his free time as possible in a racecar.

  11. Justin Rajewski Avatar
    Justin Rajewski

    Gilles Villeneuve

  12. P161911 Avatar

    All time: A.J. Foyt
    -4 Indy 500 Wins (35 Indy starts)
    -Daytona 500 win
    -24 Hours of Daytona Win
    -24 Hours of LeMans Win in a Ford GT40 (the same year he as one of his Indy wins)
    -TWO IROC Champoinships
    -SEVEN Time Indycar series Champoin
    -12 hours of Sebring Win
    -Finished 2nd an Indy car race in a front engined dirt track roadster, against the mid-engined cars on a paved course!
    -250mph closed course speed record in the Oldsmobile Aerotech
    -technically he did race F1 since the Indy 500 was a FIA points race for a few years in the late 1950s.
    Sure he stuck around WAY past his prime, just like Andretti.
    Current drivers:
    Probably Tony Stewart
    -IRL and NASCAR Champoinships will drive just about anything, anywhere, anytime, and be competitive.

  13. SSurfer321 Avatar

    I kidd. In all seriousness, "Mouse" McCoy. The only human to race the Baja 1000 on a bike non-stop. He took 1st in class in 4th bike overall.
    Ivan "Ironman" Stewart for winning Baja 1000 as a single driver get's honorable mention.

  14. skitter Avatar

    Among active racers, I am a big fan of Alan McNish. When the Audi gets behind, they place him in the huge prototype, set the dial to 'kill', and he'll run qualifying pace for an entire stint, tires howling in protest over the soft woosh of the turbo. But the driver-designer's driver-designer, living or dead, can be no one but Bruce McLaren.

  15. engineerd Avatar

    You know, on the face of it this sounds like an impossible question. One favorite racing driver, evar?! Unpossible. Between racing series and racing eras, there is too much goodness and too little commonality to compare. Buddy Baker has little in common with Tony Stewart because of the eras in which they raced. Schumi looks great, but how would he have done if he were born 40 years earlier? Even just making it to the top can be less about skill and more about breasts these days *cough* Danica Patrick *cough*. Excuse me. I had something stuck in my throat.
    Then, I remembered this guy. Some say he transcends space in time, and that both Ayrton Senna and Dr. Who are based on his life story.
    <img src="http://img1.tvloop.com/img/showpics/7f/7b/l352bbebf0000_1_2884.jpg"&gt;

    1. nofrillls Avatar

      Funny, I thought he was called the Schumacher.

  16. Dr_Dangerously Avatar

    I would say Sebastien Loeb, but I am convinced that he is really a robot programmed specifically for rally driving.

  17. vince Avatar

    Stefan Bellof and his Porsche 956 (1983) on the Nürburgring
    lap time : 6:11,130 min.
    now show me someone who can beat this

  18. Syrax Avatar

    My choice is not at all because he's Brazilian (I don't like both Piquets and Massa) but I would have to go with Emerson Fittipaldi. His talent is undeniable and I dare to say he's more charismatic than Senna. Senna grew up to be bigger than the sport, bigger than himself (Just like Fangio and, unfortunately, Schumacher) and he might be the greatest driver ever, but my favorite is still Fittipaldi.

  19. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    I never tire of this clip…
    [youtube 8By2AEsGAhU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8By2AEsGAhU youtube]

  20. Tomsk Avatar

    Hard to pick just one, but here are some of my top picks:
    -Petter Solberg (never gives up and is never afraid to express himself)
    -Paul Tracy (an unfiltered, all-or-nothing shoe who was the only driver unruly enough to get canned by Roger Penske twice)
    -Dan Gurney (a class act who has basically done it all)

    1. Dr_Dangerously Avatar

      Petter Solberg is my favorite underdog, I am completely rooting for him this season.

  21. Black Steelies Avatar

    DALE!! hahah jk
    Patrick Dempsey!! hhahahaah
    Nick Hogan… ok enough

  22. Seth L Avatar
    Seth L

    Awesome Bill from Dawsonville was my favorite when I was eight.
    Now? Probably David Brabham.

  23. dmilligan Avatar

    That's a question that I just can't answer, there are just too many great drivers. I was a big Senna fan, but I liked watching Andretti and Zanardi too. And when Dale Earnhardt was driving, NASCAR was fun to watch (usually). I guess I just have lots of favorites.

  24. coupeZ600 Avatar

    Niki Lauda.

    1. coupeZ600 Avatar

      And his kid brother, Juan Manuel Fangio.

  25. MarionCobretti Avatar

    I never really got an opportunity to watch Senna in his prime. I did always love watching Alex Zanardi in CART/Champ Car.
    While of questionable sportsmanship (if not legality), Zanardi's pass of Bryan Herta in the corkscrew at Laguna Seca remains one of the great "Holy #$%&!!!" moments of my motorsports viewing life. The guy simply would do absolutely anything to win.

  26. dragon951 Avatar

    I am going to go with Jacky Ickx. Monsieur Le Mans all the way.

  27. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    For F1 not as spectacular as Senna but one of the few who could race against him and win, Alain Prost.
    Alain Prost was one of the most talented drivers that have been arround, always kept the car in best condition was quick with lowest fuel consumption less tire wear and at the same time one of the quickest in the field.
    For rally is a tough one, there so many good ones out there, I have to name some, Stig Blomquist (where do you think the Stig got his name), Ari Vatanen, Tommi Mäkinen, Hannu Mikkola, Colin McRae, Sebastien Loeb, Michelle Mouton (gotta respect her for competing equally to men)
    For Moto GP, other tough one to pick just one, Giacomo Agostini, Valentino Rossi, Barry Sheene, Michael Doohan, Kenny Robberts.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      For pure human triumph, absolutely.

  28. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell


    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      well you did build your own uberbird…

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        I'm the mechanic.
        Jeff's definitely the faster driver.

  29. RacinG73 Avatar

    There was a driver at our local dirt track – Silver Springs Speedway. He raced in the Sportsman class which was the top of the heap at this track. Sure, there were winged 410 sprint cars at Williams Grove on Friday nights. But on a Saturday it was the Sportsman sprint-style cars that ruled our roost. John Yinger competed in this class. He drove a plain yellow, unsponsored car with his #15 often taped onto the wing with silver duct tape. I remember the night he finally pulled off a feature win. My brother and I were convinced that he'd had an extra beer in the pits before the race thus rendering his speech slurred in Victory Lane and his performance amped up to '11'. John died not too many years after that, but he left behind family members Lisa and Vance who picked up the reins.
    Here's a photo of John – the yellow car in the background:
    <img src="http://www.silverspringspeedway.com/images/HistoryPhotoPages/1page10.jpg"&gt;
    And here's Vance doing his father(?) proud:
    <img src="http://www.silverspringspeedway.com/images/09SportsmanDrivers/20YVanceYinger.jpg"&gt;
    John Yinger, I tip a glass in honor of your memory. Others may have never heard of you. But for me and my brother you made a lasting impression.

  30. Maymar Avatar

    Harvey Mushman.
    Of course, I got in to WRC for a period while Colin McCrae was still fairly dominant, and he was one of my favourites, in a solid field.

  31. […] props to Hooniverse reader BGW for finding the video. It was too good not to […]

  32. forty Avatar

    The one and only… Johnny O'Connell

  33. videos caidas Avatar

    Gracias estaba buscando informacion de estos temas!

  34. Sergio Fry Avatar

    I often read your blog, I just thought I would say to keep the good work!

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