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917k 10-09-2001 04:26 PM

Ronnie Peterson
 
Thought it worth while pointing this out.

23 years ago today Ronnie Petertson was invoplved in an accident at the start of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza which claimed his life (he actually died on 11th Sept from complications after an operation to his broken legs).
Known as Superswede, Ronnie was the first reason I started to follow moyor racing and having seen him get pole position at Silverstone in 1973 I was hooked (he finished 2nd behind Peter Revson in the race).
I could ramble on at length but I think it easier just to say he was my first real 'hero'(alongside Don Rogers) in the sporting world, as well as being a fantasticly quick driver he was a man of honour and class, I still remember the news of his daeth being announced and how devastatecI was. Still missed today Ronnie. A brief resume follows:-


made his Formula 1 debut in 1970 with the March team, the same team he had been racing for in the junior formula. He immediately impressed the world with his raw speed. In 1971 he scored five second place finishes and was runner-up to Jackie Stewart in the World Championship. The March team was run on a shoestring budget and it was not until he left for Lotus in 1973, that he won his first race at the French Grand Prix. Teaming with Emerson Fittipaldi, the current World Champion, he was proving to be more than a match for the Brazilian. He went on to win three more races that year and finished third in the World Championship. Fittipaldi soon left for McLaren and Ronnie Peterson continued with Lotus as the team leader for the next two years but the Lotus 72 was at the end of its useful life. In 1976 he returned to March but had limited success. 1977 brought an offer to drive the 6-wheel Tyrrell. This very complex car was just the opposite of what Peterson needed. Being a disaster as a test driver he was lost in the Tyrrell. 1977 served as the low point of his career and for 1978 he returned to Lotus as a number two to Mario Andretti. Mario at first questioned this arrangement as he well new that Ronnie was no number two. As an indication of his character Ronnie accepted this position without malice; a far cry from the political intrigue that is Formula 1 today. Together they dominated the 1978 season in the Lotus 79 with Peterson scoring a pair of spectacular wins. Peterson acted the loyal number two but there were time when his brilliance could not be masked. He out qualified his teammate at Brands Hatch even though he was using hard compound tires, rather than the qualifiers which were held for Andretti, and a half tank of gas! After his victory at Zeltweg in Austria he trailed Andretti by only 9 points with 4 races remaining. It was well known that he would be with another team in 1979 and some suggested that he should just go for the championship with nothing to lose. Nothing except his word: "I'm going to McLaren next year", he said. "It's not announced yet, but Mario knows, Some of these people," he sighed, "who say I should forget our agreement now... I don't understand them. I had open eyes when I signed the contract, and I also gave my word. If I break it now, who will ever trust me again?" At the next race Andretti's car broke an exhaust and lost power yet Peterson followed him over the line. Peterson felt that his time would come next year, as he had been offered a number one position with McLaren. All of that ended before it began when Ronnie Peterson died as the result of an accident at Monza. In 1978, in Formula One the music had stopped, more than a man died that day for Formula 1 had lost its innocence.

11-09-2001 01:00 AM

Thanks for that, 917k.
I remember that day very well, and I still get this dread feeling in the pit of my stomach when the GP circus arrives at Monza. Its the same at Belgium (Gilles Villeneuve, Zolda, 1982)

Perhaps I could add a description of what actually happened, if only to illustrate that F1 is at least a little safer these days. (note the part played by James Hunt in pulling Peterson from his car)

At about three o'clock, 24 cars lined up on the grid, the flag was dropped with some of the cars still rolling into position. On the approach to the Variante Goodyear, Riccardo Patrese's Arrows, which had qualified 12th, touched James Hunt's McLaren, which started from 10th position. The McLaren was spun into Peterson's Lotus and the Lotus was spun into the barriers on the right-hand side of the track, crushing the front of the car. Vittorio Brambilla, who had started from the back of the grid, tried to avoid the accident but his Surtees crashed into Peterson's Lotus. Peterson's Lotus burst into flames. After Niki Lauda's horrific accident two years earlier, there was the sickening thought of "Oh, no not again!"

James Hunt leapt from his McLaren and pulled Peterson from the burning Lotus. Soon the fire was put out and the track officials started to take stock of what had happened: ten cars were involved in the accident, including Brett Lunger, Hans Stuck, who had been concussed, and Didier Pironi. Brambilla had a severe head injury and Peterson had badly broken legs. The Italian Police formed a human wall stopping anyone, including Professor Sid Watkins, the then Surgical Advisor to Formula One, from entering the crash site.

After a delay of between eleven to eighteen minutes, an ambulance was sent to the accident scene, and Peterson was taken to the Monza medical centre. At the medical centre, Peterson's legs were splinted, IVs were put in, and it was determined that Peterson's burns were not severe. With Peterson's condition stabilised, he was then taken by helicopter to the Ospedale Maggiore at Niguardia, which was about ten minutes away. There, the x-ray exam showed that Peterson had about 27 fractures of his legs and feet. The surgeons decided to pin Peterson's fractured bones when circulation to one of his legs was under threat. The surgeons worked until close to midnight and Peterson was sent to the intensive care unit in stable condition.

At close to four o'clock in the morning, Professor Watkins received a call informing him that Peterson's condition had worsened. By the time he reached the hospital, Peterson was clinically brain-dead: he had died from a fat embolism - a fairly rare condition that can follow fractures of the thigh. In layman's terms, fat deposits form in the blood vessels of the patient, which, in Peterson's case, blocked circulation through the lungs and starved his brain of oxygen. Even today, there is little that can be done after a fat embolism forms, and the risk of an embolism forming is higher the longer the patient is left untreated and the longer and more complicated the surgery.

917k 11-09-2001 03:22 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by tmjwat

I remember that day very well, and I still get this dread feeling in the pit of my stomach when the GP circus arrives at Monza. Its the same at Belgium (Gilles Villeneuve, Zolda, 1982)


I still get that at Monza and Imola (Senna).

Strange that Brambilla wasn't expected to survive his injuries but recovered and died earlier this year aged 60 I believe. Peterson who was expected to make a full recovery sadly didn't.
You mention Hunt's part in the rescue, he was however along with Lauda the prime mover in one of the more unsavoury episodes in F1 history. I am referring to the ban on Riccardo Patrese who was blamed by the senior drivers at the time (unfairly I believe), this culminated in FISA banning him from the next race? If I recall all the drivers involved in the witchunt against Patrese later regretted their actions and accepted that it had been a racing accident.

11-09-2001 04:10 PM

I'd forgotten about the Patrese ban. Unfortunately he wasn't the most popular of drivers at the time - allegedly arrogant and agressive in his early racing days.
You are right, of course, about Senna, but for some reason his death didn't have quite as big an effect on me as Roland Ratzenberger the day before. I'd met and spoken to him at the Formular Ford Festival at Brands in 1986, which he won.

917L 10-09-2003 11:43 AM

25 years ago today, made all the more poignant by tmjwat's contribution.

:(

917L 09-09-2007 06:49 AM

A day early but as the race is today

29 years but still feels like yesterday to me

Maidstoned Eagle 09-09-2007 09:15 AM

I was reading an old copy of Motorsport the other day and their was an interview with someone (can't remember who) who mentioned that the fatality rate of drivers who were at Lotus put them off driving for Chapman..

Maidstoned Eagle 09-09-2007 09:19 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ifwEPkwrdQ

Kevan Woz Awful 09-09-2007 09:36 AM

I have some great personal stories of Ronnie & Barb. I wonder if sufficient time has passed for me to tell them without running foul of the old bill and customs and excise?

Maidstoned Eagle 09-09-2007 10:06 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Kevan Woz Awful
I have some great personal stories of Ronnie & Barb. I wonder if sufficient time has passed for me to tell them without running foul of the old bill and customs and excise?
Just don't mention any names. :p

Strathclyde Eagle 09-09-2007 10:34 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by 917k
I still get that at Monza and Imola (Senna).

Strange that Brambilla wasn't expected to survive his injuries but recovered and died earlier this year aged 60 I believe. Peterson who was expected to make a full recovery sadly didn't.
You mention Hunt's part in the rescue, he was however along with Lauda the prime mover in one of the more unsavoury episodes in F1 history. I am referring to the ban on Riccardo Patrese who was blamed by the senior drivers at the time (unfairly I believe), this culminated in FISA banning him from the next race? If I recall all the drivers involved in the witchunt against Patrese later regretted their actions and accepted that it had been a racing accident.

I'd guess James Hunt took the anti-Patrese sentiment with him to his grave.

917L 09-09-2007 11:14 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lrmV...elated&search=

Kevan Woz Awful 09-09-2007 11:43 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Maidstoned Eagle
Just don't mention any names. :p
Not easy Maidstoned. My best story involves some 'saving's', a World Champion Rally Driver and a trip to Stockholm after Ronnie's death. Without telling the nature of the 'saving's', where they were hidden, to whom they belonged and by who and how they were exported it is a bit of a non-story. Paint in the names and it takes on a different picture.

My other story involves a sticker that was 'illegally' placed on Ronnie's car and resulted in such a rage from Colin Chapman that he initially sacked all Ronnies mechanics on the spot (they were reinstated the next morning) If I can find the offending sticker I'll tell the story and validate it by scanning the sticker to the thread. Again without the proof it just sounds like bullshit.

917L 09-09-2007 11:52 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Kevan Woz Awful
My other story involves a sticker that was 'illegally' placed on Ronnie's car and resulted in such a rage from Colin Chapman that he initially sacked all Ronnies mechanics on the spot (they were reinstated the next morning) If I can find the offending sticker I'll tell the story and validate it by scanning the sticker to the thread. Again without the proof it just sounds like bullshit.
What year was that? (and it would be fascinating even without the scanned sticker)

Strathclyde Eagle 09-09-2007 02:53 PM

Some nice tributes on YouTube, plus some comments referring to horrific events I'd never heard of.

917L 09-09-2007 03:54 PM

I see on the official site Sven-Goaran Eriksson bought a stautue of Ronnie and then donated it to a sportscentre in Staines

http://www.ronniepeterson.se/eng_index.html

And Michele Aloretos quote :'I worshipped him, that's why my own helmet is blue and yellow'.

Kevan Woz Awful 09-09-2007 04:18 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally posted by 917L
What year was that? (and it would be fascinating even without the scanned sticker)
Unfortunately I cannot lay my hands on the actual stickers - but when I do I'll post them to this thread as an edit.

In 1973 Lotus were having terrific success with the JPS 72. Emmerson Fittipaldi had won 3 races at the start of the season, Argentina, Brazil and Spain, and was leading the World Championship. After 7 rounds of The World Championship 'Ronald' (as his Chief Mechanic used to call Ronnie) had failed to win any of them.
John Player used to doll out stickers after every grand prix that they won and these later adorned the cars across the Rear Wing like 'battle honours'. Colin Chapman, Lotus Team Owner, was extremely fussy about the appearance of his cars and was well ahead of his time in seeking out corporate sponsorship.

Which brings me to the nub of my story. Ronnie won the French Grand Prix, and when his car was wheeled out for first practice at the British Grand Prix two weeks later his car was adorned, not with the expected '1st - French Grand Prix 1973' that was affixed to Emmersons car but with an alternate '1st - Nice Won Ronnie' sticker.
Colin Chapman refers to this incident in his book and admits he did not see the funny side of it. Believing Ronnie's mechanics to be guilty he grilled them individually and when he couldn't get anyone to own up fired them all on the spot. Some careful negotiations by Ronnie himself, amongst others and removal of the offending stickers brought Colin Chapman back to earth and he soon rescinded the sackings.

To the day he died Colin Chapman never knew the true guilty party - but when I helped some friends clear Ronnies personal effects from his rented house in Stoke Poges - low and behold, in his desk drawer lay about 60 odd, the remains of a 100 minimum order, of 'Nice Won Ronnie! Stickers'

Attached is a scan of another sticker from Ronnies early career - who remembers "the 'Vick' man"

917L 09-09-2007 04:42 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Kevan Woz Awful

Attached is a scan of another sticker from Ronnies early career - who remembers "the 'Vick' man"

Like Polar caravans they are synonymous with Ronnie.

One of my favourite stories is from 78 and Brands. After discovering that Andretti was being given softer tyres and running far lower fuel in practice than Ronnie, he went out and wiped the floor with everyone to put the car on pole hard tyres and more fuel not withstanding.

I recall it was like turning the clock back 5 years to Silverstone 73 when he truly was the fastest in the world.

Reading the most recent book on Ronnie there is some far more outspoken coment than may have been likely when Chapman was still alive and Team Lotus still running. Nearly every mechanic suggested that Ronnie was deliberately handicapped to Andrettis advantage and that with equal treatent woild have blown him into the weeds and been world champion himself

917L 10-09-2008 09:29 PM

30 years ago :(

917L 10-09-2009 08:25 PM

31 years ago :(

Sad to see Tims post as the first response to my original one with his user name missing as well


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