Former F1 drivers Nanni Galli (pictured left) and Michael Bleekemolen (right) are celebrating their respective birthdays today!
Seventy years young today, Nanni Galli – formally Giovanni Giuseppe Gilberto Galli – is perhaps more famous for brokering the Benetton clothing empire’s involvement in F1 than for his own driving exploits in Formula 1, which amount to a total of 17 starts between 1970-3 with a best finish of ninth.
A regular contest in sports and saloon car races, Galli finished runner-up in the 1968 Targa Florio with Ignazio Giunti and made his F1 debut at the 1970 Italian Grand Prix in an Alfa-powered McLaren, where he failed to qualify.
After a handful of outings with March and the Martini squads, his big opportunity came at the 1972 French Grand Prix, where he joined Ferrari to pilot one of its 312Bs around Clermont Ferrand. But he blew his chance, finishing a distant 13th.
After five further appearances in Frank Williams Iso Marlboro cars in 1973, he announced his retirement from F1.
Father to successful Dutch racers Jeroen and Sebastian, 61-year-old Michael contested give Grands Prix between 1977-8, failing to qualify on debut at his home circuit of Zandvoort in a RAM March 761.
He returned the following year with ATS – again achieving a DNQ on home soil – before finally making the grid two races later at Watkins Glen, retiring after 43 laps with an oil pump problem. It would be his only F1 start, and F1 left him behind after that.
Michael dropped back to Formula 3, winning two rounds of the European championship and finishing runner-up to Alain Prost in 1979.