Three Formula 1 drivers – two former, one current – are celebrating their birthdays today, with those being ‘Brausch’ Niemann, Mike Wilds and Lewis Hamilton!
South African Ambraüsus (or ‘Brausch’) Niemann turns 72 today. Niemann contested two World Championship Grands Prix in his home country.
Niemann was famous for the incredible results he achieved in a wide-wheeled Lotus 7 in the domestic racing scene, rumoured to be held together by little more than masking tape, which earned it the nicknames of ‘the coffin on cotton reels’ or the ‘masked marvel’!
His two F1 outings came at the wheel of a privately entered Lotus 22, which he managed to qualify for the first of these in 1963 (pictured).
Niemann would later switch to endurance motorcycle racing, winning the national title in 1979.
Turning 65 today, Mike Wilds was a regular on the Formula 3 and Formula 5000 scene, whose opportunity in F1 was all too brief to demonstrate his skills.
A former Firestone Tyres employee, Mike spent seven years in club racing before graduating to Formula 3 in 1972. Backed by Dempster Developments, he was soon winning races before opting to move into F5000 in 1974.
Mid-year. he was given the chance to try and qualify (sadly failing) a March 731 at Brands Hatch for the British GP, before he was picked up by Ensign for the closing rounds of the season, finally making the grid for the season-ending US GP only to lost precious laps having to pit to repair a fuel pump.
Invited to lead the BRM team in 1975, he last but two races before getting the chop, and he suffered more when he split with his long-time sponsor and having to rejoin F5000 once again, racing an ex-works Shadow in 1976.
Mike returned to the club racing scene once more in the late 1970s, although he would later suffering a leg-breaking crash in 1994 demonstrating Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari 312T at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Wilds now runs his own business teaching prospective racing drivers and helicopter pilots.
And Lewis Hamilton also celebrates his birthday today – he turns 26!