Former Grand Prix driver George Follmer will be celebrating his 78th birthday today!
Phoenix-born Follmer started racing in his mid-20s, but it took some years before he started to pursue it seriously, and he did so largely in sports car racing while still earning a living as an insurance broker on the side.
In 1967, he financed his own Lola Chevrolet to race in the USRRC championship, but the car repeatedly broke down and he was thrown a lifeline by Roger Penske and he blossomed, broadening his driving to include USAC, Can-Am, Trans-Am and Formula A before he jumped into F1.
He was certainly no spring chicken when he made his Grand Prix debut at the venerable age of 39. It was a tough baptism representing the Shadow team in what was also its debut season in 1973, and after initially acquitting himself well, he slipped further down the grid and his F1 journey was over by the end of the season.
Sixth place on debut and a podium finish in his second race boded well, but the competitiveness of the Shadow DN1 dropped as the season wore on, and he returned to the States where he continued to plough a successful career in sports car and endurance racing, eventually retiring in the 1980s.
He occasionally appears in historic outings to this day.