Today we wish a happy birthday to Mauro Baldi – former Grand Prix driver, sports car champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner – who will be celebrating his 58th birthday.
Born in the Italian town of Reggio-Emilia, Baldi started out in rallying in the early 1970s before he moved to touring car racing in 1975 by racing a Renault 5. He achieved strong results and moved into Formula 3, and by 1980 was widely acknowledged as a top F3 driver, winning the Monaco Grand Prix support race and the 1981 European title with a record eight wins.
He made his Grand Prix debut with Arrows in 1982, earning a pair of sixth-placed finishes at Holland and Austria, before joining the Alfa Romeo squad in 1983, earning two more points finishes.
But the arrival of Alfa Romeo’s new title sponsor, the Benetton fashion house, saw Baldi dropped from the team’s line-up – which was a particularly strange decision considering that Benetton was an Italian company.
So he moved instead to the underfunded Spirit outfit for two part-seasons before he left F1 and ventured into sports car racing, achieving considerable success with Lancia, Porsche, Sauber and Peugeot, which included the 1990 World Sportscar Championship crown.
His final F1 fling came as the test driver for the ill-fated Modena Lamborghini project in 1991, before he achieved his greatest success, winning the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours.