Max Papis

No we’re talking about former FIA President Max Mosley here, but instead we’re celebrating the 43rd birthday of former Grand Prix racer Masimiliano ‘Max’ Papis.

While far better known for his post-F1 exploits in his adopted home of the United States, the Italian-born racer competed a part-season with the Footwork Arrows squad in 1995, standing in for compatriot Gianni Morbidelli when the team’s coffers were beginning to run a little low.

42-35515410Despite his impressive pedigree in Formula 3 and Formula 3000, he was not competitive in the unfamiliar car, and suffered a couple of particularly unusual accidents – most notably being a suspension failure after he hit the pit wall following a pit stop at the British Grand Prix.

Papis would have scored a point on home soil at the Italian Grand Prix, only to be overtaken by Jean-Christophe Boullion’s Sauber on the final lap, and he was dropped from the line-up for Morbidelli to return after two more races.

Papis moved to the CART championship in 1996, joining the Arcerio-Wells squad following the death of Jeff Krosnoff. Two further seasons with the team produced little more than a single top-five finish, and he found better results when he joined the Rahal team in 1999.

After achieving three podium finishes in the back of the 1999 season, he won the season-opening round at Miami the following year, and earned two further wins the year after that. In the midst of the CART-IRL split, Papis decided enough was enough, and ventured off to NASCAR.

Max Papis, 2003 Champ Car MontrealIn more recent years, ‘Mad Max’ – as he is affectionately known – is a regular racer in the Daytona and the America Le Mans Series, on top of the occasional open-wheel outing.

His connections to motorsport run deep, marrying a certain lady by the name of Tati Fittipaldi, no less than the daughter of former F1 and Indy Car legend Emerson Fittipaldi.

Having recently expressed a desire to chart a full-time tilt at touring car racing, Max has secured himself a co-driver role at this year’s ArmorAll Gold Coast 600 with the Dick Johnson Racing stable. Could this be the launching pad for a full-time assault in Australia? We’d like to think so…

[Images via Corbis Images, F1 Nostalgia, LAT, Motorsport.com, Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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