It’s former F1 and IndyCar driver Danny Ongais’ birthday today!
The only native Hawaiian to compete in F1 and IndyCars, Ongais made 6 Formula 1 World Championship appearances, starting 4 races between 1977 and 1978.
An extremely versatile driver, Ongais’ formative motorsport career was spent in drag racing, where he won three national titles and was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2000 for his achievements in this area.
Nicknamed ‘On-Gas’ for his flamboyant “balls to the wall” driving style, Ongais made his F1 debut in a privately-entered Penske in the 1977 United States and Canadian Grands Prix, achieving his sole F1 finish (7th) in Canada.
He joined Ensign for the following season, retiring from the Argentine and Brazilian Grands Prix, and then switching to Shadow, where he failed to pre-qualify in the United States West Grand Prix, and achieved the same result later in the season at Zandvoort.
Ongais returned Stateside and in 1981, suffered a massive accident at the Indianapolis 500 (shown in video), which almost cost him his life. Breaking his arms and legs in several places, and suffering internal injuries, he was kept out of the sport for a considerable period while he recovered to full fitness.
He had another accident at the 1985 Michigan 500, barrel-rolling down the back straight.
Ongais’ last Indy 500 appearance came in 1996 – aged 54! – when he was the replacement driver for Scott Braydon, who had been tragically killed in practice. Starting last, he finished an impressive seventh by the flag-fall.
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