Former Grand Prix drivers Patrick Gaillard and Tora Takagi are celebrating their respective birthdays today!
Turning 59 today, Paris-born Gaillard forged his reputation in Formula 3, finishing third in the 1978 European championship in a works Chevron B43, with round wins at Imola and the Nurburgring.
He graduated to Formula 2, but was propelled into the Ensign F1 seat vacated by Derek Daly midway through 1979. A poorly-balanced car at the best of times, Patrick managed to qualify the car just twice in five attempts before he was replaced by Marc Surer.
Gaillard actually made another F1 appearance at the 1980 Spanish Grand Prix. But his sixth-placed finish is a feat consigned to the record books, with the race having been stripped of its championship status.
By last account, Gaillard is the chief driving instructor at the AGS Formula 1 Driving School.
Turning 37 today, Toranosuke – better known as ‘Tora’ – Takagi was widely considered to be the best Japanese driver of his era to try his hand at Formula 1.
After a rapid rise through karting and Formula Toyota, Takagi made his Japanese F3 debut at just 18 with the all-conquering TOM’s outfit as a replacement for US-bound Jacques Villeneuve. A year later, he was in Japanese F3000, where he showed rapid pace, albeit with only the occasional win.
At the recommendation of Nakajima, he was signed to Tyrrell for the 1998 F1 season, but it was a difficult debut with an underfunded outfit and the need to learn every circuit he visited. Particularly impressive in qualifying, his race performances were very inconsistent.
With his PIAA sponsorship securing him a second season (this time with Arrows), it was more of the same from Tora, who was clearly in need of firmer guidance to iron out some of the kinks.
But for Tora, it proved all too difficult, and he returned to Japan and back to Formula Nippon, before he ventured to the United States for two seasons of CART and then two seasons of IndyCar racing – finishing an impressive tenth overall in his rookie IndyCar season, including a podium at Texas.
Click here for Tora Takagi’s complete F1 results.