Former F1, IndyCar and sports car driver Raul Boesel is celebrating his 54th birthday today!
A motorsport career was not initially on the cards for Raul, who like his brother, was a championship-level equestrian rider in his youth.
But after achieving success in karts and tin-top racing in his Brazilian homeland, Boesel joined the list of his fellow South American racers who took the well-trodden path to go to Europe in the hope of achieving motorsport fame and success.
Speaking next to no English and having never driven an open-wheeler before, he bought himself a drive with the Van Diemen team in the British Formula Ford championship in 1980. Partnered with Roberto Moreno and Tommy Byrne, he incredibly finished as the runner-up in both championships, claiming eight race wins.
He moved to Formula 3 competition in 1981, and he finished third overall in the Marlboro championship after an incredibly consistent season. His reward was a test with McLaren.
Earning plenty of sponsorship support as a result of his success, Raul took his backers with him to the re-formed March F1 team in 1982. But the car was a beast, and poor Raul failed to make the grid on several occasions.
His fortunes didn’t improve when he switched to Ligier in 1983, and his seventh place at Long Beach being the best finish of his F1 career.
Raul then made the decision to head Stateside and he joined Dick Simon’s CART team.
He remained in the championship until 1987, when he switched to sports car racing and won the Drivers’ World Championship with Jaguar, winning five races. In 1988, he won the Daytona 24 Hours, partnering Martin Brundle and John Nielsen.
He claimed runners-up honours in the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jaguar, before he returned to CART racing once again with Dick Simon. He remained on the US open-wheel scene until the late-1990s, later switching to the Indy Racing League.
More recently, Boesel returned home to his native Brazil where he now enjoys a successful career as one of the country’s highest-profile DJs.