Today we celebrate the birthday of former Grand Prix driver Giuseppe ‘Beppe’ Gabbiani, who will be turning 55 years young!
Born in the Italian town of Piacenza to wealthy parents, ‘Beppe’ spent seven years in karting before trying his hand at Formula 3 in 1977, and he showed immediate promise by winning first time out at Paul Ricard.
His success propelled him into Formula 2, and before the end of the 1978 season, he found himself in Formula 1, failing to qualify in his two outings for the Surtees team in place of the injured Vittorio Brambilla.
It wasn’t enough to earn him a call-up to the Grand Prix scene in 1979, so he remained in Formula 2 and earned himself something of a reputation as a crasher, despite the promise he showed with second-placed finishes at Mugello and Misano.
Staying on in Formula 2 for another season, he raised enough money to join the Osella F1 squad for the 1981 season, but he was found wanting in the largely uncompetitive car. He qualified just three times all season.
He returned back to Formula 2 for the next few years – again, frustratingly, showing the promise that he just couldn’t bring into Formula 1 – and he was a frontrunner, giving Stefan Bellof a run for the 1982 title, and narrowly missing out on the 1983 title to Jonathan Palmer and Mike Thackwell after leading the points race early on.
His career stumbled after that, and subsequent years only saw him make occasional open-wheel outings while he made the switch to the domestic touring car and endurance racing scene.
[Images via Beppe Gabbiani and Caradisiac]