15 Dec 2006
On 15th December 2006, Gian Claudio Giuseppe Regazzoni died at Fontevivo, (Parma, Italy) after suffering a stroke when on his own at the wheel of a car. Born in Lugano on 5 September 1939, he was known in racing circles as Clay. From 1970 to 1975 Regazzoni took part in 74 Grands Prix for Ferrari, winning four and securing the same number of pole positions. He also notched up a total of 23 podium finishes, as apart from the wins there were eleven second places and eight thirds, as well as thirteen race fastest laps. His record also boasts victory in the 1972 Monza 1000 Kilometres, teamed with Ickx and in the 1971 Kyalami 9 Hours, paired with Redman, a feat he repeated the following year with Merzario.
“A bon viveur, a dancer, a footballer, tennis player and, when he had nothing better to do, a racing driver: that’s how I’d describe Clay Regazzoni, the brilliant, timeless Clay, the ideal guest of honour for any sort of fashionable event, a great source of stories for women’s magazines,” is how Enzo Ferrari described him in his book, ‘Piloti,che gente,’ “he honed his style and temperament, as one of the bravest, to the point where he became really professional. His rivals always respected him.”
The Swiss driver also competed in Formula 1 with BRM, Ensign, Shadow and Williams: with the latter, he won the 1979 British Grand Prix. Other wins worthy of note were the 1970 European Formula 2 Championship.
On 30th May 1980, at Long Beach during the United States West Grand Prix, Regazzoni had a brake problem on his Ensign and ended up crashing into Zunino’s Brabham, which had stopped in an escape road on the street circuit. Serious injuries to his legs left him a paraplegic.