Q & A with Emanuele PIRRO, The new VP, of The new G.P.D.C. by Patrick TAMBAY

Updated: November 13, 2013

«The “new” F1 Grand Prix Drivers Club, What is it like today and what will it be like tomorrow… ? »

Emanuela Pirro http://www.pirro.com/

Emanuele Pirro

Emanuele Pirro (born January 12, 1962 in Rome, Italy) is an Italian former Formula One driver and five time Le Mans 24 hour winner.*See BIO

Motorposts’s and Grand Prix Driver’s Club Member, Patrick Tambay, met with one of the newly appointed Vice President, Emanuele Pirro, for a deep face to face Q & A and this is what they had to say:

Patrick Tambay : First of all I would like to congratulate you for your newly appointed mission and would like to «share» with you, for all our Internet readers, your feelings, ideas and projects for The Club. Second, I will go straight to the point : do you realize “The Historical Heritage” you are now protecting ?

EmanuelePirro : I am extremely proud to have been appointed as vice president of this prestigious club. I am relatively young in comparison to the other members. When I received the proposal, I asked myself what the club must have seen in me. I could think of so many more senior people than me. The answer I gave myself is. Passion. This is probably the only quality I have where I can safely say I am second to none.
It is a huge heritage and we have to make sure it will be preserved in the future. Especially in memory of the old members who made so much for the Club and are no longer with us.
My  initial mission is to learn and understand more about the club , its DNA, what the club has made in the past, what was the spirit of the founders,  try to maintain it and, if possible to increase it. After that I would like to make younger drivers, whose focus is all directed to the present and future, to learn looking back a little bit at history and routes. You can only understand who you are if you know where you come from.

PT : The Historical name of The Club, CIAPGPF1, is rather long and difficult to remember. Was it important for past, today’s and tomorrow’s fans and Club followers to modify it to GPDC, Grand Prix Drivers Club ?

Emanuele Pirro: I reckon GPDC is much easier  than CIAGPF1. I don’t particularly like changing old and well established things, but in this case I really think it was necessary.

PT : What will happen to the Historical Club logo ?

The Historical Logo of The CIAPGPF1

The Historical Logo of The CIAPGPF1

EmanuelePirro : I do not know yet, it needs to be discussed and approved. In principle I like simple things easy to understand. Especially when they are reproduced in a small size like a pin. But I am too Junior to give a good input about this topic. I would like to talk to the senior members and see what they think.

PT : What are your plans to sign in the younger generation of GP Drivers like yourself, Emanuele ?

Emanuele Pirro  To make my passion for Motorsport History and Heritage contagious to the younger generation. I understand that young drivers do not have much time to look back and they are very focused on what they are doing, However I am optimistic, I believe that nowadays the attention that historic racing is attracting is increasing fast and I see more and more young drivers are enjoying historic races like Goodwood.

PT : Hans Hermann said “I don’tworry about the old heroes beingforgotten”. Are you concerned about the memory of the Historical Heritage, being The Temple keepers ?

Paul Frère, Robert Manzon, Juan Manuel Fangio, Chiron, De Graffenried, Baumgartner...

Paul Frère, Robert Manzon, Juan Manuel Fangio, Chiron, De Graffenried, Baumgartner…A memorable August 62 evening!

Emanuele Pirro : I respect everybody’s thinking. Nevertheless, I believe that knowing, considering and appreciating what happened in the past is a very important thing. However this is not the only reason for the Club to exist. It does because of the pleasure of getting together, sharing stories and having fun.

PT : When you look at the list of Club Members it’s absolutely amazing the amount of Historical races and stories they all carry in their memories and have not, for some of them, been recorded, unfortunately for some of them it’s too late.What can you do to keep that memory alive and recorded for ever.

Emanuele Pirro: This is a very good question. I would like to hear and share as much as possible the huge amount of facts and stories that reside in the memory of all the members. Before it is too late…

PT : What is your personal most important memory, career wise ?

 Emanuele Pirro : Probably my first race. I have been waiting my whole life for it!

Emanuele Pirro 5 time  Le Mans Winner

Emanuele Pirro 5 time
Le Mans Winner

PT : Do you like « sharing » these important moments of your career with motor racing fans ?

Emanuele Pirro : Absolutely, as much as I like to hear others.

PT : What could you do to get fans closer to their idols, yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s ?

Emanuele Pirro : Look at the American Motorsport model. For them the racing fans are an important resource, for the European /F1 actors they are more an agro than anything else. I think this attitude needs to be dramatically changed. Racing drivers are very privileged persons and it should never be forgotten.

PT : Why do you think that the Club is important?

Emanuele Pirro: I think it is important to keep together those people who made the history of motor racing in a Club. As well as to help and give support to those who might have difficulties in their third age.

PT: How would you describe a meeting between Club members and fans or business people?

Emanuele Pirro : A great moment of sharing history of something you love with the people who actually made it.

The Argentinian Grand Prix Trophy

The 1973 Argentinian Grand Prix Trophy

PT: Do you think that the Club should have more “penetration” in the sport business or in caritative activities?

Emanuele Pirro : It is too early for me to say something in this respect.

PT: For true fans it’s always been and is enjoyable to meet their heroes, for an autograph or a souvenir. Anyway, there are lots of things and stories that can’t be shared in a simple meeting. Do you plan to have an exposition of your vast treasure? Share book’s Club Members? A Club library? Videos? An “F1 Hall of Fame” perhaps? Any other?

Emanuele Pirro: I personally like to keep track with the past and the memories.  I still have (nearly) all my helmets, all my trophies, most of my overalls and very many pictures of my career. Although I have always looked forward and try to keep myself updated as much as possible with every new technology, I very much like the past.
One idea could be to make a temporary exposition of all members’ stuff. Perhaps, with the support of one sponsor.

PT: Former drivers are a league on their own, adored by lots of fans all over the world. You have your own club and there are meetings (as Goodwood and other venues), where you’re all together, high spirited, close to the fans. What do you think is the key for your long and continious success? How could you even expand it?

Emanuele Pirro : In few words, I think my secrets have been passion, dedication, and enthusiasm.

PT: Do you realize that you are now, for fans all over the World, the “Keepers of The Temple” ?

Emanuele Pirro: Ha ha, well not really!

25th Anniversary Menu

25th Anniversary Menu

 Le Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix de Formule 1…de 1962 à 1987

 And some of The « NEW » F1 G.P.D.C. Members past and present…50 Years later!

Robert Manzon, Membre Fondateur, Maria Térésa De Fillipis, Alain Prost WC, Sir Jackie Young Stewart WC, Sir Jack Brabham WC, Sir John Surtess WC, Emerson Fittipaldi WC, Mario Andretti WC,  Jody Scheckter WC, Lord March Honorary Member, Bernard Ecclestone Honorary Member, Henri Pescarolo, Emanuele Pirro VP, Jochen Mass, Howden Ganley P 2013, Kurt Ahrens, Chris Amon, Richard Attwood, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Gerhard Berger, Martin Brundle, Eddie Cheever, Nano Da Silva Ramos, Andrea de Adamich, Renaud de Laborderie, John C. Fitch, Nanni Galli, Graham Gauld, Jean Guichet, Brian Henton, Hans Herrmann, Vonlanthen Jo, Gérard Larrousse, Claude Le Guezec, Dr. Helmut Marko, Giannino Marzotto, Paolo Marzotto, Francois Mazet, Roberto Bitito Mieres, Gian Carlo Minardi, Stirling Moss, Tiff Needell, Tim Parnell, Teddy Pilette, VP, David Piper, Dieter Quester, Peter Sauber, Joaquin Ramirez, Tim Schenken, Vern Schuppan, Carroll Shelby, Hans Joachim Stuck, Danny Sullivan, Marc Surer, Patrick Tambay, Henry C. Taylor, Eric Thompson, Nino Vaccarella, Murray Walke, Derek Warwick, Peter Westbury, Reine Wisell, Alexander Wurz, Helmut Zwickl…../…..


The Drivers Club of Legends, Initially a club for Winners.

The club was founded on 23 August 1962 in the noble spa resort of Villars in the Swiss Alps. The idea to establish a club for “retired” Grand Prix racing drivers dates back to the days of motorsport legends Juan Manuel Fangio, Louis Chiron and Emmanuel de Graffenried, who at the time had already been out of the active racing scene for a few years. Chiron was elected President, while Fangio acted as Honorary President. It was initially planned to make victory in a Grand Prix a requirement for membership, however it was decided to admit all participants of a Grand Prix so as not to limit the circle of potential members. Nevertheless, it has remained an exclusive association which in 50 years has only admitted around 200 members.

Robert Manzon et Juan Manuel Fangio

Robert Manzon et Juan Manuel Fangio in Villars 1962

“Once it was a club of friends, and you could simply pick up the phone to arrange to meet everyone the following month”, according to historian and club member Graham Gauld. The British motoring writer has recorded the history of the club in a book to mark the anniversary of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Club.

With a foreword from Honorary Member Bernie Ecclestone, the opulent volume is almost as exclusive as the club itself – and as such is not of course on general sale.

The book also makes mention of Maria Teresa de Filippis. The “First Lady of Formula 1″ has been a club member since 1979 and was elected Secretary-General in 1984. She subsequently met with resistance from outside the club on a regular basis – simply for being a woman. Born in Naples, she was sponsored by Juan Manuel Fangio who encouraged her to take on a role of responsibility within the club. To this day she still enjoys remembering her legendary colleague and advocate, who died in 1995. He gave her tips, and was always very straightforward, ready to help and modest with her – he was a true gentleman and a great racing driver. 86-year-old de Filippis – whose vitality is somewhat infectious –

Maria Teresa de Filipis

Maria Teresa de Filippis

“What was it like back then?”

“A club to keep memories alive” – this is how motorsport journalist and club member Helmut Zwickl describes the club in the book. Hans Herrmann could not help grinning on reading this: “I don’t worry about the old heroes being forgotten”, he explains. Even the author of the book, Graham Gauld, has to concede that the club is looking for an injection of young blood and currently considering admitting Mikka Häkkinen and David Coulthard. Herrmann stresses that even young drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have asked him the big question: “What was it like back then?” And as a source of countless stories he loves to talk about the past. Such as the drama in Le Mans in 1969, when he finished in second place behind Jacky Ickx, or how he promised his wife that he would stop driving the following year if he won. Now Hans Herrmann is looking forward to the club driving event to Piedmont, when there will no doubt be an atmosphere similar to that of a class outing – a class outing for legends.

PHC and The Master

PHC and The Master…

*Emanuele PIRRO’s short BIO

Pirro started his racing career in karts at the age of 11. At 18, he raced with the Formula Fiat Abarth, then moving on to European Formula Three (1981–83), Formula Two (1984) and Formula 3000 (1985-1986). In 1988, he was the official test driver for the all-conquering McLaren Formula One team. He seemed set to make his Formula One debut at the 1989 French Grand Prix for Larrousse in place of Philippe Alliot but instead was hired by Benetton in place of the unfit Johnny Herbert. While he ran 3rd at Hockenheim before crashing out, his season was generally something of a disappointment, only scoring a single points finish (for 5th at the wet Australian Grand Prix). Pirro at the 1991 United States Grand Prix.

He then signed a two-year deal with the Scuderia Italia team to drive their Dallara chassis. His pre-season was affected by a bout of hepatitis and he missed the first two races of 1990, with Gianni Morbidelli taking his place. As it turned out the car wasn’t competitive or reliable, though he often spun of his own accord too. Pirro finished only three times from 14 starts, with 10th place in Hungary his best result. 1991 was more promising with Judd V10 engines added to the package. Despite scoring a point at Monaco Pirro was largely outpaced by team-mate JJ Lehto and still had a habit of getting involved in accidents (notably qualifying well in 7th at the Hungaroring only to collide immediately with Stefano Modena). He was unable to find another Formula One drive for 1992.

After leaving Formula One, Pirro returned to touring car racing, having spent 1986-88 as part of the Schnitzer BMW team in the European Touring Car Championship, as well as the inaugural World Touring Car Championship in 1987. Pirro won the Macau Guia race in 1991 and 1992 at the wheel of a BMW M3 Evolution, and the Italian Touring car championship in 1994 and 1995 driving for Audi. Pirro driving an Audi R10 at Laguna Seca in 2006.

Further success followed in sports car racing, with three wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in three consecutive years (2000 to 2002) partnered with Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen for Audi Sport Team Joest. Pirro, Frank Biela and Marco Werner made history by becoming the first drivers to win the Le Mans 24-hour race in a diesel-powered car. Pirro was driving the Audi R10 Diesel when it completed a record 380 laps of the La Sarthe circuit. The team repeated the feat the following year. Alongside teammates Dindo Capello and Allan McNish he won a historic race at Petit Le Mans in 2008, driving for Audi Sport North America.

Pirro retired from racing at the end of the 2008 season, having finished second in the American Le Mans series, and took an ambassadorial role with Audi in 2009. In 2010 he returned to race tracks as a third driver for private LMP1 Drayson Racing team. In 2011 he drove a V8 Supercar in Australia for Stone Brothers Racing at the Gold Coast 600, alongside New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen.[1]



  1. Massimo Burbi

    November 14, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Excellent reading.
    You choose a worthy vp. I bet in your club meeting you’ll never run out of stories to tell.

  2. Patrick Tambay II

    November 14, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Emanuele is a true, sincere and charismatic Ambassador to our sport, with AUDI first and now with The G.P.D.C., he is also the link between “The Modern” area with “The Older” days…
    He is respected and liked by all, best wishes to him and to The Club…
    Our deep, sincere and thankfull wishes go to Maria Teresa and Théo too…

  3. Dominique Chesnais

    November 14, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Bravo à Patrick Tambay et Congratulation Emanuele !!!

  4. Olivier Fouquat

    November 17, 2013 at 9:02 am

    La légende de la F1 doit continuer à vivre.
    Le CIAPGPF1 est le garant de cela, mais il y a beaucoup de travail avec certains jeunes pilotes actuels…

  5. Pingback: Mon nom est MANZON...Robert MANZON par Maurice LOUCHE - MotorPosts - MotorPosts

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