Automotive history is full of impressive individuals, but some are so heroically talented that they deserve their own category: badass. Here are ten men you believe to be serious badasses.
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Photo Credit: Hot Rod
10. Luigi Chinetti
Suggested By: EuropaBambaataa
Why They're Awesome: The name Chinetti is well-known to any Ferrari scholar, but for those who are not devotees of the Church of the Prancing Horse, these are the basics: For many years, Chinetti was the only man responsible for importing Ferraris into the United States. Equal parts friend, foe, and savior for Enzo Ferrari, he kept the brand alive despite his pal's passions. He also established the North American Racing Team, which successfully campaigned Ferraris in the United States and even won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965, competing against both Ford's GT40s and factory-backed Ferraris. If that weren't enough, he drove in and won the 1933 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and he participated in every 24-hour race at Le Mans from 1932 to 1953, winning on several occasions. The notable of those wins came in 1949, when he drove for an unprecedented 23.5 hours, handing his Ferrari to his co-driver for the last 30 minutes. It was Ferrari's first victory at la Sarthe.
Photo credit: Carlos Ghys
9. Carroll Shelby
Suggested By: OA 5599
Why They're Awesome: How did a chicken farmer from Texas get to be one of the most recognized guys in motorsports? By being awesome. Whether he was winning Le Mans behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, building the Cobras that would bear his name and cement his legacy, making damn good chili, working on the team that brought us the Dodge Viper, or just putting his name on every third Mustang that rolls off the line, Carroll Shelby is about as badass as they come.
8. "Maximum" Bob Lutz
Suggested By: TxBrumski
Why They're Awesome: With a name like "Maximum," how could Bob not be a badass? He's worked for all of Detroit's finest at one point or another, saved them from various perils, and even conquered Europe during a stay at BMW. During his last tour of duty at General Motors, he put awesome back into the company, bringing us the reborn GTO and Camaro, the Solstice/Sky twins, the Pontiac G8, and every variant of the Cadillac CTS-V. He's retired now, but that doesn't mean he's any less of a badass — now he's got more time to fly his personal fighter jets.
7. Enzo Ferrari
Suggested By: AustintheBruiser
Why They're Awesome: Ferrari began his career racing Alfa Romeos. He went on to manage the Alfa factory grand-prix team, and in 1947, he started his own race-car company. His new firm's first win came in 1948, and cars that bear his name have competed in the Formula One World Championship since its inception in 1950, winning the Constructors' Championship an unprecedented 16 times, as well as racking up 212 individual wins. In the early 1960s, Ford nearly bought Ferrari outright, but Il Commentadore pulled out of negotiations at the last minute. This drove Ford to beat Ferrari at all costs, and created one of the most fiery motorsports rivalries of the 1960s.
Photo credit: Wired
6. Sir Stirling Moss
Suggested By: CABEZAGRANDE
Why They're Awesome: Though he never won a world championship, Sir Stirling had an amazing career. He won 212 of the 529 races he entered. He drove 84 different makes of car during his 14-year career. He qualified on pole 16 times in his Formula One tenure, and his successes stretched right up until the horrifying, retirement-prompting crash that almost killed him in the early 1960s. He is still a badass.
Photo credit: Nextcar
5. The Stig
Suggested By: Joseph A Luxa
Why They're Awesome: Whoever he may be underneath that white helmet, His Stigginess easily gets a spot on today's list. Rumored to be any number of people, his real identity isn't important, but his speed is. That... thing is able to get into any car the Top Gear boys throw at him and crank out blazing laps at the drop of a hat. And he's modest about it, too.
Photo credit: Top Gear
4. Ayrton Senna
Suggested By: Dirt Pirate
Why They're Awesome: Ayrton gets a nod here today for a variety of reasons. First, his amazing skill in the wet. Watching him take corners and get around other drivers in the rain was like watching his car dance. He was a magician. But even when it wasn't raining, his unrelenting quest for the top of the podium made him great: "If you no longer go for a gap that exists," he once said, "you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, competing to win. And the main motivation is to compete for victory. It's not to come third, fourth, fifth, or sixth. I race to win as long as I feel it's possible."
Photo credit: Center Blog
3. Paul Newman
Suggested By: Buickboy92
Why They're Awesome: Newman started his racing career in 1969, learning to drive competitively at Watkins Glen in preparation for his movie Winning. He started his first race in Connecticut in 1972, and went on to win a couple of SCCA championships. He race at Le Mans in 1979, finishing second behind the wheel of a Porsche 935. He would continue racing for many years, becoming the oldest person to start a major-league race (he was 70) at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona. He also built one of the most famous V8-powered Volvos ever.
Photo credit: The Hook
2. Evel Knievel
Suggested By: Snapoversteer
Why They're Awesome: Much like "Maximum" Bob, with a name like Evel, how could he not be the coolest thing on two wheels? Knievel performed stunts on his motorcycle for more than 14 years, and during that time, he broke 37 bones in his body, a Guinness world record. He was most famous for jumping things, including 14 greyhound buses, 19 cars in a row, 13 Pepsi delivery trucks, 50 stacked cars, the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace Casino in Las Vegas, and the Snake River Canyon (on a rocket-propelled bike). He is an American hero, and death hasn't dimmed his awesomeness one bit.
Photo credit: The Selvedge Yard
1. Smokey Yunick
Suggested By: P161911
Why They're Awesome: Yunick's list of badass achievements is a foot wide and a mile long, but there are a few moments that leap immediately to mind. Once upon a time, at a NASCAR tech inspection before a race (back when NASCAR was still a good time), Smokey's car had its fuel tank removed for inspection. When the inspection was over, he started the car and drove it back to the pits — without the gas tank. It turns out he'd rigged up a system that put fuel in the car's roll cage so it could stay out on track longer. He also built this wild machine. Ingenuity, thy name is Yunick.
Photo credit: Circle Track