Racing is about much more than cars driving fast around a circuit — it’s about stories. Some of those stories are best told by the people who made them happen, preferably with alcohol involved. Here are the people we’d like to hang out with the most.
In his eight years racing in Formula One, Jackie Stewart saw podium over 40 times, and don’t get me started on Formula Two and Formula Three stats. Throughout his racing career, Stewart spent much of his time off-track advocating for many important safety changes in the sport. If it weren’t for these early cries for change, it is highly likely that the sport would have seen more tragic accidents than it already had.
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If it weren’t for Denise McCluggage’s experiences as a racer and a reporter, it’s possible that automotive journalism wouldn’t be what it is today. McCluggage had been with AutoWeek from the very beginning and spent her time covering various races around the world — when she wasn’t participating in them herself.
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The “First Lady of Drag Racing” was a street racer until age 16 when her husband Jack Muldowney built her first drag racer. From then on, Shirley Muldowney’s enthusiasm for the sport of drag racing filled her life with purpose.
If I had the opportunity to sit down with her for a drink or two, I would choose to pick her mind on the fights that the National Hot Rod Association attempted to pick with her and the obstacles that she faced as a woman entering a sport so dominated by men.
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Between the time he spent racing, driving amazing cars on the street, acting in films, flying his own aircraft and just simply being the coolest man alive, the number of experiences that Steve McQueen could share over beers would be amazing. He was passionate about everything he did, especially racing.
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Though he’s not much of a talker over race radio comms or during press conferences, Kimi is one of the most zero-bullshit and straightforward F1 drivers on today’s grid. Get him sitting down for a couple drinks and he’d surely open up.
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After successfully competing in both club and international rallies around the world for over 20 years, Pat Moss had proven herself to be an incredibly capable and well-experienced rally driver.
Through her racing career she was carried by several different factory world rally teams, including Ford, Saab, Lancia and Renault-Alpine, as well as the second-hand experiences she had through his rally-driving husband, Erik Carlsson. Moss had been around the block and was arguably one of the most tried and true rally-drivers the sport has seen.
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Growing up in the home of an alcohol bootlegger, Junior Johnson spent many of his years as a youth following those footsteps, until he began racing professionally with NASCAR in 1955. Famously known for innovating one of the most well-known and commonly-used racing techniques of all time, following in the slipstream of other cars on track, also known as “drafting.”
If you’re going to have a drink with someone, might as well invite someone who can bring their own booze.
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Scottish racing royalty taken from us far too soon. Well known for his balls-out driving techniques on rally stages around the world, what many people don’t know is that McRae had also spent time driving in The 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as Dakar. I can’t even fathom the thoughts of all the crazy experiences he has probably had.
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From his days facing off against some of F1’s greatest namesakes and into today’s world of motorsport, Niki Lauda has seen it all and experienced it all. There are few people that walk this planet that could share as much first-hand experience and knowledge about racing safety, strategy, technique and driver personalities. I bet he has some stories.
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A man well-known for his character on and of the course. James Hunt was a racing driver, a sex icon, a partygoer and a key figure in some of the most famous stories in racing — and probably some untold ones as well. If you could get him a to a pub or a bar, (which surely couldn’t have been too hard), who knows what stories you would’ve heard, or where you would’ve ended up the next morning.
One of Hunt’s most famous partying stories would be that one time he slept with 33 airline flight attendants. His common pre-race ritual was intercourse, then forced vomit, then racing. It very often worked.
I’m not sure I’d survive drinks with James Hunt, but I’d like to try it anyway if he were still with us.
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