The Ten Worst Gentleman Drivers

Money and good connections can put you in a race car. Even a serious one. But that doesn't always work out.


10.) Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen loved racing and we put him number 2 on our list of the greatest celebrity drivers ever, but Mers disagrees:

McQueen knew he was going to race in one of the most important races in the calendar, in a car that was competitively obsolete (Porsche 908), so he didn't even take pre-race preparation seriously enough to stop his shenanigans. What happened was he fell of his motorbike and broke his foot. That would probably have meant that he should have given up at least driving, even if he still wanted to enter his car. But no, he drove anyway. With his leg in a cast. Those of you who've driven or looked at any vintage racing car's pedal boxes will understand why even people with large feet might have some trouble properly heel-toeing or depressing a clutch. Imagine doing that in a cast - it is simply unsafe. And he hired a brilliant young driver, Peter Revson, who had the unfair reputation of being a rich playboy (Not really true. See:…) to share the drive with him.

It wasn't really a fair share, though, as Peter put in the vast majority of the driving, constantly having to pick up McQueen's slack as he put in basically the bare minimum needed for their car to qualify as a finisher. As the more powerful 917's and Ferrari 512's started to fall out of contention due to retirements, McQueen/Revson's 908 started to look like it was going to win. Mario Andretti, whose 512 had retired, swiftly took over the sister works car and managed to put in a heroic drive to win the race ahead of the less powerful but more reliable 908.

Later he said one of the biggest motivations for him to win that race was to beat McQueen, who had no problem taking all of the press and compliments for the 908's brilliant campaign, when it was Revson who did all the hard work, and who was taking the racing a lot more seriously.

Steve McQueen was awesome, but he didn't take his racing as seriously as he should, and thus doesn't deserve a place in the greatest gentlemen drivers list. In fact, in Sebring with his leg in a cast, and taking all the credit for the lucky 2nd place, he was kind of a dick.

Suggested By: Mers

9.) Carel Godin de Beaufort

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Gentleman Drivers

Holland's first F1 World Championship points scorer was nobleman and "last knight of Grand Prix racing" Carel Pieter Antoni Jan Hubertus Godin de Beaufort. He was the best and the worst at the same time, once stopping to pick up a chick in the middle of a race weekend. MechaScroggzilla:

Carel Godin de Beaufort sometimes drove races barefoot...and there was that time he raced wearing a Beatle wig instead of his helmet...and the time he stopped in the middle of practice at the French Grand Prix to give an attractive female spectator a ride around the Reims circuit. Apparently his post Dutch GP parties at his home, Maarsbergen Castle, were not to be missed either.

He died in an accident at the Nurburgring, while practicing for the 1964 German Grand Prix.


Suggested By: MechaScroggzilla, Photo Credit:

8.) Hiro Matsushita

Hiro used his granddad's money to make it in CART, and while he wasn't terrible, he got the nickname 'King Hiro' from Emerson Fittipaldi for a very different reason:

Matsushita earned the nickname "King Hiro" from Emerson Fittipaldi, who was complaining about Hiro's reluctance to cede track position when getting lapped by the leaders. The nickname came about as a result of the voice-activated microphone ("vox") Roger Penske's team was using. Emerson's epithet was said so quickly that the circuit cut off the first syllable of the first word he used.

Fittipaldi, allegedly, had intended to say "Fucking Hiro!"

Suggested By: Countersteer

7.) Piergiuseppe Perazzini

What you need to know about Ferrari is that they will give their seats to anybody for enough Euros. No questions asked.


Suggested By: typhoonegator

6.) Chanoch Nissany

This Israeli businessmen bought a seat in F1, but did not like it. Steve Hopkinson:

It has to be Chanoch Nissany, an F1 pay-driver so bad that he once complained his car had too much grip.


Suggested By: Steve Hopkinson

5.) Charles Nearburg

This Texan oil tycoon loves the sport and is supposed to be a great guy, but he was also one of the worst Indycar drivers of all times, and as you can see, dangerous even at low speeds.


Suggested By: bmil128

4.) 'The Racing Dentist' Dr. Jack Miller

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Gentleman Drivers

A practicing dentist who happened to be super slow until the huge Atlanta crash ended his racing career in 2001. autojim:

Detroit GP 1996. Torrential rains flood part of the circuit shortly before the Indy Lights race. There's something like 6-8" of water at Turn 8. On the grid, Dr. Jack Miller goes up to the chief starter and whines "Why aren't we racing? We race in the rain! I've got loads of sponsors here!" The starter replies "Doc, if you think you can drive through half a foot of water, go for it."


Suggested By: Chris, Photo Credit: Seabirdgroup/Jack Miller

3.) Gaston Kearby

The donut man.

Suggested By: willkinton247

2.) Milka Duno

If you think Maldonado was a bad driver we can thank Venezuela for, check out Milka. Bad in Indy, bad in Grand Am, bad in ARCA. You could sometimes overhear even her own spotter pleading with her to go faster.


Suggested By: Countersteer

1.) Robert Kaufmann

Forever known as the guy who wrecked Mike Rockenfeller in the Audi R18 at Le Mans 2011. Here's a tip: If you see a businessman in a Ferrari on a track, get out of the way. Kaufmann's buddy Michael Waltrip is no better.


Suggested By: Braking Bad

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


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I was a mechanic in the Formula Atlantic series when Hiro Matsushita came on the scene. This was in the late 80's when the cars will still Cosworth twinks and the Toyota 4AGE was merely a rumor.

Anyway, Hiro had a full semi transporter filled with spare cars and tools, the very best equipment money could buy. He'd qualify okay and had poor race craft, but he did have fast cars and managed to win races.

I never begrudged him having his adventure because he was a nice guy and was always smiling. Seriously, Hiro was always over the moon happy. When he made the move to Champ Cars, I wanted to root for him, but knew how things were going to go.

".king Hiro" indeed.