What Terrible Race Car Driver Did You Root For When You Were Younger?

Illustration for article titled What Terrible Race Car Driver Did You Root For When You Were Younger?
Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty Images)

When someone talks about, say, 1990s Formula One, most race fans immediately picture the biggest names of the era: Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher. But I know not everyone at the time was a fan of those drivers; there’s a whole entire grid out there loaded with drivers that were either bad or never got their chance to drive a decent car. I want to know who you rooted for when you were younger.

I’m not yet a quarter of a century old, so I probably still fall into that “younger” category, but I’d like to take you all on a journey back to… a mere few years ago. I really got into racing through Formula One in 2013 and started going to races the following year. Somewhere in that time period, I decided that I was going to become the world’s biggest Marussia fan. Jules Bianchi and then, later, Will Stevens? They were my drivers.

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It’s fairly obvious that both Bianchi and Stevens were hindered by the quality of the cars they drove, so I won’t say that they were terrible so much as they were very limited in what they could do. In fact, I was quite sure Bianchi would have made a wonderful, competitive driver had he had a chance to move up the ranks.

But I really was there for the team. I loved Marussia. Like, legitimately loved the team. It started out as a joke, but then I really, truly felt that someone needed to root for Marussia, and that person may as well be me. I painted banners for Marussia. I showed up to international races for Marussia. I was all in. And then the team folded.

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It wasn’t really surprising so much as it was sad. But now I’m realizing that, in five years, I’m going to tell someone I was a massive Will Stevens fan, and someone is going to look at me and go, “Who?” And I, feeling like a crypt keeper, will have no choice but to waste away into dust.

I gotta know—who were you all-in for when you were a kid? Was it Greg Biffle or Ward Burton? Roberto Guerrero or Alex Tagliani? Tell me your stories.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

Jacques Villeneuve.

By that I mean Jacques Villeneuve post-Williams, when he no longer had a world-beating car and bounced around from mediocre team to bad team, but still thought he walked on water.