Juan Manuel Fangio (June 24, 1911 - July 17, 1995) was a noted Argentinian racing car driver and winner of the Formula One championship five times, including four in a row from 1954-57.
He was born in Balcarce, Argentina. He began his racing career in South America in 1934, mostly in long distance road races and he was Argentine National Champion in 1940 and 1941. The outbreak of World War II halted his rise, and he could not begin racing in Europe until 1947.
Initially he was not particularly successful until racing a Alfa Romeo in 1950. He came second in the championship in 1950 and won his first title in 1951. He was competing well in 1952 in a Maserati until a serious accident at Monza, Italy ended his season with a neck injury. In 1954 he was back, racing with a Maserati until Mercedes entered in mid season. Winning eight out of twelve races (six out of eight in the championship) in that year, he continued to race again with Mercedes in 1955. At the end of the second successful season (which was overshadowed by disaster at Le Mans in which 81 spectators were killed) Mercedes had won all titles and withdrew from racing as nothing was left to prove.
For 1956, Fangio moved to Ferrari, replacing Alberto Ascari who had been killed in an accident, winning his fourth title - finishing first in three races and second in all the other championship races. In 1957 he returned to Maserati and won his fifth title, notable for an extraordinary performance to secure his final win at the Nurburgring in Germany. After his series of back-to-back championships he retired in 1958, after the French Grand Prix, having won 24 Grand Prix in 51 starts.
Cuban rebels kidnapped him on February 23, 1958 but he was later freed.
During the rest of his life, he was a representative of Mercedes-Benz, often driving his former race cars in demonstration laps. In 1990, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
He is buried in Ciudad de Balcarce Cemetery, Balcarce, Argentina.