x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Time Frame: A real F1 star takes a makeshift lap around Dubai

Juan Manuel Fangio, the Argentinian racing legend, visited the UAE in December 1981 to do some demonstration laps at the Dubai Grand Prix, a series of races unrelated to the F1 circuit that were run on a temporary road course.

Francois Lochon / Gamma-Rapho via Getty
Francois Lochon / Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Five times Formula One champion with four different teams and the highest winning percentage in the sport's history. The dramas in the life of Juan Manuel Fangio were mostly on the track until his visit to Dubai in December 1981.

The occasion was the Dubai Grand Prix, in reality a series of races unrelated to the F1 circuit that were run on a temporary road course around the city's Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The programme included a grand parade and five races with demonstration laps and lap record attempts in between.

One encouragement to take part was an offer of free shipping for cars through the newly opened port of Jebel Ali.

Fangio, then 70, was part of a roll call of famous drivers that also included Stirling Moss. It was intended that the man generally regarded as the world's greatest racing driver should make a few demonstration laps of the circuit in a Mercedes Benz 300 W196, the car in which he won the 1954 and 1955 championships.

Instead, exhausted by his long-haul flight from Buenos Aires, the ageing ace lost control and spun off the track. Later it emerged that he had suffered a heart attack and spent two weeks at Sheikh Rashid Hospital. This image was taken during the great racer's period of convalescence in the Emirates. Fortunately the veteran driver recovered, even challenging traffic police to a street race when he was denied an Argentinian driving licence on his 80th birthday in 1991. He died four years later, on July 17, 1995.

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae