There is a bunch of Formula One drivers that appeared on the late 80s and early 90’s on the grid in the Formula One. This exclusive group of drivers stole our hearts. These exclusive groups of drivers became our heroes. The heroes that did the impossible. Qualify an Andrea Moda, score points with the Coloni and so on. For me, personally, this is Giovanni Lavaggi. Not because of his results in the Formula One though.
No it is the path he had to follow to achieve his goal, to become a Formula One driver. He has a similar drive as I have, go for it or quiet whining. Maybe that is the foremost reason he became my Formula One hero of the 1990s. I’m still glad I was able to interview him. Believe it was one of the first article published on UnracedF1. At that time, we were with two.
Roughly translated his name means “Johnny Carwash” and this became his nickname in the Formula One. While his results in the Formula are poorly, he did something many did not. With a small budget, he just did it. Via motocross and rallying towards the Formula One and the Lemans series.
In 1985 he appeared in the Italian F3 championship, due to his financial situation he only drove eight races for the Scuderia Alloni’s and Salvati Racing. His best result was a ninth place in Monza. His first season in the F3 shows how his career would been up to the early 1990s. Always was there the financial struggle, and always were there the teams that needed money.
However, did you know Giovanni managed to win the 24 hours of Daytona and the 1000km of Monza in 1995, with Kremer Racing? In 1993, he also became the Interseries Champion winning six races. There has been written a lot about his career in the Formula One. In between the races he tested, I believe, twice with the March CG911B. Eventually he was in scope to race for the team a few races in 1992. This never happened. It would take another three years before we would see Giovanni in the Pacific and a year later in the Minardi.
After his career in the Formula One he moved towards the endurance racing. It is the part he shows his talent. In 2006, he established his own team, Scuderia Lavaggi, building and designing his own prototype (LMP1) the Lavaggi LS1. He managed to qualify his car on P1 for the the “6 Hours of Vallelunga”. I believe that Scuderia Lavaggi showed us the real Giovanni. A guy that is ready to give everything to fulfil his dreams. A pure passion. Sadly, for us after the drastic rule changes implemented by the FIA in 2010 and the financial situation on the Globe he decided to withdraw from the Lemans Series.
Although I have seen comments by others that Lavaggi romanticize his career or can’t withstand critical sounds. I never experienced this while I had contact with him or asked questions.