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Fabrizio Barbazza

2nd April 1963 (Age 57)
Monza, Lombardy
Most recent race (in database):

With a driving style as wild as his hair, Fabrizio Barbazza briefly raced in Formula 1 but it was on his only appearance in the Indianapolis 500 that he came closest to glory.

Early career and success in America

His Italian Formula 3 debut in 1983 was with a Ralt RT3-Alfa Romeo entered by Cesare Garibaldi’s Genoa Racing. Barbazza honed his undoubted speed over the next two seasons and ended his sophomore campaign by beating Venturini Racing team-mate Franco Forini in a non-championship race at Monza. They battled for the title in 1985 and Barbazza won four times but only finished third in the points.

Barbazza chose North America for his next career move and he raced in the new American Racing Series (later known as Indy Lights) in 1986. The series was not well supported at first but five victories and the inaugural title led Barbazza and team owner Frank Arciero to graduate to Champ Cars in 1987.

He made his debut at Long Beach with Arciero’s crimson March 87C-Cosworth but it was at Indianapolis that Barbazza impressed most. He spun during the race but recovered to finish a fine third and secure the biggest payday of his career. He was also named as Rookie of the Year for both Indy 500 and Champ Car World Series that year.

The return to Europe and Formula 1 debut

Further outings for Arciero followed before he raced Crypton Engineering’s Leyton March 90B-Cosworth in the 1990 Formula 3000 Championship – fourth at Jerez his best result in the category. When team owner Patrizio Cantù was part of the consortium that bought the AGS F1 team, Barbazza was promoted to the pinnacle of the sport. It was a difficult transition however for he did not qualify in 12 attempts during 1991.

Undeterred, Barbazza returned to the world championship with Minardi at the start of 1993. Successive sixth-place finishes at Donington Park and Imola followed but he was replaced mid-season after too many erratic performances and accidents.

Life after Formula 1 and motor racing

It was the end of Barbazza’s F1 career and he was forced to retire from the sport soon afterwards. He re-emerged in IMSA sports cars but was injured in a horrific accident at Road Atlanta in 1995. Barbazza spun his Ferrari 333SP avoiding another car and was hit broadside by Jeremy Dale’s following Spice. The Italian was unconscious with head injuries, collapsed lung and broken arm and leg when he was rushed to hospital.

Although he eventually made a full recovery he did not race again. Barbazza later ran a fishing resort in Cuba.