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Massimiliano Papis

Full Name:
Massimiliano "Max" Papis
3rd October 1969 (Age 51)
Como, Lombardy
Most recent race (in database):

The son of a self-made man, Massimiliano Papis was unable to establish himself in Formula 1 but a subsequent move to America paid dividends. Now known as Max Papis, he was a race winner in Champ Cars and 2004 Grand-Am Champion with Scott Pruett and Chip Ganassi Racing. His ready sense of humour and sunny disposition quickly endeared this tall Italian to the American racing public.

Education and early racing career

Given a kart on his 11th birthday, he was determined to race for a living although he still completed his education. By the time he left Milan University with a degree in political science, Papis had made his Formula 3 debut. Four seasons in the Italian Championship from 1989 included three victories and sixth place in the 1992 standings.

He graduated to Formula 3000 in 1993 driving a Vortex Motorsport Reynard 93D-Cosworth and was fourth on his debut at Donington Park. Two further top-six finishes helped Papis to 10th in the standings despite a couple of crashes. Driving Mythos Racing’s Reynard 94D-Judd in 1994, Papis scored a brilliant victory at Barcelona although fourth at Enna-Pergusa and sixth at Magny-Cours were his only other scores.

Formula 1 with Footwork Arrows

As well as finishing fifth in the F3000 championship, Papis spent 1994 as test driver for the Lotus-Mugen F1 team. He signed with Footwork Arrows as its 1995 reserve driver and got his Grand Prix opportunity at Silverstone when replacing Gianni Morbidelli. He started seven races in the Footwork FA16-Hart (finishing seventh in Italy) before Morbidelli was restored to the team.

"Mad Max" stars in America

Papis then drove a Momo Corse Ferrari 333SP in the 1996 IMSA Championship. He was christened "Mad Max" after a barnstorming final stint on his debut in the Daytona 24 Hours during which he made up four laps on the leader. Although he had to settle for second that day, his drive prompted a phone call from Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo. Papis and car owner Giampiero Moretti won three races but he was denied the title by Wayne Taylor at the final round.

Champ Car career

Papis drove an Arciero-Wells Reynard 96I-Toyota for three of the last four Champ Car races of the year after Jeff Krosnoff had been killed in Toronto. He continued with the team for the next two seasons before being chosen to replace the retiring Bobby Rahal in 1999.

Reduced to tears after running out of fuel on the last lap while leading the US 500 at Michigan, he qualified on pole position at Chicagoland and scored back-to-back second place finishes at Surfers Paradise and Fontana to clinch fifth in the championship. 2000 opened in the best possible style with Papis’s Reynard 2KI-Ford winning the opening round at Homestead. The team switched to a Lola B01/00 for 2001 and Papis won twice more as he took sixth in the championship. However, that season also included crashes with team-mate Kenny Bräck at Michigan and Mid-Ohio that compromised the Swede’s title challenge.

Sports car success

Papis was not retained and he began 2002 by winning the Daytona 24 Hours with a Doran Lista Dallara LMP-Judd. He drove Sigma Autosport’s Lola B02/00-Ford in Champc Cars and finished third at both Long Beach and Milwaukee. However, he was without a ride once more when the team withdrew mid-season after Cosworth refused to supply engines due to unpaid invoices.

A partial season with PK Racing during 2003 drew a close to his Champ Car career. Papis joined Chip Ganassi’s Grand-Am team in 2004 and he immediately won the title with Scott Pruett and a Riley MkXI-Lexus. Married to Emerson Fittipaldi’s daughter Tatiana, Papis continued to compete in the occasional endurance and stock car race as late as 2018. He founded a steering wheel manufacturing company, Max Papis Innovations (MPI), with his wife in 2009 and has been a permanent steward for the IndyCar Series since 2016.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2010 Sprint Cup 43rd 907
2009 Sprint Cup 43rd 1047
2008 IRL IndyCar Series
Rubicon Racing Team
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
2008 Sprint Cup 65th 92
2006 IRL IndyCar Series
Cheever Indy Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
26th 16
2005/2006 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport
Team Ghinzani
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
4 3 4 4 1st 0
2003 Bridgestone Champ Car World Series
PK Racing
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 25
2002 Indy Racing League
Marlboro Team Penske
Red Bull Cheever Racing
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
43rd 16
2002 FedEx Championship Series
Sigma Autosport
Fernandez Racing
7 0 2 0
0% win rate
19th 32
2002 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series
Doran Lista Racing
1 0 1 1 0
2001 FedEx Championship Series
Team Rahal
20 (1) 1 4 2
10% win rate
6th 107
2000 FedEx Championship Series
Team Rahal
20 0 2 1
5% win rate
14th 88
1999 FedEx Championship Series
Team Rahal
20 1 3 0
0% win rate
5th 150
1998 FedEx Championship Series
Arciero-Wells Racing
19 0 0 0
0% win rate
20th 25
1997 PPG CART World Series
Arciero-Wells Racing
17 0 0 0
0% win rate
24th 8
1996 IMSA World Sports Car Series
Momo Corse
3 2 3 3 0
1996 PPG Indycar World Series
Arciero-Wells Racing
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
26th 4
1995 F1 World Championship
Footwork Hart
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
1994 FIA International F3000 Championship
Mythos Racing
8 1 1 1
13% win rate
5th 13
1993 FIA International F3000 Championship
Vortex Motorsport
9 0 0 0
0% win rate
10th 6
1992 Italian F3 Championship 6th 22
1991 Italian F3 Championship 7th 19
1990 Italian F3 Championship 17th 4