Review – Emanuele Pirro30th October 2016
Lunch with the endurance racing maestro and 5 times Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro
On Monday 21st March, the day after the 74 Members Meeting at Goodwood, nearly 80 LMC members and guests enjoyed the very real pleasure of lunching with one of the greatest endurance racers of all time – Emanuele Pirro. A charming and erudite man, Emanuele kept us enthralled for the best part of an hour with his discourse, rich in detail and humour, about endurance racing in general and his extraordinary career in cutting edge sports-racing cars in particular. It doesn’t come better than that as few racers can match Emanuele’s Le Mans 24 Hours record – 5 outright wins, and 4 third places for a total of 9 consecutive podiums in just 9 years from 1999 to 2007, all of them with Audi. An exclusive club shared with Tom Kristensen, Jackie Ickx, Derek Bell and Frank Biela as its only other members. And not to be overlooked, 2 outright wins and 3 second places in the Sebring 12 Hours races in parallel during the same period!
We heard too of his earlier years scoring several wins in Formula 3000 before moving up to Formula 1 with Benetton and Scuderia Italia, yielding 5th and 6th places in Australia and Monaco respectively. But it was in converting to sportscars that Emanuele was to find his metier and achieve his greatest successes. On top of his Le Mans 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours triumphs, he was to twice became outright Champion of the American Le Mans Series in 2001 and 2005, having scored a remarkable total of 19 wins in ALMS races during that period.
Those familiar with the Goodwood Revival needed no reminding of his great drives in the Lightweight Jaguar E Type and the Ferrari 330LMB among many others, and since Lord March’s reintroduction of the Goodwood Members Meetings, as one of the four regular Team Leaders at each year’s early Spring event.
What a treat this Celebrity Lunch had proved to be, graced also by the lovely Mrs Pirro, Marlene, and younger son Goofy as guests of the Motor Club. To add gilt to the gingerbread of a hugely enjoyable event, a rapid raffle held at the close of lunch of 14 items of memorabilia, all of which were signed by Emanuele, raised a significant sum for donation to the charity of the day, bomb disposal regiment 11 EOD’s Felix Fund.
Thank you Emanuele – please come back again, perhaps in 2017!