Summer 2024

Around the World: Emerson Fittipaldi

GettyImages_134339677“Yes, I’m back!”

Those three words, in large print, were in a photo collage and placed just above a photo of a candy apple red Ferrari GT 458 and just under another photo of Emerson Fittipaldi’s eyes, which were peering through the opening of his racing helmet.

The exuberant announcement was made on his Facebook page on Nov. 18 and is how the legendary Fittipaldi, one of Formula One’s most accomplished drivers, let his fans and media know of his return to racing—at the age of 67.

Below the collage he wrote a short note in Brazilian Portuguese asking for the support of his fans to come to the Nov. 30 event, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile World Endurance Championship’s season-ending Six Hours of São Paulo, Fittipaldi’s hometown in Brazil.

His status and impact in the racing world was immediately evident.

In less than 20 hours after he posted his announcement on Facebook, he had more than 5,650 likes, more than 850 shares and nearly 350 comments, mostly encouragement and well-wishes.

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductee’s accomplishments are well known to the racing community: one Formula Three title (1969), one Formula Vee title (1968), two F1 world titles (1972, 1974), two Indy 500 victories (1989, 1993), one CART title (1989), and more than 50 event victories at various levels including 14 F1 and 22 CART wins.

Fittipaldi has come out of retirement several times (2005 and 2008) and had been, fittingly, writing a blog since 2013 (he was named after American writer and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson).

More than his victories and enthusiasm for racing, though, Fittipaldi understands what is most important. He became a Christian in 1996 after a crash at Michigan International Speedway nearly took his life.

Afterwards, the father of seven realized how faith played a role in his racing.

“It was a very frustrating sport and you have to be strong to know how to lose,” said Fittipaldi in a Beyond The Ultimate video about his faith. “It’s very difficult to learn how to lose. And if you have faith, you know how to recover. You know any Christian’s life, the history of Christianity is always fighting, always upstart, always coming back and being strong again, stronger more than before, even if you are defeated before. And that’s my life. I had many situations that I was very frustrated. I wanted to retire. I wanted to stop the sport, but I come back again and come back again, and fight. I think it’s very important to have this faith to help you.”

“My advice to you is first open your heart to God and Jesus. You are going to receive so much love. You are going to receive so much life.”

By Brett Honeycutt

This story was published in Sports Spectrum’s Fall 2014 DigiMag #3. Log in HERE to view the issue or subscribe HERE to receive 12 issues of Sports Spectrum a year.