Roland Ratzenberger drives out the pitlane in his Simtek during a practice session at Aida. The Austrian would finish the race in 11th - albeit five laps down and last of the classified runners. (Image source: dailymail.co.uk)
Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the lesser known's F1 Pilotes' Death's that tragic weekend at Imola, Italy a longtime ago.
As the unheralded 33yr old Austrian Roland Ratzenberger contesting just his third Grands Prix weekend, and attempting to qualify for his second Grands Prix start was fatally injured when his Simtek S941-Ford suffered a front wing failure at high speed before crashing at Villeneuve Corner. .
And say what Y'all want to 'bout "Saint Ayrton," since Senna could be a Cut Throat Ruthless Bastard! But when I think of the Austrian's Death that Tragic weekend in Italy, I instantly recall that Senna had the Austrian Flag inside his cockpit to wave upon his Victory Cool-down lap in Honour of Ratzenberger...
Ayrton Senna sitting inside his Williams FW16 during practice for the 1994 Pacific GP, the second race of the season alongside the team's engineering director Patrick Head. (Image source: dailymail.co.uk)
Naturally, Ratzenberger's Death will forever be Overshadowed in Perpetuity by the late, great Triple World champion Ayrton Senna's Death a Day later on May 1, 1994.
As what can I really say or type that hasn't already been written about the Brazilian Flash Senna? Roland "the Rat" Ratzenberger or the events of that tragic weekend at San Marino, now a quarter of A Century ago...
Nowadays, if I think about Roland, which is usually just once a year round his premature Demise, I invariably think of Racer's Marshall Pruett's wonderful story about another fallen Open Wheel Racing comrade of Ratzenberger's, named Jeff krosnoff. As the two are inexorably linked from Thar Japanese Formula 3000 Days. Having scribbled here on No Fenders previously:.
"Thus (Marshall) Pruett expounds partially upon (Jeff) Krosnoff's sacrifices in far-away Japan along with some very positive recollections from other cast-away competitors with names like "IRV-THE-SWERVE: and "Mr. Le Mans," aka Eddie Irvine and Tom Kristensen respectively, not to mention another driver who’d lose his life racing named "Roland-the-Rat" Ratzenberger."
As Roland was definitely an accomplished racer, having won multiple Formula Ford titles, along with winning the prestigious British Formula Ford Festival, and also finishing third Overall in British Formula 3000 before turning his Attenzione towards Sports Cars.
Ratzenberger contested le 24 Heurs du Mans five times between 1989-93, with a best finish of fifth Overall, and first in the "secondary" C2 Prototypes Class in '93, aboard a SARD Racing Team's Toyota 93CV.
Whilst ironically, fellow Japanese F3000 competitor Eddie Irvine finished one place ahead in the "Works" Toyota Team Toms C1 Toyota TS010 chassis, albeit 11-laps adrift of the winning Works Peugeot, with the French auto manufacturer sweeping the Podium.
Roland also spent considerable time in the Land of the Rising Sun racing "Saloons" and Sports Prototypes.
And as mentioned above, Roland also contested the Japanese Formula 3000 Championship between 1992-93, before ultimately getting his break in Formula 1, albeit on a five race Dealio' with Nick Wirth's SimTek Grand Prix outfit, in hopes of making enough of a positive impression to ultimately continue racing in F1, which sadly didn't occur!
As it would be nice to hear Ratzenberger speak for more than an Uber Scant 19-seconds...
VIDEO: Roland Ratzenberger - little Interview
And although Sir maXXam', Thee littlest Curve' never impressed Mwah, and simply came across as a Shill for Uncle Bernaughty, nevertheless, I comend him for the following.
"Roland had been forgotten, so I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's."
As you may also enjoy the Daily Mail's Lost Race Tracks story the pictures were borrowed from. Regarding the lost Pacific Grand Prix at Aida, Japan, featuring a relatively youthful, wide eyed 'N Bushy-tailed Michael Schumacher challenging Ayrton Senna for F1 Supremacy in;