By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
Emerson Fittipaldi has a racing résumé that has given him a solid place in Motor Racing history. Having won Formula One Championships in 1972 and 1974, he embarked on a second racing career in the CART series. Racing during the heyday of American open-wheeled racing, Fittipaldi earned two Indianapolis 500 victories and the 1989 season title.
After hanging up his helmet in 1996, Fittipaldi began a series of successful business ventures in his native Brazil, including clothing lines, real estate development, digital media, sales, services industry and event production.
In addition, the Fittipaldi brand produces magnesium alloy wheels, steering wheels and a line of licensed automotive products, timepieces, sunglasses, motorcycle and limited edition automobiles.
However, with all his business interests, Fittipaldi was not immune to the political and economic climate currently in Brazil, and some were shocked with the news that the 69-year old driver has found himself more than 8 million dollars in debt.
It was a somber scene earlier this week as Brazilian authorities entered his personal museum and seized a number of his prized possessions including several trophies and race cars. The Marlboro Penske that he drove to victory in Indianapolis was among the items loaded up onto trucks and carted away.
Fittipaldi’s spokesman released a statement to the press expressing optimism about the situation:
- “Emerson Fittipaldi believes that he will solve this issue with more work. He has confidence in the future economic outlook and financial health of his companies. Emerson never hid his financial struggles or denied interviews on the subject. He is seeking partnerships and solutions for this situation. The racing cars and the trophies earned by the two-time F1 and Indy 500 champion belong to a museum dedicated to all racing fans in Brazil. As soon as this issue is solved, they will return to their place. Emerson laments what has happened, but is not discouraged by these difficulties and is confident that these problems will be solved.”
Emerson Fittipaldi and his companies are said to have been named in more than 60 lawsuits from various banks and businesses.
Image: Frank Santoroski/Tribute Racing