Inside the Mind of Legendary Race Car Drivers

Racing is a sport that might have been introduced the day the wheel was invented. Car racing, however, is said to have started the day the second car was made. Since race car driving can be traced back to centuries, there have been numerous exceptional race car drivers in the game. Yet only a few managed to keep their names around even after years of their retirement. These names are remembered on basis of numerous factors, it could be their style of racing, their genius in the game, number of race wins, or just their sheer determination.

Determining The Greatness of Race Car Drivers

But what makes a race car drivers truly great and worthy of remembrance? There are a number of perspectives that come into play when we decide to determine this. Some of these factors are the number of race-wins, fastest laps, championships but these technicalities aside other variables also play a role. These variables can be the championship titles the driver was racing at and the other drivers that he was up against having a tremendous victory. The type of the car and the expertise of the maintenance team are other variables that can determine an impeccable win.

Another factor that plays a role in determining the greatness of race car drivers is how quickly they adapt to the sport and how long the driver lasts in his career. Most riders stop after winning a big championship and the rest stick around for the adrenaline.

The Best Race Car Drivers of All Time

The following list of the best race car drivers is made in light of all these factors.


Senna is probably the greatest name of motorsport. Much like others, he began his career with karting. He then paced ahead with rally racing and ended up being a legend. He commenced his debut in 1984 and has won six Grand Prix races in the starting three years of his career. His accomplishments include a Formula One career that included dozens of wins and a trio of championship titles with more than 160 F1 race entries. His name is one of the most elite in the business with several high-performance models from a myriad of elite marques honoring his legacy. The legend alive, died a legend as well as he faced his death in 1994 San Marino GP, during a high-speed crash that took his life at the age of only 34.

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At the start of this article, we mentioned that what sort of car a race car drivers drove, played an important measure in his greatness, this is not the case with A.J. Foyt. This guy could work wonders with any car he drove, displaying exceptionally skill and techniques. He was generally known as ‘Super Tex’. He has been inducted into six different racing Hall of Fames. Foyt also has an extensive list of achievements throughout his career. He has won more than a dozen championship titles including in the USAC National Championship, USAC Silver Crown Series Championship, USAC Spring Car Series Championship, IROC Championship, USAC Stock Car Champion, International Race of Champions, winner of a Firecracker 400, and is the only race car driver to ever win a Daytona 500, 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 Hours of Daytona, and the Indianapolis 500, (not once but four times). He’s also been named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.


Earnhardt is more commonly known as the ‘Intimidator’ due to this frantic and dangerous way of competing. He sadly succumbed to the name as well as he was killed at the Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2001, while competing in the Aytonna 500. What is more tragic is that he died on the race track, in the last lap of the race, due to a skull fracture. He began his career in 1975 at the World 600, which was held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of the Winston Cup Series (today, the Sprint Cup Series). He is widely known as the embodiment of excellence and genius. His successes include winning a total of 76 Winston Cup races, including one Daytona 500 victory in 1998 and earning NASCAR Winston Cup Championships. He was inducted to various halls of fame, which include the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is not shocking since he was the man who popularized NASCAR.

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Though he died in 1975, Graham Hill to this day is considered to be one of the greatest race car drivers. He has two Formula One titles to his name, he also has victories of all the “Triple Crown of Motorsport” — the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indianapolis 500. He is the only race car driver to ever win all of these events. Hill had a relatively short-lived career when he and five other members of his team died in a tragic plane crash. He has still managed to gain a reputable name in the field and still dictated as one of the best at what he did. Now, his son Damon Hill is continuing his legacy by winning an F1 title himself.

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Mario Andretti is the name of success when it comes to motorsport with numerous rappers including him in their pop cultured lyrics. Andretti was born in Croatia and was raised in America. He is also the father of Michael Andretti. The Italian-American Legend (race car drivers) made a remarkable name with motorsport as a career. He owns the honor of being one of only two drivers to win races in Formula One, Indy Car, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR, Andretti has a wide career with his names in competitions such stock car racing, IndyCar series, and Formula One. He has won the 1978 Formula One World Championship and four Indy Car titles.

More of achievements include being the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship, and the only driver to have won a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Formula One, and an Indianapolis 500. Mario Andretti is also the only person to be named United States Driver of the Year in three separate decades (1967, 1978, and 1984). Andretti not only owns race car tracks but has also won numerous races on road courses, paved ovals and dirt tracks in one season, a feat that he accomplished four different times. To this day, he remains the last American to have won a Formula One race victory which is dated back to 1978 at the Dutch Grand Prix.

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Carlos Sainz is more popularly known as the ‘El Matador’. He is one of the legends of rally racing with two WRC titles for Toyota to his name. He won the first one in 1990, followed by the second in 1992. While he managed to actually win just two of the WRC titles, he had plenty of second and third places. Sainz has also recently competed in Dakar Rally and has triple wins. Other successes that he is entitled of include being the first-non-Nordic driver ever to win Finland’s 1000 Lakes Rally, Sainz’ and owning several victories at the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and the Race of Champions. His son, Carlos Sainz Jr is also following in his footsteps becoming another McLaren Formula One driver.



Jaun Manuel Fangio is commonly known as “El Maestro or perhaps even “El Chueco” (Spanish for “bowlegged”). Jaun was one of the race car drivers which were born to be in this sport. He had that sort of genius and techniques which were never exhibited before. He was the first ever great Formula One driver. He has a long list of accomplishments which includes winning five F1 titles. A record he managed to keep until recently a German pilot breaking it, 50 years later. He lost the record for most F1 titles but he still has the most winning average which is 46%.


Alain Prost is one of the people that found their calling in their early years. He found a profound passion for motorsports when he was just a teen and then aspired to one day land himself on the tracks of the McLaren team in the F1 championship. He managed to accomplish that when he was 24 years old in 1980. He had the title to his name in the championships of the year ‘85, ‘86, ’89, and ’93. He has a long list of successes which include over 50 grand prix wins, holding the record for the most GP wins starting in ’87 which he managed to keep to his name for a decade. Furthermore, he was honored with a “World Sports Award of the Century” in the motorsport class in 1999. Prost always had a fiery competition with fellow legendary F1 pilot, Ayrton Senna. His exceptional genius in the game landed him the title of ‘The Professor’

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Jim Clark managed to make a career out of motorsport during the most competitive early days of the sport. He has had numerous successes, which is obviously considered he is being mentioned in this list. He has won two F1 titles in 1963 and 1965. The next year he also won the Indianapolis 500. Clark also made a name in Formula Two racing with production sports cars and touring machines. Clark unfortunately died doing what he loved the most, as he met a racing accident in West Germany. He was recognized by The Times as one of the greatest drivers. If Jim Clark’s death had not embarked, he surely would have seen a much more successful career.

Hockenheim HistoricJIMMIE JOHNSON

Jimmie Johnson has stacks of achievements in his career of motorsport, yet some still believe it is early to be naming him in the list of great race car drivers. He won his first cup series championship in 2006, followed by additional wins in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. He has also won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series six times and holds the record for winning the NASCAR Championship for five consecutive years and winning his sixth in 2013. Johnson has also won the Daytona 500 twice, with victories in 2006 and 2013. He secured 72 wins, 292 Top 10 finishes and 33 pole positions, between 2002 and 2015.

He has several other distinctions which include being named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 2009, winning Driver of the Year five times, most recently in 2013. He is the only driver to have qualified for the Chase series consecutively since 2004. Johnson was also named the Most Influential Athlete in 2011 and 2012 by Forbes magazine.

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Nicholaus ‘Niki’ Lauda was not only a top Formula One racer, he was also an aviation enthusiast and entrepreneur. He was also a consultant and owned a number of reputable race teams. He is the only driver who has won the title of Formula One racing driving both a Ferrari and a McLaren. He won his first Formula One title in 1975, after which he won two more in various years, owning a total of three titles to his name. In 1976, however, he had a near-death experience at the German GP when he was faced with a violent crash. Two months later he met yet another incident at the Italian GP. Niki was severely burned due to the incident yet he climbed back in his Ferrari to continue the race against James Hunt.

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Tom Kristensen or better yet known as ‘Mr. Le Mans’ is another one of the greats with numerous titles to his name. He has won the German and the Japanese Formula 3 and Formula 3000 series. He also has victories the British Touring Car Championship, and the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. He entered in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997 and was able to conquer six consecutive wins, which helped him gain his title of Mr. Le Mans. His other accomplishments include the most wins at other elite endurance events which includes the 12 Hours of Sebring. He was able to conquer almost half a dozen wins at the event.

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Fernando Alonso is one of the big names that started from the bottom. His family did not have sufficient income but Alonso managed to showcase his talents firstly in go-karting and then built his career from there. He made his first F1 debut in 2001 and then won two consecutive F1 titles in 2005 and 2006. He also had close encounters with winning other titles, for which he usually had to face the famous Sebastian Vettel. In the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 Alonso went up against Vettel for the F1 championship title but he was always second best to him. Alonso recently won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 and 2019 before going on to outright win those year’s World Endurance Championships, along with the latter year’s 24 Hours of Daytona. He is now known as a highly-successful Formula One and FIA World Endurance Championship competitions.


Michael Schumacher is considered one of the greatest race car drivers in history. In the mid-90s, he dominated Formula One racing, winning seven titles, a record that still stands today. With 91 career wins, he also holds the record for the most wins by a race car driver. Schumacher broke the record for the most wins in a single season in 2001, with 13 victories, and also set the record for the most fastest laps. As a front man for Ferrari, he helped establish the company as a major force in the sport. Prior to Schumacher, Ferrari had not won a title since 1979.

According to the official Formula One website, Michael Schumacher is “statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen.” The great driver’s career was cut short in December 2013 when he faced a serious head injury while skiing and he was put into a coma by the doctors. His days of thunder were over as it was broadcasted that Schumacher has faced a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma until June 2014, for nearly seven months, after which he was put in a wheelchair and he had to say goodbye to his dream job.

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Lewis Hamilton is one to break all stereotypes. Not only is he probably the youngest or one of the youngest race car drivers, he is also the only black driver to compete in Formula One racing. He won his first Formula One title in 2008, after which he won one in 2014. Ever since then, Hamilton has managed to win every single Formula One title with the exception of 2016 when Nico Rosberg beat him to it. Due to his diverse background, Lewis Hamilton was able to attract a wider audience for the support and that definitely counts for an achievement. He is also expected to win numerous other titles, breaking records in the coming years of his career.


Nigel is an English driver who is known has a legend in his hometown. He is the only person to have hold the title of Formula One and CART to his name simultaneously, not only this he was the first person ever to have won the CART title in his debut season. Out of 15 seasons of his Formula One racing, he spent the last two in CART. Mansell is seventh overall on the Formula One race winners list, and until 2011, he also held the record for the most number of poles set in a single season. In 2008, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network named him one of their top drivers ever.

Mansell has been named one of the top five Formula One drivers of all time. He was inducted to the International Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2005, which is also when he came out of his retirement and would not the race in the Grand Prix Masters series. He has also been ranked number nine among the 50 greatest race car drivers of all time by the Times of London newspaper.



Sebastian Loeb is a French rally race car driver, one known for his raw and exuberant talent. He is considered to be the most successful World Rally Championship pilot winning every WRC since 2004, which is the year he started. He has numerous other records to his name which include having most event wins, most stage wins, and most podiums. He started off with a career as a gymnast but then took up racing back in 2004. Loeb’s career in motorsport also involves campaigning in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the X Games, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb here he managed to break the record for the standing outright record and that too with a significant win. His career was short-lived and he retired in 2012.


Richard Petty is usually known as NASCAR Hamm of Famer who is an American NASCAR, he also goes by the name ‘The King’. He is the son of Lee Petty who was himself a three-time NASCAR champion and aslo had the title of inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. Richard Petty had a long successful career of 37 years between 1958 and 1992. He has the honor of winning seven NASCAR Cup Championships but he shares it with two other race car drivers, Dale Earnhardt and Jimme Johnson, however, Petty was the first one out of the bunch to have the honor. He also has the record of the most wins in NASCAR Cup Championship with over 200 wins to his name. His other accomplishments included winning a record number of pole positions (127) and over 700 Top 10 finishes in his 1,184 starts, including 513 consecutive starts from 1971 to 1989

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – 1979: Richard Petty rallied late in the season to gain the advantage and win an unprecedented seventh national title in NASCAR’s Cup Series. (Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)


Jeff Gordon is included in this list for not only his great many accomplishments but also his style of driving and his genius in the sport. He is one of a few legendary NASCAR race car drivers and has 88 wins, four championship titles, and three Daytona 500 cups to his name. Many speculate for him to truly belong in the list of legendary driver he must win another championship title but due to the forever rule changing in the game, Gordon has faced some difficulty subjecting to the requirements. No matter, Jeff Gordon is still known for his exceptional performing skills and for always giving an intriguing show and he shall always be remembered as such.

Phil Cavali



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