Richard Sloop - -

This makes one to many times this year that I have had to start a story with the words "Racing has lost a great driver today".

Michele Alboreto lost his life today on a testing track in Saxony, Germany. The facts about what happened will surface in the coming days. That is not important. What is important is that we all lost a great man and friend. Michele was a good guy. A guy who lived one of the greatest careers imaginable.

He advanced in Formula series racing in Europe through the late 70's and arrived at Formula One in 1981. He landed just as whole new generations of turbo-charged cars were being introduced. He drove the most powerful Formula One cars ever. And he did it for thirteen years. He finished second in the World Championship in 1985. But most important, he drove for Ferrari.

Driving for Ferrari was his dream. Even though it was a tumultuous time for him, he loved it. At the time, he thought that it was the "high point" in his life. But when I spoke to him recently, he said that his life since Formula One had only gotten better. He had dabbled in other racing series, German Touring Cars, Indy Racing League and sports car racing in America, but winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997 was like a door opening for him. He experienced a whole new interest in racing.

In 1999, he signed with Audi and enjoyed racing the fastest prototypes in the world. Last year, he won the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in the American Le Mans series. I can still remember the smile on his face on the podium as his co-drivers jumped around with their trophies.

I last saw him at Donington. We exchanged hellos and "how are you doing"s. I wished him well. But the last memory I have of him is at Sebring. I ran in to him during a photo shoot for the Audi team. They were shooting drivers portraits and he was the last to go. I spoke with him briefly while he sat and laughed at some of his co-drivers poses. He was so relaxed and congenial. In retrospect, what I was seeing was a man who was happy and comfortable with himself. We spoke of his wife and daughters. I now know that what I sensed was not so much confidence as his realization that this time was his "high point" in life.

Michele was a kind, reserved, introspective gentleman. He had a calmness that I now realize came from a sense of accomplishment. He loved what he did and died doing it. He and Bob Wolleck are brothers.

Rest in peace, gentlemen. You will be dearly missed.


A true gentleman and a true racer. It is with sad regret that we learned the death of Michele Alboreto, earlier today, as a result of an accident during testing. Michele leaves his wife Nadia and two daughters. We would like to offer them our most sincere condolences. Staff