Johnny CecottoMar 18, 2023
Johnny Cecotto is a legendary racing driver who had a long and illustrious history with BMW. He began his association with the German carmaker in the late 1970s when he joined the BMW Junior Team, a program designed to nurture young talent in motorsport. Cecotto quickly made a name for himself in Formula Two racing, winning the championship in 1979, and went on to enjoy success in various BMW-powered cars throughout his career. In 1978, Cecotto joined the works BMW team and competed in the European Formula Two championship, driving the BMW M1. He won his first race in the series at Hockenheim and went on to win the championship the following year, also driving the M1. Cecotto's performances caught the eye of the BMW Formula One team, and he made his debut in the sport with the Ensign team in 1980. Cecotto drove the BMW-powered Ensign N180 in his debut season, competing in nine races but only finishing two. He qualified a highly respectable seventh for the Monaco Grand Prix but was forced to retire from the race due to a gearbox problem. Despite the lack of results, his performances showed his potential, and he was signed by the BMW-backed Theodore team for the 1981 season. Cecotto continued to drive the BMW engine in the Theodore TY01, but the car was not competitive, and he failed to finish any of the three races he entered for the team. He returned to Ensign for the final six races of the season but again failed to finish any of them. Cecotto's Formula One career was then cut short by a serious accident during a test session at the Silverstone circuit in August 1981. Despite his limited success in Formula One, Cecotto continued to drive BMW-powered cars in various other categories. In 1982, he returned to Formula Two, driving the Ralt-BMW RT21 and RT22, but was unable to replicate his previous success in the championship. He also drove a BMW 635 CSi in the European Touring Car Championship, winning the Spa 24 Hours race in 1983 alongside teammates Hans Stuck and Dieter Quester. In 1984, Cecotto returned to motorcycle racing and won the prestigious Daytona 200 race in the United States, becoming the first rider to win the race on a four-stroke motorcycle. He continued to race motorcycles until 1993, winning a total of 13 Grand Prix races and finishing as runner-up in the 500cc world championship in 1988. Johnny Cecotto's association with BMW spanned many years and saw him drive various cars in different categories. He achieved great success in Formula Two, winning the championship in 1979, and also enjoyed success in touring car racing, winning the Spa 24 Hours race in 1983. Despite his Formula One career being cut short by injury, Cecotto's talent and success on both two and four wheels ensure that he is remembered as one of the greats of motorsport.