Argentinian race car driver Juan Manuel Fangio dominated the first decade of Formula 1, winning the World Drivers’ Championship five times in the 1950s, a record which stood for 47 years. But he wasn’t in the driver’s seat when he made headlines on this day in 1958. It was the day before the Cuban Grand Prix and two men associated with Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement entered the Lincoln Hotel in Havana and kidnapped Fangio at gunpoint. The goal was to draw attention to Castro’s cause while embarrassing the current government of President Batista by forcing him to cancel the race due to the biggest name in motorsports being taken hostage. Despite the news spreading quickly around the world Batista ordered the race to go on while police searched for Fangio. The captors allowed Fangio to listen to the race and watch reports on TV of a violent crash that killed seven spectators. Fangio was released the next day after developing a friendship with his captors, which he remained close with following the incident. Castro’s Cuban Revolution would conclude in January of the next year, resulting in the cancellation of the 1959 Cuban Grand Prix. The race was held for the final time in 1960. Juan Manuel Fangio Fangio (Mercedes-Benz W196) being chased by Alberto Ascari (Ferrari 625) during the 1954 Italian Grand Prix.
Juan Manuel Fangio driving a Mercedes-Benz W196 in the 1986 Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. By Lothar Spurzem – Originally from de.wikipedia; description page is (was) herefirst upload in de wikipedia on 21:31, 11. Jun 2006 by Spurzem (986 x 771 (188.469 Byte) (* Bildbeschreibung: Juan Manuel Fangio auf Mercedes W 196 mit 3-l-Motor * Fotograf: Lothar Spurzem * Datum: 1986 beim Oldtimer-GP auf dem Nürburgring Bild-CC-by-sa/2.0/de), CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=886151