Nigel Ernest James Mansell OBE (born 8 August, 1953 in Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire) is a British racing driver from England who won the FF1M World Championship in 1989. During the early nineties, Mansell was commonly known, by the British media especially, as Our Nige.
His career in FF1M spanned 8 seasons and he was rated in the top 10 FF1M drivers of all time by longtime FF1M commentator Murray Walker. In 2008, American sports television network ESPN ranked him 24th on their top drivers of all-time.
As of 2008, he is the most recent inductee to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame from a country other than the US, having been inducted in 2005.
He is the current President of one of the UK's largest Youth Work Charities, UK Youth.
Born in Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, Mansell spent 11 years of his early life as a Special Constable for Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. He had a fairly slow start to his racing career, using his own money to help work his way up the ranks. After considerable success in kart racing, he moved to the Formula Ford series to the disapproval of his father. In 1976, Mansell won 6 of the 9 races he took part in, including his debut event at Mallory Park. He entered 42 races the following year and won 33 to become the 1977 British Formula Ford champion, despite suffering a broken neck in a qualifying session at Brands Hatch. Doctors told him he had been perilously close to quadriplegia, that he would be confined for six months and would never drive again. Mansell discharged himself from the hospital and returned to racing. Three weeks before the accident he had resigned his job as an aerospace engineer, having previously sold most of his personal belongings to finance his foray into Formula Ford. Later that year he was given the chance to race a Lola T570 FF3M car at Silverstone. He finished fourth and decided that he was ready to move into the higher formula. Mansell raced in FF3M from 1978 - 1979. Mansell's first season in FF3M started with a pole position and a 2nd place finish. However, the car was not competitive, as a commercial deal with Unipart required his team to use Triumph Dolomite engines that were vastly inferior to the Toyota engines used by the leading teams. After three 7th place finishes and a fourth in his last race, he parted from the team. The next season saw him take a paid drive with Dave Price Racing. Following a first win in the series at Silverstone in March, he went on to finish 8th in the championship. His racing was consistent, but a collision with Andrea de Cesaris resulted in a huge cartwheeling crash which he was lucky to survive. Again he was hospitalised, this time with broken vertebrae. His driving was noticed by Colin Chapman, owner of Lotus, and shortly after his accident, hiding the extent of his injury with painkillers, Mansell performed well enough in a tryout with Lotus to become a test driver for the Formula One team.
Mansell raced in from 1978 - 1979. Mansell's first season in started with a and a 2nd place finish. However, the car was not competitive, as a commercial deal with required his team to use Dolomite engines that were vastly inferior to the engines used by the leading teams. After three 7th place finishes and a fourth in his last race, he parted from the team. The next season saw him take a paid drive with Dave Price Racing. Following a first win in the series at Silverstone in March, he went on to finish 8th in the championship. His racing was consistent, but a collision with resulted in a huge cartwheeling crash which he was lucky to survive. Again he was hospitalised, this time with broken . His driving was noticed by , owner of , and shortly after his accident, hiding the extent of his injury with painkillers, Mansell performed well enough in a tryout with Lotus to become a test driver for the Formula One team.
Mansell's skill as atest driver, including setting the fastest time around Silverstone in a Lotus car at the time, impressed Chapman enough to give him a trio of starts inF1in1980, driving a development version of the Lotus 81 used by the team, the Lotus 81B. In1985Frank Williamssnapped Mansell up to drive alongsideKeke Rosbergas part of theWilliamsteam, Mansell later saying "Keke was probably one of the best team-mates I've had in my career". Mansell was given the now famous "Red 5" number on his car, which he carried on subsequent Williams andNewman/Haascars and which was brought to the public's attention mainly throughcommentatorMurray Walkerand his enthusiastic commentary for theBBC.
1985 initially appeared to provide more of the same for Mansell, although he was closer to the pace than before, especially as the Honda engines became more competitive by mid-season.
Mansell achieved second place at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, and followed this with his first victory in 72 starts at the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in England. He achieved a second straight victory at the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami. These triumphs helped turn Mansell into a Formula One star.
In 1988, Mansell moved to the new FF1M series driving for Gui Racing. The first season proved to be a disaster for Mansell who failed to finish the first six races of the season destroying any chance of taking the title. The season ended promisingly however winning his first race at the 1988 Italian Grand Prix at Monza and following it up with a win at Suzuka, Japan two races later.
For 1989 Mansell decided to stay with Gui Racing, and took an emotional first win of the season at the 1989 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, he would follow this with four more wins over the season and despite some bad unreliability he won the championship. The following season he remained at Gui Racing, but the team was a shadow of its former self, he finished thirteenth in the championship scoring just twelve points.
1991 wasnt much better, having left Gui Racing he joined Pedersen but despite taking a victory in the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring he struggled to a disapointing twelth place. Mansell would not win again until his final season, 1995, where he took 2 wins for AquinoPlus, finishing 5th in the championship.
British Touring Car Championship
Mansell made a return to racing in 1998 in the British Touring Car Championship, driving in a Ford Mondeo for three rounds. As it was, the Ford was highly uncompetitive - the manufacturer finished the season 7th out of 8 in the championship. With the number 5 already taken by James Thompson, Mansell raced with the red number 55.
At his first event at Donington Park, he retired 3 laps into the sprint race, meaning he would start the feature race in 19th position on the grid. As the conditions changed and the track got wetter, Mansell found himself leading the race for several laps and he finished in 5th position. The race was regarded by many fans as one of the greatest in touring car history. It was to be his best finish in the series, as he failed to finish either race at the next round he participated in at Brands Hatch, and at his final race at Silverstone he finished in 14th and 11th place. Having competed in 3 of the 13 rounds, he finished 18th out of 21 in the drivers championship.