Roland Ratzenberger 04-30-94

Discussion in 'Other Racing' started by Nuvolari, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. Nuvolari

    Nuvolari F1 Veteran

    Sep 3, 2002
    Toronto / SoCal
    Full Name:
    Rob C.
    While Senna's fatal accident of May 1 1994 is to be widely remembered, I think it entirely appropriate to remember that it was on the previous day that Roland Ratzenburger passed away at the same F1 race meet in Imola.

    Roland was new to the F1 fraternity but fully earned his place on the F1 grid. His fatal accident in practice was due to a front wing failure and on that day in April, F1 lost a truly first class person. While Roland was never destined to superstardom, he was an excellent driver (certainly of F1 caliber) who fought hard for all that he achieved.

    Roland you are indeed missed.
  2. To remove this ad click here.



    Aug 20, 2001
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    #2 FLATOUTRACING, Apr 30, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017

    That is a very nice gesture to mention Roland!

    Keith Sutton has produced several hundred "helmet pins" similar to the ones Roland would hand out to fans and friends at GP races.


    Jon P. Kofod

    Here is a copy of Atlas F1 and Suttons tribute to Ratzenberger:

    "Ten years ago, on April 30th 1994, Roland Ratzenberger lost his life in a car crash during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix. Often overshadowed by the death of Ayrton Senna the following day, the amicable Austrian is nonetheless never forgotten. Leading motorsport photographer and Atlas F1's image provider Keith Sutton pays a tribute to the Austrian he knew and liked with a collection of photographs, many unseen before, that celebrate his life and motor racing career

    Following the Pacific Grand Prix at Aida in Japan, 1994, I took the Bullet Train heading for the airport in Tokyo. I met up with Roland Ratzenberger, who was ecstatic at having competed in and finished his second GP with the new Simtek team, especially after technical difficulties with the new car at Brazil had prevented him from racing there.

    We were on the same flight back to England and at the airport the gentleman at the check-in desk recognised Roland to be an F1 driver, which delighted Roland immensely. Roland proceeded to give the check-in staff a pin-badge depicting his helmet. Roland had had these produced on his arrival to F1 and was handing them out to friends and those who had supported him over the years. This gesture promptly saw Roland upgraded from Business to First Class!

    On the plane Roland invited me to the First Class area where we ended up chatting for many hours. We charted Roland's career - which had seen him drive single seaters, touring cars and sports cars in Europe and latterly in Japan. He also explained how Barbara Behlau, a Monaco based sports manager, had personally financed his opportunity to compete in Formula One. We arranged on the flight to visit each other's respective new homes in Austria and England - a plan that sadly never had the time to materialise.

    Whilst Roland would never had compared his talents to those of Ayrton Senna, who we also sadly lost that weekend, I believe his desire and enthusiasm for the sport he loved was the match of anyone in the paddock. He showed that determination and hard work could allow you to fulfil your dreams.

    I first met Roland in 1986. I had just moved with my company to Towcester in England and Roland happened to be living nearby. One day he called me, as he needed some promotional photographs taken to try and gain some new sponsorship, and we did the shoot at the local playing fields.

    What was immediately apparent was his zest for life. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was a joy to be with. Roland was someone you couldn't help but be friends with and at that point I had made a friend for life.

    I remember well we shared a passion for fast cars and would often compare those we owned at the time - his dream machines would blow my hot hatchbacks away! The number plates my vehicles carry now bear an 'R' for Roland. Like so many others who knew him, his friendship has left an indelible impression that I cherish immensely.

    Many of the images I selected for this collection are previously unseen, and together they capture the varied career of Roland. I was in particular attracted to his time with the Simtek Formula One team; When the team was launched in 1993, we were the team's official photographers, entailing we had unrivalled access to the team and their drivers. We have a unique selection of images from the months Roland was with the Simtek team up to his tragic accident at Imola, and beyond that weekend, how the team dealt bravely with the crushing loss.

    Ten years on, the pictures of Roland and the Simtek team hold a powerful poignancy. The enthusiasm shown by Roland, and from the sadly ill-fated team through the severest adversity, should be an inspiration to us all."
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
  4. Ira Schwartz

    Ira Schwartz Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    May 20, 2003
    Brooklandville, MD
    Full Name:
    Ira Schwartz
    Somewhere I have the nice acknowledgement I received from Ratzenburger's family in response to the note I wrote them after his death- a lovely gesture, since I'm sure they received thousands of condolences.
  5. Fan512bbi

    Fan512bbi Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 25, 2004
    Full Name:
    You know you are right, most people remember Senna because of what and who he was but forget the other events of that weekend, even though i watched everything that weekend i must admit that it was Sennas accident that stays with me, you say it was a front wing failure on Rolands car im sure it was a rear wing failure but i could be wrong.
  6. To remove this ad click here.

  7. tifosi12

    tifosi12 Four Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Oct 3, 2002
    @ the wheel
    Full Name:

    since this is a tribute thread I fixed the name. It is RatzenbErger.
  8. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

    Nov 20, 2002
    Tauranga, NZ
    Full Name:
    My mothers companies service manager worked as a race car mechanic in Europe for a few years. He worked with Roland one season. Roland was not the driver but also working as an engineer or something. Roland did not have the funds to drive that year or something.

    Anyway one story that I was told was that the regular driver was moaning about the car, blah blah blah and Roland told this guy that there was nothing wrong with the car, and to prove it he grabbed his helmet and jumped in this car and went out and destroyed this guys lap times. This service manager had a very, very high opinion of Roland as a person and a driver.

    I think he would have worked his way up the grid if money was there.


Share This Page