Emerson Fittipaldi

Emerson Fittipaldi is a Brazilian former automobile racing driver who won both the Formula One World Championship and the Indianapolis 500 twice each and the CART championship once.

He is one of the most successful and influential drivers in the history of motorsport, and also a prominent figure in Brazilian culture and politics.

This article will explore his life story, from his birthplace and childhood to his greatest achievements and legacy.

Emerson Fittipaldi Birthplace and Childhood

Emerson Fittipaldi was born on December 12, 1946, in São Paulo, Brazil.

He was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American writer and philosopher admired by his father.

Both his parents had raced production cars shortly after the Second World War and Wilson Sr was also responsible for the first Mil Milhas race in 1956, in São Paulo, inspired by the Italian Mille Miglia.

Emerson, along with his brother Wilson Jr, became motorsports enthusiasts as young children. They started racing karts at a young age, and Emerson became the Brazilian kart champion at 18.

Where Did Emerson Fittipaldi Receive His Education?

Although his true passion lay in racing, Fittipaldi recognized the importance of education. Fittipaldi spent the majority of his time honing his driving skills, ultimately leading him on a path away from traditional higher education.

Where did Emerson Fittipaldi Receive His Education?

Emerson Fittipaldi attended the Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro, where he completed his primary education.

His senior years were at the Colégio Rio Branco, a prestigious private school in São Paulo, where he excelled in mathematics and physics. 

He also enrolled in a mechanical engineering course at the University of São Paulo, but he abandoned his studies to pursue his racing career abroad.

Emerson Fittipaldi Parents

Fittipaldi’s parents were both influential figures in his life and career.

Emerson Fittipaldi – Father

Wilson Fittipaldi Sr

His father Wilson Fittipaldi Sr was a respected journalist who covered motorsport events around the world and also hosted a popular radio show called “A Voz do Automobilismo” (The Voice of Motorsport).

He was also a pioneer of Brazilian motorsport, organizing races and promoting drivers. 

He supported his sons’ racing ambitions and helped them establish their own team, Fittipaldi Automotive, in 1974.

Emerson Fittipaldi – Mother

Józefa “Juzy” Wojciechowska

His mother Józefa “Juzy” Wojciechowska was a strong-willed woman who fled from Russia to Brazil during the Second World War. She met Wilson Sr in São Paulo and married him in 1945.

She was a devoted mother who raised her sons with love and discipline. His mum also encouraged them to pursue their dreams and passions. 

Juzy died in 1980, shortly after Emerson’s retirement from Formula One.

Emerson Fittipaldi Siblings

Emerson has an older brother and two half-sisters from his father’s first marriage.

Wilson Fittipaldi Jr,

Emerson Fittipaldi has one older brother, Wilson Fittipaldi Jr, who is also a former racing driver and team owner. Wilson Jr was born on December 25, 1943, in São Paulo.

He started racing karts with Emerson and later moved to Formula Vee, Formula Three, Formula Two, and Formula One.

Wilson raced for Brabham and Copersucar-Fittipaldi teams in Formula One between 1972 and 1975, scoring three points in 35 races. He then became the team manager of Fittipaldi Automotive until 1982.

He also raced in sports cars and endurance events, winning the Mil Milhas race twice with Emerson in 1970 and 1973. Wilson is currently a businessman and a motorsport consultant.

Emerson Fittipaldi Sisters

Emerson Fittipaldi also has two half-sisters from his father’s first marriage:

  • Lúcia Helena Fittipaldi de Oliveira (born in 1939)
  • Maria Cristina Fittipaldi de Oliveira (born in 1941). 

They are both retired teachers who live in Brazil.

Emerson Fittipaldi Spouse

Emerson Fittipaldi has been married three times. 

Rossana Fanucchi

His current wife is Rossana Fanucchi, an economist whom he married in 2012 after a partnership of eleven years. 

Rossana is a supporter of Emerson’s racing activities and often accompanies him to events.

Teresa Cristina Hotte

His second wife was Teresa Cristina Hotte, whom he married in 1995 and divorced in 2002. 

Teresa Cristina was a former model who became a racing team manager and co-owner of the Fittipaldi Automotive team with Emerson and his brother Wilson. 

Maria Helena Dowding

His first wife was Maria Helena Dowding, whom he married in 1970 and divorced in 1982. 

Maria Helena was a former racing driver who competed in the Brazilian Formula Vee championship in the late 1960s. 

Emerson Fittipaldi Children

According to the sources I found, Emerson Fittipaldi has seven children from three marriages. His first wife was Maria-Helena Fittipaldi, with whom he had three children:

  • Juliana da Cruz (born in 1970).
  • Jayson Fittipaldi (born in 1972),
  • Tatiana Papis (born in 1974).

His daughter Tatiana married racing driver Max Papis. They have two sons, Marco and Matteo.

Juliana had two sons with Carlos da Cruz, Pietro and Enzo Fittipaldi. Pietro and Enzo are racing drivers who have competed in various categories, including Formula 2 and Formula 3.

His second wife was Teresa Cristina Hotte, with whom he had two children.

  • Joana Fittipaldi
  • Luca Fittipaldi

He has two children with his current wife – Rossana Fanucchi

  • Emerson Jr., born in 2007.
  • Vittoria, born in early 2012.

Emerson Jr., also known as Little Emo, is also pursuing a racing career in go-karting, with the guidance of his father.

Emerson Fittipaldi is very proud of his children and grandchildren, and often travels with them to support their racing endeavors. 

Wilson Fittipaldi

Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1943, four years before Emerson. He and Emerson competed in various categories, including karting, Formula Vee, Formula Ford, and Formula Three.

They also raced boats together, but they decided to quit after Wilson had a near-fatal crash in 1967. He flipped over at 70 mph (110 km/h) and landed upside down. He miraculously escaped without serious injuries. After that incident, they focused on racing land vehicles only.

How Did Emerson Fittipaldi Get into Motor Racing?

Emerson Fittipaldi’s journey into motor racing began at a young age. He started racing go-karts at the age of 14, displaying a natural talent and determination.

His skill caught the attention of racing enthusiasts.

Emerson Fittipaldi’s Racing Career Progression

Here is a brief overview of his career through the different racing series:

Formula Ford and Formula Three

Fittipaldi moved to England in 1969 and started racing in Formula Ford, winning several races. He then progressed to Formula Three, where he also impressed with his speed and results.

Formula Two

In 1970, Fittipaldi was signed by Lotus to race in Formula Two, where he became a top contender and won three races. He also made his Formula One debut that year as a third driver for Lotus.

Formula One

Emerson was the youngest world champion in F1. In His Formula one career he drover for Lotis and McLaren.

Emerson Fittipaldi – Lotus

Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus

Fittipaldi became Lotus’s lead driver in 1970 after the death of Jochen Rindt, and won his first Grand Prix in the United States.

He then won the World Championship in 1972, becoming the youngest ever champion at the time.

Emerson Fittipaldi – McLaren

Emerson Fittipaldi McLaren

He moved to McLaren in 1974 and won his second title. In 1976, he joined his brother’s team, Fittipaldi Automotive, but the car was not competitive enough and he retired from Formula One in 1980.

Over the years, Fittipaldi competed for various teams, including McLaren and Copersucar-Fittipaldi, which he co-founded with his brother.

Emerson Fittipaldi – Indy 500

He joined the CART series in 1984, after retiring from Formula One.

Emerson raced for Patrick Racing from 1984 to 1989, and then for Penske Racing from 1990 to 1996. Fittipaldi won a total of 22 races in CART, including two Indianapolis 500 victories in 1989 and 1993. 

Emerson also won the CART championship in 1989, becoming the first driver to win both the Formula One and CART titles.

He Was Booed by the Crowd

Fittipaldi’s first Indianapolis 500 crashed with Al Unser Jr

Fittipaldi’s first Indianapolis 500 win in 1989 was controversial. As he passed Al Unser Jr. on the penultimate lap he made contact with him, sending Unser into the wall. 

Fittipaldi was booed by the crowd during the victory celebration, but he defended his move as a racing incident. 

His second Indianapolis 500 win in 1993 was more popular, as he beat defending champion and polesitter Nigel Mansell, his former Formula One rival and teammate. 

Fittipaldi set a new race record of 157.207 mph (253.015 km/h), which stood until 2013.

Fittipaldi’s last Indianapolis 500 appearance was in 1994, when he finished second to Al Unser Jr., who had switched to Penske Racing that year.

Fittipaldi led the most laps (145) and was leading with 16 laps to go when he crashed into the wall while trying to lap a slower car. 

He later said that it was the biggest mistake of his career. Fittipaldi failed to qualify for the 1995 race and did not participate in the 1996 race due to the CART boycott. 

He retired from racing in August 1996 after suffering injuries in a crash at Michigan International Speedway.

When Did Emerson Fittipaldi Win the F1 World Championship?

Emerson Fittipaldi won the Formula 1 World Championship twice in his career. He clinched his first championship in 1972 with Lotus, becoming the youngest F1 World Champion at the time, at the age of 25.

Fittipaldi’s first f1 champ win

Fittipaldi’s second championship victory came in 1974, driving for McLaren.

Emerson Fittipaldi’s Biggest Rivals in Formula One

Throughout his F1 career, Emerson Fittipaldi faced fierce competition from notable rivals. One of his most notable rivals was Jackie Stewart, a three-time F1 World Champion.

The battles between Fittipaldi and Stewart on the track were intense and contributed to the excitement of the sport during that era.

Emerson Fittipaldi’s Formula 1 Statistics

Emerson Fittipaldi’s statistics in Formula 1 further attest to his exceptional skills and achievements.

He competed in F1 from 1970 to 1980.

  • He participated in a total of 144 races.
  • Fittipaldi secured 14 victories.
  • He stood on the podium 35 times.
  • He achieved six pole positions.
  • He earned a total of 281 championship points.

Emerson Fittipaldi Achievements

Emerson Fittipaldi’s racing career is filled with remarkable achievements and milestones. Beyond his two F1 World Championships, he also won the prestigious Indianapolis 500 in 1989, making him the first Brazilian to win the iconic race.

Fittipaldi’s versatility as a driver allowed him to excel in various racing series, leaving an indelible mark on the motorsport’s world.


Emerson Fittipaldi’s life and career are a testament to his passion, talent, and unwavering determination.

From his humble beginnings in São Paulo, Brazil, to becoming a motorsports legend, Fittipaldi’s journey has inspired countless aspiring racers around the globe.

His success in Formula 1, coupled with his achievements in other racing series, solidifies his place among the greatest drivers of all time. Emerson Fittipaldi’s contributions to motorsports will continue to be celebrated and remembered for generations to come.



By Jonny Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jonny Noble I’m a dedicated F1 Writer – and I’ve Been One for Over Four Decades, I’ve been intimately immersed in the world of Formula One for more than 44 years. That’s longer than most professional commentators can boast! As an independent writer, I offer a unique perspective on the entire F1 landscape, free from biases that might cloud the discussion. We dive deep into the exhilarating, frustrating, and captivating facets of the F1 universe. So, regardless of my amateur status, one thing is undeniable: four decades of dedicated F1 fandom have forged strong opinions worth exploring!