Quique Mansilla – One who should have been
He was Ayrton Senna’s Formula Ford team mate, he raced Formula 3 and landed an F1 test. Were it not for politics and war, Quique Mansilla would have had the perfect route to Formula One.
Enrique Mansilla, “Quique”, is one of those drivers who ‘should have’. The tough thing for him was timing, politics and war. The Argentinian was a Formula Ford teammate with Ayrton Senna at Van Diemen in 1981, drove for West Surrey Racing in Formula 3, and just missed out on the championship title to Tommy Byrne in 1982 at the final race. He earned a Formula 1 test with McLaren. Basically he had the perfect route to F1 success, with all the key teams and people. But, with the Falklands War his funding ran out. His Formula 2 efforts yielded little, and he left Europe for Can-Am, and then Indycars in 1985. However he did have a great helmet design!
Today, we sit down with Quique and talk cars, races, careers, disappointments, heroes, and Senna.
Have you ever searched yourself on Youtube? (If so, what’s the best clip?)
Yes. Thruxton 1982, round 20 Marlboro British Formula 3, it was the title decider.
What was your most satisfying race, whether you won or not?
Cadwell Park Formula Ford, beating Ayrton Senna to win.
What was the first racecar you bought with your own money?
I’ve never bought one!
Who was your fiercest rival and why?
Senna, my Formula Ford teammate. He would never relinquish a position… And neither would I!
Which car you’ve driven is your favourite?
The March BMW F2 car.
What is the greatest racing car ever built?
The Lotus 1981 wing car.
Which racing car would you most like to own?
My 1981 works Van Diemen Formula Ford car.
Was racing better then or now?
Who is the greatest driver of all time?
I have to say Senna. We were good friends, teammates, and looking back he was the measure for me.
What was your closest shave or “holy shit” moment ?
Sanair Montreal Indycars, 1985.
What is your favourite racing livery or logo?
“Buy Argentina, buy quality” This was during the Falklands War.
Which drivers, dead or alive would you most like to have dinner with?
Ayrton Senna, my buddy.
Who was the best driver you saw, who didn’t make it to the big time?
What was your biggest disappointment in racing?
Not being able to make it, due to ‘external reasons’.
What was the first race you saw in person, and how old were you?
It was during the 1960s. It was a sportscar race at Buenos Aires. I was about 10 years old.
Is there an event you would still like to race in?
For fun, I would love to do the Formula Ford Festival at Brands again!
What’s been the best post-race party?
That was also Brands, 1982 F3 race as support to the British Grand Prix.
Would you call yourself a fan of race history?
What do you think of the historic motor racing scene?
One word: “Romantic”.
Was there ever a race you were in and suddenly realised you were racing against a legend or hero? A ‘How did I get here’ moment?
Indycars 1985, on the grid ahead of Emerson Fittipaldi and AJ Foyt. Mario Andretti was in the field too.
Have you ever complained about something wrong that was written about you?
Special thanks to Quique Mansilla for his extreme efforts to get this done.
Follow Quique on twitter @QM_MOTORSPORTS
By Andy Hallbery @Hallbean
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Lotus 1981 Wing Car by TheCahierArchive©
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