Fabrizio Barbazza
by Salvo Toscano

In Italy some people still remember him as the "capellone", the guy with fluffy hair. Fabrizio Barbazza didn't spend much time in Formula One, he went on to do good things in America, but he left a mark in Minardi's history by finishing in the points twice, both times during wet races. Barbazza was born in the Italian capital of speed, Monza, and began his career competing in motocross. In 1983 he moved to Italian Formula 3, driving a Genoa Racing Ralt-Alfa RT3. He moved to Venturini in 1984 and finished sixth in the series. In 1985, still with Venturini, he won four races and finished third in the championship. Having no money available to move into Formula 3000 he went to the United States and entered the American Racing Series with Arciero Racing. He won four races and the ARS title at his first attempt, a stunning display of his talent.

An important year for him was 1987, when he had the chance to join the Arciero CART team. Barbazza finished third in his debut race at Indianapolis and became CART’s Rookie of the Year. But just like every Italian driver, his dream was to race in Formula 1 and at the end of 1989 he returned to Europe and tested for the AGS team. Unfortunately he missed much of the 1989 season because he did not have the money to find a drive. In 1990 he was hired by Crypton Engineering in F3000 and that led to a drive with the AGS Formula 1 team in early 1991. That same year in a friendly football match, he was playing as a goalkeeper and hurt Nigel Mansell's ankle.

Barbazza failed to qualify for any races but in 1993 he finally found backing from Italian company “Beta Utensili”, whose manager and owner Massimo Ciceri was a schoolmate of his. He joined Minardi, lining up with Cristian Fittipaldi, bringing a good budget and scoring points twice (Donington and Imola) in his first four races, before being replaced by Pierluigi Martini when the money ran out. At that time Barbazza was already 30. In May 1995 he was racing a Ferrari sports car in the United States when he was seriously injured in an accident with Jeremy Dale at Road Atlanta. He suffered head and chest injuries which left him in a critical condition. Barbazza recovered but did not return to racing, he started a go-kart circuit in Monza and began designing crash barriers. His concept, the "impact protection system barriers" (IPS), was eventually used in Formula 1.