The Greenville News from Greenville, South Carolina on May 29, 1994 · Page 151
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The Greenville News from Greenville, South Carolina · Page 151

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Greenville, South Carolina
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Sunday, May 29, 1994
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Page 151
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BY JAMES BRADY IN STEP WITH: EMEE SON c ' I 1 IT AN AGE WHEN MOST world-class athletes have long since retired, 47-year-old Emerson Fittipaldi was making c Brady's Bits In addition to being a star driver, "Emmo" Fittipaldi is a considerable businessman. He grows oranges, works as a technical adviser to Jeep Eagle, sells and services diesel engines in Brazil, has a chain of clothing stores and soon will open a Planet Hollywood in Sao Paulo. In his spare time, he flies his own Lear jet and snow-skis. There are also five little Fittipaldis, ranging in age from 19 down to 3 two with Teresa and three from a previous marriage. I knew that Teresa sat in the pit during his races, close to the action, and I asked about that "It's a high-risk sport," Emmo said, "and for the wife, it's very tough to be there. But she is part of a team, and that is supportive tor her. She helps with the timing and the lap count, but she gets very scared when she hears my voice on the radio. In the car, there is such a roar, the frequency of my voice changes. I don't sound like me. I sound in trouble. And she says, 'Don't do that to me. Don't sound like that!'" plans to be right there on the track at the Indianapolis 500 this Memorial Day when they call out, "Start your engines," and half a million fans go crazy. " Still one of the great drivers, Fittipaldi was in New York to launch a new line of driving glasses at an optical trade show when we talked. A Brazilian who has homes in Key Biscayne, Fla., and his hometown of Sao Paulo, Fittipaldi said he would stay in Indianapolis for the month of May. "I love it there," he said. "We have a nice house. We take our cook and also my physical trainer. This year, my daughter is 8 and can't miss class, so Teresa his wife won't be there the whole time." But how long can a man drive at this level? When do the reflexes start to go? "The first thing you must have is motivation and love for the sport," Emerson told me. "You drive to be competitive and to win. If you don't have that, you should retire." To keep that body and those reflexes fine-tuned, Fittipaldi works out constantly running, biking, doing karate, working with the trainer. "It's a high-risk sport and demanding physically," he said. "You have to concentrate to be fit. Some of the races last 3 !4 hours. You're getting VA Gs gravitational pull sideways in the turns. Even the braking is very physical." Then how long can he compete at this level? "Not as long as A.J. Foyt," Emerson said, laughing in reference to the grand old man of the game now, finally, retired at 59. He detailed his Indy schedule for me: "The track opens May 9. We have a week of training. Then a weekend of qualifying, when we go for the pole position. Then another week of training. Then, the week of the race itself, two hours of carburetion. Then, at 1 1 a.m., it's, 'Gentlemen...' Or now, 'Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.'" "Emmo," as his pals call him, not only likes Indianapolis as a town but also likes the track itself. "Indy is most enjoyable," he said. 'The maintenance, the smooth surface. A very good track." His favorite track of all time, now abandoned, was at Nuerburgring in Germany. "By far the best I ever raced Born: Dec. 12, 1946, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Personal: Three children from a previous marriage. Married Teresa Hotte in 1983; two children. Career Highlights: Formula One world champion, 1972 and 1974; won first title at 25, when he was the youngest driver to win a Formula One. Won first Indy race at Michigan International Speedway, 1985; has had 21 Indy car victories. Won Indianapolis 500 and CART Indy Car PPG Cup, 1989. Won second Indianapolis 500, 1993. Business Interests: Owns Hugo Boss Brazil, which manufactures and licenses clothing for more than 50 stores. Owns a 750,000-tree orange plantation. Owns Fittipaldi Motoring Accessories, which produces custom car wheels. Designed limited-edition performance boat for Wellcraft. Technical consultant to Jeep Eagle. it.nvl : ! RJ1 n U Ue has won on," he said. "One lap, 50 miles long, through the mountains." He called the grand prix course at Monaco "very similar to Long Beach a course through the town very demanding." And, as a tip to those of us who'll watch the Indy 500 on TV, he said the race at Phoenix "is always a good preview of what's going to happen at Indy." (Fittipaldi won at Phoenix.) Then I asked the question that was really bothering me: How does a Brazilian end up being named "Emerson"? Emmo said it's very simple: "My grandfather emigrated to Brazil from Italy, and when my father was born, he said, 'I must give him an American name.'" So Emmo's dad became Wilson Fittipaldi. "And I'm named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poet." SS the Indy 500 twice before. Can Emerson Fittipaldi, age 47, win again this Memorial DayP PARADE MAGAZINE MAY 29, 1994 PAGE 31

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