Robert Manzon, last living driver from F1’s first season, dead at 97

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The last surviving driver from Formula One’s debut season back in 1950 has died.

Per Reuters, friends of the family of Robert Manzon, 97, have confirmed that the Frenchman has passed away at his home in the south of France.

Manzon, a native of Marseilles that worked as a distributor of diesel engine parts before becoming a racer, made 28 Grand Prix starts from 1950 to 1956.

In his career, he earned two podium finishes – a third at Belgium in 1952 for Simca-Gordini and another third on home soil in 1954 with a privateer Ferrari – as well as 16 championship points.

In 1950, F1’s inaugural campaign featured seven races: The British, Monaco, Swiss, Belgian, French, and Italian Grand Prix plus America’s Indianapolis 500.

Manzon competed in the Monaco, French, and Italian events. A fourth-place finish in his native country was sandwiched by two retirements in Monaco (accident) and Italy (transmission). However, he did win some Formula 2 events that year.

His most competitive F1 season came in 1952. With the schedule now featuring eight races, Manzon took part in all of them except the ‘500.’

That year, he retired from three races but took home points in three more, including the aforementioned podium in Belgium. His nine championship points were enough to give him sixth in the driver’s standings.

Manzon’s career in F1 would conclude with a retirement at the 1956 Italian Grand Prix.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this time.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).