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Roland Ratzenberger
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Auto Racer
    (July 4, 1960-April 30, 1994)
    Born in Salzburg, Austria
    Formula One racing driver
    Had previously raced for Formula Nippon and Formula 3000
    Drove for Brun Motorsport (1989), Toyota (1990), Team Schuppan (1991-1993), and MTV Simtek Ford (1994)
    Died while qualifying for the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, after his car went off-track on the previous lap, damaging his front wing and launching the car head-on into the concrete barrier
    Cause of death was ruled a basilar skull fracture; later interred at the Friedhoff Maxglan Stattin, in Salzburg, Austria
    Death coincided with that of Ayrton Senna's at the same event the next day, collectively sparking an international discussion about safety procedures and accident prevention within the Formula One sport
    He shaved two years off his age to extend his racing career.
    He liked to send cryptic messages to his team describing his romantic liasons from the night before.
    He attained a cult following in the UK due to his name resembling that of British TV puppet, 'Roland Rat.'
    At the time of his death, he had only competed in three Grand Prix races.
    He failed to qualify for the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos at the beginning of his F1 career.
    He is known more for his untimely demise at the San Marino Grand Prix than for his actual racing abilities.
    Even then, his death was overshadowed by the global coverage of a three-time world Formula One champion suffering a fatal accident less than 24 hours later.
    Adding to this irony was that those close to Senna attested to his having been preoccupied that day with thoughts about Ratzenberger's death, possibly factoring into the cause of his own fatal accident (an Austrian flag that he had been planning to wave in his honor was found in the car).
    He was known by his friends for being good-humored and optimistic.
    He was on the verge of a very successful career in racing, after persevering for years.
    He raced in, and placed first in, both the Austrian and Central European Formula Ford championships (1983; 1985).
    He placed second, and then first, in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in England, in 1985 and 1986.
    He had good humor about being associated with 'Roland Rat,' both appearing with the character on an episode of 'TV-am' and at one point featuring the character's branding on his car.
    His last year of racing, his team had secured MTV Europe as one of their top sponsors (back when it was still cutting-edge and fresh).
    Anthony Reid credited him with saving his life when he crashed at the 1993 Japanese Formula 3000 season (Roland stopped his car and saw that an ambulance was called).
    He was the first racing driver to lose his life at a Grand Prix weekend since Riccardo Paletti's death at the Canadian Grand Prix, in 1982.
    He was also the first driver to die in an F1 car since Elio de Angelis during testing, in 1986.
    The 'double tragedy' nature of his death resulted in the eventual FIA mandate for the use of the HANS device, designed to prevent the type of head injury that killed him.
    FIA president Max Mosley was one of the only major figures to attend his funeral, where most attended Senna's, later saying: 'Roland had been forgotten. So I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's. I thought it was important that somebody went to his.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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