‘Lionheart’ Nigel Mansell collects Motorsport UK Lifetime Achievement Award

Friday 24 May 2024

Nigel Mansell CBE, the British motor racing legend, famed for his fast and fiercely competitive racing style, has visited Motorsport UK to collect his Lifetime Achievement Award.  

The accolade was announced during the annual Motorsport UK ‘Night of Champions’ at the Royal Automobile Club in January, but as Nigel was unable to attend the star-studded evening, he was today presented with the coveted award at Motorsport UK’s headquarters at Bicester Motion in Oxfordshire.    

Born in Worcestershire, and growing up in Birmingham, Mansell was a karting star in his teenage years before moving on to success in the British Formula Ford and Formula 3 Championships. He made his Grand Prix debut for Lotus midway through 1980, after being talent-spotted by Colin Chapman, and stayed with the British team for the following four seasons. 

His big move came in 1985 with a switch to Williams that propelled him to his first two Grands Prix wins at Brands Hatch and in South Africa. Further victories followed in 1986 and 1987 when Mansell twice finished as runner-up in the FIA Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship. Two seasons at Ferrari followed where the adoring tifosi nicknamed him ‘Il Leone’ after a number of typically lion-hearted performances.  

It was a return to Williams, however, that finally earned Nigel a long overdue World Championship title in 1992. In total, Mansell won 31 Grands Prix with Williams and Ferrari making him the second most successful British F1 driver of all time; his tally has only subsequently been topped by Sir Lewis Hamilton. 

Looking for a new challenge, Mansell next headed Stateside, winning the US-based CART Indy Car Series Championship title in 1993, becoming the first driver to capture that crown in his debut season. Moreover, Nigel remains the only man in history to have held both World Drivers’ Championship and the premier American open-wheel Championship titles at the same time.  

The Midlander’s heroics stirred up massive support among his adoring British motor racing fans, peaking with ‘Mansell-mania’ to accompany his British Grand Prix wins at Silverstone in the early ’90s. Further highlighting his popularity, he is one of just five people to have won the coveted BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award more than once. 

Today, Mansell still shares his love of motorsport with the public and has now fostered fame in a very different circle as an amateur magician. 

On receiving the award, Nigel commented: “I’m very proud to win the award and visit the new facility here at Bicester, it’s fantastic. I’m also incredibly proud of contributing to British motorsport, it’s lovely to leave that legacy behind, it’s a very proud day for me today.” 

Presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award, David Richards, Chair of Motorsport UK said: “Nigel’s phenomenal racing career and his fighting spirit remain a true inspiration for aspiring drivers and motorsport lovers – his stellar performances on track earned him legendary status. We are thrilled to welcome him here to our HQ at Bicester Motion and to present him with his hard-earned – and thoroughly well-deserved – Lifetime Achievement award and also to show him how his career continues to inspire all those that form part of our motorsport community”.