Gianclaudio "Clay" Regazzoni was born in the Italian speaking Swiss canton of Ticino a few days after the start of WW11. He came into motor racing at the age of 24 years, with a tough uncompromising competitive attitude, only interested in racing hard.
He came up through club racing, then Formula Three where Team Tecno noticed his driving ability and they then offered him cars for racing in Formula Two. He did well in this class although he was implicated in the death of British driver, Chris Lambert, for allegedly running him off the track while passing. Although he was exonerated for this Lamberts father blamed him entirely. In the Formula One season of 1970, Ferrari only entered one car, for Jacky Ickx. Four races in they decided to enter another car and the seat was shared between the Italian Ignazio Giunti and Clay Regazzoni. Both drivers came fourth in their maiden races and then Regazzoni started showing more promise, podium finishes and then culminating in a win at Monza. Sadly this win was overshadowed by the death of Jochen Rindt in the practice session, ending up 13 points behind the posthumous world Champion.
Regazzoni's position at Ferrari was further confirmed after the death of Giunti later that year, so he and Ickx continued. These cars however were not competitive and by the end of 1972, Regazzoni left to join BRM and teammate Niki Lauda. Both Lauda and Regazzoni went back to Ferrari in 1974, where Lauda became team leader although Clay was never far behind. He managed to win the German GP and the Italian in 1975. Lauda was third at Monza and champion and Ferrari won the championship for the first time since 1961 in front of their home crowd.
Despite being the longest serving Ferrari driver, in 1976 Regazzoni was replaced by Carlos Reutmann and so he moved to a much smaller team Ensign. After a brief spell with Shadow and then Williams he returned for his last song at Ensign in 1980. He still loved to race although was 40 years old by this time. At the United States Grand Prix West, driving down a long straight at high speed, his brake pedal failed. Regazzoni crashed into the barrier and was left paralysed from his waste down.
Of course this did not stop him, he soon had cars adapted and regained his racing licence. He became a great support and advocate for disabled drivers and had some success at the Dakar Rally and Sebring. In 2006 he died in a car crash in Italy.