The Danish racing driver Jan Magnussen is one of the most versatile active racing drivers. During his career, he participated in all sorts of circuit racings: single-seaters, prototypes and GT cars, stock cars and touring cars.
Magnussen recorded 24 starts in the Formula One between 1995 and 1998. He was most successful while driving GT cars, earning four class victories at 24 hours of Le Mans and two class titles in the American Le Mans Series. Jan's son Kevin is also a racing driver, currently competing for the Haas F1 team.
Magnussen started his racing career with karts
Jan Ellegard Magnussen was born on July 4, 1973, in Roskilde. As a teenager, he competed with go-karts. After winning the World Championship title in Formula K in 1990, Jan switched to car racing, entering the Danish Formula Ford championship. His first notable success was the third place in the 1992 British Formula Ford.
Dominant win in the 1994 British Formula 3 championship
In 1993, Magnussen moved to the Formula Opel Lotus Euroseries, finishing fourth, but also debuted in the British Formula 3 Championship, driving for Paul Stewart Racing. The first great success followed in 1994, when Magnussen dominated in the British Formula 3, clinching the title with 14 wins in 18 races. In the non-championship Formula 3 Macau GP, Magnussen finished third.
Two seasons with Mercedes
Good results earned him a Formula One test with McLaren's car. In 1995, Magnussen became Mercedes' driver in Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), competing with the #4 Mercedes C-Class V6. The same teams and drivers competed also in the inaugural season of the International Touring Car Series. Magnussen scored his first and only victory at Estoril in August. He finished eighth in the DTM classification and second in the ITCS classification.
Formula One debut at the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix
In October 1995, Magnussen was invited to replace Mika Häkkinen at the Formula One Pacific Grand Prix at TI Circuit, Aida, Japan. Häkkinen was recovering from appendicitis complications, so Magnussen jumped in his #8 McLaren MP4/10B. Magnussen qualified 12th, two places behind teammate Mark Blundell. In the race, Magnussen finished tenth, one place behind Blundell.
Häkkinen returned to the cockpit in the next race and it was all of Magnussen's F1 participation. In 1996, he continued to drive for Mercedes in the International Touring Car Championship. With one victory in 22 races, at Hockenheimring, Magnussen finished 10th in the points.
Four Indy Car races for Penske
During the summer, Magnussen traveled to America to debut in the CART PPG Indy Car Series. He was driving Mercedes-powered Penske PC-25 for Team Penske in four road course races. Magnussen debuted at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, finishing 14th. His best result was 8th place at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Jackie and Paul Stewart hired Magnussen for their F1 team
In 1997, Magnussen returned to Formula One as a full-time driver for the newly founded Stewart Grand Prix team, co-owned by the F1 legend Jackie Stewart and Jackie's son Paul Stewart, Magnussen's former team boss from Formula 3 days.
Magnussen's results were disappointing and he didn't score any points. His best result was seventh place at Monaco Grand Prix. In that race, Magnussen's teammate Rubens Barrichello finished second and scored the only podium and points for Stewart. Magnussen retired in ten races during 1997.
A similar performance was portrayed in 1998 when he retired four times in six races. The highlight of the season was the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in June. Magnussen finished sixth and took his only point in his F1 career. That didn't help him and he was replaced by Jos Verstappen for the remainder of the season.
Le Mans debut in 1999 with Panoz
In 1999, Jan Magnussen moved to America and competed during the year in the American Le Mans Series and CART FedEx Championship Series. His team in the ALMS was the Panoz Motorsports. In eight races, Jan scored one victory (at Mosport International Raceway) and four podiums, to finish 8th in the points. The American team also participated at 24 hours of Le Mans, which was Magnussen's debut race at Circuit de la Sarthe. He was sharing the #11 Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S with Max Angelelli and Johnny O'Connel. They finished 11th overall.
In the CART competition, Magnussen joined Patrick Racing for the second part of the season, participating in eight races between August and October. His best result was 7th place on the streets of Vancouver.
Three more seasons with Panoz Motorsports
Panoz Motorsports remained Magnussen's team for the next three season's. In 2000, the only victory was at Nurburgring's round of the ALMS and Magnussen finished 8th in the points. At the 2000 Le Mans race, his co-drivers were Mario Andretti and David Brabham. The trio finished 15th overall.
In the next two Le Mans races, in 2001 and 2002, Jan Magnussen and Panoz Motorsports recorded two early retirements. In the 2001 ALMS season, Jan scored two wins (Portland and Mid-Ohio) to finish 5th. During the following season, he again won two times (Sears Points and Washington) but finished 8th in the points.
Video : Jan Magnussen driving a Corvette ZR1 at Nurburgring
Maiden DTCC championship title in 2003
While competing in America, Magnussen also entered the 2001 Danish Touring Car Championship, driving a Peugeot 306 GTI. He finished fifth in the final standings. Magnussen continued to drive both ALMS and DTCC in the following years, taking the DTCC title in 2003 with Peugeot 307 GTI.
It was the year when he changed the team in the American Le Mans Series, joining Veloqx Prodrive Racing. Magnussen was driving Ferrari 550 Maranello in six ALMS races and with three GTS class wins he finished sixth in the points.
Driving Audi R8 at the 2003 Le Mans race
At the 2003 24 hours of Le Mans, Magnussen was a part of the Audi Japan Team Goh, together with Marco Werner and Seiji Ara. The international trio in the #5 Audi R8 finished fourth overall and second in the LMP900 class.
In October 2003, Jan traveled to Australia to try something new. He participated in the Bathurst 1000 race for V8 Supercars, driving a Holden VY Commodore for Team Dynamik. His co-driver was Nicolas Minassian and they finished in 11th place.
In 2004, Magnussen had a touring car program in Europe and a sports car racing program in the USA. He was driving a Peugeot 307 in three competitions (Danish championship, Swedish championship and European championship), but without notable results. In the Grand American Rolex Series, Magnussen joined Doran Lista Racing to drive a Doran-Lexus prototype in five races. He won at Watkins Glen.
Three consecutive class wins at Le Mans with Corvette Racing
In the 2004 American Le Mans Series, Magnussen joined Corvette Racing for the first time, starting the connection which is still alive. He participated in two ALMS races, but the highlight of the season was the Le Mans race and Magnussen's first class victory. The #64 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R was victorious in the GTS class and sixth overall. Magnussen's co-drivers were Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta.
In the next two years (2005 and 2006), Magnussen, Beretta and Gavin scored two more class wins at Le Mans, driving the new generation Corvette C6.R.
Daytona 24h debut in 2005
In 2005, Magnussen participated for the first time at 24 hours of Daytona, driving a Doran-Pontiac prototype for Doran Racing. His co-drivers were Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte and Bryan Herta. Engine failure stopped the car and the team didn't finish the race. The race was a part of the Grand American Rolex Series. For the rest of the season, Magnussen was driving TRG's Pontiac GTO.R, scoring three GT class wins.
It wasn't all for the 2005 season, because Magnussen also participated in the Danish Touring Car Championship, finishing second with Toyota Corolla. He repeated the second place in the 2006 DTCC, driving a BMW 320si. He was driving BMW for BMW Team UK in the last round of the World Touring Car Championship in Macau, retiring in both races.
Rolex Series seasons with SunTrust Racing
Magnussen's main competition in 2006 was Grand American Rolex Series, with six races in DP class with #10 SunTrust Racing's Riley-Pontiac. He scored the only win at Laguna Seca, sharing the car with Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor. The same team remained in the car for the 2007 season of the Grand American Rolex Series. In January 2007, Magnussen scored his best result at 24 hours of Daytona, finishing third. Together with Magnussen, Angelelli and Taylor, the fourth driver was Jeff Gordon.
In 2007, Magnussen participated for the first time in the full season of the American Le Mans Series with Corvette Racing, finishing second in the points in the GT1 class. After three consecutive class wins at Le Mans, Magnussen's crew finished second in 2007. His new co-drivers were Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows.
Second DTCC title in 2008
Magnussen didn't miss DTCC in 2007, driving BMW 320si E90. He finished third in the points, behind Michel Nykjaer and John Nielsen. In the 2008 DTCC season, Magnussen took his second title, again driving a BMW.
American Le Mans Series champion in 2008
In 2008, Magnussen repeated the similar schedule of races, participating in the ALMS, Rolex Series and DTCC. With eight wins in 11 races, he took his first ALMS title, together with Johnny O'Connell. At Le Mans, they were again joined by Ron Fellows and they again finished second in the class.
In the Grand American Rolex Series, Magnussen changed the team and joined Banner Racing, to drive Pontiac GXP.R. He finished 17th overall and 7th in the GT class at 24 hours of Daytona.
Fourth class victory at Le Mans
In 2009, Magnussen returned to the top podium spot at Circuit de la Sarthe, taking his fourth class victory at 24 hours of Le Mans. The winning car was Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, the winning crew was Magnussen, O'Connell and Antonio Garcia.
The schedule of other competitions was the same: Banner Racing in the Rolex Series, Corvette Racing in ALMS and BMW 320si in DTCC. Magnussen finished second in DTCC behind Michel Nykjaer. At the American race track, the only victory was first place in the GT1 class at 12 hours of Sebring, together with O'Connell and Garcia in the #3 Corvette.
Mixed program of GT and touring car races
In 2010, Magnussen joined Stevenson Motorsports to drive Chevrolet Camaro GT.R in the Rolex Series, including 24 hours of Daytona. His co-drivers in the #57 Camaro were Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis, and they finished 11th overall at Daytona.
In the American Le Mans Series, Magnussen finished sixth in the points of the GT2 class, winning just one race with Corvette, the Petit Le Mans.
In Europe, Magnussen participated in the Danish Touring Car Championship and Scandinavian Touring Car Cup, driving BMW 320si and Chevrolet Lacetti. He finished fifth in DTCC and seventh in STCC.
Magnussen even tried NASCAR
On June 20, 2010, Magnussen entered his first NASCAR race. He competed in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 race at Sonoma Raceway, driving the #09 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. He crossed the finish line as 12th in the field.
In the 2011 American Le Mans Series, Magnussen had won one race (at Mosport) with Corvette, to finish second in the final standings, together with Oliver Gavin. At Le Mans, Magnussen and Gavin were joined by Richard Westbrook. They retired after 211 laps.
Stevenson Motorsports was again Magnussen's team in the Rolex Series. He won one race with Chevrolet Camaro GT.R, at Lime Rock Park, to finish 24th in the points. Magnussen was also driving the Camaro in the Swedish Camaro Cup, winning two races and finishing 8th in the points.
One more Australian adventure
In October 2011, it was time again for the Australian adventure. Magnussen participated in the Gold Coast 600 race at Surfers Paradise, sharing the Paul Morris Motorsport's Holden with Russell Ingall. They finished 8th in the second race.
The season 2012 started with 24 hours of Daytona. Magnussen was driving the #90 Chevrolet Corvette prototype for Spirit of Daytona Racing, alongside Antonio Garcia, Richard Westbrook and Oliver Gavin. They finished 8th overall.
At Le Mans, Magnussen's co-drivers in Corvette C6.R were Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor. They finished 23rd overall and 5th in the GTE Pro class. In the American Le Mans Series, Magnussen finished third in the GT class classification.
The only title Magnussen won in 2012 was the first place in the Danish Thundersport Challenge, driving the Chevrolet Camaro for Fukamuni Racing.
Second ALMS title in 2013
In 2013, Jan Magnussen became the ALMS GT class champion for the second time, again driving for Corvette Racing. He won three of ten races and took the title together with Antonio Garcia. At 24 hours of Le Mans, the duo was again joined by Jordan Taylor and they finished 4th in the GTE Pro class.
During 2013, Magnussen also drove Ferrari 458 Italia for Kessel Racing in the Spanish GT Championship and International GT Open, scoring two podiums. He also drove Camaro in the Rolex Series and Danish Thundersport Championship.
After a merger of American Le Mans Series and Grand American Rolex Series, Corvette Racing entered the 2014 United Sports Car Championship. Magnussen won four races in the GTLM class and finished ninth in the points.
Eighth Le Mans podium in 2014
At 24 hours of Le Mans, Magnussen, Garcia and Jordan Taylor competed the third time together. After 338 laps, they finished second in GTE Pro class, a lap behind AF Corse's Ferrari. It was Magnussen's eighth Le Mans class podium, including four wins.
Magnussen's other competitions in 2014 were European Le Mans Series and Danish Thundersport Championship. In the ELMS, Jan was driving Ferrari 458 Italia for Formula Racing and he finished fourth in the GTC class classification. In the Thundersport Championship, Magnussen finished second in points.
Hard crash prevented Jan from starting at 2015 Le Mans 24h
In 2015, Magnussen participated in only two competitions – United Sports Car Championship and Thundersport Championship. After two ALMS wins, including a class victory at Daytona 24-hour race, Jan finished third in the GTLM standings, together with Antonio Garcia. Ryan Briscoe and Antonio Garcia were supposed to be Magnussen's co-drivers at the Le Mans race, but they didn't start the race after Magnussen's crash during practice.
In the 2015 Thundersport Championship, Magnussen was again near the top, finishing third in the points behind Casper Elgaard and Dennis Lind. In 2016, he continues to compete with Camaro in the Thundersport Championship, driving for his own team Magnussen Racing Experience.
Continuing to race for Corvette Racing
Magnussen stayed one more season with Corvette Racing in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. At 24 hours of Daytona, he was partnered by Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller to finish second in the GTLM class. At the end of the season, he and Garcia finished third in the GTLM class standings.
At 2016 24 hours of Le Mans, Magnussen's co-drivers were Antonio Garcia and Ricky Taylor. They finished 7th in the GTE Pro class. A year later, hey improve to the third plave in the GTE Pro class, what was Magnussen's ninth Le Mans podiums, including four wins.
The successor is already successful
Magnussen's oldest son Kevin, born inOctober 1992, started his career by winning the Danish Formula Ford Championship in 2008. In 2013, he won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and then entered Formula One, so Jan can say that he has a proper successor in the racing world.