Top 10 Great Racing Rivalries

  • great Racing Rivalries

In every sport, there are great rivalries, and as a professional bloodsport, racing is no exception. Some of them are born out of spite, others out of virtue and competitive friendship, and for you, we’ve selected a list of the most famous, fierce and inspiring and definitely the greatest rivalries in recent and not so recent history of racing.

Honorable mention: Henry Ford II vs Enzo Ferrari

Ford GT40 and Ferrari 330P2 battling on the track

Ford GT40 and Ferrari 330P2 battling on the track

Even though they weren’t racers per se, Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari had a feud over Enzo refusing to sell his company to the American giant. That decision infuriated Ford who decided to beat Enzo Ferrari in his own game, which resulted in Ford building the legendary GT40, beating Ferrari at 24 Hours of Le Mans. GT40 won the most famous race four times in a row, from 1966 to 1969. This rivalry marked the end of the sixties, and GT40’s dominance was cut by Porsche and their 917 race car.

10. Jim Clark vs Graham Hill

Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark and Graham Hill

Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark and Graham Hill were the greatest drivers of the era

While Clark and Hill were friends off-track, their on-track rivalry was great, but always in good spirit, and their fantastic driving made the crowd ecstatic in the sixties. When Jim Clark died at the Hockenheimring on April 7 1968, nobody was more crushed than his teammate Graham Hill. At the end of the season, Hill won the title for Lotus and dedicated it to his colleague and a close friend.

9. Fernando Alonso vs Lewis Hamilton

Fernando Alonso driving alongside Lewis Hamilton

Alonso was often frustrated by Hamilton

During the sole year they shared at McLaren, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso hated each other, which both cost them the title won by Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso was often heard expressing his frustration in the Spanish press, both because of team orders and Hamilton himself. During the whole season, Hamilton and Alonso fought each other throughout the season and were tied by the end of it, both scoring four wins and 109 points, exactly one less than Raikonen. To add to Alonso’s frustration, Hamilton finished the season on second since he had a larger amount of second place finished.

8. Snake vs Mongoose

Snake vs Mongoose drag racing

These two cars ended up being a Hot Wheels set

Making NHRA funny car drag racing extremely popular in the 1960s, Don The Snake Purdhomme and Tom The Mongoose McEwen were the biggest rivals coming from Southern California. Even though NHRA racing is popular exclusively in the USA, this rivalry holds the place on our list because it’s been immortalized in an eponymous 2013 movie and a 1970 Hot Wheels set that featured their Plymouth Barracuda and Plymouth Duster dragsters.

7. Damon Hill vs Michael Schumacher

Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher agruing in 1994

Damon Hill reacting to Schumacher crashing him

Spanning from 1994 to 1996, the rivalry began just after Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash, when Schumacher won at Imola after colliding with Damon Hill, forcing him to make a pit stop. The German ultimately beat Hill by a point, winning the 1994 F1 Championship. Damon Hill’s furious reaction sums up this rivalry behind the two drivers.

6. Carl Edwards vs Brad Keselowski

Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski

Keselowski and Edwards overcame the rivalry that put them both into mortal danger

The two NASCAR drivers developed a rivalry that slowly started boiling in 2008 and had its first peak in 2009 when Keselowski flipped Edwards at Talladega Superspeedway in the last lap of the race. Edwards’ car went airborne and Keselowski won the race. A year later, Edwards retaliated and this time, Keselowski went up in the air. Though they were both put in mortal danger by each other, or exactly because of that, both drivers developed a deep mutual respect and their rivalry has cooled off.

5. Mark Webber vs Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber

Webber’s rivalry with Sebastian Vettel turned him back to endurance racing

Fiercest rivalries often plague teammates, as was the case with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. The animosity developed in 2007 when Vettel rear-ended Webber in Japan and it became even bigger in 2010 after a collision in Turkey which both cost them the win. Red Bull was protective towards Vettel, which ultimately caused Webber to leave F1 and return to endurance racing.

4. Sébastien Ogier vs Sébastien Loeb

Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb

Ogier and Loeb were rivals both as teammates and members of opposing teams

Two of the greatest WRC drivers in recent history and two of the many great Sébastiens in the racing world were fierce rivals on the muddy, snowy and sandy stages. But, even though the relationship was damaged during their Citroën years, the team functioned perfectly, scoring five victories each in 2011. In 2012, Ogier went to Volskwagen and in 2013, both drivers competed heavily again, but this time for two different teams.

3. Stirling Moss vs Juan Manuel Fangio

Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss

Fangio and Moss were close friends and friendly rivals

One of the friendliest rivalries was one between two of the greatest drivers of the fifties, Sir Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio. As 1955 team mates in Mercedes, Moss and Fangio finished first and second neck-at-neck at British GP, but Moss was never sure whether Fangio let him win or not. The duo also competed in various other series, most notably the World Sportscar Championship, where the 300SLR had its moments of glory and pain.

2. Niki Lauda vs James Hunt

Niki Lauda and James Hunt were always good pals and fierce rivals

Niki Lauda and James Hunt were always good pals and fierce rivals

The relationship of long time on-track rivals deteriorated a bit during the 1976 season, but the media fueled rivalry in the golden years of Formula One never stood in the way of off-track friendship between the two drivers. Ron Howard’s 2013 movie Rush sheds light on just one part of Hunt‘s and Lauda‘s relationship, showing the fierce rivalry and bits of their friendship.

1. Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost

Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost

From hatred to highest respect – Senna and Prost

The most famous Formula One rivalry began in 1989 after Ayrton Senna signed for McLaren, and slowly developed into hatred, culminating in 1990 at Suzuka when Senna swept Alain Prost in the first corner, winning the championship title. However, just before Senna’s death at Imola, the relationship began to improve as two drivers were brought together by Senna’s efforts to improve F1 safety.


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