I’m a long-time karting fan and over the years no driver struck me as much as Fernando Alonso. He had something I’ve never seen again: a fierce drive to make it, to win!
Whenever he’d come to Italy to race, he was often coming from Spain by car, that meant many long hours on the road.
This one time, his dad and him got to Parma on a Thursday night and instead of wasting time looking for a hotel, they just parked their white FIAT Regata outside the fence and spent the night there. Of course, the morning after they were the first ones on track!
Driving antics are the true sign of a racing talent, though, and when it comes to Fernando, a clear case in point is the 1996 Genk event in Belgium, a sort of world championship for the Junior class.
It was called Five Continents Cup, if I’m not mistaken.
At the time, Alonso was racing with Mike Wilson’s signature MW karts and was very strong. I was watching the race from track-side, right next to Wilson, a true karting legend with six world champion titles. I honestly don’t recall Alonso’s exact starting position, but it was something like third or fourth row.
Half-way through the race, he was already a close second, but his rival was holding a tight defense. Lap after lap, I turned several times to look at Mike Wilson, who was lighting one cigarette after the other.