Raul Boesel

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Last updated: 25-July-2001


Biography

Before Formula One Formula One After Formula One

Before F1
1974-78

Races tin-tops in Parana after starting karting

Born on 4 December 1957, Raul de Mesquita Boesel was the son of Jorny and Elizadea de Mesquita Boesel. Growing up in Curitiba (the same as Mauricio Gugelmin), Raul's first love was horsepower of the literal sort. As a youngster he competed in horse show jumping very successfully throughout Brazil, winning state championships and other competitions.

He only caught the engine horsepower bug when he went to help a friend at a go-karting event. In 1974 he began racing karts in Curitiba, and the next year won the 'City of Curitiba Championship'. By 1978 he was racing tin-tops in his local state of Parana, and immediately he was a front-runner. The next year he came 4th in the Brazilian Stock Car Championship and was named 'Rookie of the Year'.

1980-81

2nd in FFord with 9 wins; 3rd overall in British F3

Like other Brazilian hopefuls eager to follow in the footsteps of the double World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, Boesel went to Europe in 1980, racing in Formula Ford alongside the likes of Roberto Moreno and Tommy Byrne. Driving a Van Diemen, in both the RAC and Townsend Thoresen championships he came 2nd overall, winning 9 races in total.

He had certainly made his presence felt, and so by 1981 he was racing in British F3, for Murray Taylor Racing in a Ralt RT3 Toyota. Consistency being his key, he finished 80% of the races in the points, scored 12 podiums and took 3 wins, two at Silverstone and one at Oulton Park. With 80 points, he placed 3rd overall, behind Thierry Tassin on 91 and Jonathan Palmer on 126. With a fair deal of backing behind him, Boesel now set his sights even higher.


Driving for Murray Taylor Racing, Boesel's year in British F3 in 1981 was a model of consistency: 16 points scores from 20 races, 12 podiums and 3 wins for 3rd place overall.
Driving for Murray Taylor Racing, Boesel's year in British F3 in 1981 was a model of consistency: 16 points scores from 20 races, 12 podiums and 3 wins for 3rd place overall. Picture from Boesel.com.

Formula One
1982
March

Starts promisingly, qualifying ahead of teammate Mass

In 1982, John MacDonald was running the RAM team which had taken over the March operation. He chose the experienced Jochen Mass to lead the team, and Boesel won the second seat beside the German, having already once tested a McLaren. With designer Adrian Reynard (mediocre 1999 BAR chassis anyone?) having replaced Robin Herd in the team, the aim was to use an updated version of the 811 model, called the 821, attached to Cosworth V8 engines and Pirelli tyres.

Though the team had limited sponsorship at the start of the season, Boesel made a very respectable debut, qualifying 21st in front of Mass and finishing 15th, albeit 5 laps adrift. By the next race in Brazil, the financial situation looked more rosy, with Rothmans coming on board. But, as recent Reynard adventures will tell you, pouring money into a team won't solve anything if the car isn't up to it.

1982

March effort on the slide, with poor results and bad decisions

However, Boesel did qualify 17th at Rio, a whole second in front of Mass, but spun off early. From there, the season just went downhill. In qualifying, Raul would not crack the top 20 for the rest of the season, 21st at Detroit and Montreal and 22nd at Zandvoort being his best efforts. 9th at Long Beach was followed by 8th at Zolder, but then he failed to pre-qualify at Monaco, where the small grid space meant some entries had to be culled.

By now the early promise was evaporating. The Pirelli tyres weren't up to scratch, and MacDonald made a foolish decision to switch to Avons just after the British company announced its withdrawal from F1, leaving March all their remaining stocks. Though the Rothmans deal had an option to be extended for a few seasons, by Monaco the company had said that it was not prepared to invest any more money into the dud project. Add to that morale was low after Mass was the other driver involved in Gilles Villeneuve's fatal accident at Zolder.


Resplendent in new Rothmans livery, Boesel delivered an excellent qualifying performance in his March on home soil at Rio in 1982. But his race would end on lap 12 when he spun off.
Resplendent in new Rothmans livery, Boesel delivered an excellent qualifying performance in his March on home soil at Rio in 1982. But his race would end on lap 12 when he spun off. Picture from Motor Racing Retro.

1982

DNQs before team instability follows Mass accident

Not until the last race of the season at Las Vegas would Boesel see the chequered flag again. He failed to qualify in Britain, France, Austria and Italy, but on three of those four occasions missed the grid by less than 0.6 of a second. He also suffered engine failures in Canada and Holland, a puncture at Hockenheim and a gearbox oil leak at Dijon for the Swiss GP. At Detroit he would collide with Mauro Baldi's Arrows on the opening lap.

By this stage the team was in even more upheaval. Mass had been flipped into the crowd in a nasty accident at Paul Ricard, an accident that was the last straw for ground effect cars. He was replaced by the determined Rupert Keegan, who couldn't make the March go any quicker. Emilio de Villota, who ran in a third March at selected races, simply had a shocker.

1982

Next finish a long way down the line in Las Vegas

For Monza and Las Vegas, the team had also used up its Avons and switched to Michelins. The fact that the Pirellis were getting better by now only rubbed salt into the wound. Boesel brought limited joy by at least coming home 13th and 6 laps down at Caesar's Palace, but at the end of 1982 he took his money from Café do Brasil and jumped ship.

As a sideline, in 1982 he had also made his World Sportscar Championship debut, driving a Dome RC-82 with a Ford engine alongside Eliseo Salazar and Chris Craft, in a 6hr race at Silverstone, but the car failed to finish due to fuel pressure problems.


Not a pretty sight: the 1983 side-pod-less Ligier JS21 was awful in the looks and performance department. Boesel would collide with Manfred Winkelhock at Monaco.
Not a pretty sight: the 1983 side-pod-less Ligier JS21 was awful in the looks and performance department. Boesel would collide with Manfred Winkelhock at Monaco. Picture from Forix.

1983
Ligier

Jumps ship to a sidepod-less Ligier

For 1983 Boesel somehow landed at Ligier. The French team had lost favourite son Jacques Laffite to Williams after 1982, but had signed veteran Jean-Pierre Jarier. The team would use Michelins and Cosworth V8s, but the most incredible thing about this JS21 design was that it had no side-pods. Like most things Ligier tried in the 1980s, the idea sunk quicker than the Titanic.

Remarkably, Boesel's 1983 bore similarities to his 1982. His best qualifying effort was again 17th at Rio. Once again he didn't make the cut in Austria or Italy, but on both occasions he missed out by only one spot and by miniscule margins. Apart from that 17th at Rio and an 18th grid slot at Monaco, once again Boesel would not make the top 20 throughout the rest of the season.

1983

Mirrors his previous season, best finish a 7th at Long Beach

Again Long Beach provided him with this best result all season, a career-best 7th place, 2 laps down, just outside the points. Again Raul was plagued by unreliability, with two engine failures in France and Germany, electrical problems in Brazil, a wheel bearing problem in Canada, a hydraulic suspension leak at Silverstone and a collision at Manfred Winkelhock at Monaco.

However, he did accrue more finishes. Apart from the 7th at Long Beach, there was also a 9th place at Imola (2 laps down), 10th places at Detroit and Zandvoort (2 laps down each), a 13th at Spa (only 1 lap down), a 15th at Brands Hatch for the European GP (3 laps down), and also a non-classification at Kyalami where Raul finished the season 11 laps down.


Although his season was blighted by unreliability, Boesel did get some finishes on the board. 10th in Holland, 2 laps down, was a respectable effort.
Although his season was blighted by unreliability, Boesel did get some finishes on the board. 10th in Holland, 2 laps down, was a respectable effort. Picture from Motor Racing Retro.

1983

5th at Brands Hatch; but ends his F1 career with no points from 23 starts

Tom Prankerd tells us, however, that during the year, at the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch (the last ever non-championship F1 race), Boesel managed to come home 5th, with Keke Rosberg the winner. But since Danny Sullivan was 2nd in the Tyrrell, and Alan Jones 3rd in an Arrows, one has to question the strength of opposition.

In terms of World Championship races, not only had Boesel failed to score points in two seasons, at no stage did he really show signs of being hugely competitive. Not surprisingly, no F1 team was interested in Raul for 1984, and Boesel would have probably wanted to race for better results in lower categories. So his F1 career was over, and with no points from 23 starts, Boesel ranks quite highly on the all-time list of drivers with the most race starts but no points.

After F1
1984-86

From South American F2 he hits the US in IndyCars

His time in F1, though, did not curtail Boesel's motor racing career. Far from it. In 1984 he raced in South American F2, not surprisingly winning at Rio, but the next year headed up to America to make his Indy car debut with Dick Simon Racing. He was the fastest rookie in practice at Indianapolis, all the more special because it was his first taste of America's idiosyncratic ovals.

Boesel stuck with Simon for 1986, and after scoring 54 points came 13th overall in his Lola T86/00 Cosworth with two 5th places at Michigan and Pocono his best, enough to achieve the 'Most Improved Driver of the Year' award, although his attempt at the Indianapolis 500 only netted 13th place.

1987-88

Becomes World Sportscar Champion with TWR Jaguar!

He then turned his attentions to sports cars for 1987, joining Tom Walkinshaw's factory Jaguar team, to share a Jaguar XJR-8 alternately with Eddie Cheever, John Nielsen, Jan Lammers, Martin Brundle and Johnny Dumfries. With 5 wins in 8 rounds, at Jerez, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Nurburgring and Spa, he scored 127 points in the process and became a convincing World Champion - more than likely the highlight of his career.

But before the year was out, he had subbed for Roberto Guerrero back in Indy cars for two starts, scoring 8 points for 26th place overall in a March 87C Cosworth, and it was to CART that he returned full-time in 1988, joining the Domino's Pizza team in a Lola T88/00 Cosworth. A model of consistency, he would score 89 points and end up 8th on the table.


It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a TWR Jaguar Sportcars on its way to another victory; and it's Raul Boesel at the helm.
It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a TWR Jaguar Sportcars on its way to another victory in 1987; and it's Raul Boesel at the helm. Picture from Boesel.com.

1988-89

Wins the Daytona 24hrs; finishes on the podium at Indy 500

1988 also saw Boesel temporarily rejoin TWR Jaguar in IMSA, winning the Daytona 24hr race at the start of the year with Brundle and Nielsen in a Jaguar XJR-9, and also competing in the Miami 3hr and the Sebring 12hr races. The 25 points for his Daytona win put him equal 27th overall in the points standings.

In 1989, Boesel stayed with the Domino's Pizza team in CART, and upgraded to a Lola T89/00, although switching to a Judd engine. Once again, consistency was the key to his season, scoring 68 points to finish 11th in the series, but undoubtedly the highlight was 3rd at the Indy 500, although he was 6 laps down, and 2nd-placed Al Unser Jr had actually crashed out on lap 198 of 200!

1990

Replaces Pruett, juggling CART drive with IMSA and WSC

For 1990, initially Raul thought he was out of a drive, but come the start of the CART season he was called in to replace the injured Scott Pruett in the TrueSports team, although all they could offer him was the same equipment as he had used in 1989, that is a Lola T89/00 Judd, but of course this was now a year-old car. Still, Boesel took it to 42 points and 11th once again in the championship.

1990 also turned out to be a busy year for Boesel in the sports car scene. He made three starts in IMSA in a Dauer Porsche 962C, coming 27th at the Daytona 24hrs with Unser Jr and Robby Unser, 21st at Miami with Bob Wollek, and 14th at Sebring with Hans-Joachim Stuck, scoring 9 points for 38th overall. In the World Sportscar Championship, he made two solo starts in the same car, retiring at Monza but coming 11th at the Nurburgring.


Raul's best 1989 result for the Domino's Pizza team would be a fine 3rd place at the Indy 500!
Raul's best 1989 result for the Domino's Pizza team would be a fine 3rd place at the Indy 500! Picture from Boesel.com.

1991

Returns full-time to sportscars and scores a 2nd at the Le Mans 24hrs!

Enjoying the sports car scene, for 1991 it was back IMSA full time, and back to TWR Jaguar, driving various chassis for them. After a single win at Miami, he was 6th overall with 72 points, but his starts at Daytona, where he partnered Davy Jones, Pruett and Derek Warwick, and at Sebring, where he teamed up with Jones and Nielsen, were not successful.

1991 also saw Boesel make one start in the WSC, at where else but Le Mans. And what a start it was, with Boesel, Jones and Michel Ferte coming home a fabulous 2nd. The 15 points from that single result was enough for Raul to be classified 21st overall in that year's WSC! Before the year was out, Boesel also had one race in the Japanese Sports Prototype Championship, in an Alpha Racing Porsche 962C with Wollek at Fuji, but the car suffered an electrical failure.

1992-93

Best CART year see him challenge Mansell with consistency

Back to Indy cars in 1992, he replaced the injured Hiro Matsushita at Dick Simon Racing in a year-old Lola T91/00 Chevrolet, and then came 2nd at Detroit, gathering sponsorship as he chalked up points scoring finishes to come 9th outright with 80 points. It was enough to land him a full-time drive with Dick Simon in 1993, with sponsorship from Duracell and Brazilian meat-packaging company Sadia.

It was to prove his best year. Though he didn't win a race, he was incredibly consistent, taking points in 15 of the 16 races. He scored his first ever Indy car pole at Milwaukee, led at Indianapolis, and came 5th overall, although midway through the season it looked as though he could really challenge Nigel Mansell for the title. In the end, Boesel had to settle for a very respectable 132 points in his Lola T93/00 Ford.


1993 would be Raul's best IndyCar year; his consistency let him challenge for the title, and he led at the Indy 500.
1993 would be Raul's best IndyCar year; his consistency let him challenge for the title, and he led at the Indy 500.

1994-95

Several lean years sees Raul's career slow

The team upgraded to a Lola T94/00 and changed to Chevrolet engines for 1994, but hopes for a Boesel championship challenge were dashed by Penske's dominance. He dropped to 7th in the points standings, scoring only 90 points, although this was more than Mansell, who only scored 88 before heading back over to Europe.

For 1995 Raul took his sponsors to the rival Rahal-Hogan team, but not without a fight. Tom Prankerd tells us that Simon took legal action, claiming that Boesel had deliberately underperformed in 1994 to get out of his contract! Or perhaps it was just Raul out of form; another poor season by his standards in 1995 saw him gain only 48 points and slip to 16th overall in his Lola T95/00 Mercedes, with only a 5th place at Portland being something to write home about.

1996-97

CART gypsy switches to Green; drive a great colour scheme at Patrick

For 1996, the chance to join the championship-winning Team Green, in place of Jacques Villeneuve, was too good to resist, but despite his Brahma-sponsored car having the best paint job around, a difficult year reliability-wise meant Raul only scored a paltry 17 points in his Reynard 961 Ford, ending up 22nd overall, and at the end of the year he was on the move yet again. Meanwhile, he was also back riding horses competitively, and during 1996 he participated in the Indoor CSI World Cup!

In 1997 he took his Brahma money to Patrick Racing. Despite a very late change from a Lola chassis to a Reynard 971 Cosworth, it was a better year for Boesel, taking a pole at St Louis and 3rd at Portland, and once again consistency earned him 10th overall with 91 points. But by this stage Indy car racing had undergone its almighty schism and the Indianapolis 500, the race Raul really wanted to win, was not on the CART calendar but part of the rival Indy Racing League series.


We like the color scheme, but the results could have been more substantial. Replacing Champ Jacques Villeneuve for 1996 was not the masterstroke it appeared, with reliability proving a downfall.
We like the color scheme, but the results could have been more substantial. Replacing Champ Jacques Villeneuve for 1996 was not the masterstroke it appeared, with reliability proving a downfall.

1998

Split in IndyCar series sees Raul with IRL; dabbles in IMSA GTS

So for 1998, Boesel moved to the McCormack Motorsport Transworld Racing IRL team, but it brought him very little success. With 132 points in his G Force Oldsmobile Aurora, he was only 20th overall. And at his beloved Indy 500, that he switched to the IRL to race in, he only qualified a lowly 30th, and finished 19th, a full 36 laps down on the winner, Eddie Cheever.

He also spent the year in the GT1 class of the IMSA GTS championship, driving a Panoz GTR-1 Ford, and came 4th overall with 84 points. Driving alternately with Pruett, Eric Bernard, Andy Wallace and Doc Bundy, his best results were 2nd at Lime Rock, and 4ths at Mid-Ohio, Mosport and Watkins Glen.

1999

Has a bit each way with CART and IRL, finishes Indy in 12th

1999 then saw Boesel partake in both CART and IRL. At the start of the season, when Paul Tracy was suspended for a race for transgressions committed the previous year, Raul took his place at Team Kool Green in the Reynard 991 Honda, but his race at Homestead ended early. Then, towards the end of the year, he had two starts for the All-American Racers team in the pathetic Eagle 997 Toyota, coming 12th at Chicago to score one point, leaving him 32nd overall on the CART table.

In the IRL, he started the season in a McCormack Motorsports G Force Oldsmobile Aurora, but from round 3 at Indianapolis onwards, he switched to Brant Racing to drive their Riley & Scott chassis, again with the Oldsmobile Aurora engine. Just bumping himself onto the grid in 33rd place as the only R&S chassis in the Indy field, Boesel ended up finishing 12th, but did nothing else of note for the rest of the season.


Saddled with the execrable Eagle for 2 races in 1999, Raul scored a point in Chicago!
Saddled with the execrable Eagle for 2 races in 1999, Raul scored a point in Chicago! Picture from Boesel.com.

2000

Starts his 12th Indy, indulges in power boating with Rio Roses

Without a full-time drive in 2000, Boesel once again aimed for Indianapolis glory, joining the Treadway Racing team sponsored by Epson for what was his 12th start, again in a G Force Oldsmobile Aurora. He qualified a none-too-flattering 24th and finished a dismal 16th, and still picked up US$212,000 for his troubles! He also picked up 14 points, which left him 37th in the IRL standings.

2000 also saw Raul indulging in his other passion of powerboating, racing a Super-V boat called the Rio Roses with a throttleman by the name of Phil Lipschutz. In the local Super Boat National Championship, Boesel and Lipschutz finished 4th overall.

2001

Can't make it a lucky 13 starts at Indy, giving way to flying Dutchman

By November 2000, Boesel had his hopes set on winning the 20th Annual Fountain Super Boat Key West World Championship. Coming 2nd in the first race of the meet was a promising result, but in the final the Rio Roses flipped and the cockpit began to fill with water. Boesel had to put on his oxygen mask and dive out, his hopes dashed.

In 2001, Boesel intended to have yet another go at Indy, and once again practised for Treadway Racing, once again in a G Force Oldsmobile Aurora, this time sponsored by Meijer. He had gone fast enough in qualifying to make it onto the grid, but Arie Luyendyk was also making his comeback in the same car, and having lapped faster than Boesel in practice, it was the Dutchman who had the car for the race, and Boesel was forced to withdraw.


Raul at the 2000 Indianapolis 500. Starting 24th, he finished a disappointing 16th - despite being fastest qualifier on 'Bump' day.
Raul at the 2000 Indianapolis 500. Starting 24th, he finished a disappointing 16th - despite being fastest qualifier on 'Bump' day.

Personal

Curitiba's favourite son drives, rides, races and sails his way around the world

On a personal note, Raul has lived in Key Biscayne, Florida with wife Vera and children Raul Jr and Gabriela since 1988. He is still remembered in his home town, however - Fabio Eduardo de Lima tells us that the Curitiba International Raceway is named informally 'Raul Boesel'. He is 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighs 158 pounds. He drives a Mercedes C43 on the road, but he likes to ride a Treck 5000 bicycle. He has a boat too, a Cigarette 38 Top Gun, whatever that means.

Not surprisingly, his favourite animal would be a horse, and his favourite track is Indianapolis, even when he finishes 16th. His favourite restaurant is Café Abracci in Miami, where he likes to eat Italian and drink a nice red. He admires honest people in particular. Most of the stuff on Boesel's career, plus plenty of pics and contact details, especially for Boesel's company Boesel Enterprises, can be found at his website which is at: Boesel.com.

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