PEOPLE: GABRIELE RUMI

Name: Gabriele Rumi
Nationality: Italy

The Rumi Family has worked in the metal industry for three generations since Gabriele Rumi, his grandfather, opened an iron foundry in Brescia. Gabriele Jr took over the business in 1961 and in 1970 decided to diversify the business into the light alloy business, producing parts for engines and other automotive uses. In 1972 Rumi decided to start his own alloy wheel business.

In the 1960s Rumi had become a passionate racing fan after a visit to the Monte Bondone hillclimb event near Trento in northen Italy. He competed in both hillclimbs and in the single-seater Formula Monza category. But he had come to the sport too late to make a career and so found himself with slightly different ambitions. In 1983 he began sponsoring Italian GP driver Piercarlo Ghinzani, who was driving for the Osella team. The following year Fondmetal began supplying racing lightweight racing wheels to Williams, Tyrrell and Ligier.

The link with Osella led in 1990 to Rumi acquiring the team and reorganizing it under the Fondmetal name in 1991. Rumi did a deal to have his cars built in England - by Robin Herd's design office Fomet 1 and later by Sergio Rinland's Astauto operation. The operation proved to be very expensive and, unable to find enough backing, Rumi decided to shut the team down rather than trying to battle against hopeless odds and incur debts.

Instead Rumi joined forces with former Ferrari aerodynamicist Jean-Claude Migeot and bought the Casumaro windtunnel, one of the most advanced in the world at the time. The new company, Fondmetal Technologies, began doing design consultancy work with Mercedes in touring car racing and with F1 teams Benetton and Tyrrell.

In 1996 Rumi was one of the consortium which bought Minardi and at the end of 1997 he bought out Flavio Briatore and became the majority shareholder in the team. Once again he invested heavily in staff and equipment and Gustav Brunner built some good cars but the team never had the engine to do the job. Money once again began to run out and at the end of the 2000 season Rumi gave up the dream for a second time, handing control to Paul Stoddart.

He died from cancer later that year.

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