In Sweden, several graves were ransacked, including that of former Formula 1 driver Ronnie Peterson.
Vandals vandalized three tombstones in the Almby cemetery in Örebro, including that of former Formula 1 driver Ronnie Peterson, who died in 1978.
Peterson, born in Örebro on February 14, 1944, raced in 123 Formula 1 races, achieving 14 pole positions, 10 victories and finishing second in the World Drivers’ Championship in two circumstances (1971-1978).
The Swede died on September 11, 1978 at the Niguarda Hospital in Milan, due to complications following the delicate surgery he underwent after a violent accident that left him with numerous fractures during the Italian Grand Prix at the Monza circuit.
Ronnie Peterson’s daughter, Nina Kennedy, said she was shocked to learn that her father’s grave had been desecrated: “I’m shocked, it’s terribly horrible. I’m shocked, it’s terribly horrible,” she told SportExpressen.
According to the head of the Örebro church, there is every indication that the perpetrators acted without any particular motive and did not specifically target Ronnie Peterson’s grave.
“This is simply shameful. But it had nothing to do with Peterson. There is every indication that the perpetrators acted indiscriminately. ” said Brita Wennsten.
Along with Sir Stirling Moss, Ronnie Peterson is considered one of the best F1 drivers never to win a championship, he won his last race on August 13th 1978.
The race was held at the Osterreichring – old style. The circuit had been constructed to replace the rather dull and bumpy Zeltweg airfield track. Situated in the spectacular Styrian mountains this was a high speed challenge for the drivers. Every corner was very fast and sweeping and in the 5 speed gearboxes of the day – third gear was the lowest selected during racing.
The track was one of the fastest on the calendar but it was also one of the most dangerous. The Hella-Licht chicane was installed for the 1977 race after Mark Donohue died following a practice crash two years earlier and while there was plenty of run-off elsewhere, it did little to prevent a number of other highs-speed shunts.
The Bosch Kurve, a 180-degree downhill right-hand corner with almost no run-off area was considered the biggest challenge and by the mid 1980’s when the F1 Turbo’s were pumping out 1400 bhp, the cars were approaching this epic bend at over 200 MPH.
The Austrian circuit was packed with Lauda fans, but Niki had qualified just 12th and the two Lotus cars once again filled the front of the grid with Peterson claiming pole position from Mario Andretti.
(And here’s a view from a car doing a lap at this fearsome circuit)
This Peterson’s victory moved him to within nine points of Andretti in the World Championship but as the American was the team leader there was no chance that he would lose the title to the Swede.