The Triple Crown of Motorsport is an elusive distinction earned by only a handful of drivers in the history of motor racing. It's elusive partly because it evades definition, but given its immense difficulty, we'll take the broadest possible: To score the Triple Crown, a driver has to win either the Indianapolis 500 or the Indy/CART title, plus either the Monaco Grand Prix or the F1 drivers' title and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fortunately not in the same year, but over the span of a career.
So far, Graham Hill remains the only one ever to have completed the feat, winning the Indy 500 in 1966, the Monaco GP five times in the '60s, the F1 title twice in '62 and '68, and Le Mans in 1972. (Substitute the Daytona 500 for Le Mans, as some American fans suggest, and AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti would be crowned as well, with Juan Pablo Montoya poised to join them.) Jacques Villeneuve has come within spitting distance, having won the Indy 500 (and the CART title) in 1995, the F1 title two years later, and after leading at Le Mans for several hours in 2008 in the Peugeot 908, finally coming in second behind Audi. But the next winner, if by feat of pure ambition alone, could be Nigel Mansell.
The British driver is one of only a handful to have been crowned champion in both F1 and Indy, alongside Emerson Fittipaldi and the aforementioned Hill, Andretti and Villeneuve. But while Hill, Andretti and Fittipaldi are long since retired, Mansell is back at it. After racing the 1000 Kilometers of Silverstone in the Le Mans Series last year with his up-and-coming racer son Greg, Mansell will be contesting the big prize at La Sarthe this year, the three-man team rounded out by his other son Leo.
They'll be driving in the top-tier LMP1 category in the same Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S they fielded at Silverstone last year (pictured above), with the brothers campaigning the entire season and the father joining for the headline event. And while Mansell and sons aren't expecting to win in their first year, they're in it for the long haul and are targeting an overall win within the next few years. To do that, they'll have to beat the likes of Audi, Peugeot and Aston Martin with a privateer entry. But if any underdog can do it, their name couldn't be anything other than Mansell.