August 7, 2015 / 5:38 PM / 4 years ago

Fangio's body exhumed to settle paternity claims

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Formula One great Juan Manuel Fangio’s body was exhumed on Friday to try to resolve paternity cases brought by two men claiming to be the five-times world champion’s son.

File photo from 1995 showing Argentina's five-time Formula One world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, next to a model of one of the cars that he drove during his long Formula One career. REUTERS/FILE

Judge Rodrigo Cataldo ordered the exhumation, carried out at the cemetery in the Argentine town of Balcarce where Fangio was born and died in the presence of officials of the Juan Manuel Fangio Foundation, to take DNA samples from the body.

Former racing driver Oscar Espinosa, who had a brief spell in Formula 3 and was commonly known as “Cacho” Fangio in motor racing circles, and Ruben Vazquez have brought separate paternity claims.

Fangio, who won his five titles in the 1950s and died aged 84 on July 17, 1995, never married and was thought to be childless.

Vazquez, 73, told reporters he was not after money when he sought to clarify whether he was Fangio’s son.

“The paternity request was started a long time ago and I’ve had to overcome a lot of blockages and obstacles,” Vazquez said.

“There are no economic interests in my request... I just want to be recognized for the Fangio surname.”

Vazquez claims his mother, who died in 2012 aged 103, had signed papers in the presence of a notary public claiming Fangio was her son’s father.

“I have no contact with the Fangio family and of course I’d like to know them,” he said.

Espinosa’s mother Andrea Berruet had a long relationship with Fangio until 1960 and the 77-year-old is reported to have provided as proof of Fangio’s paternity a bunch of letters the world champion wrote to Berruet asking after him.

Reporting by Luis Ampuero, writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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