Nelson Piquet was born on August 17, 1952 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The son of a government official he spent much of his childhood in the Brazilian capital, Braslia. At the age of 14 he was participating in kart races and was crowned Brazilian kart champion in 1971 and 1972. In order to keep his racing activities a secret from his family he initially raced under the name of Piket but his continued success meant that he could not keep the secret for much longer.
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The Australian Formula 1 racing driver Alan Jones (who was born on November 2, 1946 in Melbourne) was the Formula 1 world champion in 1980. He was succeeded by Nelson Piquet in 1981. Piquet, a Brazilian, went on to win the Formula 1 World Championships in 1983 and 1987. Jody Scheckter of South Africa was the 1979 Formula 1 world champion.