Many in the country may not know his name, but many do know of the company and the products he created. Gianpiero Moretti (pictured above with the late Paul Newman), the man who founded MOMO, has just passed away after battling a long illness. He was 71 years old.

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Momo, which stands for Moretti-Monza, started out as a small company that manufactures steering wheels for high performance applications. Moretti's business soon ventured out into making other racing equipment such as helmets, shift knobs, racing shoes, racing suits, racing seats and other apparel.

Ferrari were the first to give Moretti's new company a break back in 1964, when John Surtees chose a MOMO steering wheel for his Ferrari 158 F1 car, and subsequently took the championship that year.

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The man was also a racer at heart, driving sports cars in races such as the 24 hours of Daytona and the 24 hours of Le Mans. He and his team won Daytona in 1998, along with a victory at the 12 hours of Sebring. His team's colors are MOMO's traditional red and yellow.

Today, venture out into any car show, drag race or any other motorsport event it's almost inevitable that MOMO's steering wheels, shift knobs or suits will be there, a testament to Moretti's legacy.

SOURCE: Hemmings Blog