A meningitis survivor excels in motorsports management

For Ludovico Peze, this November will be a solemn reminder of a time when the Mauritian Frenchman’s life hung in the balance as a decade passed since he contracted meningitis.

Since that uncertain time, the now 31-year-old has developed his passion for motorsport, cultivated while growing up in Monaco, where the annual Grand Prix piqued his interest, into a full-time career centered around his own team and driver management agency.

Having worked with some of the sport’s rising stars as part of an ever-growing portfolio, his work has also been noticed by Lewis Hamilton through the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion’s Hamilton Commission. But as well as raising awareness and highlighting diversity in motorsport, Peze hopes to do the same for the disease that almost killed him by organizing World Encephalitis Day on Thursday (October 5).

“In my case, the symptoms were that I didn’t feel very well, I had a low-grade fever and my throat was very scratchy,” Peze says.

“At first my doctor thought it was laryngitis, so I was given a prescription for treatment, but after a few days there was no improvement and my neck started to stiffen. My neck was really stiff, like when you’re tired but really strong, and the most important thing was light sensitivity – I literally felt like a vampire whenever someone turned on the light!

“I fell asleep normally, and what happened next was that I woke up a few days later in the hospital. I found out when my mother came to me in the morning and I didn’t react at all, I didn’t make any sound – nothing. She realized something was wrong, called my doctor, and he immediately recognized the symptoms of meningitis, so he called the emergency room.

These quick actions saved Peze’s life, but only after he had spent several days in a coma and despite it being written in black and white that he “might die.” The road to recovery took more than a year after he lost 20 kilograms, which left him physically weak and severely affected his memory.

Ludovic Peze’s work was recognized by the Lewis Hamilton Hamilton Commission

Photo: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“When my family arrived [to the hospital]I spoke a little and recognized them, but couldn’t name them [to them]not even my parents, my brother, my sister, no one,” he says. “So I realized something had gone very wrong.”

Although Peze has made a near-full recovery, he still suffers from post-traumatic stress while in the hospital as a result of his near-death experience, as well as back pain caused by the medical procedures.

However, despite the grueling rehabilitation, Peze began to focus on making the most of his second chance at life, which included the business and management side of motorsports.

“I started thinking about motorsport because at the time I was managing football for a youth team and I thought there was something to do in motorsport, especially as I am French and half Mauritian,” says Peze, who holds an MBA in motorsport management and leadership.

“I think it’s good that nowadays people are starting to open their eyes and more and more people are trying to change motorsport.” Ludovic Peze

“I thought there weren’t a lot of diverse people in motorsport apart from Lewis Hamilton, I would say at the time, and I thought maybe if I got on the board I could change that and make it possible for talented people to work in motorsport.”

In 2014, he founded the Motors Formula Team, which covers a number of areas from team management, advisory and consulting to e-sports. Over the course of almost a decade, he and several others have expanded the company’s portfolio and worked with several high-profile drivers, including Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough at this year’s Fuji 24 Hours, Porsche Supercup driver Dorian Boccolacci and Porsche Formula E driver Pascal. Wehrlein.

Like Peze, Wehrlein is half Mauritian and the former organized a press tour of the country as the former F1 driver prepared to compete in Formula E with Mahindra. Being on the esports side, Peze organized an exhibition where an all-electric championship visited Monaco to generate interest in the area.

His work has not gone unnoticed, with Peze being named in the Hamilton Commission’s Accelerating Change report, published in 2021, detailing how to improve Black representation in motorsport.

Pascal Wehrlein is one of the many famous drivers with whom Peze has worked

Pascal Wehrlein is one of the many famous drivers with whom Peze has worked

Photo: Uncredited

“I thought it was a joke until a few days after receiving the official emails,” Peze admits. “I was quite surprised because I still don’t know all the people who gave my name, and sometimes they are just good contacts. I’m just myself and I think I do my job properly, I have good relationships with people and they pass it on.

He adds: “I think it’s good that nowadays people are starting to open their eyes and more and more people are trying to change motorsport, and not because of gender or skin color, but because people have talent.”

Peze’s future goal is to work within the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe series to support drivers, as well as Monaco Historic, while a bigger ambition is to have some involvement in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But beyond his focus on motorsports, Peze wants to do more about meningitis, knowing that his experience with the disease could save someone’s life.

“I didn’t like talking about it [at first] because I didn’t want people to show me pity and pity,” Peze admits. “But then I realized that it was affecting more and more people, young people and young adults like me. I thought it was stupid that I didn’t want to talk about it, not to say what the symptoms were.

“With meningitis within 24 hours if you don’t take action you can die and that’s the danger, you have to react quickly and to react you have to know the symptoms and that’s how I got interested in spreading awareness and also changing people’s thinking, that it will only happen to babies and children.

“It saves lives in the end, it’s not magic, it’s just spreading the word and if spreading the word can save lives, I’m more than happy.”

Peze's motivation is to save lives by providing information

Peze’s motivation is to save lives by providing information

Photo: Uncredited

#meningitis #survivor #excels #motorsports #management

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