Ricardo Rodriguez

Birthday : 1942-02-14
Deceased : 1962-11-01

Biography Ricardo Rodriguez

He won several national motorcycle titles, before taking up saloon car racing in his own Fiat Topolino. In 1957 he made his international debut at Riverside, beating all comers in the under 1.5 litre class in a Porsche RS. He then won his class in a Porsche Spyder in the Nassau Tourist Trophy. He often raced for the North American Racing Team (NART) with his brother Pedro Rodriguez . However he would also enter cars under his father’s name.

He was refused an entry at Le Mans in 1956, but went back in 1959 to race an OSCA in the 750cc. class. In the edition of 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960 he partnered André Pilette to second place. At 18 years and 133 days of age, he was the youngest ever to stand on the podium at Le Mans.

Rodríguez was given a guest drive by Ferrari for the 1961 Italian Grand Prix, qualifying a surprise second and becoming the youngest driver in history to start from front row (19 years and 208 days). In the race he exchanged the lead with Phil Hill and Richie Ginther many times, until a fuel pump failure ended his race. 1962 saw a full works drive with Ferrari, who used him sparingly considering his age and rough edges. Whenever used, Rodríguez shone, taking second at the Pau Grand Prix, fourth at the Belgian Grand Prix and sixth at the German Grand Prix in a tough year in Formula One for Ferrari. He also won the Targa Florio 1962 edition with Olivier Gendebien and Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari Dino 246 SP.

Rodríguez was considered a potential future champion already, but was left without a drive when Ferrari opted not to enter the non-Championship 1962 Mexican Grand Prix at the Magdalena Mixhuca Circuit, Mexico City. He signed to drive Rob Walker’s Lotus 24, but died during the first day of practice, when the Lotus’ rear right suspension failed at the fearsome Peraltada turn, and it hit the barriers killing him instantly. He was 20 years old and his death provoked national mourning in Mexico.

The Scuderia Rodríguez A.C. (a friends and family foundation) keeps his memory and that of his brother alive. It serves as register for Rodríguez memorabilia and cars, certifying them, and its Secretary General Carlos Jalife published their biography in 2006. An English translation was published in 2009 and won the Motor Press Guild Book of the Year.

Sure thing is that Ricardo Rodriguez, together with his brother Pedro  made a great part of the Porsche motorsport in Mexico.