Ricardo Rodríguez (racing driver)

Last updated

Ricardo Rodríguez
Rodriguez at 1962 Dutch Grand Prix.jpg
Born(1942-02-14)14 February 1942
Mexico City, Mexico
Died1 November 1962(1962-11-01) (aged 20)
Mexico City, Mexico
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Flag of Mexico.svg Mexican
Active years 19611962
Teams Ferrari
Entries6 (5 starts)
Wins 0
Career points4
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1961 Italian Grand Prix
Last entry 1962 Italian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years 19591962
Teams OSCA Automobili
SpA Ferrari SEFAC
Best finish2nd (1960)

Ricardo Valentín Rodríguez de la Vega (14 February 1942 – 1 November 1962) [1] was a Mexican racing driver who competed in the 1961 and 1962 Formula One seasons. His elder brother, Pedro, was also a noted racing driver who had much success in sports car racing and Formula One. At the age of 19 years and 208 days when first racing for them at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix, he became the youngest Formula One driver ever to race for Ferrari, a title he still holds today. At this Grand Prix he also became the youngest driver to start a Formula One race until the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix and the youngest driver to start from the first row until the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix, and at the 1962 Belgian Grand Prix he became also the youngest driver to score points in Formula One until the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix.



Rodríguez was born in Mexico City and was a child cycling champion who switched to motorcycles in domestic competition from the age of 11. He was the third son from the marriage of Pedro Natalio Rodríguez and Concepción "Conchita" ( née de la Vega), he had four brothers and sisters, Pedro, Federico, Conchita and Alejandro.

He was married to Sara ( née Cardoso) in July 1961 but left no children. In the summer of 1962 his close friend, Jo Ramírez, would accompany Ricardo to his adventure in Europe. [2]


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, although he would also enter cars under his own team's name, Scuderia Rodríguez.

He was refused an entry at Le Mans in 1958 because he was too young (16 years and 106 days), 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 is the youngest driver ever to stand on the podium at Le Mans. [3]

Rodríguez was given a guest drive by Ferrari for the 1961 Italian Grand Prix, [4] qualifying a surprise second and becoming the youngest driver in history to start from front row (19 years and 208 days), a record that wouldn't be beaten until the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix by Max Verstappen. 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 1962 Targa Florio edition with Olivier Gendebien and Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari 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 Mixiuhca Circuit, Mexico City. He signed to drive Rob Walker's Lotus 24, but died during the first day of unofficial practice, when the Lotus' rear right suspension failed at the fearsome Peraltada turn, and it hit the barriers, killing him instantaneously. 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, and a second edition came in 2015. He did an English translation that was published in 2009 and won the Motor Press Guild Book of the Year. [5]

Racing record

Complete Formula One World Championship results


1961 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 156 Ferrari V6 MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER ITA
1962 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 156 Ferrari V6 NED
USA RSA 13th4

Formula One non-championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

1962 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 156 Ferrari V6 CAP BRX LOM LAV GLV PAU
Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 24 Climax V8 MEX

Ricardo Rodríguez in the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Flag of the United States.svg North American Racing Team
Ferrari 500 TR58 S 2.0 Flag of France.svg José Behra
Did not start*
Ferrari 2.0 L4
Flag of Italy.svg OSCA Automobili
OSCA Sport 750TN S 750 Flag of Mexico.svg Pedro Rodríguez
(Water pump)
OSCA 0.7L L4
Flag of the United States.svg North American Racing Team
Ferrari 250 TRI/59 S 3.0 Flag of Belgium (civil).svg André Pilette
Ferrari 3.0L V12
Flag of the United States.svg North American Racing Team
Ferrari 250 TRI/61 S 3.0 Flag of Mexico.svg Pedro Rodríguez
Ferrari 3.0L V12
Flag of Italy.svg SpA Ferrari SEFAC
Ferrari Ferrari 246 SP E 3.0 Flag of Mexico.svg Pedro Rodríguez
(Gear box)
Ferrari 2.4L V6

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  1. Jenkins, Richard. "The World Championship drivers – Where are they now?". OldRacingCars.com. Retrieved 29 July 2007.
  2. Jo Ramírez: Mi vida en Fórmula Uno, book, page 34
  3. Book: Los Hermanos Rodríguez. 2006, page 181
  4. http://www.formula1.com/results/season/1961/660/
  5. http://www.classicdriver.com/uk/magazine/3200.asp?id=14091
  6. http://www.sportscars.tv/Newsfiles/lemans58.html%5B%5D
Preceded by
Wolfgang von Trips
Formula One fatal accidents
1 November 1962
Succeeded by
Gary Hocking
Preceded by
Troy Ruttman
20 years, 80 days
(1950 Indianapolis 500)
Youngest driver to start
a Formula One race

19 years, 208 days
(1961 Italian Grand Prix)
Succeeded by
Mike Thackwell
19 years, 182 days
(1980 Canadian GP)
Preceded by
Bruce McLaren
21 years, 253 days
(1959 Monaco GP)
Youngest driver to score
points in Formula One

20 years, 123 days
(1962 Belgian Grand Prix)
Succeeded by
Jenson Button
20 years, 67 days
(2000 Brazilian GP)