Pedro Rodríguez (racing driver)

Pedro Rodríguez
Pedro Rodríguez 1968 Nürburgring-1.jpg
Rodríguez at 1968 German Grand Prix
Born (1940-01-18)18 January 1940
Mexico City, Mexico
Died 11 July 1971(1971-07-11) (aged 31)
Nuremberg, West Germany
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Mexico Mexican
Active years 19631971
Teams Ferrari, Lotus, Cooper, BRM
Entries 54
Championships 0
Wins 2
Podiums 7
Career points 71
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 1
First entry 1963 United States Grand Prix
First win 1967 South African Grand Prix
Last win 1970 Belgian Grand Prix
Last entry 1971 French Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years 19581971
Teams NART
OSCA Automobili
SpA Ferrari SEFAC
John Wyer Automotive
Best finish 1st (1968)
Class wins 1 (1968)
Rodríguez in his BRM P133 during the 1968 German Grand Prix.

Pedro Rodríguez de la Vega (18 January 1940 – 11 July 1971) was a Mexican Grand Prix motor racing driver. He was the older brother of Ricardo Rodríguez.

Personal life

Rodríguez was born in Mexico City, Mexico, the second son of the marriage of Pedro Natalio Rodríguez and Concepción De la Vega, he had an older sister, Conchita, and three younger brothers: Ricardo, Federico (stillborn) and Alejandro.

At 15, his father sent him to Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois in order to learn English and to develop more discipline.[1]

Rodríguez brothers raced bicycles and motorcycles, becoming Mexican national motorcycle champion in 1953 and 1954. He made his international debut in cars at Nassau in 1957 in a Ferrari.

He married Angelina (née Dammy), in Mexico in 1961, although he had a girlfriend in England, Glenda Foreman, with whom he lived in Bray on Thames in his latter years, but left no children.[citation needed]

Rodríguez always traveled with a Mexican flag and a record of the national anthem because when he won the 1967 South African GP the organizers did not have the Mexican anthem, and instead played the Mexican hat dance.[2][3]

Jo Ramírez was a very close friend to both Rodríguez as well as his younger brother Ricardo.


Rodríguez began racing with bicycles at eight years old.[4] He was a class winner in the Mexican Championship by 1950. He started racing a 125 cc (7.6 cu in) Adler motorcycle, winning Mexico's national championship in 1952 and 1954.[5] In 1952, he entered a rally in a Ford, but achieved little.[5] He returned to racing full-time in 1955, at 15, entering a Jaguar XK120 or Porsche 1600S in local contests.[5]

At the end of 1957, Rodríguez (who had been driving a Chevrolet Corvette in Mexico) and his brother entered the Nassau Speed Week competition, where the wild-driving elder brother wrecked his Ferrari 500 TR.[5]

The 18-year-old Rodríguez shared a 500 TR at Le Mans, entered by U.S. importer Luigi Chinetti, with José Behra, brother of Jean Behra, as his co-driver; the car did not finish, after a radiator hose puncture.[5] Rodríguez came back every year to Le Mans, fourteen times in total, and won in 1968, co-driving with Belgian Lucien Bianchi, sharing a Ford GT40 for the JWGulf team.

At the Rheims 12-hours in 1958, Rodríguez and Behra placed second in class (eighth overall) in their Porsche Carrera, while Rodríguez came second in a Ferrari 250 TR at Nassau at the end of the season.[5]

Rodríguez went to Europe to race starting in 1959, sharing a Porsche 1600 S with Leo Levine at the Nurbürgring 1000 km, which came in second in class (thirteenth overall).[5] He shared a 750 cc (46 cu in) O.S.C.A. with his brother for Le Mans, which broke.[5]

At Cuba's 1960 Liberty Grand Prix, Rodríguez's 250TR followed Stirling Moss's winning Maserati Tipo 61 home, in second.[5] At Sebring, his 156 failed to finish.[6] Rodríguez claimed seventh at the 1960 Targa Florio, again in a 156, which spent time off the pavement as well as on.[5] He retired from that year's Nürburgring 1000 km, and from Le Mans.[5]

In 1961, Rodríguez entered Formula Junior.[5] He returned also to Sebring, sharing a 250TR with his brother which suffered electrical trouble and came third.[5] The duo also failed to finish that year's Targa Florio or Nur 1000 km, but did win the Paris 1000 km.[5] An ongoing duel with the works Ferraris at Le Mans, which ultimately resulted in engine failure only two hours from the end, attracted the attention of Enzo Ferrari, who offered them Formula One rides with his team.[5] Pedro declined, having "a motor business in Mexico City to run".[5]

Despite his refusal, Rodríguez kept racing, and in 1962 entered at Sebring, the Nurb, and Le Mans, but failed to finish each time.[5] He won at Bridgehampton, in a Ferrari 330 TRI/LM, and shared a 250GTO with his brother to win the Paris 1000 km, the second year in a row.[5]

After Ferrari refused to enter the 1962 Mexican Grand Prix, the first to be held in Mexico, Rogriguez and his younger brother both found rides of their own. After his brother was killed in a horrific accident in practice, Rodríguez withdrew.[5] He considered retiring from racing. However, in 1963 he won the Daytona Continental in a 250GTO entered by North American Racing Team.[5] He came third at Sebring, sharing a 330TR/LM with Graham Hill.[7] He failed to qualify at Indianapolis, in an Aston Martin-powered Cooper T54, but took part in his first Grands Prix in the works Lotus at Watkins Glen and Magdalena Mixhuca. Rodríguez failed to finish both times.[8]

For 1964, he again won the Daytona Continental, as well as the sports car Canadian Grand Prix, was second at the Paris 1000 km, and third in the Bahamas Tourist Trophy.[8] In single-seater racing, he recorded a sixth in the Ferrari 156 at Mexico.[8]

In 1965, his Lotus 33-Climax was fourth at the Daily Express Silverstone Trophy, fifth at the U.S. Grand Prix and seventh in the Mexican Grand Prix in a Ferrari.[8] He won the Rheims 12-Hours in a Ferrari 375P he shared with Jean Guicher, and scored a third at the Candadian Sports Car Grand Prix.[8]

He stood in for Jim Clark with Lotus at the 1966 French and Mexican Grands Prix, falling out of fourth with oil system failure in the first and third with transmission trouble in the second.[8] He also deputized for Clark in the Formula Two event at Rouen.[8]

At the start of the 1967 season, Rodríguez won in only his ninth Grand Prix, at Kyalami.[9] Cooper manager Roy Salvadori allowed Rodríguez to drive the practice car, over the objections of teammate Jochen Rindt, who had demanded Rodríguez's car, with strong support from Rindt's close friend Jackie Stewart. Rodríguez's smooth, consistent driving earned him victory after Denny Hulme had had a lengthy pit stop and local privateer John Love's Tasman Cooper needed a late fuel stop. Rindt, by contrast, retired the other Cooper-Maserati after 38 laps. Rodríguez drove a controlled season in 1967 as No. 2 to Rindt. Though usually slower than his teammate, he built up experience in the older and heavier T81, while Rindt was given the improved T81B and later the brand new T86.[10][clarification needed] A mid-season accident in a Protos-Ford, at the Formula Two event at Enna, sidelined him for three Grands Prix.[8] Rodríguez was only marginally slower than Rindt in the Dutch Grand Prix,[11] also the only other race in the season where the Coopers were competitive.

Rodríguez at the 1968 Dutch Grand Prix

His performance at Zandvoort earned Rodríguez a better drive with, BRM in 1968.[12] Rodríguez proved himself excellent in the wet at Zandvoort and Rouen where he got his only fastest lap in F1 during the French GP.[13] Lack of power meant he had to settle for second behind Bruce McLaren in Belgian GP at Spa.[14][15]

The BRM P133 faded through the year from lack of testing time after the death of Mike Spence, who team's owners favoured.[citation needed] Nevertheless, Rodríguez led the Spanish Grand Prix from Chris Amon for 28 laps until he made a mistake and spun off.[16] At the end of the year, despite Rodríguez's good performances, BRM team manager Sir Louis Stanley released Rodríguez to the Parnell BRM privateer team for.

The Reg Parnell Racing BRMs proved to have hopeless engines, and after Monaco,[17] Rodríguez left and signed for Ferrari for the remainder of the 1969 Grand Prix and sports car series.

Reentering F1 in the British Grand Prix,[18] Rodríguez matched teammate Amon's pace in practice and led Amon by a whisker in the race. The uncompetitive 312s ran midfield until Rodríguez's car broke and Amon's engine blew for the second race in a row. Given the hopelessness of the 312 V12, the frustration of his drivers, and the slow progress with getting the new flat-12 F1 car ready, Enzo Ferrari would rather have run two Italian drivers for the rest of the season, but the Brambilla brothers, Vittorio and Ernesto, proved too slow. So, Ferrari ran Rodríguez in the last four races of the season, in NART American racing colours for the North American races, but still, effectively, as a Ferrari works team. In the underpowered car, Rodríguez managed a fourth in 1968;[19] sixth in 1964,[20] 1967[21] and 1970;[22] and seventh in 1965[23] and 1969;[22] places in his six home races in Mexico, but Ferrari didn't offer him a ride for 1970.

BRM only offered him a ride in 1970 after John Surtees decided to leave to set up his own team at the last minute. For most of 1970, Stanley clearly favoured Jackie Oliver as number one driver, perhaps partly in response to Stewart's opinion of Rodríguez and possibly because of his "old-boys' club" of Englishmen at the team.[citation needed] At Spa, Rodríguez won with his BRM P153 over the new March of Chris Amon by just 1.1 seconds and with an average speed of 149.94 mph (241.31 km/h), then the highest average speed in the history of F1,[24] Jean-Pierre Beltoise got the third place in Matra.[25]

The power of the V12 engines was particularly suited to the fast circuits with few really slow corners, such as Spa, Monza, and to a degree Brands and Nürburgring, and that was usually the case with the BRM, Matra, and Weslake engined cars. A strong drive at St Jovite saw him finish 4th. Only the need to pit in the last laps for fuel robbed him of a victory at Watkins Glen, the highest paying event of the year at the time, US$50,000.[26][clarification needed] The winner was Emerson Fittipaldi, who got the first victory of his career in F1.[27]

After many years racing for Ferrari in the World Championship of Makes for sports cars, he signed for JW-Gulf-Porsche in 1970. He became two-time[28] world champion driver in the fearsome Porsche 917 together with his co-driver Leo Kinnunen (the sportscars series was run by teams in shifts).[29][30]

Rodríguez developed into one of the sport's great all-rounders, racing CanAm, NASCAR, rallies and even becoming North American Ice Racing champion in 1970, invited by the Alaska Sports Car Club from Anchorage, the race was in Sand Lake.

Rodríguez debuted in NASCAR at Trenton Speedway in 1959, finishing 6th. At the 1963 Firecracker 400 he qualified 9th but retired after an engine failure. The Mexican finished 5th in the 1965 World 600, his best result. At the 1971 Daytona 500 he finished 13th. His last NASCAR race was Miller High Life 500, where he retired early with electrical issues[31]

Rodríguez drove a Ferrari 312 P Coupé in the CanAm round of Bridgehampton in 1969, finishing 5th. In 1970 he finished 3rd at Riverside and 5th at Laguna Seca Raceway with a factory BRM P154.

The 1971 Formula One season could have seen him as a championship contender, with a BRM P160 being prepared by Tony Southgate, and for once BRM had consistently good engines. BRM, however, was overextended, trying to run three, and later four, cars. Rodríguez challenged Jacky Ickx magnificently in the rain during the Dutch Grand Prix, and only just failed to win.[32][33]


Rodríguez was killed in an Interserie sports car race at Norisring in Nuremberg, West Germany, on 11 July 1971. While he was driving for the lead, a slower car driven by Kurt Hild edged him into the wall and his prototype burst into flames. He died shortly after he was extracted from the wreck.[34] Rodríguez was at the wheel of a Ferrari 512M of Herbert Müller Racing, his friend and teammate at the Targa Florio in 1971.


Rodríguez was considered the best driver of his era in the wet.[35][36] Along with Jo Siffert, he was considered the bravest driver in motorsport, an example of this being the two touching through the then-very narrow and very dangerous Eau Rouge corner in the rain in their 917s at the start of the 1970 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps.

In 2016, in an academic paper that reported a mathematical modeling study that assessed the relative influence of driver and machine, Rodríguez was ranked the 24th-best Formula One driver of all time.[37]

After winning the LMP2 class at the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, the first class victory for a Mexican driver since Rodríguez, Ricardo González recognized Rodríguez as his hero.[38][39]


Rodríguez at the 1971 French GP (photograph taken seven days before his death)

The first hairpin at Daytona International Speedway (the right-hand hairpin) is named the Pedro Rodríguez curve.[citation needed] In 1973 the Mexico City race track Magdalena Mixuhca, where F1, Champ Car, NASCAR and other series race was renamed for him and Ricardo: Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (Autodrome Brothers Rodríguez).

In July 2006, a bronze plaque was placed at the site of his crash in Nuremberg, a joint effort by Scuderia Rodríguez (the friends and family foundation) and the city authorities.[40][41] The Scuderia keeps alive the memory of both Rodríguez brothers, serving as register for Rodríguez memorabilia and cars, and certifying them. Its Secretary General, Carlos Jalife, published the Rodríguez brothers' biography in December 2006, with an English translation ready for sale [42][43] in United States, Canada, and England which won the Motor Press Guild Book of the Year award in 2009.[44]

Racing record

Formula One World Championship results

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

Pedro Rodríguez at Ferrari

1962 Le Mans-winning Ferrari 330 TRI-LM, bought by the Rodríguezes through NART. Rodríguez raced several times in it.
Year Race Team Chassis Position Co-Driver
1957 Nassau Trophy NART 500 TR Ret Solo
Governor's Trophy NART 500 TR 9 Solo
1958 Ferrari Classic 24 Hours of Le Mans 500 TR 5 José Behra
Governor's Trophy NART TR 58 4 Solo
Ferrari Classic NART TR58 2nd Solo
Nassau Trophy NART TR 58 2nd Solo
1959 II Circuito del Moral NART TR 58 2nd Solo
12 Hours of Sebring NART TR58 Ret. Paul O'Shea
1000 km Daytona NART TR58 DNS
VII Circuito Avándaro NART 58TR 8 Solo
Kiwanis GP Riverside NART 250 TR Ret Solo
Governor's Trophy NART TR59 3rd Solo
Nassau Trophy NART TR59 13 Solo
1960 Cuban GP NART TR59 2nd Solo
12 Hours of Sebring NART Dino 196S Ret Ricardo Rodríguez
Targa Florio NART Dino 196S 7/1 Sport-2 Ricardo Rodríguez
1000 km Nürburgring NART Dino 196S Ret Ricardo Rodríguez
24 Hours of Le Mans NART TRI60 Ret Ludovico Scarfiotti
Governor's Trophy NART TR59/60 Ret Solo
Nassau Trophy NART TR59/60 2nd Ricardo Rodríguez
1961 12 Hours of Sebring NART TR59/60 3rd Ricardo Rodríguez
1000 km Nürburgring NART TRI/60 2nd Ricardo Rodríguez
24 Hours of Le Mans NART TRI/61 Ret Ricardo Rodríguez
I GP Independencia 250 GT Cal 1st Solo
GP Canada Sport NART TRI/61 2nd Solo
1000 km Montlhéry NART 250 GT SWB 1st Ricardo Rodríguez
Governor's Trophy NART TRI/61 1st Solo
Nassau Trophy NART TRI/61 3rd Solo
1962 12 Hours of Sebring NART 246 SP Ret Ricardo Rodríguez
12 Hours of Sebring NART Dino 246S Ret Grossman x Connell
1000 km Nürburgring NART 268 SP 2nd Ricardo Rodríguez
24 Hours of Le Mans SpA Ferrari SEFAC 246 SP Ret Ricardo Rodríguez
Double 400 Bridgehampton NART 330 TRI/LM 1st Solo
GP Canada Sport NART 330 TRI/LM 2nd Solo
1000 km Montlhéry NART 250 GTO 1st Ricardo Rodríguez
1963 Continental 3 Hours of Daytona NART 250 GTO 1st Solo
12 Hours of Sebring NART 330 TRI/LM 3rd Graham Hill
24 Hours of Le Mans NART 330 TRI/LM Ret Roger Penske
Governor's Trophy NART 250 P 2nd Solo
Nassau Trophy NART 250 P 2nd Solo
1964 CC 250 M Daytona NART 250 LM Ret Solo
Continental 2000 km Daytona NART 250 GTO 1st Phil Hill
12 Hours of Sebring NART 330 P Ret lap 40 John Fulp
12 Hours of Sebring 250 GTO 7 David Piper/Mike Gammino
24 Hours of Le Mans NART 330 P Ret S. Hudson
12 Hours of Reims NART 250 GTO 11 Nino Vaccarella
Player's Quebec NART 275 P 1st Solo
Double 500 Bridgehampton NART 275 P 2nd Solo
GP Canada Sport NART 330 P 1st Solo
1000 km Montlhéry NART 250 GTO 2nd Jo Schlesser
GT+22 Oakes Field NART 250 GTO 7/1 class Solo
Nassau Tourist Trophy NART 250 GTO 6/1 class Solo
Governor's Trophy NART 330 P 4/1 class Solo
Nassau Thophy NART 330 GTO 3/2 class Solo
1965 Continental 2000 km Daytona NART 330 P2 Ret John Surtees
Continental 2000 km Daytona NART 275 P Ret Hansgen
12 Hours of Sebring NART 330 P Ret Graham Hill
24 Hours of Le Mans NART 365 P2 7/1 class Nino Vacarella
12 Hours of Reims NART 365 P2 1st Jean Guichet
Double 500 Bridghampton NART 250 GTO 2/1 class Solo
GP Canada Sport NART 365 P2 3rd Solo
1966 24 Hours of Daytona NART 365 P2 4 Mario Andretti
12 Hours of Sebring NART 365 P2 Ret Mario Andretti
1000 km Nürburgring NART Dino 206 S 3rd Richie Ginther
24 Hours of Le Mans NART 330 P3 Ret Richie Ginther
200 M Bridgehampton NART Dino 206 S Ret Solo
200 M Laguna Seca NART Dino 206 S 18 Solo
Governor's Trophy NART 275 GTB/C 7/1 class Solo
Nassau Trophy NART Dino 206 S 7/1 class Solo
1967 24 Hours of Daytona NART 412 P 3rd Jean Guichet
12 Hours of Sebring NART 206 S Ret Jean Guichet
1000 km Monza NART 412 P Ret Jean Guichet
24 Hours of Le Mans NART 412 P Ret Giancarlo Baghetti
12 Hours of Reims NART Dino 206 S Ret Jean Guichet
1968 24 Hours of Daytona NART Dino 206 S Ret Kold
Brands Hatch GP NART 275 ML 5 Pierpoint
1969 12 Hours of Sebring NART 330 P3 Ret Parsons
6 Hours of Brands Hatch NART 312 P 4 Chris Amon
1000 km Monza NART 312 P Ret Schetty
1000 km Spa NART 312 P 2nd David Piper
1000 km Nürburgring NART 312 P 5 Chris Amon
24 Hours of Le Mans NART 312 P Ret David Piper
200 M Bridgehampton NART 312 P 5 Solo
1970 200 M Mid Ohio NART 512 S 11 Solo
200 M Elkhart Lake NART 512 P 7 Solo
1971 200 miles of Norisring Private 512 M Died Solo

Pedro Rodríguez at Porsche

Pedro Rodríguez won the World Champion of Makes in 1970 and 1970 World in this Porsche 917
Year Race Team Chassis Position Co-Driver
1970 24 Hours of Daytona John Wyer 917K 1st Kinnunen/Redman
12 Hours of Sebring John Wyer 917K 4 Kinnunen/ Siffert
1000km of Brands Hatch John Wyer 917K 1st Leo Kinnunen
1000 km Monza John Wyer 917K 1st Leo Kinnunen
Targa Florio John Wyer 908-3 2nd Leo Kinnunen
1000 km Spa John Wyer 917K Ret Leo Kinnunen
1000 km Nürburgring John Wyer 908-3 Ret Leo Kinnunen
24 Hours of Le Mans John Wyer 917K Ret Leo Kinnunen
6 Hours of Watkins Glen John Wyer 917K 1st Leo Kinnunen
1000 km Zeltweg John Wyer 917K Ret Leo Kinnunen
1971 1000 km of Buenos Aires John Wyer 917K Ret Jackie Oliver
24 Hours of Daytona John Wyer 917K 1st Jackie Oliver
12 Hours of Sebring John Wyer 917K 4 Jackie Oliver
1000 km Brands Hatch John Wyer 917K Ret Jackie Oliver
1000 km Monza John Wyer 917K 1st Jackie Oliver
1000 km Spa John Wyer 917K 1st Jackie Oliver
Targa Florio John Wyer 908-3 Ret Herbert Müller
1000 km Nürburgring John Wyer 908-3 2nd Oliver/Siffert
24 Hours of Le Mans John Wyer 917LH 18 Jackie Oliver
1000 km Zeltweg John Wyer 917K 1st Richard Attwood

Pedro Rodríguez in the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Year Team Num. Car Cat. Co-driver Grid Laps Result
Engine Hours
United States North American Racing Team
Ferrari 500 TR58 S 2.0 France José Behra
Ferrari 2.0 L4
Italy OSCA Automobili
OSCA Sport 750TN S 750 Mexico Ricardo Rodríguez
(Water pump)
OSCA 0.7L L4
Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA
Ferrari 250 TRI/60 S 3.0 Italy Ludovico Scarfiotti
Ferrari 3.0L V12
United States North American Racing Team
Ferrari 250 TRI/61 S 3.0 Mexico Ricardo Rodríguez
Ferrari 3.0L V12
Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC
Ferrari Dino 246 SP E 3.0 Mexico Ricardo Rodríguez
(Gear box)
Ferrari 2.4L V6
United States North American Racing Team
Ferrari 330 TRI/LM P +3.0 United States Roger Penske
Ferrari 4.0L V12
United States North American Racing Team
Ferrari 330 P P 5.0 United States Skip Hudson
Ferrari 4.0 L V12
United States North American Racing Team
Ferrari 365 P2/P1 P 5.0 Italy Nino Vaccarella
Ferrari 4.4 L V12
United States North American Racing Team
Ferrari 330 P3 Spyder P 5.0 United States Richie Ginther
(Gear box)
Ferrari 4.0 L V12
United States North American Racing Team
Ferrari 330 P3 P 5.0 Italy Giancarlo Baghetti
Ferrari 4.0 L V12
United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering
Ford GT40 Mk I S 5.0 Belgium Lucien Bianchi
Ford 4.9 L V8
Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC
Ferrari 312 P Coupé P 3.0 United Kingdom David Piper
(Oil leak)
Ferrari 3.0 L V12
United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering
Porsche 917K S 5.0 Finland Leo Kinnunen
Porsche 4.9 L Flat 12
United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering
Porsche 917L S 5.0 United Kingdom Jackie Oliver
(Oil leak)
Porsche 4.9 L Flat 12