Today marks the 49th anniversary of the death of the ultra-talented Ricardo Rodríguez, the dashing younger brother of Pedro, who was himself an accomplished Formula 1 star.
A winner in bike racing in his teens, Ricardo switched to four-wheeled competition in an Opel sedan, and was quickly racing internationally, winning his class in the 1957 Nassau Tourist Trophy in a Porsche Spyker.
He and his brother travelled to Europe in 1960, and the pair raced as team-mate in endurance categories, placing third in the Sebring 12 Hours and finishing second at the Nurburgring 1000km race.
He was invited by Ferrari to join its Grand Prix line-up at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix. Sadly, that race would be remembered more for the fatality of team-mate Wolfgang von Trips than for Ricardo sensationally qualifying on the front row on his debut.
It was no surprise that he was signed full-time to the team for 1962. But the 156 ‘Sharknose’ was far from the dominant force it had been a year earlier. While certainly eager, Ricardo was rather wild, and as such he was raced sparingly.
He did, however, finish second at the non-championship Pau Grand Prix, and then followed this up an excellent fourth at Spa-Francorchamps.
Ferrari elected not to send their cars over to Mexico for the non-championship round, and Ricardo was furious. Opportunistically, he chanced upon a ride in one of Rob Walker’s Lotus’, but it was when trying to claim pole that he carried far too much speed into the daunting Peraltada corner. He ran out of road at the exit of the corner and crashed into the banking. He was just 20 years old.
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