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Ricardo Rodriguez de la Vega

2021-02-09 23:00

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#Drivers,

Ricardo Rodriguez de la Vega

Few people know that in the late 1950s and early 1960s a young Mexican driver made his way among the giants of that Formula 1 and his name is Ricardo

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Few people know that in the late 1950s and early 1960s a young Mexican driver made his way among the giants of that Formula 1 and his name is Ricardo Rodriguez de la Vega, born in Mexico City on the day of Valentine's Day, February 14, 1942. From an early age, both he and his brother dedicated themselves to cycling, establishing themselves in the national championship. Subsequently, Ricardo climbs aboard the motorcycles, imposing himself in the national 125 class at the age of thirteen, but Ricardo's true passion is machines.

 

Therefore, his father, a wealthy businessman, bought him a Porsche 550 Spyder with which he won on his debut at Torreon, and at just fifteen years old, in 1957, in Riverside, on his debut in an international race he won his category behind the wheel. of the Porsche RS; a little later, still at the wheel of the Porsche RS, Ricardo also won the Nassau Tourist Trophy. Ricardo often races alongside his older brother Pedro for the North America Racing Team, and sometimes signs his car with his father's name.

 

In 1958 the goal of the already very fast Mexican was to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but due to his very young age he was refused entry. Believing that his date of birth makes him give up his dream is almost impossible, so Ricardo returns the following year, 1959, driving an Osca 750cc, paired with his brother Pedro. But the two are forced to retire after five hours of racing due to a broken water pump. Le Mans therefore becomes the obsession of the young Mexican, who in 1960 drives a Ferrari: driving a 250 TR59, which he shares with André Pilette, Ricardo comes second, thus becoming the youngest driver in the history of the French classic to get on the podium. Clearly the goal has not yet been achieved, but in the next two editions in which he will take part, bad luck will accompany him: on both occasions, paired with his brother Pedro, at first it is the engine that betrays them one hour from the end, while in the 1962 is the change to abandon the Rodriguez brothers.

 

Parallel to his career with sports cars, Ricardo makes his entry among the giants of Formula 1. The Mexican thus becomes the youngest driver to debut in the top category, a record then beaten by New Zealander Mike Thackwell in 1980. Enzo Ferrari offers him a contract as an official pilot, using it sparingly, given its young age and a rather difficult character. The setting of the debut will not, however, be the most beautiful, since this took place on September 10, 1961, in Monza, on the occasion of the Italian Grand Prix, the race that could have awarded the world title to von Trips and which instead will be tragic for German.

 

Ricardo starts from second position but his race will end after thirteen laps due to the fuel system. 1962 will be the year of the consecration but at the same time the one that will take away this immense talent. Ricardo disputed five Formula 1 Grand Prix, achieving fourth place at Spa as best results (only because for a team order he will have to let Hill pass on the last lap) and sixth at the Ring. In races not valid for the Formula 1 world championship and with sports cars, Ricardo puts on a show by placing second in Pau and winning the Targa Florio aboard a Ferrari 246SP teamed up with two Belgian drivers, Willy Mairesse and Olivier Gendebien.

Then, however, on the occasion of the Mexican Grand Prix, not valid for the world championship, Ferrari does not attend and therefore leaves Ricardo free, who willing to participate accepts the invitation from Lotus and Rob Walker's team.

 

The tragic fate awaits him at the Peraltada curve during the first day of testing, November 1, 1962: due to the failure of the right rear suspension, his car crashes into the embankment outside the curve and catches fire, not leaving escape to the driver who remains inside the car. The flames take away perhaps one of the greatest talents of all time. Who knows what could have happened if he had followed Enzo Ferrari's will?

 

Simone Centonze

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