Pedro Rodriguez | The purest racer

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Pedro Rodriguez
The purest racer

Hardcover | 336 pages | English | 425 photos

Pedro Rodríguez, so reserved a character but fabulously flamboyant behind a steering wheel, was the purest of racers. This is what he existed to do, from cycling events and horse-riding as a small boy, to motorcycle competition from the age of 12, and early contests on four wheels when 14, driving a Porsche 356A bought by his father. Pedro was still only 18 when he first went to Europe, to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours of 1958, marking the arrival of a remarkable racing talent, particularly in sports cars.

Famed above all for his exploits in the legendary Gulf Porsche 917s, including two victories in the Daytona 24 Hours, he was at the height of his powers when he tragically perished. Now, in this long-awaited portrait by an old friend and associate, the purest racer at last receives deserved celebration.

Racing from an early age in Mexico with younger brother Ricardo, before both ventured out of their home country seeking the big-time.

Aged just 18, he first went to Europe to race in 1958, at Le Mans, and returned to the famous 24-hour endurance race every year thereafter, winning with a Ford GT40 in 1968.

Ferraris featured prominently in the early years, although it was ill-fated Ricardo, not Pedro, who took up Enzo Ferrari’s offer to both of a Formula 1 seat in 1961–62.

Pedro’s Formula 1 career only really got going in 1966, standing in at Lotus for Jim Clark, followed by a first Grand Prix win with Cooper the following year.

Thereafter he drove in Formula 1 mainly for BRM, with victory in the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix his finest hour.

After a long and successful association driving sports-racing Ferraris for Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing team, he earned a coveted Gulf Porsche 917 seat in 1970 and immediately impressed, famously so for British fans with a mesmerising drive to victory in the BOAC 1000 at Brands Hatch in pouring rain.

By the time of his death, at Germany’s Norisring on 11 July 1971, eight world sports car championship wins in the big blue-and-orange Porsches had established him as one of the true greats.

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