Remembering Pedro Rodr?guez July 11, 1971
Nuremberg: A Sunday 30 Years Ago by Carlos Eduardo Jalife VillalÃ³n -Scuderia RodrÃguez - MÃ©xico (Taken from the biography "The RodrÃguez Brothers" soon to be published) In Nuremberg, the second Sunday in July is race day, just like ...
Nuremberg: A Sunday 30 Years Ago
by Carlos Eduardo Jalife Villalón -Scuderia Rodríguez - México
(Taken from the biography "The Rodríguez Brothers" soon to be published)
In Nuremberg, the second Sunday in July is race day, just like Memorial weekend at Indy or mid-June weekend at Le Mans. It is a long held tradition and although nowadays we see the DTM Touring cars, there were times when faster cars would run there. 30 years ago this Sunday, the Nuremberg 200 Miles were run, a race belonging to the Interseries championship for Group 7 cars, the continental equivalent to Can-Am. The organizers tried to get Pedro Rodríguez to race, he was a box office magnet, but couldn't get him to agree until Herbert Müller, a swiss driver who owned 2 Ferrari 512 prototypes -bought from Steve McQueen after he finished filming his Le Mans movie- said he would try. The mexican driver, 31 years old, was recently crowned as driver champion for a second consecutive year in the World Makes Championship running for the John Wyer Automotive team, using the brutal 5-liter Porsche 917K, having vanquished Ferrari and Alfa completely. Pedro had scheduled a Can-Am race for BRM but his car wasn't ready and when Herb called he was looking at a rare free weekend. Herb, who ran the sicilian Targa Florio with Pedro a few months ago, offered one of his Ferraris. Pedro agreed but asked for a retainer because he knew his name would strenghten the box office take enormously. The organizers agreed to give him a payment of over 5,000 dollars and Pedro simply announced to his teams he would race at Nuremberg. Nobody really objected, nor Wyer nor BRM, because they had nothing planned for him and they knew Pedro considered a non-racing weekend as something akin to torture.
Paris 1000K 1962. Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez at their latest victory together, the Paris 1000K in october 1962. Pedro is on the left and there are two mariachis celebrating with them. It was their second victory in Paris and came 10 days before Ricardo died. Photo by Scuderia Hermanos Rodriguez.
Le Mans 1964. At the start, Pedro Rodriguez taking the lead in a Ferrari from NART. Photo by Scuderia Hermanos Rodriguez.
Monaco 1967. Pedro Rodriguez in a Cooper-Maserati fore Ricardo died. Photo by Scuderia Hermanos Rodriguez.
Here there are several versions. Some people suggest the Ferrari lost a wheel due to poor maintenance, theory supported when they find the wheel about 250 meters from the crash, too far to get there just by the impact. Others suggest that while lapping the backmarker, this one didn't watch his mirrors and unvoluntarily cut across him, sending him to the barrier. Hild's white Porsche certainly touched Pedro's car when he was spinning but it was a minor contact after the initial crash. Hild would later say: "I saw Rodríguez approaching and ran to the right so he could pass (on the left).It was a normal passing situation happening about 400 meters (1/4 mile) from the crash. I was doing about 220 kilometers per hour (138 mph) and when the accident happened I was about 120 meters behind the mexican" and in his car there are no other signs of action, although it would be possible Pedro could have swerved to miss him and lost control when the wheel broke due to material fatigue; or maybe the wheel got loose after the impact but nobody remembers seeing it bounce afterwards, so there's no way to tell the cause of the accident.
Le Mans 1971. Pedro Rodriguez (#18) in June 1971 at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, for the last time, in the amazing Porsche 917LH, in front of Vic Elford. Photo by Scuderia Hermanos Rodriguez.
Pedro is dead an the news slowly run around the world. People cry for him everywhere and his body will be received in Mexico by a crowd of hundreds of thousands who will take him to his resting place where he will meet brother Ricardo, almost nine years later. He's gone, leading until the last second of his race. 30 years later, his place rests empty, his shoes have not been filled.
© CEJV 2001
See the Pedro Rodríguez pictures gallery in our photos channel.