Roy Salvadori 1922-2012

Former Grand Prix driver Roy Salvadori has passed away at the age of 90.

His death comes just a few weeks after that of Carroll Shelby, with whom he shared the winning Aston Martin DBR1 at Le Mans in 1959.

A long time friend of Bernie Ecclestone, Salvadori started 47 World Championship races in a career that spanned from 1952 to 1962, with a best finish of second in the 1958 German GP.

Although inevitably overshadowed at F1 level by the likes of Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn, he was considered one of the best British all-round drivers of the era.

Born to Italian parents in 1922, Salvadori started racing immediately after WW2. He made his World Championship debut at Silverstone in 1952 in a private Ferrari, in which he finished eighth.

He drove in five Grands Prix for the works Connaught team the following year, but failed to finish a race. Between 1954 and ‘56 he had occasional World Championship outings in Sid Greene’s Gilby Engineering Maserati 250F, but fared rather better on home soil, winning several non-championship F1 races against strong opposition.

His form did not go unnoticed, and in 1957 he had chances with three British works teams. He failed to qualify with BRM in Monaco, and then had a one-off outing for Vanwall in France. Joining Cooper he scored his first points with fifth in the British GP at Aintree.

In 1958 he was a Cooper regular, alongside Jack Brabham, as the rear-engined cars began to make their mark. He was fourth at Zandvoort, third at Silverstone, second at the Nurburgring, and fifth at Monza – accumulating enough points to finish fourth in the World Championship.

In 1959 he drove mainly for Aston Martin, taking a pair of sixth places in the uncompetitive and outdated rear-engined car. Meanwhile his Le Mans win with Shelby was proof that he was one of the best sportscar racers of his day. He mixed the Aston programme with other F1 outings in a private Cooper, a schedule that continued into 1960. That year he was also third at Le Mans for Aston, sharing with Jim Clark.

In 1961 he drove a Cooper for Reg Parnell’s Yeoman Credit team, alongside John Surtees, and earned a couple of sixth places. He very nearly won the US GP before his engine failed while he was catching leader Innes Ireland.

In 1962 he drove a Lola for the renamed Bowmaker team, again as team mate to Surtees, and suffered badly with unreliability. At the age of 40 he retired from F1 at the end of that season. He continued in sports and touring cars, and was closely involved in the birth of the Ford GT40 programme. He retired from racing in 1965, running his final race in a GT40 at Goodwood.

For a couple of years he shared his experience as team manager and test driver for the Cooper F1 team, where he worked with the likes of Bruce McLaren, Jochen Rindt and Pedro Rodriguez, not to mention a mechanic called Ron Dennis. After a disagreement he left the team before the start of the 1968 season.

For a while he ran a garage business before spending some four decades in retirement, living for many years in an apartment above the start/finish straight in Monaco with his wife Sue.


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4 responses to “Roy Salvadori 1922-2012

  1. “… living for many years in an apartment above the start/finish straight in Monaco with his wife Sue” – perfect, innit?

    He raced in 1959 at Monsanto, Lisbon, the only F1 race ever staged there. I can see the Monsanto Park from me office window; went there last year to explore what’s left of the circuit, looked cool, but hard to imagine how they drove without safety at high speeds in such dangerous conditions. Sorry for the shameless plug, but just to remember those days:

    PS You can erase the link if you don’t like it.

  2. Rick Rucker

    So sorry to hear he has left us. I much enjoyed reading about his racing exploits, may he rest in Peace.

  3. David Grinston, Sydney Australia

    I have a wonderful picture on my wall of Roy, sitting in his Connaught somewhere in the UK, extending his hand to greet someone. It was given to me by one of his ex girlfriends living in Sydney many years ago

  4. Silver89

    Sad times 😦 Carroll Shelby and now his former team mate Roy Salvadori.

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