Jose Froilan Gonzalez 1922-2013

Jose Froilan Gonzalez, the man who earned his place in the history books by scoring Ferrari’s first Grand Prix win at Silverstone in 1951, has died at the grand age of 90.

Famously known as the ‘Pampas Bull,’ he started 26 World Championship races, adding a second British GP win with Ferrari in 1954 to his earlier success. He also won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1954, sharing with Maurice Trintignant. His CV also includes three World Championship poles and six fastest laps.

Born in Arrecifes, Argentina on October 10 1922 – some 11 years after friend and countryman Juan Manuel Fangio – Gonzalez was known for his bulky physique. However before he took up motor racing he had been a keen participant in other sports.

He began his career in Argentina in 1946 with a Chevrolet, later racing various Fords and eventually a Maserati 4CL in major Formula Libre events.

He first came to Europe in 1950, racing a Maserati in the Monaco and French GPs, as well as a number of non-championship races. He also drove a Ferrari in a few F2 events.

In 1951 he joined Ferrari as a fulltime works driver, winning at Silverstone and taking podiums in France, Germany, Italy and Spain to earn himself third place in the World Championship.

He only started one World Championship race in 1952, finishing second for Maserati at Monza, but he competed many non-championship races, winning at Goodwood both with the Ferrari Thin Wall Special, and later the BRM V16.

He raced for Maserati for most of the 1953 season although he was sidelined after July following a sportscar crash.

Returning to Ferrari in 1954 he won at Silverstone for a second time, while four other podiums helped him to second place in the World Championship, behind only Fangio. He also won three non-championship races, and in sportscars triumphed at Le Mans.

Although at the top of his game, he then returned to Argentina. After that he never raced regularly again at the top level, starting only his home GP in 1955, 1956 and 1957, apart from a one-off F1 outing with Vanwall in the middle of those seasons. However he continued to race, and win, in domestic events.

He returned to the GP scene for a final outing in Buenos Aires in 1960, with Ferrari, before quitting the sport completely in May that year. He won his final race at El Pinar, Uruguay.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Jose Froilan Gonzalez 1922-2013

  1. “… scoring Ferrari’s first [world championship] Grand Prix win…”

    • Alberto Dietz

      Exactly, since Ferrari’s first ever f1 win abroad had been by Nino Farina in the (Temporada) 1949 Rosario GP in Parque Independencia.

  2. “I cried for joy. But my tears of enthusiasm were mixed with those of sorrow because I thought, today I have killed my mother.” – Enzo Ferrari, Silverstone 1951

  3. GeorgeK

    Weak on my F1 history am I; was Enzo referencing his sorrow at beating his former team Maserati? Nice quote in context with Adam’s article.

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