Roy Salvadori 1922-2012

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Roy Salvadori, who has died shortly after his 90th birthday, was maybe the 1950s’ busiest racing driver. Talented and versatile, he combined a strong work ethic with an indomitable will to win, and his services were in constant demand from works teams and privateers.

Although born of Italian immigrant parents, Roy Francesco Salvadori was every inch an Englishman. Earning the wherewithal to go racing by motor trading, he started racing in 1946 in a single-seater R-type MG, but rapidly progressed via a Riley Special to half-shares in a Grand Prix Alfa P3. By the 1948 British GP he had a Maserati 4C, and then a 4CL, but after that was destroyed in a fiery accident in Ireland he switched to a Le Mans Replica Frazer Nash. It was in his first race with this car, at Silverstone, that he had the worst accident of his career. Lapping a back marker at Stowe he got off line, hit the marker barrels and cartwheeled. His foot was trapped in the steering wheel spokes and he was flung around like a rag doll.

Crash helmets were still not mandatory, and he’d saved money by not wearing one. He sustained a triple skull fracture and brain haemorrhaging, and the hospital phoned his parents to say that by the time they got there he would almost certainly be dead.

But Roy was racing again three months later, his only permanent legacy of the crash being total deafness in one ear. His speed undiminished and his reputation growing, he found he could earn a very good living driving other peoples’ cars. By 1953 he was with Connaught in F1 and had joined the Aston Martin works sports car team. He also drove an Ecurie Ecosse C-type into second place in the Nürburgring 1000Kms, driving almost single-handedly in a deteriorating car, and started a fruitful relationship with Sid Greene’s Gilby Engineering, which fielded 250F and A6GCS Maseratis. His time with Aston Martin was to last a decade, and a string of wins in DB3S and DBR1 cars culminated in a great victory in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours with Carroll Shelby. At Le Mans the following year, sharing the Border Reivers DBR1 with Jim Clark, he finished third.

In 1957 he drove in F1, first for BRM until Raymond Mays refused to follow his advice about improving the P25’s notoriously unreliable brakes and he walked out. Then he had a couple of Vanwall drives before joining Cooper alongside Jack Brabham. After third place in the British GP, he took a fine second to Tony Brooks’ Vanwall in the German GP at the Nürburgring, but took no pleasure from it: his friend Peter Collins had been killed in the race. He finished fourth in that year’s World Championship behind Hawthorn, Moss and Brooks. By the time Aston Martin had finally got their anachronistic DBR4 F1 car ready Roy was loyalty-bound to drive it and left Cooper, but after Aston’s withdrawal he continued in F1 in Yeoman Credit Coopers. In a brilliant drive in the 1961 US GP at Watkins Glen he charged from eighth place to second, and was closing on Innes Ireland’s leading Lotus when, with ive laps to go, his engine failed. His last F1 season was 1962, alongside John Surtees in the Bowmaker Lola team.

Now over 40, Roy continued to campaign with huge success in British racing. At one big Crystal Palace meeting he raced different cars in four races – Cooper F1, Cooper Monaco sports-racer, Jaguar 3.8 saloon and E-type – and won all four. He drove proliically for his lifelong friend John Coombs, scoring a string of victories, and going upside down in the Oulton Park lake when a tyre burst on his Jaguar 3.8.

He was trapped in the car and came near to drowning before a marshal managed to wrench open a rear door and release him, but after changing his soaking, mud-caked overalls he took his F1 Lola out to qualify on the third row for the Gold Cup. He shared Briggs Cunningham’s E-type at Le Mans in 1962, finishing fourth overall and winning the GT class, but in a similar car the following year he survived a dreadful 160mph accident not of his making, being ejected through the E-type’s back window and landing, soaked in fuel, in the middle of the track.

One of his most satisfying wins was beating the Ferraris on their home ground in the 1963 Coppa Inter-Europa at Monza in the Project 214 Aston, and he also drove with success for Maranello Concessionaires and for Tommy Atkins in Ferrari GTO and LM, Cooper-Maserati and AC Cobra. John Wyer, leaving Astons to head up JW Automotive, persuaded Roy to follow him, and having worked on the early development of the GT40 Roy had his last race in one at Goodwood in 1965, finishing second overall and winning the GT class.

Then he switched his energies to racing management, running the Cooper Formula 1 team with Jochen Rindt, John Surtees and Pedro Rodríguez. Meanwhile the garage business he’d operated since the late 1940s alongside his racing career expanded into major BMW and Alfa Romeo distributorships, before he sold out to a public company and moved to Monte Carlo.

With his wife Sue – the daughter of 1935 Le Mans winner John Hindmarsh, and thus the only person to be both the daughter and the wife of a Le Mans winner – Roy lived happily for more than 35 years in an apartment overlooking the Monaco Grand Prix start line, where his parties during the F1 weekend were legendary.

Sadly in recent years his health had failed, and with John Coombs’ help he was cared for in a home just along the coast in France. Roy Salvadori represented an era of motor racing dominated by friendships, rivalries, parties, accidents, girlfriends and sportsmanship.

As both a professional racer and a gentleman, Salvadori was always the most determined and ruthless of adversaries.

Simon Taylor

Related articles

Related products