Gonzalo Rodriguez

Born:
22nd January 1971
Montevideo
Died:
11th September 1999 (Aged 28)
Monterey, California (USA), following an accident during Champ Car practice at Laguna Seca
Nationality:
Uruguayan
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Gonzalo Rodríguez died without the chance to realise his full potential. It was in Formula 3000 that a popular journeyman finally showed he had the talent to enjoy a sustained career in the sport. A somewhat emotional Latin, he had his run-ins with race stewards on occasion but was as fast as anyone on his day.

Early European career

A Formula Renault champion back home, he moved to Europe in 1992. Two years in Spain were followed by a switch to the 1994 British Formula Renault series. It was a season dominated by James Matthews but Rodríguez’s Minister International Alpa FR94 beat the Englishman in the final round at Donington Park to finish third in the points.

Eighteen months in British Formula 3 proved unremarkable although he did win the 1995 British Grand Prix support race on the road. However, that was achieved thanks to the extra power generated when his Alan Docking Racing Dallara F395-Mitsubishi lost its airbox and he was subsequently disqualified.

He remained with ADR for 1996 but quit the series after just four rounds to compete in the under-supported British F3000 series. He intended to continue in that championship in 1997 but it was cancelled when only three cars arrived for the first round.

FIA Formula 3000 Championship

Rodríguez and his Redman Bright Engineering team instead switched to the FIA F3000. Sixth at the Nürburgring when the race was stopped after just four laps due to heavy rain, some impressive qualifying performances suggested a previously hidden talent. A move to Team Astromega for 1998 brought results with the Uruguayan winning twice and third in the championship behind Juan Pablo Montoya and Nick Heidfeld.

Much was expected from Rodríguez and Astromega in 1999 and he led the championship after winning in Monaco. However, McLaren’s Heidfeld gathered momentum as the season wore on.

Champ Cars with Penske

Rodríguez’s career took an unexpected turn when he was invited to drive for Penske in the 1999 Detroit Champ Car race. He finished in 12th position and had done enough to warrant another chance at Laguna Seca. Certain that Champ Cars represented his future, he accepted with enthusiasm. However, he crashed at the Corkscrew during practice and his Lola B99/00-Mercedes-Benz was launched over the concrete barrier. Airlifted to Monterey hospital with head and neck injuries, he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1999 FIA International F3000 Championship
Team Astromega
8 (1) 0 3 1
13% win rate
3rd 27
1999 FedEx Championship Series
Marlboro Team Penske
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
32nd 1
1998 FIA International F3000 Championship
Team Astromega
12 0 4 2
17% win rate
3rd 33
1997 FIA International F3000 Championship
Redman Bright Engineering
7 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
22nd 0.5
1997 British F3000 Championship
Redman Bright Engineering
1 0 1 0
0% win rate
6
1996 Venson British F2 Championship
Edenbridge Racing
6 0 4 0
0% win rate
4th 22