Next month’s Silverstone Classic (July 26-28) will pay tribute to legendary Ferrari driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez, who passed away at the age of 90 last weekend.
The Argentinian, nicknamed ‘The Pampas Bull’ due to his burly frame and swashbuckling style, has a strong link with Silverstone, with his two Grand Prix victories coming at the Northamptonshire, the first of which being Ferrari’s first ever victory in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
“Everyone was shouting and I was carried to the winner’s podium,” Gonzáles recalled in his book My Greatest Race. “After a few minutes they led me forward to the Queen of England who congratulated me. I had never experienced anything like this before. When I saw my country’s flag being hoisted, it was just too much for me and I cried. That moment will live with me for ever.”
In honour of the hugely significant milestone, the two races for pre-1961 Grand Prix cars, organised by the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association, will be named the Froilan Gonzalez Trophy.
Gonzalez returned to Silverstone in 1997 alongside Phil Hill, John Surtees and Jody Sheckter, driving a 1952 Ferrari 375 Indianapolis as part of a dramatic Ferrari demonstration. He also took part in BRM’s 50th anniversary celebrations two years later.
The Ferrari legend also saw success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking the spoils for Ferrari at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 1954. Many of the cars that Gonzalez drove in the fifties will share the Silverstone tarmac with more than 1000 other historic machines at the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival.
“Gonzáles will always be a giant figure in motor sport history and it’s a huge privilege for us to be honouring him at this year’s Silverstone Classic,” said event director Nick Wigley. “His two Grand Prix victories came at Silverstone and his 1951 win for Ferrari is a watershed moment in the annals of Formula One racing. What’s more he was also a regular visitor to the Silverstone Classic back in the Nineties always happy to be back at the scene of his greatest victory.”
The Silverstone Classic will also be honouring British racing legend, Jim Clark. Marking the anniversary of the Scot’s first World Championship and his victory at the 1963 British Grand Prix, the two HGPCA races for pre-1966 cars will be dedicated to Clark.