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Remembering Roy Salvadori (1922 – 2012)

Roy Salvadori (l) with Carroll Shelby and Stirling Moss at Le Mans
Roy Salvadori (left) with Carroll Shelby (middle) and Stirling Moss (right) at Le Mans (photo: Aston Martin)

British motor racing driver and manager Roy Francesco Salvadori passed away Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 at the age of 90. Born in Dovercourt, Essex, Salvadori was best known for winning the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, co-driving the Aston Martin DBR1 with Carroll Shelby.

Roy Salvadori participated in 50 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 12 July 1952, scoring a total of 19 Championship points. He raced for the factory teams of Cooper, Aston Martin, Vanwall, BRM and Connaught. He also drove F1 Ferrari, Maserati, Cooper – Maserati and Connaught for private entrants. His best result in the FIA Formula One World Championship was 4th position in 1958 which was won that year by Mike Hawthorn, with Stirling Moss second and Tony Brooks third.

In F2, sports, GT and saloon car categories he drove for Aston Martin, (for eight years – their longest serving driver), Cooper, Lotus, Tommy Atkins, John Coombs, Ecurie Ecosse, Border Reivers, Briggs Cunningham, Gilby Engineering and Maranello Concessionaires.

He established outright or class records for every circuit he raced on in England and won 98 races during his career, including the aforementioned 1959 Le Mans 24 Hour race in an Aston Martin DBR1, co-driving with Carroll Shelby. Sadly, or perhaps remarkably, these two team mates died just 23 days apart, as Carroll passed away on May 10th, 2012.

Roy’s most serious accidents were at Silverstone; at Stowe corner in 1951 when he suffered severe head injuries and was read his last rites and again at Stowe in 1955 a 250F Maserati.

Salvadori was a lifetime member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. BRDC Awards include the Wakefield Trophy for breaking the lap record in 1955 with the Gilby Engineering 250F Maserati, jointly with Peter Collins; three times winning the Woolf Barnato Trophy in ’59, ’60 and ’62, and the ERA Trophy for best performance of the year in 1963 by a British driver in an overseas race.

Roy considered his greatest ability was to race on the same day a number of different cars. At the Goodwood International Easter Meeting in 1955 he won the F1 Glover Trophy race in a Maserati 250F, the Chichester Cup for F2 cars in a Connaught and the Sports Car race in an Aston Martin. Furthermore, he was second in the other two races that he entered that day. Similar performances were achieved on other occasions.

Following his racing career, Roy returned to running his car dealership but continued to be involved in Grand Prix racing as Team Manager for Cooper in 1966 and 1967.

[Source: BRDC; Wikipedia; photo credit: Aston Martin]