Career Summary:

Emilio de Villota

  • July 26, 1946
  • 72
  • Spain
  • Not Active
  • 112
  • 16
  • 30
  • 13
  • 14
  • 14.29%
  • 26.79%

Emilio de Villota Ruiz is a former racing driver from Spain and an owner of the racing team and racing school.

In a career which lasted for more than twenty years, he participated in different racing disciplines, being the most successful in open-wheel racing. He recorded 15 entries and just two starts in the Formula 1 World Championship between 1976 and 1981. In the same period, he raced in the British Formula 1 Championship, winning the championship title in 1980 with RAM Racing.

De Villota scored several wins in the World Sportscar Championship and participated three times at 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing 4th overall in 1986 and third in S+2.0 class in 1981.

De Villota's children, son Emilio Jr. and daughter Maria, both were racing drivers. Maria suffered severe injuries in an F1 test crash in 2012 and she died in 2013.

Emilio de Villota

Emilio de Villota

Starting a career in touring car championship

Born in July 1946 in Madrid, Emilio de Villota started his international racing career in 1972, driving a Seat 124 Sport Coupe at 4 Hours of Jarama, the round of the European Touring Car Championship. He finished in 15th place in his first race.

De Villota returned to ETCC three years later, competing with Ford Capri  RS 2600. He didn't finish the race at Zandvoort and then reached a podium at Jarama, finishing in the second place, together with Mario Cabral and Jorge de Bagration.

Switching to open-wheel racing and Formula 1 attempt in 1976

Despite some success in touring car racing, De Villota switched to open-wheel racing in 1976, entering the Shellsport G8 International Series, the UK-based Formula Libre championship opened for F1, F2, F5000 and Formula Atlantic cars. He was driving Lyncar-Cosworth, finishing 14th in the points.

In May 1976, De Villota made a debut in the Formula 1 World Championship, appearing in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama with Brabham BT44B-Cosworth. He was among six drivers who failed to qualify for the race.

Three wins in the 1977 Shellsport International Series

Sponsored by Iberia Airlines, De Villota returned to Shellsport International Series in 1977, winning the season-opening race at Mallory Park in a Lyncar-Cosworth.

Later in the season, he switched to McLaren M23-Cosworth and scored two more wins and one podium, finishing fifth in the points. He missed a big part of the season because he focused on Formula 1 Championship that year.

Emilio de Villota at 1977 Spanish Grand Prix

Emilio de Villota at 1977 Spanish Grand Prix

Two starts in the 1977 Formula 1 World Championship

De Villota's ambitions to race in Formula 1 World Championship had been realized in May 1977 when he made a start in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, under the Iberia Airlines banner. Driving the #36 McLaren M23-Cosworth, he started 23rd and finished 13th, five laps behind race winner Mario Andretti.

Four unsuccessful qualifying attempts followed and then he made his second F1 start in the Austrian Grand Prix. He had an accident on the last lap, being classified 17th. Later he recorded one more DNQ at Monza.

De Villota's #7 Williams FW07 in the 1980 British F1 Championship

De Villota's #7 Williams FW07 in the 1980 British F1 Championship

Three seasons in the British F1, champion in 1980

In 1978, the Shellsport International Series has been replaced by the Aurora AFX F1 Championship or British F1 Championship. De Villota entered the championship with McLaren M25 or M23 cars, under the Centro Asegurador name, but also drove Boxer-Hart in one race, scoring three podiums to finish third in the points, behind Tony Trimmer and Bob Evans. In 1978, he also had unsuccessful qualifying attempt in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Next year, he switched to Lotus 78-Cosworth under the banner of Madom F1 Team, scoring four victories and finishing again third in the points, behind Rupert Keegan and David Kennedy.

In 1980, De Villota made a change again, joining RAM Racing to drive the #7 Williams FW07-Cosworth. In one race, he was driving Fittipaldi F5A-Cosworth. He was on a pole six times and won five races, dominantly taking the championship title ahead of Eliseo Salazar.

Emilio de Villota raced in the #18 Lola T600 at 1981 Le Mans 24 Hours

Emilio de Villota raced in the #18 Lola T600 at 1981 Le Mans 24 Hours

Podium at Le Mans 24h debut with Team Lola

In 1981, De Villota moved his career into the sports car racing, entering the World SportsCar Championship with Team Lola. He was driving a Lola T600-Cosworth in seven races, scoring GTP class victory at Nurburgring and two overall wins at Pergusa and Brands Hatch. His partner in those races was Guy Edwards.

In June 1981, De Villota made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the #18 Lola T600 with Guy Edwards and Juan Fernandez. They finished 15th overall and third in S+2.0 class.

Unsuccessful return to Formula One in 1982

In 1982, De Villota continued his sports car racing career with Grid Racing but also tried to return to Formula One. He participated in five Grand Prix events in a March 821-Cosworth, failing to qualify for all five races.

In sports car racing, he was driving a Grid S1-Cosworth prototype in the World Endurance Championship, IMSA GT Championship or German Racing Championship, scoring no wins or podiums. At Le Mans 24 Hours, De Villota shared the #37 Grid S1 with Desire Wilson and Alain de Cadenet. They retired very early, after just seven laps.

Emilio de Villota

In fifteen F1 World Championship attempts, De Villota made just two starts

1983 Spanish touring car champion in a Ford Capri RS 3000

In 1983, De Villota's racing schedule featured races in three different disciplines. He made two starts in the European Formula 2 Championship, at Silverstone and Jarama, not scoring points. He also made a couple starts with Grid Racing in sports car competitions but his main competition was the Spanish Touring Car Championship. At the wheel of a Ford Capri RS 3000, he won the championship title.

In 1984, De Villota slowed down his racing activities, having only one start with new Grid S2-Porsche, not finishing the IMSA race in Miami. In 1985, he recorded four starts in the European Touring Car Championship in a Volkswagen Golf GTI.

One more Le Mans attempt in 1986

In 1986, De Villota joined John Fitzpatrick Racing in the World Sportscar Championship to drive a Porsche 956B. The team had a Spanish sponsor which required Spanish drivers so De Villota and Fermin Velez were hired to drive the #33 Porsche.

The highlight of the season was the fourth place overall at 24 Hours of Le Mans. The third driver was George Fouche. Later in the season, De Villota and Velez finished third at 1000 km of Nurburgring.

Emilio de Villota was driving the #33 Porsche 956B at 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours

Emilio de Villota was driving the #33 Porsche 956B at 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours

Two more starts with Porsche prototypes in 1987

In 1987, De Villota participated in two season-opening races of the World Sport-Prototype Championship that took place in Spain, at Jarama and Jerez, so Kremer Racing was hiring local drivers. De Villota was sharing the #11 Porsche 962C with Paco Romero, finishing 10th at Jarama and 8th at Jerez.

Later in the season, De Villota's main competition was the Porsche 944 Turbo Cup. He scored two podiums to finish 8th in the points.

Three-time Spanish Porsche Carrera Cup champion

In 1988, De Villota retired from international racing. During the 1990s, he reactivated himself in the Spanish Porsche Carrera Cup, winning three championship title in 1993, 1995 and 1996.

In 1996, he also had a one-off appearance in the BRP Global GT series, driving a Porsche 911 Bi-Turbo for Freisinger Motorsport at Jarama. Five years later, De Villota had a one-off appearance in the Spanish GT Championship with Porsche 911 GT2 at Estoril.

Founding a racing team and racing school

For more than twenty years, Emilio de Villota is an owner of the racing team and racing school. He founded the EV Racing in 1997, entering the Spanish F3 Championship as its first competition. One of the drivers during the 2000s was Emilio's son Emilio de Villota Jr.

In 2015, Teo Martin Motorsport has been founded by Teo Martin and then, in 2016, two teams merged. Emilio and his son took some operating duties in the new team.

Emilio de Villota

Emilio de Villota

Photos: Getty Images,