- November 16, 1958
- Not Active
Roberto Guerrero is a Colombian former racing driver who spent the most of his career in premier single-seater competitions: Formula One and Indy Car.
He recorded 21 starts in the Formula 1 World Championship in 1982 and 1983, driving for Ensign and Theodore. In the North American open-wheel championships, he participated in 143 races between 1984 and 2001, scoring two wins. He participated 18 times at Indianapolis 500, scoring one pole position and finishing on a podium three times.
Successful start of a career in karting competitions
Born in November 1958 in Medellin, Roberto Jose Guerrero Isaza started his racing career in 1972, entering karting competitions in his native Colombia. Between 1972 and 1977, he won two national championships and finished third in the 1975 Pan American Karting Championship.
In 1977, Guerrero moved to England to attend the famous Jim Russell Racing Drivers School. His first racing competition was the British Formula Ford 1600 in 1978.
Third place in the British Formula 3
In 1979, Guerrero progressed to the British Formula 3, driving an Argo-Toyota for Anglia Cars. He ended a season ninth in the championship, without wins or podiums.
Next year, continuing to drive an Argo-Toyota, Guerrero scored five wins and finished third in the British F3 Championship, tied in points with second-placed Kenny Acheson. Stefan Johansson was a champion.
1981 - a season in the Formula 2
In 1981, Guerrero joined Maurer Motorsport to drive a Maurer MM81-BMW in the European Formula 2 Championship. He scored a victory in the third round, winning the Jochen Rindt Memorial Trophy at the Thruxton Circuit.
It remained his only podium result, he was in the fourth place two times. He ended a season seventh in the championship.
Formula 1 debut with Ensign Racing
In 1982, Guerrero has reached Formula 1. He joined Ensign Racing to drive the #14 Ensign-Cosworth. He supposed to make a debut in the season-opening South African Grand Prix, but the team withdrew him from the race. In the second round, the Brazilian Grand Prix, he failed to qualify in the new Ensign N181.
Finally, he qualified for the race at Long Beach, participating in the US Grand Prix West. He crashed out after 27 laps. Later in the season, he made seven more starts, finishing best in the 8th place in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring.
Besides racing in Formula 1, Guerrero appeared in the F3 Macau Grand Prix (DNF) and participated in one race of the IMSA GTO Championship, driving a BMW M1 in the season's finale at Daytona.
One more F1 season with Theodore Racing
For the 1983 Formula One season, Ensign Racing merged with Theodore Racing and a new team retained Guerrero. He was driving the #33 Theodore N183-Cosworth, sponsored by Café de Colombia. Johnny Cecotto was his teammate.
Guerrero's second F1 season was less disappointing than his first season. He recorded just one DNQ, participating in thirteen races. His best result was 12th place in the Dutch Grand Prix and European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch.
Podium finish in the 1983 F3 Macau Grand Prix
Guerrero's greatest success in 1983 was the podium result in the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, in which he was driving Ralt-Toyota for Eddie Jordan Racing. He finished second behind Ayrton Senna and ahead of third-placed Gerhard Berger.
Guerrero was also good in the F1 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in April, finishing seventh in a Theodore N183-Cosworth.
1984 CART and Indy 500 Rookie of the Year
Faced with lack of good results in the Formula 1 and scoring no points in two F1 seasons, Guerrero moved to the United States in 1984, joining Bignotti-Cotter Racing in the CART Indy Car World Series.
Driving the #9 March-Cosworth, he became the Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis 500 and also for the entire season, finishing 11thin the overall standings. In his debut at Indianapolis 500, Guerrero ended in fantastic second place, behind Rick Mears. Outside of Indianapolis, Guerrero's best result was 5th place in two races.
Two more seasons with Team Cotter
In 1985, chief mechanic and team co-owner George Bignotti went into retirement, so the team was renamed to Team Cotter. Guerrero continued to drive the #9 March-Cosworth, scoring one more podium at Indianapolis 500, finishing third behind Danny Sullivan and Mario Andretti. In other races, he retired two times while leading and finished best in the fourth place at Laguna Seca. At the end of the season, he was 17th in the points.
In 1985, Guerrero also participated in one race of the IMSA GTP Championship, driving a March 85G-Buick at Grand Prix of Miami, finishing in the ninth place together with Jan Lammers. He also went to Macau, to drive David Price Racing in the Formula 3 Grand Prix. He finished fourth.
In 1986, Guerrero was driving the #2 March-Cosworth for Team Cotter. He was fourth at Indianapolis 500 and scored two podiums later in the season to finish 9th in the final standings.
Two championship wins and Indianapolis 500 podium in 1987
In 1987, Cotter sold the team to Vince Granatelli. Guerrero stayed with the team, driving the #4 March 87C-Cosworth. He scored his maiden Indy Car victory at the Checker 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. He started last (22nd) on the grid and charged through the field to victory.
In the next race, at Indianapolis 500, he fought for the lead but lost to Al Unser, finishing in the second place. Later in the season, Guerrero has won at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He ended fourth in the championship, what remained his career-best result.
He could be better but he missed three last races after an accident during the test practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, few days after his Mid-Ohio victory. He was in a come for seventeen days.
Two last Indy Car podiums in 1988
Guerrero stayed with Vince Granatelli Racing in 1988, scoring two podiums in a Lola-Cosworth. He was second in the season-opening race at Phoenix International Raceway and third at Pocono Raceway.
At Indianapolis 500, he qualified 12th and retired on the opening lap, being collected by Scott Brayton. At the end of the season, Guerrero was 12th in the points.
Two seasons with Alfa Romeo engines
At the end of 1988, Guerrero left Granatelli to join Morales Motorsports for the 1989 Indy Car World Series season. It was the only team to use Alfa Romeo engines, which were not ready for the start of the season, so the team missed out four races, including Indianapolis 500. Later in the season, Guerrero's best result was 8th place at Detroit.
In 1990, Morales Motorsports closed down and Patrick Racing took over the Alfa Romeo project, also retaining Guerrero as a driver for Indianapolis 500. He qualified in 28th place and finished 23rd. Later in the season, his best result was fifth place at Michigan.
Pole position at 1992 Indianapolis 500
In 1991, Guerrero was replaced by Danny Sullivan and he had no permanent ride for a season. At Indianapolis 500, he was driving a second car for Patrick Racing, crashing out in the #40 Lola-Alfa Romeo. Later in the season, Guerrero joined King Racing in three races and Euromotorsport in one race.
In 1992, Guerrero participated in just two races with King Racing, at Long Beach and Indianapolis 500. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he was the fastest qualifier and took the pole position in the #36 Lola-Buick. He set a new four-lap track record of 232.482 mph and a new one-lap record of 232.618 mph on the third lap. In the race, Guerrero spun and crashed out on the backstretch during the second parade lap and did not even start the race.
1993 - last full season in the Indy Car World Series
For the 1993 CART Indy Car World Series season, King Racing expanded Guerrero's schedule for full season. He was driving the #40 Lola with Ilmor-Chevrolet engine.
At Indianapolis 500, he crashed out after 125 laps, colliding with Jeff Andretti. Guerrero's best result was 4th place at New Hampshire and he finished 14th in the final standings.
Joining Pagan Racing in 1994
In 1994, Guerrero had just one start, with Pagan Racing at Indianapolis 500. Driving the #21 Lola-Buick, he crashed out after 20 laps. In 1995, he returned to Indianapolis in the #21 Pagan Racing Reynard-Mercedes, finishing in the 12th place.
In 1996, Guerrero and Pagan Racing entered the newly formed Indy Racing League with #21 Reynard-Cosworth. He was fifth two times, at Walt Disney World Speedway and then again at Indianapolis 500. Guerrero stayed with Pagan Racing until 1998, with fourth place at Las Vegas in the 1996/1997 IRL season as his best result. He retired at Indianapolis 500 in 1997 and finished 22nd in 1998.
Two unsuccessful Indy 500 attempts at the end of the career
In the mid-season 1998, Guerrero joined Cobb Racing to drive the #23 G-Force-Nissan Infiniti. He finished fourth at the Lone Star 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. He stayed with Cobb Racing in 1999, participating in first three races of the season. At Indianapolis 500, he started and finished 25th. The team closed down following the Indianapolis 500.
For the 2000 Indy Racing League season, Guerrero managed to drive for AJ Foyt Enterprises at the Indianapolis 500. He failed to qualify the #41 Dallara-Oldsmobile for the race. In August 2000, he was driving the #40 G-Force-Oldsmobile for Team Coulson at Kentucky Speedway, finishing 23rd. It was his final Indy car race in a career. Next year, Guerrero returned one more time to Indianapolis 500, failing to qualify in the #7 Dallara-Oldsmobile of Dick Simon Racing.
Retiring from racing after two NASCAR attempts
In 2000, Guerrero made his first NASCAR attempt, failing to qualify for the Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the #72 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Hispanic Racing Team.
He had one more unsuccessful attempt two years later, in October 2002 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, driving the #09 Chevrolet for Hispanic Racing Team. After that race, he quit racing.
In the following years, he was involved in motorsport as a race commentator for different TV stations. In recent years, Guerrero recorded few participations in the off-road races.