- May 12, 1922
- June 03, 2012
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
- Maserati,BRM,Connaught,Vanwall,Cooper,Aston Martin
Roy Francesco Salvadori (born on May 12, 1922) was a British racing driver who was active during the 1950s and 1960s, participating in single-seater and sports car races. He recorded 47 starts in the Formula One championship races between 1952 and 1962, scoring two podiums.
At 24 hours of Le Mans, he participated eleven times, winning the race in 1959, together with Carroll Shelby in Aston Martin DBR1. It was the only victory ever for Aston Martin at Le Mans.
After retiring from racing, he stayed in motorsport for two more seasons as a team manager to Cooper-Maserati F1 team. After that, he was selling cars. Roy Salvadori died on June 3, 2012, at the age 90.
Survived almost fatal crash early in a career
The World War II postponed racing ambitions of young Salvadori, so he started a career in the late 1940s, intensifying his activities in the early 1950s. Roy almost lost his life in an accident at the 1951 BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, suffering a fractured skull and other severe injuries. He recovered and recorded many notable results in 1951 and 1952, driving Jaguar XK120 or Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica in British national events.
Formula One debut at 1952 British Grand Prix
He graduated to Formula 1 level in summer 1952, debuting in the Formula One championship at the British Grand Prix in July at Silverstone Circuit. He was driving the #14 Ferrari 500 for Giovanni Caprara. He finished in the 8th place, three laps behind race winner Alberto Ascari. With the same car, Salvadori won the Joe Fry Memorial Trophy. It was the first of his many non-championship F1 victories.
In 1953, Salvadori joined Connaught team to drive their car in five Formula One Grand Prix events. He retired in all five events. However, he managed to win or score podiums at few non-championship F1 races.
1953 - Le Mans debut with David Brown's Aston Martin
In 1953, Salvadori connected with British industrialist David Brown, who was an owner of Aston Martin factory in that time. That connection lasted until the end of Salvadori's career. In June 1953, Salvadori debuted at 24 hours of Le Mans, driving the #26 Aston Martin DB3S. He was sharing a car with George Abecassis. They retired after 72 laps because of broken clutch.
In August, Salvadori participated at 1000 km of Nurburgring, driving a Jaguar C-Type for Ecurie Ecosse, together with Ian Stewart. They finished in the second place, behind Ferrari drivers Alberto Ascari and Giuseppe Farina.
Three F1 seasons with Gilby and Maserati
Late in 1953, Salvadori joined Syd Greene's Gilby Engineering, driving Maserati A6GCS in few races. A connection continued in 1954 when Salvadori was driving Gilby's Maserati 250F in two Formula 1 championship races and several non-championship races. He retired in both championship races, at Reims and Silverstone, but scored few wins and podiums in the non-championship races.
In endurance racing, Salvadori debuted at Sebring 12 hours and returned to Le Mans, sharing David Brown's Aston Martin DB3S with Reg Parnell in both races. They retired in both occasions due to mechanical problems. At Le Mans, they retired after 21 hours of racing, while running fifth.
Salvadori was driving Gilby Engineering's Maserati 250F four more times in Formula One championship races, at 1955 British Grand Prix and three times in 1956. He retired at Silverstone and Nurburgring, finally reaching the finish line at Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He finished in the 11th place, nine laps behind race winner Stirling Moss.
Four more DNFs at Le Mans
At 1955 Le Mans 24-hour race, remembered by the greatest tragedy in a history of motorsport, Salvadori was driving again for David Brown, sharing a car with former Le Mans winner Peter Walker. An engine of their Aston Martin DB3S expired after ten hours.
Salvadori's streak of retirements at Le Mans continued in 1956 when he was sharing Aston Martin DB3S with Peter Walker again. This time, a reason of retirement was an accident in the 16th hour of the race.
In 1957, Salvadori had a new car and new co-driver but the result was the same – DNF. He and Les Leston were driving the #19 Aston Martin DBR1/300 until the gearbox broke at 2 am. The sixth consecutive retirement followed in 1958 when Salvadori was sharing a car with Stuart Lewis-Evans.
Class podium at Sebring in 1956
During those unfortunate years at Le Mans, Salvadori also participated in other famous sports car races. The most notable result was a class podium at 1956 Sebring 12 hours. He and Carroll Shelby were driving an Aston Martin DB3S, finishing fourth overall and first in the S3.0 class.
Salvadori returned to Sebring three more times until 1959, always sharing cars with Shelby. In 1957, a car was Maserati 250S, after that Aston Martin DBR1/300. They retired in all three attempts.
1957 - first points in Formula One
In Formula One, after three seasons with Gilby's Maserati, Salvadori was driving three different cars for three teams in 1957. He started a season with BRM P25 at Monaco Grand Prix, failing to qualify for the race. After that, he retired with Vanwall at French Grand Prix.
In July, he joined Cooper at British Grand Prix and scored his maiden F1 championship points in front of his home crowd. Driving the #36 Cooper T43-Climax, he finished in the fifth place. Later in the season, he participated in German Grand Prix and Pescara Grand Prix, recording two DNFs.
1958 - successful F1 season with Cooper
In the 1958 F1 season, Roy stayed with Cooper as the full-time driver, along with young Australian Jack Brabham. It turned to be Salvadori's most successful F1 season in a career. He finished fourth in the final standings after four point-scoring finishes, including two podiums.
He grabbed maiden F1 podium at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, finishing third behind Ferrari's Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn. In the next race, at the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, Salvadori finished second, behind Vanwall's Tony Brooks. The race was marked by the death of Peter Collins.
Driving for Aston Martin in Formula 1
Despite good results, Salvadori was not retained by Cooper for the 1959 F1 season. He was driving privately entered Cooper T45 in three events (Monaco, France, USA) but also David Brown's Aston Martin DBR4/250 in four races (Netherland, UK, Portugal, Italy). He scored no points, with the sixth place as the best result in three races.
Salvadori had a similar F1 schedule in 1960, driving a private Cooper in two races and Aston Martin in one race. His best result was 8th place at the US Grand Prix at Riverside.
Two F1 seasons with Yeoman Racing Team
For the 1961 F1 season, Salvadori moved to Reg Parnell's Yeoman Credit Racing team to drive Cooper T53-Climax, alongside John Surtees as a teammate. It was a relatively successful season for Roy, as he scored points two times, finishing sixth at British Grand Prix and Italian Grand Prix.
Salvadori continued to drive for Parnell in 1962, now under the Bowmaker Racing Team name. His Lola Mk4-Climax was an unreliable car, so he recorded seven retirements, not finishing either one race. It was Salvadori's last F1 season, marked by disappointing results.
Victory at 1959 Le Mans 24 hours
On the other side, Salvadori was successful in the sports car racing in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1959, he gained a result of a lifetime, finally reaching the finish line at 24h Le Mans and winning the race. After six consecutive retirements when driving with British partners, Salvadori was sharing a car with Carroll Shelby in 1959.
It seemed to be a perfect combination, as they won the race in the #5 Aston Martin DBR1/300, beating Ferrari's Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere. It wasn't just maiden win for Salvadori and Shelby, but also the first and only Le Mans victory for Aston Martin.
More podiums and wins at Le Mans
As the crowned Le Mans winner, Salvadori returned four more times to Circuit de la Sarthe, being successful in two attempts, scoring an overall podium in 1960 and class victory in 1962. In 1960, he and Jim Clark finished in the third place with Aston Martin DBR1, behind two Ferrari 250 TRs. In 1961, Salvadori and Tony Maggs retired with Aston Martin.
In 1962, Salvadori participated for the first time at Le Mans with some other manufacturer, driving the #10 Jaguar E-Type together with American Briggs Cunningham. They finished fourth overall and the first in GT4.0 class.
Roy was involved in fatal wreck at 1963 Le Mans
Salvadori returned one more time to Le Mans with Cunningham's Jaguar, sharing it with Paul Richards in 1963. Unfortunately, that race ended with his involvement in fatal accident in which Christian Heins was killed while Salvadori was injured.
An accident happened in the fifth hour of the race, when Aston Martin of Bruce McLaren/Innes Ireland blew up, causing 20 liters of oil to be spilled on the track. Roy Salvadori spun on the oil and crashed badly, with a car burst into flames. Christian Heins, who was driving Alpine M63 Renault, was unable to avoid the wreck, hitting a vehicle and a lamp post.
Racing until the summer 1965
That accident didn't stop Salvadori's career. He continued to race just two weeks after an accident, then spent one more full season in the sports car races and retired from racing in early 1965. He scored few notable wins in that, such were 6 hours of Brands Hatch (in Jaguar MkII, with Denny Hulme), Coppa Inter-Europa at Monza (in Aston Martin DP214) or Whitsun Trophy Goodwood (in Cooper Monaco T61).
His last win was at the Scott-Brown Memorial at Snetterton in July 1964, when he was driving Ferrari 250 LM. Salvadori's last race was the Whitsun Trophy at Goodwood in June 1965, when he finished in the second place with Ford GT40.
Return to Formula 1 as a team manager
A year after a retirement from racing, Salvadori returned to Formula One as a team manager for the Cooper racing team. In 1966, the main drivers of Maserati-powered Cooper T81 were Jochen Rindt and John Surtees, who joined the team from the third round. They finished 2nd (Surtees) and 3rd (Rindt) in the points, the team was in the third place.
In 1967, Jochen Rindt and Pedro Rodriguez were driving for Cooper-Maserati. The team was third in the points again, with only one victory claimed. After two season, due to disagreement with the team, Salvadori left and focussed on his own business.
He moved to Monaco in the late 1960s and lived there until he died in June 2012, at the age of 90. It's interesting that Salvadori died just three weeks after his co-driver at Le Mans in 1959, Carroll Shelby.