- April 03, 1959
- March 31, 2003
- Not Active
Fermin Velez was a Spanish racing driver who achieved the most in the sports car racing, scoring two overall wins at Sebring 12 Hours, two class wins at Le Mans 24 Hours and winning several international championship titles – two times in the C2 class of the World Sports Prototype Championship and one overall title in the IMSA Championship.
Fermin Velez was born on April 3, 1959, in Barcelona. He died of cancer on March 31, 2003, also in Barcelona. The 24-hour race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya bears his name - the Fermin Velez Trophy.
Started a career in F3, switching to prototypes in 1986
Velez started a career in 1978, participating in Formula 3 races in Europe and UK for Equipo Nacional Espanol. Not gaining success in the single-seater racing, Velez switched to sports prototype racing in 1986, participating with John Fitzpatrick Racing's Porsche 956B in the World Sports Prototype Championship. His partner in the #33 car was Emilio de Villota. Their best result was 3rd place at Nurburgring 1000 km.
Class victory in the second attempt at Le Mans
In June 1986, Velez debuted at Le Mans, sharing the #33 Porsche with de Villota and George Fouche. They finished fourth overall, behind three other Porsches of Rothmans Porsche, Brun Motorsport and Joest Racing.
Next year, Velez returned to Le Mans with Gordon Spice and Philippe de Henning as co-drivers in the #111 Spice Engineering's Spice SE86C-Cosworth. They finished sixth overall and the first in C2 class.
1987 World Sports Prototype champion in C2 class
The race was a part of the 1987 World Sports Prototype Championship, in which Gordon Spice and Fermin Velez scored seven victories in ten races, capturing world's title in C2 class. They were the winners at Jarama, Jerez, Monza, Le Mans, Norisring, Spa-Francorchamps and Fuji. Of course, Spice Engineering took the title in team's category.
A season in the F3000 International Championship
In 1988, Velez returned to single-seater racing for one season, joining Barcelona Motorsport in the F3000 International Championship. He wasn't competitive enough, so he missed to qualify for four races. In four races he participated, his best result was 12th place at Birmingham Superprix.
Back to winning path in 1989
Realizing that he's better driver in the sports prototype racing, Velez returned to the World Sports Prototype Championship in 1989, driving the Spice C2 prototype for Chamberlain Engineering. He scored a class victory in the season-opening race at Suzuka, sharing the #101 car with Nick Adams. It was the first of four consecutive wins for Velez/Adams. They won FIA Cup for C2 drivers, also taking a championship title for the team.
At 24h Le Mans, Velez was sharing Chamberlain's Spice SE88C-Ford with Nick Adams and Luigi Taverna. They didn't finish the race.
Two more seasons with Spice prototypes
In 1990, Velez continued to driver Spice prototypes in the IMSA Lights Championship and in the World Sports Prototype Championship. Together with Tomas Lopez, he scored two wins in the Lights class of the IMSA Championship. In the World Championship, Fermin's best result was the third place at Silverstone, with Bruno Giacomelli as a co-driver.
At 1990 24h Le Mans, Velez finished in the 18th place, sharing Spice Engineering's car with Tim Harvey and Chris Hodgetts.
In 1991, one more season followed with Spice prototypes in the IMSA Lights Championship but without wins.
Velez joined Scandia in 1992
For the 1992 IMSA season, Velez joined Scandia Engineering team to drive the #44 Kudzu DG-1 prototype in the IMSA Lights class. At Daytona 24 hours, he finished 6th overall and 2nd in the Lights class, sharing a car with Andy Evans, Lon Bender and Dominic Dobson.
Later in the season, Andy Evans and Fermin Velez scored two class wins, at Mid-Ohio and Del Mar Fairgrounds Circuit. Velez finished third in the final standings.
Ferrari 333 SP came in 1994
After one more season in the Lights class, Scandia and Velez entered the IMSA WSC class in 1994, running the #44 Spice WSC94-Chevrolet in the first part of the season. In June, Scandia fielded Ferarri 333 SP and immediately gained a success. In the first race, at Indianapolis, Andy Evans and Velez finished second. In the next race, at Laguna Seca, they won the race. Velez finished 8th in the final standings, ready to use a full potential of Ferrari in the next season.
Velez was the IMSA champion in 1995
And it was a victorious season. Scandia Racing's Ferrari 333 SP was a dominant car. In March, the #3 Ferrari won Sebring 12 Hours, with Velez, Andy Evans and Eric van de Poele as the drivers. Next win came at Halifax, where Velez was sharing a car with Mauro Baldi. Velez scored a third win at Phoenix, winning the IMSA Championship title with a two-point advantage over Dyson Racing's James Weaver.
Six starts in the Indy Racing League
In 1996, Velez participated in only three IMSA races with Scandia, including Daytona, switching his interest to the Indy Racing League. He recorded two starts with Team Scandia's Lola-Cosworth in the inaugural season, which features only three races. He retired in both races, at Phoenix and Indianapolis 500.
In the 1996-1997 season, Velez had four more starts, including the 1997 Indianapolis 500. In that race, he started 29th and finished 10th.
Second victory at Sebring 12 Hours
While experimenting in the open-wheel competition, Velez continued to race with Ferrari 333 SP in sports car races. At 1996 Le Mans 24h, he was a member of Rocketsports crew, sharing a car with Yvan Muller and Andy Evans. They retired early, after just 31 laps.
In 1997, Velez returned to the seat of Scandia's Ferrari in the IMSA Championship. At Daytona, he finished second and then scored a victory at Sebring 12 Hours. In that race, he was sharing the #3 Ferrari with Andy Evans, Yannick Dalmas and Stefan Johansson.
Class victory at 1998 Le Mans 24h
In 1998, Velez slowed down his racing activities, participating in only three races with Doyle-Risi Racing's Ferrari 333 SP. He retired at Daytona and Sebring, sharing a car with Wayne Taylor and Eric van de Poele.
In June 1998, Velez came to Le Mans for the last time. The #12 Ferrari 333 SP, driven by Velez, Taylor and van de Poele, finished 8th overall and the first in LMP1 class, behind seven GT1 machines.
Finishing a career in the Spanish GT Championship
Fermin Velez finished his career at the end of 2000, after spending a season in the Spanish GT Championship, where he was driving the #17 Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge in GTB class. Velez and his co-driver Javier Diaz scored three class wins.