Roy Salvadori. 1922—2012

Man, it’s been a rough few months for vintage motoring enthusiasts.

Salvadori is perhaps best known for his 1959 LeMans victory sharing an Aston with Caroll Shelby but his long career included races in all manner of cars. From Formula cars to Touring, to Sports Racing, to… Hell… anything with wheels, “Salvo” was an intimidating competitor and well liked racer.

The BRDC’s notice summarizes his career in concise terms, which might seem incongruous with the enormous variety of successes that he achieved: “He established outright or Class records for every circuit he raced on in England and won 98 races during his career, including the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hour race in an Aston Martin DBR1, co-driving with Carroll Shelby.”

Not many drivers from those days make it to 90, and Roy was nearly one of those statistics. He had two serious crashes at Silverstone 4 years apart. After a roll at Stowe Corner in 1951, Salvo suffered a severe head injury which resulted in lifelong hearing loss in one ear and tinnitus in the other. Again at Stowe, this time behind the wheel of a Maserati 250F in 1955, Roy’s crash was so gruesome and his prognosis so poor he was administered last rites.

In today’s racing environment when drivers are so specialized, it’s difficult to comprehend Roy Salvadori’s variety. Again from the BRDC notice: “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.”

Truly a great racing driver, and a truly great loss.

Here’s an interview Roy did with Cars for the Connoisseur in 2003.

Thanks to Hooniverse for linking to this fantastic documentary on Roy.

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