This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pedro Rodríguez’s death. The Mexican motorsport champ died racing at the 200 Miles of Norisring on July 11, 1971. Even though he raced bicycles, motorcycles, rally cars and Formula 1 machines, Rodríguez is remembered as the King of the Wet, and for driving Porsche’s 917 to victory in multiple endurance races.
Porsche is showing off one of its Exclusive Manufaktur cars, a 911 Turbo S, to commemorate the champion, but never mind the car. It’s a beautiful machine, sure, but I want to share this animated short, titled “History Drives The Future,” which Porsche came up with to commemorate Pedro Rodríguez. It’s great!
This is some background, describing a bit of the animation in the video, from Porsche:
Legends are forever. We look back at Pedro Rodríguez, a Mexican driver who’s considered one of the great heroes of motorsport. In 2021, 50 years after his passing, we offer a tribute to his life and his place in Porsche’s history.
Considered the best wet weather driver of his generation, Pedro Rodríguez is the Latin-American driver whose brought the most glory to Porsche. He won some of the most important endurance races in the world behind the wheel of the 917k, which helped Porsche win the World Championship of Makes in 1970 and 1971.
The 917K was the car that got Porsche its first overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and according to the car’s designer himself, Ferdinand Piëch, no one understood the 917k better than Pedro Rodríguez.
The carmaker goes on to say that Pedro carried a recording of the Mexican national anthem in his left breast pocket, close to his heart. Porsche also describes more of his exploits, like the infamous Brands Hatch 1000Km where Pedro showed how talented he was by besting his rivals in the rain and taking the top spot.
Rodríguez and Jackie Oliver, who Porsche interviewed for the anniversary, won the 24 Hours of Daytona together in 1971, in a stunning comeback after their gearbox failed midway through the race. The two were 90 minutes behind but they returned to the track and still managed to come in first place.
His fans took to calling him “Ojos de Gato,” or “Cat Eyes,” according to Porsche, because of his driving ability and his knack for driving in the dark. Pedro raced against many motorsport icons, like Jo Siffert and piloted many notable cars, among them Ferraris and Ford’s GT40.
He’s considered one of the top 50 Formula 1 drivers of all time, so I’m glad to see him honored. I especially love the Speed Racer vibe from Porsche’s video. If you want to learn about the champion and his legacy, there’s much more here.