Jose Froilan Gonzalez-
The Passing of “Pampas Bull”
Jose Froilan Gonzalez, the man who gave Enzo Ferrari his first taste of success in Formula 1 Grand Prix World Championship, has died in his native Argentina at the age of 90.
Known as “The Pampas Bull”, he piloted a Ferrari 375 to victory over fellow countryman Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the first for both the driver and the entrant.
Gonzalez was born on October 5, 1922 in Arrecifes, near Buenos Aires. His father was a Chevrolet dealer. He made his F1 Championship debut in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix. Driving a Maserati he qualified third but his race lasted only a lap. Fangio would go on to score his first championship victory. Interestingly, the race also saw the debut of Scuderia Ferrari as the “Prancing Horse” was a no-show at the Silverstone season opener.
Gonzalez started the 1951 season opener, the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten, with the Talbot-Lago team but then switched to Ferrari. In the French Grand Prix at Reims, he led a trio of Ferrari drivers to finish second behind Fangio, and was on the podium in each of the remaining four races, claiming an historic win on July 14 at Silverstone by beating the Alfa Romeo team; prompting Ferrari to declare, “that was the day I felt I stabbed my own mother.”
Gonzalez was classified third in the championship; only seven points behind world champion Fangio. The following season saw Gonzalez make only one F1 start at Monza where he rewarded Maserati with a second place finish.
In 1953, he continued his association with Maserati. Highlight of the season was a pair of podium finishes, including third place in the season opening home grand prix.
For the 1954 season he was back at Ferrari. The venue of his first win was also the scene for his second and final grand prix success. Three other podium finishes would give him his best position in the championship; second only to the “Maestro.”
The season also saw him triumph for Ferrari, with Maurice Trintignant as co-driver, in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
His final grand prix start came on home soil in 1960 for Ferrari and resulted in a 10th place finish.
Luca di Montezemolo, President of Ferrari, paid tribute to the Argentine driver on its website saying, “We had spoken not that long ago, talking about cars and racing, the topics he was most enthusiastic about.
“Over all these years, he was always very attached to Ferrari and, as a driver and a man, he played an integral part in our history. His death means we have lost a true friend.”
F1Weekly was deeply honored in September 2011 when we were granted an audience by Gonzalez. Our meeting took place in his downtown Buenos Aires office, full of racing photographs and trophies. When asked about the spoils from Silverstone 1951, he replied – with a big smile on his face – that it is kept at his sister’s house.
— Nasir Hameed