Pedro (left) and Ricardo
Every year just before the Monterrey
Grand Prix and then just before the Mexican Grand Prix, the Mexican media likes to
go back in time and pay homage to all of the Mexican heroes of motorsports.
They talk about the first F1 drivers, Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez (The track in
Mexico City is named after them). They talk about Moises Solana, who was at
the same time an F1 driver and also a Jai-Alai player (he was considered the best
Jai-Alai player in Miami, Florida were he played professionally).
Pedro Rodriguez leads at Spa
in his BRM
When they talk about the Champ Car
drivers they talk about Adrian Fernandez and how he opened the doors for every
other Mexican driver while becoming the first Mexican driver to run a complete
season in Champ Cars and the first Mexican to win a Champ Car race.
The problem is that Adrian wasn't the
first Mexican driver to run a complete season and wasn't the first Mexican to win
a race in Champ Cars.
It was 1981 when the 19 year old young driver from Monterrey, Mexico, Josele Garza,
became the youngest driver to drive a Champ Car, the youngest driver to be at the
Indy 500 with 19 years 70 days, the first and only Mexican to be the rookie of the
year at the Indy 500 and he became the first Mexican driver to race a whole season. The first Mexican drivers were Michel Jourdain Senior
(not a Mexican by birth but he considers himself Mexican because he spent most of
his life there) and Daniel Muñiz in 1980,
but it was a one race deal for the Mexican Grand Prix of 1980.
Actually Josele Garza is not the only
Mexican to get the rookie of the year at Indy. Bernard Jourdain (technically not a
Mexican by birth), brother of Michel Sr., was co-rookie of the year (with Scott
Pruett) in 1989. Bernard Jourdain also ran a full season in 1989 in CART, so
actually Adrian Fernandez was the third Mexican to do that.
He ran from 1981 to 1987, for Garza
Racing, Schlitz Gusto and Machinist Unions. Although Josele was never a contender
he wasn't a backmarker either, his best season was 1987 when he finished 11th in
In 1986 he was in 7th place of the
championship when he had a horrible accident in Mid-Ohio and missed the last races
of the year, ending up 14th place of the championship. His best race was the 1981
Indy 500 where he qualified in 6th place and was the leader from lap 126 till 132,
unfortunately he crashed on lap 138.
Rebaque drove for the Brabham
F1 team in early 80's
In 1982 ex F1 driver Hector Alonso
Rebaque was hired by Forsythe Racing to run the complete 1982 season. He won
at Elkhart Lake, becoming the first Mexican driver to win a Champ Car race.
Unfortunately he had a terrible
accident 2 weeks later in the Milwaukee Mile, he crashes against the wall and lost
his memory for a few hours. He decided to go back to F1 arguing that ovals
were very dangerous.
Although Adrian had a lot to do with
Mexicans having a chance in Champ Cars, Josele Garza and Hector Alonso Rebaque
were the real drivers to open the doors to the Mexican drivers, including Adrian
in 1993. It is a crime that the media forgets these 2 great drivers, it's sad to
see that Josele`s hometown has its own Champ Car race but forgets its hero.
It's sad to see magazines and newspapers in Monterrey giving Roberto Gonzalez
credit for being the first Monterrey native to run in Champ Cars.
Josele, Hector, wherever you are,
Hector Rebaque (second left) stands with current
Mexican drivers Mario Dominguez, Michel Jourdain and Adrian Fernandez during
practice for the CART Motorola 220, round 12 of the CART (Championship Auto Racing
Teams) Fed Ex Championship Series, at the Road America circuit on August 17, 2002
in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty
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