Monterey, Calif. (September 11, 1999) - Gonzalo Rodriguez, 27, of Montevideo, Uruguay, lost his life in a tragic accident at Laguna Seca Raceway this morning after his car slammed into a concrete barrier at the entrance to the corkscrew. Rodriguez, driving the Team Penske Lola-Mercedes, nosed headfirst into the concrete barrier which was protected by a tire wall. Upon impact, the car catapulted over the wall, vaulting over banners placed atop the barrier.
Rodriguez was removed from the car and transported to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula where he was pronounced dead at 10:10 a.m., PDT, by Dr. Robert Keaney, who was accompanied by CART Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Steve Olvey.
According to Dr. Olvey, Rodriguez sustained massive head and neck injuries, killing him instantly upon impact with the concrete wall.
Rodriguez was a rising star in the Formula 3000 series, currently residing in second place in the season point standings. Under contract to Team Astromega in the Formula 3000 series this year, the Team Penske test driver competed in one prior CART race, the Detroit Grand Prix in June. He qualified 16th on the Belle Isle circuit and finished 12th, scoring his first career PPG Cup point.
Rodriguez made his Formula 3000 debut in 1997 with Redman and Bright Racing. He moved to Team Astromega last year and earned two victories at Spa-Francorchamps and Nurburgring.
In his most recent Formula 3000 race, at Spa on August 31, he finished second. His last victory came in May at Monaco.
Team Penske has withdrawn both cars from this event in respect to Rodriguez and his family.