Bob Wallace’s death: Stephan Winkelmann remembers the famous test driver
Lamborghini’s first chief test driver Bob Wallace passed away late last week.
Sant’Agata Bolognese, 24 September 2013. Statement by Stephan Winkelmann, President & CEO of Automobili Lamborghini: “The news received today of the death of Bob Wallace hit me and all of us at Lamborghini and leaves us with a great sorrow. As the first test driver of the company, Wallace has played a key role in the early years of Lamborghini and strongly contributed to the birth of the myth of the Bull. We were sorry that he could not accept our invitation and come to celebrate the 50’ anniversary at our factory in May due to health reasons, but his words in a video message impressed all of the thousand guests. Automobili Lamborghini is close to his relatives and friends, and will honor his memory.”
Bob Wallace was the chief test driver for Lamborghini for twelve years from 1964 to 1975 and his competence and passion strongly supported the rapid growth of the company founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini.
Born in Auckland, New Zealand, in the 1930’s, at the tender age of 21 he moved to Italy where he worked for racing teams such as Ferrari and Maserati. Following on from his stint in motorsports, he moved to Automobili Lamborghini where he served as a mechanic who played a pivotal role in creating Lamborghinis range-top V12 engine.
Before long, he was road-testing Lamborghini’s developmental prototypes under the cover of night, where he’d frequently drive to 170mph on the Autostrada. However, Wallace’s influence at Lamborghini went much deeper than simply testing each car to roll off the production line, he also helped develop the Lamborghini Miura, a car many consider to be the world’s first supercar.
However, Wallace’s most infamous vehicle he helped develop was the 1966 Lamborghini Miura Jota, an unique piece which was destroyed during a test drive and which served as a basis for the production of the Miura SVJ at the factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese.