12/12/1946 - 15/5/2015
Record updated 12-Dec-18
A former Pirelli engineer, Zorzi began racing in Formula 3 in 1972. He won the Monaco Formula 3 race in 1975 and ended up with a couple of F1 drives.
Renzo Zorzi, the son of a miner, was born in Ziano di Fiemme, a small town in the mountains near Bolzano, near the Austrian border. A former Pirelli engineer, Zorzi began racing in Formula 3 in 1972 with a Scuderia Mirabella Tecno.
He became a regular in F3 the following year with a Brabham BT38 and then with the little known Quasar and Branca chassis. He returned to Scuderia Mirabella in 1974 as team mate to Giorgio Francia and, using a GRD chassis, finally began to score some good results.
In 1975 he helped to develop a Lancia Formula 3 engine, built by the Repetto company and and shocked the establishment when he won the Monaco Formula 3 race with the GRD 374-Lancia, inheriting the lead when Conny Andersson was penalised for a jumped start and Tony Brise and Alex Ribeiro collided. This result which put him firmly into the limelight.
As a result he drove for the Williams team at the Italian GP that year and again in Brazil in 1976. His sponsorship fell through and he returned to Formula 3 with the Modus team.
In 1977, with backing from Italian financier Francesco Ambrosio, he joined the Shadow F1 team as team mate to Tom Pryce. He finished sixth in his second race for the team in Brazil and had a new DN8 in South Africa. It was there that he was inadvertently involved in the accident which claimed the life of Tom Pryce. He had pulled off with an electrical fire caused by a split fuel pipe when 19 year old fire marshal, Jansen Van Vuuren, ran across the track to deal with it. Pryce was unable to avoid him and struck him at high speed. The impact killed both Pryce and Van Vuuren instantly, Pryce killed by the fire extinguisher that the marshall was carrying. Zorzi was joined by Alan Jones and it was not long before Zorzi was dropped in favour of another Ambrosio protege Riccardo Patrese.
Zorzi then raced sports cars and even made a one-off appearance driving an Arrows A1-Ford in the 1980 British F1 Championship at Monza. His last top-line outing was in the Monza 1000km round of the 1985 World Sportscar Championship - famously curtailed by a tree falling onto the circuit - where he finished sixth in a Brun Motorsport Porsche 956 alongside Oscar Larrauri and Massimo Sigala.
He then dropped out of the sport and went back to working as a Pirelli test driver and running a driving school.
He passed away in 2015 after a long illness.