Art colector and racing driver, Paco Godia-Sales drove a wide variety of cars from a Hotchkiss to a Ford GT40 in a career that spanned 24 years. He competed in 16 World Championship Grand Prix with a best finish of 4th in Germany and Italy driving a Maserati 250F in 1956 to finish 6th overall in the title race.
Francesco Godia-Sales, better known as Paco Godia, was born in Barcelona. He was a wealthy Spanish businessman who became one of the band of Maserati 250F driving privateers during the mid-1950s.
He had a long career but only raced regularly between 1956 and 1958.
He made his debut in 1945 at the Montjuïc circuit at the wheel of a Hotchkiss. His Grand Prix debut came in 1948 driving a Maserati to 6th place at Albi and in 1949 he raced a works Delage finishing fourth at Le Mans with Juan Jover.
In 1950 he raced in Formula 2, driving a Maserati in the Grand Prix at Penya Rhin and in 1951 he made with World Championship debut in the Spanish Grand Prix with a Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CLT, finishing 10th.
He raced in the Spanish Grand Prix again in 1954, this time finishing 6th.
In 1956 he became a works Maserati driver, though there was an understanding that he had to hand his car over to a more experienced driver if required. A steady and reliable driver he did well in races with high attrition, finishing fourth in the German and Italian Grand Prix that year at the wheel of a 250F. Actually he finish 5th in Germany but Bruce Halford was disqualified which moved him up a place. He finished the year 6th in the Championship, the highest placed Spaniard until Fernando Alonso.
He was back to being a privateer in 1957 once again behind the wheel of a 250F
In non-championship Grand Prix he failed to finish in Siracusa, Reims and Pau but crossed the line in 6th place in the Grand Prix de Maroc. He competed in the last three rounds of the World Championship. He failed to finish in Germany and Pescara and could only mange 10th in Italy, failing to score any points. In sports cars he finished on the podium in Sweden.
1958 started well with Paco finishing 3rd in the non-championship Grand Prix at Syracuse still with the old Maserati 250F (2528). However from then on it was all downhill. An 8th in Argentina was followed by 9th in Belgium though he was not running at the finish, going out with engine problems two laps from the end. In france he crashed out on the 29th lap of 50.
That was his last F1 race and not much was seen of him until he popped up in F2 again at Barcelona driving a Lotus 32 in 1966 and a Brabham BT15 in 1967.
He was down to drive in the Jarama inauguration race in 1967 in the Protos entry as an alternative to Frank Manning's Lola-Lotus. However in the end the drive went to Robs Lamplough.
In 1968 he raced sports cars driving a Ford GT40 (P 1019) to victory in the 6 hours of Barcelona with Brian Muir. In 1969 he drove in the 12 hours of Barcelona and the 6 hour race at Jarama in a Porsche 908 Spyder. At the end of the year he finally retired but continued to be linked to motor sports and he was influential in the construction of the Circuit de Catalunya.
Godia was also a collector of fine art and he founded a museum in Barcelona to display his exceptional collection of paintings, mediaeval sculpture and ceramics.
He is particularly remembered for once remarking to Fangio when he returned to the pits with a badly damaged car: 'You don't have to be a World Champion to do that. I could have done it!'