September 12, 1999, was the date on which Gonchi would become an international name among drivers, but in a completely unexpected twist of fate Gonchi died on September 11 in the qualifying session in Laguna Seca, United States. The hopes of 3 million Uruguayans and hundreds of followers and colleagues died with him.
Months later, Maria Fernanda “Nani” Rodríguez, his younger sister, decided to bring those hopes to life, and give back all that love received by Gonzalo during his career by creating a foundation with his name to keep his spirit alive.
The Fundación Gonzalo “Gonchi” Rodríguez was created in October 2000, at the initiative of Nani, Gonzalo´s friends and fans, that believe Gonchi´s achievements were not to be lost, and that with his same energy and enthusiasm a better world for future generations could be built.
The Foundation´s first activity was a tribute to Gonzalo, organizing the Gonzalo Rodríguez Cup – Master Kart in January 2001; several prestigious Formula 1, Indy, Superbikes, Le_Mans, F2 International and TurínCardrivers former drivers participated in the event, among them: Emerson Fittipaldi, Clay Regazzoni, Arturo Merzario, Giovanna Amatti, Tamara Vidali and Wilson Fittipaldi.
Inspired by Gonzalo´s sporting spirit, and aware that sports represent an opportunity for integration and social inclusion, the Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez used sports as a tool for education in social values, and started a program called "Sports for All". The Foundation set up a work plan together with the National Board of Public Education (ANEP) and the Ministry of Sports and Youth, with which we tried to promote those learning and teaching processes that took place within the school context and from a Rights perspective, directly benefiting hundreds of children and young people nationwide.
Within the context of the “Sports for All” program, seven sub-programs were developed; said sub-programs based their activities on the promotion of sports in educational centers. Also, sports activities were offered catering for community as a whole, taking into account the psycho-physical needs of each context.
All programs resorted to games and self-expression as educational tools, supporting the comprehensive education of children through P.E. teachers, artists and psychologists.
After 7 years of work, “Sports for All” reached more than 15,000 children attending state schools in different parts of the country, and encouraged the government to pass an act making physical education classes mandatory at all primary schools in the country as from 2009; before this act only 8% of children had P.E. classes at school.
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have one of the highest per-capita death rates due to road crashes: 17/100 000 population, being injuries suffered in traffic the main cause of death of children aged 5-14 years. Safety of children as road users, however, was not included in the agenda of countries in the region until 2007.
Within this context the Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez decided to approach this important issue from the civil society, thus creating EDU-CAR: Child Road Safety Plan for the children This pilot plan to be implemented in Uruguay, with international projection and interaction, was financially and technically supported by well-known international agencies, such as the FIA Foundation, and the World Bank Road Safety Facility.
EDU-CAR´s objective was to protect today´s children educating them to become tomorrow´s drivers, promoting a cultural change in society respectful of safe behavior in traffic.
The plan was initially conceived to have 4 phases of work: research, training, incidence and replicability. As the result of research work conducted, other areas not initially considered were now included, these were School Transport and safer vehicles.
Taking into account that Latin America became a very important automotive market and manufacturing center, and that it has high rates of road crashes, and severe injury, the 1st Global High Level Road Safety Conference held in Moscow, recommended the creation of regional NCAPs. Latin NCAP is the first independent program created in one of the recently motorized regions in the world, a historic milestone in consumer-oriented information on crash tests.
The Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez played a fundamental role in the creation of the Program performing as its Secretariat. During its 3-year Pilot Phase the program was established in the region. After the first phase, the Foundation together with the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and its Foundation, International Consumers Research and Testing, and the Inter-American Development Bank invited other organizations to join the Program. En 2014 Latin NCAP acquired its legal personality, being composed by several international organizations working on the area of Road Safety. The Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez chairs the organization´s Board.