The third of eight children, Ramirez was born in Mexico City and studied engineering at the university. He dropped out in 1960 and the next year went to Europe with his friend Ricardo Rodriguez and his brother Pedro to Europe. Ricardo rented a factory Ferrari for the Italian GP at Monza in which he sensationally qualified on the front row of the grid. The race itself was a tragic affair with team leader Wolfgang von Trips crashing to his death on the first lap - in an accident that claimed the lives of several spectators. Rodriguez briefly ran in second place before retiring with mechanical failure.
Back in Europe in 1962, Ricado finished second at Pau and fourth in the Belgian GP. Ferrari opted not to enter the non-Championship Mexican Grand Prix, so he hired Rob Walker's Lotus, but he died in Mexico City during the first day of practice when his car crashed into the banking at the fearsome Peraltada corner after suspension failure.
Ramirez decided to go back to Europe and worked for both Maserati and Lamborghini.
He joined Ford in 1966, working in England and from there joined Dan Gurney's Eagle F1 team. When his F1 opperation closed down, Jo then spent three years with Gurney in the United States, working in CanAm, Indycars and TransAm.
In 1971 he returned to Britain to work as chief mechanic for the John Wyer Automotive Gulf Porsche sportscar team.
He was back in F1 with Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert at Tyrrell in 1972. There, founder Ken Tyrrell, advised him to keep a diary of his time in the sport.
For 1975 he was hired to be the team manager of South America's own F1 team - Copersucar-Fittipaldi. There followed stints as the team manager of Shadow, ATS and Theodore. In 1984 Ramirez joined the front-running McLaren Formula One operation as team coordinator, becoming close friends with many top drivers including Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
In 2001 Ramirez retired from McLaren and was advised by team manager Ron Dennis not to write his life story as no one would be interested.
In 2005 Ramirez published his life story.