A History Of The Turismo Carretera

There was a day when that old dirt road in your backyard could be used as part of a very long closed circuit race track. Of course, those days are gone, but they did not end very long ago. In fact, there was a day where the sight of stock cars on those old dirt roads was nothing to drop your jaw at, but instead was something to love and cheer on. And cheer the fans of the day did! Watching race cars go neck and neck maybe a kilometer away from your house? It was every fan’s dream. This is exactly what Argentina’s Turismo Carretera series did.

Turismo Carretera, literally road touring, is the world’s oldest active racing series. The series started in 1939 and has been going strong since, despite a rocky beginning and a lack of virtually any safety integration until the late 1960s at the earliest.

 

Motorsport reached Argentina around 1910, but instead of permanent circuits, Argentina frequently used open road courses made of gravel, dirt, and asphalt, something the United States had mostly done away with for its major events by the First World War. The first Turismo Carretera event, however, is often considered to have been held in 1937, though the series was named Campeonato Argentino de Velocidad, literally Argentine Speed Challenge. The first race of the new championship was the Gran Premio Argentino, an event that was already on its 20th running by 1937. This open road race saw 72 drivers on the entry list with an assortment of cars, mostly Fords, Chevys and Plymouths, though Dodge, Hudson, Lincoln, Hupp, Graham, Hillman, Peerless, and Continental also saw some use. Entered in a #58 1935 Ford Voiturette was a young Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, the namesake of the track in Buenos Aires.

The Gran Premio Argentino, at least in its earlier years, was held alongside pedestrian traffic, though speed limits were often ignored. In 1936, speed limits had begun to be enforced on some roads, leading to a decreased amount of heavy accidents. The 1937 running was much the same, with few major accidents despite safety regulations so relaxed that some drivers were actually seen wearing pajamas at points during the 13 day, 6894km race.

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Credit to Historiatc; The car of José Balcarce

19 cars finished the event, which was won by Angel Lo Valvo’s Ford. Two more races were held that year, the Circuito Correntino, won by Raúl Melo Fojardo in a Dodge, and the Mil Millas Argentinas, a one day, 1000 mile event held at Avellaneda won by Eduardo Pedrazzini in a Ford Coupe.

The series’ first fatality was during the 1937 Mil Millas, when newcomer Américo Traba flipped his Ford on approach to the small town of Tres Lomas, Buenos Aires Province. Traba, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, was killed in the crash, though his co-driver survived. The first co-driver to die was Héctor Moisello, the co-driver to Angel Lo Valvo, whose car rolled during the 1938 Gran Premio Del Sur Argentino. Moisello suffered injuries that he would die from a few days later.

As stated earlier, events in these days were usually multi-day events, with very long stages making for a format reminiscent of a very long rally race. Co-drivers, or as they were called, acompañantes, served both as a voice of reason and a guide, though again they were fully optional. Also optional in the early days of the series were roofs on the cars, as while few teams used them, convertibles were permitted.

In 1939, the Campeonato Argentino de Velocidad received a name change to Turismo Carretera, a name it has kept to this day. The first race with the new name was the Gran Premio Internacional del Sur, won again by the Ford of, again, Angel Lo Valvo.

Drivers in these days would use a variety of tactics to improve themselves, their vehicles, and their times. A common way of practicing was tiradita, possibly derived from either tirado, the Spanish equivalent of easy-peasy, or tirar, to launch. These were straight line dashes down a stretch of public road, often done with traffic still running in the opposite direction. Despite incredible danger, these dashes were legal for several years in Turismo Carretera. As expected, several fatalities occurred during tiraditas, including an incident in 1939 where three people died when their car was hit by a train.

Also seen was la técnica del bidoneo, or the technique of bidoneo, which I was unable to fully translate. This was functionally a way to refuel without stopping. A service team would place itself at a naturally slow part of the track such as a hairpin, and would throw fuel cans into the car through the co-driver’s window. The co-driver would then unbuckle his seat belt and refuel the car while it was still running. It was a dangerous technique and was completely against the rules, but many teams did it anyway.

The Turismo Carretera was one of the very few motorsport series to actually be run in 1942, with most of the world fighting World War II. Two races were held in 1942, though no champion was crowned. Being as Argentina was not directly involved in the War, competition continued, though it still took a hiatus from 1943 to 1946. The competition resumed in 1947.

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Credit to Historiatc; A.T. Palacios competes at the 1947 Mil Millas Argentino

The competition had proved itself dangerous in the early years, with six competitor fatalities, three drivers and three acompañantes, during events, in the pre-War years, and it was about to get even more dangerous.

One of the series’ most influential moments came during the Gran Premio de la America del Sur in 1948, a 20-day race from Buenos Aires to Caracas by way of La Paz, Lima, Quito and Bogotá. A massive 138 car field made up of Chevys, Fords, Buicks, Nashes, DeSotos, Lincolns, Mercurys, Plymouths and Dodges took the start of the 6,000 mile race. All eyes, however, were on the red #1 Chevrolet of Juan Manuel Fangio and acompañante Daniel Urrutia. While traversing a narrow pass in Peru, Fangio lost control and flipped down an embankment. First on the scene was Oscar Gálvez, who stopped his race to assist the stricken duo. Fangio was found injured but awake and alert, and reportedly asked Gálvez to get back in his car, to which he refused. Gálvez soon thereafter found an unconscious Urrutia, who’d been ejected through the windscreen. Urrutia suffered a basilar skull fracture and died later that night. Several drivers, Gálvez included, wanted to retire from the event, but Fangio made a radio message from his hospital bed and managed to convince most to continue. Fangio, on the other hand, was heavily contemplating heading home to Balcarce and opening up a garage, but decided to give it another shot, a move that would pay off considerably.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

Urrutia was one of six fatalities during the race, alongside driver Julián Q. Elguea and his acompañante Heriberto Román, whose fatal fall down a Bolivian gorge made them the first duo to be killed in Turismo Carretera, and three spectators.

With the 1950s under way, motorsport in Argentina was growing more and more popular. Juan Manuel Fangio had begun racing in Europe, and the inaugural Argentine Formula One Grand Prix was a few years on the horizon. In 1952, two new circuits were opened in Argentina, the Autódromo Diecisiete de Octubre, a circuit basically built for the Argentine Grand Prix, and the Autódromo Ciudad de Rafaela, a literal three mile ribbon of dirt in the shape of an oval.

In the meantime, Turismo Carretera was doing what it did best, providing racing in the backroads of Argentina. Chevrolets and Fords were still the primary cars of choice, though again there were other manufacturers that saw use.

1951 however saw another tragedy when 1938 champion Ricardo Risatti crashed during the Vuelta del Norte race. His car overturned about fifteen times, not injuring his acompañante but fatally injuring Risatti. Risatti, who had begun racing as a way to raise money for his critically ill wife, was apparently running his last race before retirement.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

In 1953, the inaugural Formula One Argentine Grand Prix was held at the Diecesiete de Octubre circuit, and 300,000 spectators showed up to the track after the ultra-popular Argentine leader Juan Perón guaranteed free admission for everyone. Despite the death of 13 spectators when Nino Farina spun into an enclosure, the race was successful in showing the world Argentina’s love for motor racing.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; Domingo Marimon crosses a rail line during the 1953 Vuelta de Santa Fé

 

That same year was marred by another death, as Eusebio Marcilla, the same driver who had stopped his race and helped transport Juan Fangio and the fatally injured Daniel Urrutia to the hospital in 1948 and a noted anti-Peronist whose views kept him out of the newspapers, was killed in a crash during the 1953 Vuelta de Santa Fé. Beloved by the fans, Marcilla’s death left the community in mourning, but the race kept going.

By 1956, Perón had been overthrown, and the Autodromo Diecisiete de Octubre had been renamed. Around this time, motorsport had been growing more and more popular, though the roads on which they were run weren’t getting better, in fact they were getting worse. The tiradita had begun being cracked down on, and the la técnica de bidoneo was distinctly illegal, with threat of disqualification, though drivers still did it. One co-driver was actually fatally burned during a failed bidoneo in 1960.

The 1960 Gran Premio Argentino demonstrated well the dangers of the series. The Gran Premio had remained on the schedule and had, in terms of safety, improved very little.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; The car of Ernesto Scally during the 1960 Gran Premio

Exactly how many spectators died during the 1960 Gran Premio will never be known, though the lowest estimate is 12. A cyclist was struck and killed halfway through the event, a young boy died after a guidebook error sent the race leaders skidding into a crowd while making a U-turn, and with about 20 miles to go, another driver failed to negotiate a bend and went into a group of fans, instantly killing seven and injuring many, some of whom likely died in the hospital later. Just a half mile up the road from this accident, another occurred when a racer struck a pedestrian motorcycle carrying two people and veered into an enclosure. One of the motorcycle riders died, as did two spectators in the enclosure. All drivers involved in these accidents as well as their acompañantes were unhurt. Police blamed the spectators for the two larger accidents, as crowds were stated to be so thick that drivers couldn’t see the apexes of corners.

Not even the death of one of the series’ mainstays was enough to halt the madness. By 1963, Juan Gálvez, who had started as his brother’s acompañante before hopping behind the wheel himself, had proven himself as the best driver in series history to that point, with 59 wins and nine championships. His brother Oscar possessed five championships. In fact, between 1947 and 1961 (inclusive), there was only one year in which a Gálvez brother did not win the title.

Unfortunately, Juan himself would be fatally injured behind the wheel. Oscar Gálvez refused to compete at the 1963 Vuelta de Olavarria, his reason being the terrible weather and the rowdy fans, who had in fact thrown stones at him the last time they had been in town. Juan hopped into his 1939 Ford Coupe and started the race, but while approaching an ess bend just past the race’s halfway point he hit a mud pile and rolled. Juan, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the car and killed instantly, though his acompañante survived. This crash was blamed on poor road conditions. Not even the Juan Gálvez memorial run one month later on a completely paved circuit went without tragedy, though the race itself was remarkable, being the first broadcasted Turismo Carretera event in history. During the race, Joaquín Deporte and his acompañante Joaquín González were both killed when their car rolled. Ford had been dominating Turismo Carretera as of recent, and the death of Gálvez ended that dominance.

 

By the mid 1960s, the 1930s coupes that had been used for so long were beginning to look outdated. Turismo Carretera needed better, and they quickly found it in a variant of the muscle cars that were popular during the times. Sleek and powerful, these cars, sometimes developed in house and sometimes not, were expensive, leading to decreased fields. However, it did also cause something else: the introduction of the manufacturer IKA. During the 1960s, IKA was a subsidiary of Kaiser, though it has since been purchased by Renault. IKA cars lined the grids during the mid to late 1960s, their powerful engines leaving the cars of old in the dust. The introduction of a sports prototype partially owned by IKA called the Liebre Tornado made the usage of other manufacturers silly for some time.

1968 started off poorly for the Turismo Carretera. A disagreement had caused fields to dwindle, and only around 25 cars, mostly series fulltimers, showed up to the opener at Buenos Aires, by this point renamed the Autódromo Juan Gálvez. The frontrunners had started using the new Liebre Tornado, with Fords, Chevys, and Peugeots filling a few positions as well. Unfortunately, Turismo Carretera would have more important things to worry about, as the fifth race of the year, Balcarce-Loberia, proved to be a game changer.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; The car of Jorge Kissling

Over a hundred cars lined up for the Gran Premio Lubricantes Celinoil through the backroads of Balcarce and Loberia, in Buenos Aires province, a slight decrease from the 120s when coupes were being run, but still a healthy grid nonetheless. The disagreements which had marred the beginning of the year had been resolved and older machinery was still usable and fairly competitive on the dirt and decrepit asphalt roads of Argentina. On lap one of two, Raúl Salerno veered off course and into a crowd, killing one and injuring several. Later that lap, Jorge Kissling and acompañante Quique Duplán were both killed when their car’s steering arm broke on a gravel stretch, sending their IKA Torino rolling.

On lap two, while passing by the property of Juan Manuel Bordeu, a one-time F1 starter and good friend of Juan Fangio (who himself was the race director), the cars of Plinio Rosetto and Luis Gargiulo collided and went off course. Both cars flipped, and both drivers and their acompañantes were injured. Rosetto’s co-driver, Rubén Barra, died of his injuries a few days later. Finally, while approaching the finish line, Segundo Taraborelli and acompañante Hugo Bonavento lost control at full speed and spun into a stationary lorry. The car exploded, killing both Taraborelli and Bonavento. Two occupants of the lorry were also killed.

 

The toll of the race caused the intervention of the Argentine government. All motorsport events in the country were prohibited for the next month. During this time, Turismo Carretera, recognizing the danger of brand new equipment running on roads which likely hadn’t seen an inspection since the 1940s, chose to replace all of the wide open backroads races with ones on permanent tracks and street circuits, with the exception of the Vuelta de Allen, which had very high-quality roads to begin with while they conducted inspections of potential circuits. The rest of the calendar consisted of races at Rafaela, which had since been paved, Buenos Aires, Alta Gracia, San Juan, and a trip to the El Pinar circuit in Uruguay, alongside the remaining road race, the Vuelta de Allen.

At year’s end, Turismo Carretera made their decision. Races on the open road circuits, known as semipermanente circuits, would remain, but roads had to be of a much higher quality, and gravel roads, while still used for several more years, were banned in any races held in the Buenos Aires province. This also spelled the end of the classic rough-n-ready Gran Premio Argentino, though it would remain on the schedule for another decade as an all-asphalt race.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; Oscar Mauricio Franco races at Buenos Aires 1969

 

By 1971, Turismo Carretera had found a rhythm. Grid sizes were still small for the most part, as cars were being updated so quickly that even the Liebre Tornado was growing outdated, but competition was fierce and manufacturer involvement was strong. The series ran their 500th race that year, the Vuelta de Hughes. Races by this point lasted no more than two days for the most part, though the Gran Premio still lasted around five. That same year, the USAC Indycars made a very rare international trip, stopping by the large oval at Rafaela for a pair of 150 mile races, both won by A.J. Foyt.

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Credit to Sygic Travel

The dangers of Turismo Carretera hadn’t exactly faded, however. This was realized once again by the series in 1973. Nasif Estéfano was a popular face in Turismo Carretera who also ran a couple of races in Europe on occasion, and he had dominated early 1973. Going into round 13 of 15, an event known as the Gran Premio de la Reconstrucción Nacional, his points lead was looking insurmountable, and by the end of the first leg, it mathematically was, as the points Nasif had gained for winning the leg combined with the failure of his main rival to finish had given him enough of a buffer. On day two of the race, however, Nasif’s car shot off into a sandbank near Aimogasta, and Nasif was fatally injured. His co-driver was not hurt. Despite missing the last two rounds of the schedule, Nasif brought home the title.

The tiradita had become a no-no by this point according to Argentine traffic rules, and the organizers of Turismo Carretera had started cracking down on them, though a little sporadically. A fatal crash in 1974 caused the Turismo Carretera to outlaw tiraditas on public roads, though tiraditas on semipermanente circuits were permitted. Also in 1974, Octavio Suárez, a longtime competitor in Turismo Carretera, became President of the series’ sanctioning body, ACTC. Interestingly, despite his new position as President, Suárez continued to compete in Turismo Carretera.

 

One of the most interesting events of the 1970s occurred at the Vuelta de Salto, Buenos Aires province, in 1976. A field of 64 teams lined up for the event, all of them using cars that were, by the day’s standards, modern. The Ford users ran the Falcon, which had been sold in the United States for several years, but had been discontinued by 1976. The IKA representatives ran the Torino, which is even today considered the ‘national car’ of Argentina, but has no American equivalent. Those running Dodges mostly used the GTX, a car with a design that was heavily derived from the original Dodge Dart. Lastly, Chevrolet users ran the Chevrolet Chevy, which was based off of the American Chevrolet Nova. All of these cars were extremely popular with the Argentine public. The Chevrolet 400, Dodge Polara, and Peugeot 404 saw limited use.

On lap four of the first heat, which was to be followed by a second heat and a final, Luis Rubén Di Palma blew his engine while running a part of the track that ran through a small village called La Blanquita. Enrique Bravi skidded in the oil and struck a marshal’s post, terribly injuring a marshal. The post collapsed into the middle of the circuit, and Carlos Nani and his acompañante were injured when they crashed in an attempt to avoid it.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; The car of Eugenio Cali

The competition continued, and a cavalcade of people entered the circuit in an attempt to flag down drivers and assist Nani and his co-driver. Even the entry of an ambulance wasn’t enough to stop the cavalry of cars. After a short while, backmarker Eugenio Cali collided with another car while passing the accident site and flipped into the crowd, killing three spectators. Cali and his co-driver were not injured, and despite the violence of their hit, Enrique Bravi and his co-driver also weren’t injured. The marshal at the post that had been collapsed survived.

The reason why the race hadn’t been stopped immediately soon became apparent: the timing and scoring platform had collapsed in a separate incident. The race was finally called on lap eight. The round was cancelled, and while racing returned to the area, it wouldn’t be on the same circuit.

 

With the arrival of the 1980s, the series’ Ford representatives had begun looking into a new model for the car, believing they could go even faster. However, even with the discontinuation of most of the models either by the 1980s or in the early 1980s, the Chevy, Falcon, GTX and Torino had proven themselves so popular that the series kept using them. Once again, not everything was sunshine and rainbows for the series.

Octavio Suárez was a burly man and a fairly older one too, but behind the wheel of his Dodge GTX he fit in with his fellow competitors, despite being head of the ACTC. Sadly, he would become another victim of the Turismo Carretera.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; Octavio Suárez and acompañante before V. de Benito Juárez, 1984

On lap one of the Vuelta de Benito Juárez in 1984, Suárez’s car blew a tire and the car shot off the track on a very long straightaway. The car went end over end and landed on its wheels, completely destroyed. The car soon burst into flames, forcing Norberto Torre, his co-driver, to evacuate out the windshield. Suárez, however, was pinned.

Torre turned around and asked Suárez if there was a bar or something he could use to help get his driver out of the burning vehicle. Suárez’s arm was pinned against the door, but when Suárez saw a spectator approach with a flashlight, he, smelling fuel, ordered the spectator away. As Torre backed up to try and find a resolution, he noticed officials approaching the scene, who he beckoned to the scene, but the moment they arrived at the car, the Dodge GTX exploded. The race continued for a few more laps, though it was halted early. The series had lost its leader, and no one wanted to race. Eerily, the year prior, Octavio’s wife had passed away, leading Octavio to ask his brother, who had usually been his acompañante to that point, to retire, as if the pair had both been killed in a crash, his children would have been orphaned.

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Credit to fanafalcon

Even more tragedy was down the road, however. By 1988, semipermanente circuits were making up about half the calendar. Ford had found their alternate model in the Fairlane, which was just starting to be used in Turismo Carretera. Most semipermanente circuits were fully paved, the Gran Premio had been discontinued, and even then the semipermanente circuits were much smaller than they had been, at usually no more than ten kilometers long. Grid sizes often totalled in at around 50 to maybe 60, and the 750th Turismo Carretera race, which was held that year at the Circuito Semipermanente de Benedicto Campos, at Necochea, Buenos Aires province, was no exception.

On lap 14 of 21, Edgardo Caparrós, the son of Raimundo Caparrós, who had been killed in a Turismo Carretera accident in 1965, was running down the track’s longest straight when the car threw a tire. Caparrós, who’d been the winner of the previous season’s last two events, veered off the road and into the crowd. It demolished a caravan, a parked car, and flattened a tent before digging in and rolling five times. Edgardo Caparrós survived the accident, which stopped the race immediately, but he suffered severe head injuries that would force his retirement. Worse off was his acompañante, Alberto Belloli, who was killed, as were twelve spectators and an unborn child. At 14 confirmed dead, it was the worst accident in the history of Argentine motorsport, and finally led to the discontinuation of spectator enclosures being directly off the road. All tracks had to be closed off, though semipermanente circuits survived.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; The car of Caparrós

The next year was the year of the Ford Fairlane, which was used alongside the Falcons during the season by a few drivers. Oscar Angeletti was the frontrunner of the Fairlanes, winning three races and finishing second in the championship chase. Angeletti, however, was very badly injured during the 1990 season opener at Santa Teresita when his car went off and struck a pole at high speed. He would survive, but never raced again. The Ford Fairlane was eventually phased out at year’s end, and the cavalry went back to the Falcons.

 

Through death and excitement, semipermanente circuits had survived. They didn’t make up the bulk of the schedule any longer, but they were still being run. Gravel roads had been phased out after 1968, and dirt roads had been done away with in the late 80s, but the old remnants of the past had survived into the 1990s. A pair of fatal crashes, however, spelt their end.

Roberto Mouras was a very frequent frontrunner in the series, as he had been since the 1970s. He had three titles to his name, and had almost won the championship in his first fulltime year in 1971. Even in the 1990s, he was still a frontrunner, and he had a championship shot going into the penultimate round of the championship, the Vuelta de Lobos, in 1992.

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Credit to Motores En La Sierra

During practice, Mouras stepped out of the car, and expert tuner Jorge Pedersoli, who had once been Mouras’ acompañante, stepped in. He ran a couple of laps to see if he could diagnose a nagging problem with the left front of the car that the team had been enduring. Mouras had lost a recent race due to a failure of the left front, and the problem hadn’t been going away. Pedersoli had a scary moment behind the wheel, but the problem was not addressed much further. During the main event, the left front again gave way, and Mouras skidded the car off at full speed, hitting an earth wall with so much force that the roll cage was shattered. The car went skyward, landing with a sickening thud. Mouras died on the spot, and his co-driver Amadeo González was terribly injured. He died a few days later. The race was ended, with Mouras being declared the winner.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

In 1994, Osvaldo Morresi, a former teammate of Mouras, slipped in another car’s oil during a race at La Plata and crashed into another earth wall. Morresi was pronounced dead within a few hours, and Jorge Marceca, his acompañante, was badly injured. Marceca died of his injuries two days later. Morresi, one of the best drivers in the series and one of the most successful to never win a title, also won the race he was killed in posthumously. This crash was the last straw, and semipermanente circuits were prohibited. They continued for three more years, but the very last semipermanente circuit to be used was the Santa Teresita circuit in 1997. Turismo Carretera had done away with something so influential it had given the series its name. That same year, Dodge and IKA both introduced new models to run in Turismo Carretera to slowly replace the Dodge GTX and IKA Torino, prototype models known as the Dodge Cherokee and Torino Cherokee. The pair of Cherokees, developed hand in hand, were based off the GTX and IKA Torino respectively and were created solely for racing. Their goal was to end the dominance of Chevrolet and Ford, which proved somewhat successful, though it would take a few years.

Dodge still struggled, however, while they attempted to get their Cherokees up to speed, and yet another tragedy would make the time before the Cherokees were competitive enough even more miserable. During a practice session for the round at Rafaela in 1998, Raúl Petrich, a Dodge mainstay, told his team that he detected an issue with the car’s undercarriage that was holding him back. His normal co-driver hopped out, and Oscar Lafeudo, a chassis expert, hopped into the passenger seat, a legal maneuver in practice. On his last lap of the day, however, the Dodge went straight on into a corner. Rafaela had seen very few updates since USAC had stopped by in 1971, so rather loose steel guardrails were still being used in the corners. When the Dodge hit the wall, it broke off the guardrail support, and the steel guardrail entered the cabin, instantly and graphically killing both occupants. The round was completely cancelled, and Rafaela built proper barriers for the series’ next visit.

By the beginning of the 2000s, Turismo Carretera had hit a rhythm. Circuits were all permanent with the occasional air base or closed street circuit event. Acompañantes were still being used. They were completely optional, however. The classic look of the cars also remained, and they were both loved by and popular with the public.

However, there were still more changes to be made, and again it would take tragedy to change them. Turismo Carretera has many junior series, one of which is TC Pista. During a race at Rafaela in 2006, Alberto Noya spun his car in a chicane and was hit full-bore by Hugo Fayanás directly in the passenger door. Both Noya and his acompañante, Gabriel Miller, died, forcing the cancellation of the Pista race and the Turismo Carretera Final. Rather famously, the fans, well past drunk by this point, were not pleased with the race’s cancellation. They set fire to tires and banners in protest, but officials did not budge.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

Turismo Carretera, in a historic ruling, ruled that acompañantes would be done away with at the beginning of 2008, only for their discontinuation to be made immediate after a bizarre crash at Rivadavia in mid-2007 claimed the life of Turismo Carretera competitor Guillermo Castellanos, who was fatally injured when his car was struck while he attempted to navigate a crash. Even though his co-driver wasn’t injured in the accident, the Turismo Carretera prohibited the use of them immediately. There was another thing that was done away with in 2008: the tiradita, which was completely outlawed by the ACTC.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; Matias Rossi rounds a bend at Mar de Ajo in 2007

The beginning of the 2010s was marred by one last tragedy for the series. Guido Falaschi had worked his way from Argentine Formula Renault in 2008 to Turismo Carretera in 2011 at the age of 22. Going into the semi-final race of the year at Balcarce, he had an outside shot at the championship, which was further helped by Guido qualifying pole position.

Balcarce had proved itself a dangerous circuit, using primary tire barriers and earth walls instead of concrete. A pair of Fiat 600s had once flown over the fence in the same turn during a race in separate accidents, and even during the 2011 race weekend Agustín Canapino utterly destroyed his car during practice, though he was surprisingly not injured.

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Credit to MundoD

With two to go in the main event, leader Mauro Giallombardo encountered the lapped car of Leonel Larrauri with Guido Falaschi running a close second. Rounding a small bend, Larrauri bailed out of the leaders’ way with too much speed and ran off. Guido Falaschi found Larrauri’s car bouncing in front of him and darted to the side to the track  in an attempt to avoid Larrauri. Falaschi’s car hit the tires and spun into the middle of the circuit, being hit by Guillermo Ortelli and then Nestor Girolami, whose Torino struck the Ford in the driver’s door. The race was red flagged and ended a lap early as rescue crews worked to extricate Falaschi, who was pronounced dead of a basilar skull fracture an hour later, the 126th competitor fatality in Turismo Carretera. Guido’s race team, HAZ Racing Team, closed down immediately after his death. It would reopen the next year as Por Siempre Guido (Forever Guido) 16 Team, running touring cars.

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Credit to Minutobalcarce

Balcarce was closed down in the aftermath of the crash, organizers deciding the track simply was too unsafe. As of 2018, it had not reopened.

 

Today, Turismo Carretera continues on. Turismo Carretera is currently considered a stock car series, in a way the Argentine equivalent of NASCAR complete with double-file restarts and high speed banked turns, and even a playoff system. Grids often clock in at about 45 per event. Races usually consist of practice and qualifying, followed by a series of three short heats to determine starting grid and, if there is a need for DNQs, who they will be. Afterwards is the Final, which is often between 100 to 120km, though there is an annual 1000km endurance event held at Buenos Aires. The season usually starts early, in February, and ends in December.

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Credit to Clarín; Guri Martinez leads the pack at Parana 2015, note the flipped car of J.P. Gianini in the back

There are a myriad of series that drivers can use to step up to Turismo Carretera, however drivers who want to move right to Turismo Carretera start in the TC Pista Mouras series, which began in 2008. Drivers who move up from this series go on to TC Mouras, which began in 2004, after which is the TC Pista series, which was created in 1995. These, along with an Argentine Porsche GT3 series, are the series run by the ACTC.

The series is supported by a myriad of other series. TC2000 and Súper TC2000 are a pair of touring car series that usually run their own race weekends, but will occasionally support Turismo Carretera. Both series are very high-ranked, especially Súper TC2000. The two series use cars such as the Citroën C4 Lounge, Toyota Corolla, Renault Fluence, Peugeot 408, Fiat Linea, Chevrolet Cruze, and Ford Focus.

Another popular series in Argentina is Top Race, another high-ranked touring car series that used to be owned by the ACTC, but no longer is. Top Race has three levels, Top Race, V6, and Junior, and uses its own regulations, regulations which can best be described as a mix of Supertouring and S2000. It

 

 

Sources:

Historiatc.com.ar  (Carrera Nº 1, Nº 3, Nº 7, Nº 21, Nº 29, Nº 73, Nº 107, Nº 292, Nº 451, Nº 499, Nº 538, Nº 580-A, Nº 691, Nº 750, Nº 780, Nº 826, Nº 846, Nº 1044, Nº 1130)

“Hace 20 años moría Octavio Justo Suárez”, September 24th, 2004 article to La Nueva

“A 30 años de la tragedia del TC que dejó 13 muertos”, March 5th, 2018 article to Política Necochea

“Cuando el Fairlane fajó a las Chevy, Falcon y las Dodge GTX”, December 6th, 2014 article to La Izquierda Diario

“RELEVAN ESTADO DEL AUTÓDROMO EN BALCARCE”, March 5, 2018 article to Carburando

Motorsport Memorial

“Adios a las tiraditas”, January 30th, 2008 article to Olé!

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50 Most Bizarre Car Racing Moments REDONE (42-34)

42. RUBEN GARCIA’S CRASH (1988, NASCAR CUP, RIVERSIDE)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 41ST

Journeymen are what make racing so enjoyable.

Ruben Garcia of South El Monte, California is one such journeyman. According to the LA Times, Garcia started out in 1970 after getting back from Vietnam making $2.50 an hour building motorhomes. In 1985, he was president of R&R Custom Coachworks, Inc., a motorhome distributor that raked in $32 million in 1984. Garcia raced every now and again throughout the 1970s, but when he finally returned to racing in 1984 after a few years off, he immediately found success, finishing third in the 1985 Winston West points with two wins. Garcia was even able to qualify for a few NASCAR Cup races at Riverside.

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Credit to Myles Regan

In 1988, during the very last NASCAR race at Riverside, Garcia drove his #32 Pick-Your-Part Chevrolet Monte Carlo car into the top 20, but on lap 29 of 95, it all came to an end. Something broke and the car veered hard left off of turn nine. The car entered an opening in the barrier and struck an angled steel guardrail protected by a tire wall, which was easily folded by the car. It went through a chainlink fence from there, then collapsed a brick wall with a set of barrels behind it. The car came to a halt against one final barrier protecting the crowd, and Ruben got out of the car unhurt, but he did not start any further Cup or West races after that.

41. MASS DQ AT THE ITALIAN F3 FINALE (2012, ITALIAN F3, MONZA)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 21ST

As national and regional Formula Three leagues start to fall by the wayside and Formula Four begins to take over as the go-to for national leagues, the amount of national F3 leagues thin to a point where as of 2017 there are only five: Japan, Brazil, Austria, Australia, and Switzerland, a ‘Formula Three’ league in Britain that actually just runs souped-up F4 cars, and two European leagues, one of which, European Formula Three, will be merging with GP3 in 2019.

Italian F3 concluded a run which had begun in 1964 in 2012, and its last race was rather controversial. Ten cars, two Mygales and eight Dallaras, entered the Monza finale, with Romain Agostini’s Mygale leading with 240 points over a pair of Dallaras, Brandon Maisano, who had 229 and Eddie Cheever III, who had 227. Cheever won race one and was able to gain a few points on Agostini, but then it all went downhill.

For reasons I could never find described beyond ‘technical infractions’, Cheever and Maisano were both disqualified from race two, handing Agostini the championship. It then proceeded to worsen when all eight Dallaras were disqualified from race three. Once again I never found a specific reason, but every Dallara in the field was disqualified, leaving only two cars classified: Romain Agostini and fellow Mygale Nicholas Latifi. What a way to wrap up forty eight years of racing…

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Credit to Juzaphoto

 

40. ARCA FINISHES A RAIN RACE (2010, ARCA, PALM BEACH)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 18TH

As mentioned earlier, ARCA can be a bit of a fail series from time to time. However, it’s actually done something that NASCAR’s top series has never done: run a rain race.

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Credit to Red LineNEW 

Rain racing is part of motorsports. Every now and again, drivers throw on some rain tires and inch their way around the circuit. Stock cars very, very rarely rain race, however, mostly because it’s almost always only a road course thing. Races like the Daytona 500 can’t be held in the rain, of course. NASCAR has rain raced on an oval once before with its European division at the Tours Speedway, a literal parking lot oval with drainage systems which permit racing in a light shower, and has run a few rain races in the Xfinity Series. The Cup Series has never used rain tires in a race, however. Not including the Elkhart Lake race in 1956, which came in a day where drivers could use almost any kind of tire they wanted as long as the tires were a certain width and height, the most the Cup Series has ever done in the rain is a practice session. Yet ARCA, usually seen as the joke series, ran a rain race at Palm Beach in 2010, and it went over just fine, with Justin Marks bringing home the trophy. Pretty ironic that the lower series accomplishes one of the toughest jobs in motorsports, something the top series has never even tried, isn’t it?

39. A DRIVER GETS TASED (2017, FIGURE EIGHT, ANDERSON)

NEW TO LIST

Racing is heated, but sometimes fights can get out of hand. There was, of course, the fight between Michael Simko and Don St. Denis at the 2006 Glass City 200 at Toledo where Simko dropkicked St. Denis’ windshield, but at a figure eight race at Anderson Speedway in Indiana in 2017, things got even worse.

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Credit to Jalopnik

During a race in mid October, Jeff Swinford and Shawn Cullen were unable to stay off one another, apparently colliding three times during a duel for the top spot. After one last bit of contact, Swinford drove his #3 car straight for Cullen’s stalled #33 vehicle. Swinford drove his car atop Cullen’s nearly crushing Cullen, and Cullen, infuriated, rushed out of his car and began punching Swinford repeatedly for a good thirty seconds, requiring an officer’s interventions.

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Credit to RTV6

Cullen was tased by the responding officer, and both drivers were arrested. According to the Associated Press, Cullen was charged with disorderly conduct, and Swinford was charged with misdemeanor criminal recklessness. Despite Cullen being tased, Swinford was the one being hung out to dry, as due to what was seen as a calculated maneuver to both attack Cullen and damage his car further, Swinford will likely never be allowed back to the Anderson Speedway, and was also fined all of the money he earned during all races he ran at the Anderson Speedway in 2017. Cullen was suspended for at least two events for leaving his car before the red flag could be flown. Both were DQ’d from the event as well.

38. REPEATEDLY HITTING THE SAFETY TRUCK (1998, RENAULT MEGANE, ZANDVOORT)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 17TH

Masters of Formula Three’s relevance and necessity has decreased with F3 itself. The race, which is held at Zandvoort, saw 47 entries in 1998 and only 16 in 2016, and wasn’t even held in 2017. However, Zandvoort is a good track choice for the race, with its undulating turns and many sand pits, the track is far from easy.

During a Renault Megane support race during the Masters of Formula Three weekend in 1998, a driver by the surname of Van Der Waals crashed on the end of the second lap after hitting some debris, sending his car airborne, but not injuring him. A local yellow was waved, and a safety truck arrived to assist Van Der Waals, who was standing near the barrier for whatever reason.

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Screencap

Two cars dueling for position entered the last bend, and they both spun out. Van Der Waals hopped over the barrier just in time, and was forced to watch as the pair slammed into the back of the safety truck, knocking it into Van Der Waals’ car and sending the Renault to the inside of the circuit. Another safety truck arrived on scene, only to get rear ended by another spinning car. The first safety truck was then hit hard by a car that just didn’t turn. According to Ritzsite, no injuries were reported, and the race was red flagged and run to completion later that day.

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Screencap

Zandvoort’s social media said that the cause of this crash was a mix of the drivers not respecting the yellow flags and the day’s Meganes being bulkier and much easier to lose control of if the throttle is suddenly lifted.

37. JOHN PRIOR FLIPS AFTER THE RACE (1985, ARCA, DUQUOIN)

NEW TO LIST

Crashes after the race ends are rare, but they do occur, as drivers often still have a rush of adrenaline coarsing through their veins even after the checkered flag falls. Technically, Austin Dillon’s terrible crash at Daytona in 2015 was after the flag, though drivers were still at speed, as Daytona is not somewhere where you can slow down after the race. The one mile dirt oval at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois is not a superspeedway, yet John Prior proved that these accidents can happen anywhere and still be spectacular.

9.1.85 - Raymond Wins ARCA Southern Illinois 200 (bob mays)
Credit to Midwest Racing Archives

Lee Raymond was class of the field at the 1985 ARCA race at DuQuoin, passing Gary Bettenhausen early and, for the most part, hanging on to the lead for the rest of the 200 mile race. After Bettenhausen fell back, Dean Roper was the one chasing Raymond, though with the exception of a pit stop cycle he never passed him.

John Prior’s #00 and Bob Brevak’s #34, however, were the ones putting on a real show. The pair apparently traded the third spot several times in the last few laps, with Prior prevailing. Prior, a local driver, beat Brevak in a side by side duel, then proceeded to slide right into the turn one guardrail and flip his car after the checkered flag had already flown. Prior was okay.

36. RON FELLOWS’ STRANGE MANEUVER (2011, NASCAR N’WIDE, ELKHART LAKE)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 11TH

When NASCAR takes to Elkhart Lake, everyone wins. They always put on a wonderful show, and unexpected winners are frequently seen, with Nelson Piquet, Brendan Gaughan, the luckless Michael McDowell, and even independent veteran Jeremy Clements possessing victories at the circuit. In 2011, when the race was still a 200 miler rather than its current 180, road racing expert Ron Fellows was hoping to be that surprise winner. So when Justin Allgaier ran out of fuel under the race-ending yellow and Reed Sorenson was slowing down even further, he zoomed on by and was picked up by the pace car. However, when NASCAR reviewed the footage, they eventually gave the win to Sorenson. Why?

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Credit to Masslive

You cannot pass under yellow, of course. However, if due to driver neglect, a dry fuel can or mechanical issues, you are free to. There is no need to stay behind a driver who has stalled on the track. Sorenson did slow down, but not by very much, and he quickly got back going. After all, he’d just seen his teammate run out of fuel. Fellows appeared to read the rules too literally, seeing Sorenson slightly slow down and assuming he was out of fuel when he wasn’t. Sorenson was given the win at the end with Fellows second, and Fellows was not penalized further.

35. CRAIG JARVIS’ CRASH (2017, EXTREME SUPERCARS, KYALAMI)

NEW TO LIST

Sports cars are interesting to see race. They’re beautiful, sleek, and powerful, but on the other hand, one mistake and a million dollar racer can be lost, a massive hit to the pockets of teams and especially privateers…usually.

Extreme Supercars is a standard sports car series from South Africa in which Ferraris, Lambos, BMWs, and Porsches duel one another, with occasional appearances by Ford GTs, Alfa Romeos and McLarens. One common racer in this series is Craig Jarvis, who according to his own Facebook is a CEO at a company which assists in streamlining the medical billing process.

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Credit to The South African

During a qualifying session at Kyalami in early November 2017, Craig wrapped up his lap and shifted to the inside, where he collided with Johann Engelbrecht’s Porsche GT2 RS. Johann spun his Porsche into the wall, and Craig, who according to Engelbrecht’s team was unaware of Johann’s presence, backed his Ferrari 458 GT3 into the steel guardrail, sending the sleek sports car rolling end over end. Both drivers were okay, but Johann’s Porsche was badly damaged, and Craig’s Ferrari was a write off.

Despite this all, Craig posted to his Facebook within a few days of the crash that he’d acquired a new Ferrari, apparently having received an insurance payout. Insurance? On a Ferrari you use in racing? That’s news to me…

34. TAXBRAIN STEALS JUSTIN PHILPOTT’S CAR (2006, SUPER LATE MODEL, ALTAMONT)

NEW TO LIST

Forgiveness is a privilege to some.

In the mid 2000s, Justin Philpott was one of the up and coming super late model racers in California, running at Altamont and Stockton 99. He eventually caught the eye of tax sorting company Taxbrain. Taxbrain got its wanted publicity on the sixteen-year-old’s super late model, but apparently they wanted more, and they decided to steal Justin’s car straight out of victory circle the next time he won and film a commercial out of it. They told a few officials at Altamont Speedway, but no one else, and on August 13, 2006, they executed their plan. According to the East Bay Times, an unnamed actor hopped the fence, got in the car while the Philpotts were celebrating a win, and took off. He did about two or three laps before being stopped by a combination of Justin’s brother and a wrecker backed onto the circuit by track officials.

After a lengthy investigation, undisclosed sanctions were laid against Taxbrain, and no charges were filed. Bizarrely, however, Justin Philpott chose to keep Taxbrain for his moving up to the All American Series in 2007. In fact, Philpott, who is still racing in southern California and is still very successful, made one of the strangest moves I have ever seen a racer make. Instead of leaving a sponsor who conducted a stunt that could have easily killed him and his family behind him…

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Credit to NASCAR Home Tracks

…Justin stayed with Taxbrain for about another five years. So uh…are you sure that’s a good idea, Justin?

The Tragedies At Rafaela: Petrich, Lafeudo, Noya, and Miller

The Autodromo Ciudad De Rafaela, also known as the Autodromo Juan Bascolo, sits just outside the city of Rafaela, northeastern Argentina. It is a bizarre track, being a back-and-forth oval with lightly banked corners and several chicanes, along with a road course for junior series that cuts off half the utterly massive 2.873 mile oval. Rafaela is the largest oval in the world still used for competition, with all larger tracks being test facilities or proving grounds.

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Credit to Wikipedia

It was built as a massive dirt track in 1952, was paved in 1966, and hosted the USAC Champ Cars in 1971, though it’s been used almost exclusively for national events since. The Turismo Carretera, Argentina’s top racing series, usually runs three chicanes, one towards the end of the front chute, one on the back chute, and a third in turn three (the north turn), though there is a fourth in turn one (the south turn) that is infrequently used.

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Credit to Historia TC

This circuit is where Argentina’s top series, the Turismo Carretera, truly shines. Turismo Carretera, which has existed since 1937 and been under the same ownership since 1939, is technically a stock car series. The series, which mostly runs tracks with more sweeping corners, employs double-file restarts and a Chase system to try and imitate NASCAR as best as it can, yet unlike NASCAR, which has had wavering popularity over the past couple years, Turismo Carretera has continued to be extremely popular. It’s one of the most exciting racing series in existence, but also one of the more dangerous.

The early days of Turismo Carretera were highlighted by circuits that more closely resembled rally layouts than permanent tracks, and due to this co-drivers were often required. Races were often conducted in a format which included practice, qualifying, three heats and a Final, which has remained the format even in 2018. As the series switched to permanent layouts and temporary street circuits co-drivers became mostly unneeded, though most teams kept them anyway. One of the teams to do this was that of Raul Petrich.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

Raul Alberto Petrich, nicknamed ‘Pepino’ or ‘Cucumber’ due to his height, was born in 1958 and started competing in Turismo Carretera in 1989. He used a Dodge in an era when Dodge did not have too many high ranked drivers in the Turismo Carretera, and frequently ran in the top 15 when most of the other drivers running his manufacturer were towards the back. Raul, whose family owned both a service station and a flour, sugar and coal provider, also competed in the 24 Hours Of Daytona in 1996. The Team Argentina Oldsmobile completed 377 laps in the race before it broke down and retired. Raul’s team finished 36th out of the 76 starters and 11th out of the 29 cars in his class. Raul’s best finish in Turismo Carretera competition, on the other hand, was a third at the Final at Parana in 1997.

Rafaela was an outdated circuit by the late 90s, its barriers having not been updated since the USAC visit. This became evident when driver Guillermo Del Barrio and co-driver Luis Patti went straight on due to a mechanical failure in turn three during a heat race in 1997. The car collapsed the guardrail and flew out of the speedway.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

The vehicle rolled violently end over end several times and came back down onto its wheels. Thankfully, the car’s occupants were unhurt besides a few bruises. As the wagon train returned to Rafaela the next year, most competitors kept this in the back of their minds, but officials reassured everyone that the barriers had seen some updating. Evidently, it was not enough.

On July 31st, 1998, two days before the planned Final, Raul Petrich was running a practice session at the circuit. He had a rather fast car and clocked an upper-midfield time, but evidently he thought he could go even faster. Raul explained to his team that he detected an issue with the car’s undercarriage that was holding him back. Oscar Lafeudo, a chassis expert for his team, offered to throw on a driving suit and sit in the co-driver’s seat, which was legal during practice and testing only. Danilo Di Napoli, Raul’s usual co-driver, hopped out of the passenger’s seat, and Oscar hopped in to try and see what needed improving.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; Oscar is at left

The pair ran a few laps, and around 17:45, with the end of the day’s practice session just a few minutes away, Raul was radioed by his team and asked to return to the pits after he finished his current lap. On what was planned to be his last lap of the day, a tire blew on the #63 Dodge GTX in the south corner of the oval and he went straight on into the wall at about 140mph. The car struck the guardrail, damaging it severely and breaking off the top half of the guardrail. The chunk penetrated the car at the passenger door B-post. The car bounced off of the bottom half of the guardrail and came to a stop in the middle of the corner.

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Credit to Olé

Emergency workers arrived within thirty seconds, but when the first worker looked inside, he immediately signalled to his colleagues that the occupants were dead. 40-year-old Raul Petrich and 44-year-old Oscar Lafeudo had both died instantly. Petrich had had his chest pieced just below the neck and had been killed by massive internal injuries. Lafeudo, on the other hand, was even worse off. The guardrail had struck him in the neck, cleanly decapitating him.

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Lafeudo’s helmet; Credit to HistoriaTC

The practice session was immediately called off and the round was cancelled shortly thereafter, and as such it is considered a non-race. Competitors mourned the loss of the duo and moved on to the next event with heavy hearts, and Rafaela installed concrete barriers for the series’ next visit the next year. Rafaela, however, continued to be a dangerous track, and it wasn’t long before another man was killed.

On April 30th, 2000, Turismo Carretera’s annual Rafaela trip came around. On lap one of the Final, Diego Ponte’s Ford Falcon blew its motor and slid in its own oil. On approach to the third chicane on the entrance of the north turn, the car spun off into the grass and struck a photographer, 44-year-old Roberto Abarza. Abarza died of his injuries, and officials blamed him for standing in a prohibited area. Ponte, whose number, ironically, was 63, was physically unhurt, and the race continued onwards. But it was about to get even worse.

Turismo Carretera has several lower series, one of which is TC Pista. Basically the Turismo Carretera’s Xfinity Series, this is the junior series where drivers can show team owners what they’re made of and hopefully be promoted to Turismo Carretera. Alberto Noya was one of these competitors. By trade a veterinarian, Noya first started competing in TC Pista in 2001, and was a well known figure in the series. Not much is known about his co-driver, Gabriel Miller, but both were from the Buenos Aires area.

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Noya (right); Unsure if that is Miller on the left; Credit to TyC Sports

On July 16th, 2006, Noya was running towards the front of the field after an early restart in the TC Pista event at Rafaela when he spun in a chicane. The #39 Dodge stalled in the chicane, and before the car could be refired, was struck directly in the passenger’s door by Hugo Fayanás’ #33 car.

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Credit to Lagaceta

Despite wearing some sort of head and/or neck restraint, Gabriel Miller, 42, was killed in the crash, the G-forces of the impact having caused extreme head injuries. Though he was extricated alive, 30-year-old Alberto Noya died three days later, his brain having suffered severe trauma due to the massive sudden horizontal movement. Fayanás was uninjured. The race was cancelled on the spot, and shortly thereafter so was the Turismo Carretera Final, though being as the heats had already been conducted points could still be awarded. Fans were not pleased by this decision and began setting banners and tires alight, but the officials did not budge. Shortly thereafter, Turismo Carretera made an incredible maneuver.

When Turismo Carretera started in 1937, most races were through the countryside across dirt and pavement surfaces, and due to this, co-drivers were required. They’d stayed throughout the years, but with the death of Miller, along with a very similar crash in 2004 which almost killed Eduardo Moriatis’ co-driver, Walter Jakowzuk, proved to be the last straw. It was announced that co-drivers were to be disallowed starting in 2008, but not even this was going to remain unchanged.

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Credit to Diario El 9 De Julio

On April 22nd, 2007, 40-year-old Guillermo Castellanos was attempting to navigate a crash during the Final at Rivadavia when his vehicle was struck near the back axle. It was far from the worst crash in Turismo Carretera history, and Castellanos’ co-driver was able to evacuate the car on his own, but Castellanos was fatally injured, having suffered several massive fractures. Though Guillermo’s co-driver was not badly hurt, it was quickly decided that co-drivers would be disallowed starting at the next event, and as such, a seventy-year tradition ended. Racing, however, continues at Rafaela, and the Turismo Carretera continues to put on incredible shows at the ultra-wide, high-speed oval.

Sources:

“[Carrera Nº 917-A] – 10º fecha (suspendida) – Autódromo de Rafaela (02/08/1998)”, November 24th, 2012 post to the HistoriaTC forum

“[Carrera Nº 900] – 9º fecha – Rafaela (20/07/1997)”, May 27th, 2011 post to the HistoriaTC forum

“El dolor golpeó a La Plata”, August 2nd, 1998 post to Olé

“Tragedia”, August 1st, 1998 post to Olé

“La conmovedora historia del piloto, el perro y la veterinaria”, August 23rd, 2006 post to infobae

“Otra tragedia del TC se llevó la vida de Guillermo Castellanos”, April 23rd, 2007 post to La Nacion

“El como y por que del fatal accidente de Rafaela”, undated post to Nuevo ABC Rural

Motorsport Memorial

Justin Philpott And The Fools At Taxbrain

I’m aware that, as an analyst and a journalist, I should withhold my opinion as best as I can, but this…this is just ridiculous. A sponsor risks the life of a driver and his entire family for a publicity stunt, and the driver allows bygones to be bygones. I’m not sure who the more foolish one is.

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Justin in 2006; Credit to Stockton 99

Despite this all, Justin Philpott’s talent is evident. Philpott, the driver involved, mostly raced super late models at the half mile Altamont Speedway and quarter mile Stockton 99 Speedway, both in California. He eventually caught the eye of the company Taxbrain, which helps its consumers sort out their taxes so those taxes can be paid much more easily a la Turbotax. Taxbrain got its wanted publicity on the sixteen-year-old’s super late model, but apparently they wanted more. Some executives, who were undoubtedly chastised if not fired after this all, decided that they would steal Justin’s car straight out of victory circle the next time he won and film a commercial out of it. They told a few officials at Altamont, but did not tell the announcer, Justin’s family, or even Justin himself, all to make things look genuine. On August 13, 2006, Taxbrain got to show its lack of common sense after Justin won a super late model race at the track. During victory lane ceremonies, a man, unnamed by the media for legal reasons (I will refer to him as John for the sake of this, it likely is not his name, but for the sake of this article it will be), hopped the fence, got in the car, and, with a camera or two rolling, flipped the ignition switch and took off. The announcer noticed this quickly and called for security, while Justin and his family stood there for awhile, absolutely dumbfounded. In the meantime, John continued doing laps in Justin’s $200,000 car. Eventually, some officials hopped in a wrecker and backed it down the track, and John slowed to a stop. Ryan Philpott, Justin’s cousin, ripped John from the car, and John was arrested.

Taxbrain’s representatives quickly ran over to the track security and explained what was going on. After some cross-referencing, police discovered that this had indeed been a stupid stunt. John was not charged, but undisclosed sanctions were laid against Taxbrain.

How no one was hurt despite John’s insane driving (this was part of the stunt) and lack of any safety gear, the world may never know. John could have easily killed himself or the Philpotts. However, that isn’t the end of the idiocy.

Justin also proved himself to be one of the duller knives in the drawer. Despite the fact that his sponsor had stolen his $200,000 race car, he still re-signed Taxbrain to another year when he moved up to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series in 2007. Incredibly, he stuck with Taxbrain for a long time. The two only parted ways sometime between in 2011 and 2014.

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Justin in late 2010, note the Taxbrain sponsor on his uniform; Credit to NASCAR Home Tracks
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Justin in early 2014, note his sponsor is now his family’s auto body shop, Philpott’s Garage, with no visible Taxbrain logos; Credit to Stockton 99

Altamont Speedway closed after 2008, but Justin still races in the Southwest, and is quite successful at that. I’m not sure if Justin was naive, forgiving, or if Taxbrain paid him a lot of money to keep them aboard (probably a mix), but if I were him, I would have told them to mess off. John could have killed himself and/or the Philpotts, and Justin’s forgive and forget attitude towards it all is almost as strange and as laughable as the incident itself.