ArgentIna Temporada Races And My Exciting Discoveries
Oscar Gálvez now that's not a name everyone's familiar with, but he raced and beat Fangio along with some other motor racing greats! And to be honest he's not a racing driver I was familiar with either, well not until yesterday, when I had to look him up on Google. You see I have bought an amazing collection of photographs from Argentina a couple of months back and now it is time to get them identified and listed in my shop. They are from 1947 to 1960 and I have a book called "The Argentine Temporada Motor Races" to help me, as many of these one off photographs were used inside! But to be honest it has been a slow process as each picture tells a story that is both fascinating and surprising.
From what I can make out Temporada means Season, so we are looking at Argentinian Season. And between 1935 and 1941 there were 30 plus races on loose surface tracks all across the massive country. In 1935 it even hosted an international Grand Prix in Buenos Aires. This made Argentina one of the worlds' hot beds of racing before the outbreak of war in Europe.
After the war the motor racing mad Argentinians were desperate to get the European stars of the day to race on their home soil, and so the first so called Grand Prix took place at Retiro circuit. This was closely followed by a race at Rosario. From Europe came Archille Varzi driving an Alfa Romeo and Luigi Villoresi driving a Maserati 4CL. I have some brilliant photographs of the cars chasing through the amazing parkland circuit. One of the photographs I have is a super looking Alfa 308 with coloured bonnet. And this was the local driver Oscar Gálvez who not only raced, but led the Europeans before retiring with mechanical problems. He went on to not only win future races, but was Argentine Champion multiple times. So the puzzle really was why had I never heard of Oscar? From what I can make out it was purely political as the countries leader General Peron favoured his main rival Juan Fangio and a certain Froilan Gonzalez. Both of these great drivers received government sponsorship to race in Europe. The unfortunate Oscar had to remain in Argentina and only ever really got his chance to shine against the stars at the Temporada Races! He lived a long life though and eventually the Buenos Aires Grand Prix circuit was named in honour of him.
Another major surprise for me was the inclusion of some fantastic racing photographs of the Mercedes W154. Now you have to forgive my ignorance but I presumed these were prewar pictures. I had always thought their racing days had finished in 1939. But no in 1951 Mercedes sent a team of three cars over to Argentina to contest the Temporada Grand Prix's. The drivers were Hanns Hermann and Karl Kling and ironically Juan Fangio. I say ironically because when the Automobile Club Of Argentina was setting out the race course Fangio complained that the two very long straights be shortened to lower the average speed. He insisted this was on the grounds of safety not of course because the very powerful W154s would utterly dominate. Fangio then found himself contracted to drive for Mercedes as he could hardly say no when he had just opened up a dealership in Argentina. As it turned out the Mercedes were still very fast and dominated practice but the Ferrari team had the edge in the races on the twisty circuit.
We have a driver I'd never heard of, one of the greatest cars ever, making a ghost like appearance for the very last time. So as I make my way through the fifty or so other pictures, what other exciting fascinations will arise? I do know Ferrari's first win outside Europe was in Argentina. The first rear wheel drive Grand Prix win was here. And from some of the pictures I can guess that some of the biggest crowds in the history of Motor Racing were in Buenos Aires. And I haven't even looked into the picture of Evita Peron with Farina!
Motor Racing memorabilia, memories and stories are often so much more interesting than the racing as the human side is often so intriguing and laced with mystery. I look forward to reporting on any other discoveries.
Motoring-Man is a lifelong fan of Motor Racing and has a memorabilia passion / business