From Potrero de los Funes
As happened last year, after the stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Historic Argentine Grand Prix had its official start this Sunday on the main straight of the Potrero de los Funes International street racetrack, in the province of San Luis. The classic cars of all time will travel from this Monday until next Friday, when the competition ends in the city of Bragado, province of Buenos Aires, a total of 1,820 kilometers along the roads of Nogolí, San Jerónimo, Balde, La Carolina , Merlo, Achiras, Sampacho, among other mountain towns in the province of San Luis. At 81 years old and with amazing vitality, Jorge Revello, vice president of the Argentine Automobile Club and one of the main driving forces behind this sporting and cultural event, spoke with Page 12 about what this XIX edition of the GPH represents for the history of national motorsports, and why this regularity race is so attractive for the nut family of Argentina and the bordering Uruguay and Paraguay.
-How do you evaluate this new edition of the GPH, the XIX, again here in San Luis, where last year the race had a large influx of people?
-It’s not little, right? Almost 20 years. We are very happy with the attendance of the public, of cars, in short… And with such emblematic and beautiful cars, because let’s not forget that beyond the regularity race, what each year we put together to roll around the roads and routes of Argentina is what we call “A traveling museum” that allows us to see the different periods of motoring reflected in the cars themselves, ranging from the coupecitas of the 30s to the cars of the year 81. We try to make this is always a party.
-The pilots and their companions continue to say present despite the crises, the maintenance costs that these classics have throughout the year, what do you think is the reason for this interest that is even renewed with the incorporation of women in the duo? , children and even grandchildren who continue the tradition?
-The GPH is a great opportunity to show those cars that are so unique, personal, extremely cared for. The old participants began to bring their wives, their children and their grandchildren as co-pilots. In other words, the entire family of motorsports is being integrated and this beautiful passion is being followed and spread, without conflicts, without cracks, without problems between people with true camaraderie. Here there is friendship, joy and it is a real pleasure and pride that we have been able to run this race uninterruptedly since 2003, except in the first year of the pandemic, when we had to suspend it.
-Historically, the GPH traveled through several provinces and this time, as in 2021, practically all the activity was concentrated in San Luis, why?
-Last year the decision had to do with the issue of health bubbles. However, the experience was very good for everyone and this year we decided to extend the route to the town of Merlo, and the arrival in Bragado. But, really, without the support of our sponsors such as YPF or La Caja, the government and the province’s tourism minister, Luis Piri Macagno, what you see would be very difficult to achieve. Everything is organized and this makes it easier to get things done. Now, possibly for next year, which is going to be the 20th edition, we will go back to visit more provinces, make a bigger tour. But it is difficult to foresee how. Last year’s experience in San Luis left us with many good lessons, especially in what has to do with the harmony and concentrated logistics of the competition. This is something that outsiders may not see, but that we evaluate very positively.
-What information do you have about the fires in the Merlo area? Do you think they can have an impact on the development of the GPH stages?
-What we know is that until yesterday the situation was quite controlled, and we believe that the humidity of these days and the drizzle of last night will help to deal with the fires. Like the GPH does not touch those areas where there is fire. So we ask God to help us, to help the local people so that all this stops. These are climatic issues and contingencies that occur and that, as always happens, we have to solve.
-Last year you were surprised by the large number of people that accompanied the race during the different stages. What are your expectations for this year?
-Last year, only in the symbolic start, we had about 17 thousand spectators. The San Luis public came from different locations to see these classic cars, and we took all that love with us and, to tell the truth, we hope that this year and those to come, this experience will continue to grow and we will have more and more lovers of classic cars.
-What do the pilots and their companions tell you about the GPH?
-Sweetie. Much love. Think that there are many drivers who are working on their cars all year long, investing little by little, so that during the race week everything works as it should. This is experienced as a kind of vacation that is neither winter nor summer. They are those of September, those of spring. There are people here who haven’t stopped coming for a year since 2003.
-How do you work from the Historical Commission of the ACA the issue of generational change?
-Both for the cars, as for the pilots and their companions, the years go by. That is why it is very good that generations are renewed. This is a cultural issue that we want to continue. Here people come across many of those cars that during the so-called Exchange Plan were converted into scrap. We know from the GPH cards that we have about 1,200 classic cars from all decades. And we have come to start races with more than 300 cars. Before we took cars up to 75 and now we have stretched up to 81. We are slowly moving the scale so that history with modern cars is assembled. And don’t be surprised if, in a few years, if this continues, we see electric cars in a Historic Grand Prix. We will not see it, surely, but that is the path and what history holds for us. We don’t fight against that, not at all.
In the paddock of the Potreros de los Funes International Racetrack, they show off the classic little Ford and Chevrolet coupes from the years 1937 to 1940, a Ford Sierra from ’87 and a Toyota Célica from ’81; going through the Mercedes Benz of the ’60s; the Fiat 600, 128, 1100 and 1500; the Renault 4L and 12, the Torino and Ford Falcon, the Citröen 3CV, the Alfa Romeo, the BMW of the ’70s and ’80s; cars from Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. They are priceless gems, the living history of vernacular motoring. Passion for nuts and, above all, a cultural phenomenon.