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GP Week : Issue 150
Bohringer and the retired Formula 1 driver Carlos Menditeguy, while in smaller 220SEb cars were sports car racing driver Hermann Kuhne and an established rally driver. This driver was the reigning European Ladies' champion, Ewy Rosqvist. Surely, this must clearly be some form of ‘publicity’ entry? Wet weather in the early stages of the 1962 event caused mayhem. Bohringer's engine ingested water and despite the engine being drained by the driver, the engine was damaged and the car had to be withdrawn. Menditeguy had the same problem but was able to carry on after removing all the spark plugs. At the first overnight halt, at Villa Carlos Paz, the surprise leader was Ewy Rosqvist ahead of Menditeguy and Andersson. The other top Volvo drivers were already out. The former TC champion Rodolfo de Alzaga had engine failure and another retired Formula 1 driver, Roberto Mieres, had crashed into a tree. Then Mercedes had one more disaster. The 300SEb of Menditeguy was driven into parc ferme too late and was excluded. He claimed his access to parc ferme was blocked by his teammate's car, while she was busy signing autographs. He was far from happy ... Kuhne was 33rd at the halt, having spent time trying to help teammate Bohringer back into the race. The race was becoming really dangerous. The competitive Chevrolet Impala of Cacho Ibarra crashed, killing the co-driver. The next day Kuhne was also dead, killed when he swerved to avoid sheep in the road and his seatbelt mounting failed in the ensuing crash. Rosqvist was now the only Mercedes left in the race. Fangio discussed the issue with the company and was given orders that Ewy should carry on. The race had still barely begun. The route headed westwards towards the Andes to San Juan, northwards through the mountainous regions around Catamarca and then Tucuman, then turning southwards again to Cordoba and finally back again to Buenos Aires. Each day was a race by itself, counting for the overall accumulated total time, and Rosqvist kept going, winning every leg of the event. Tragedies continued on the way to San Juan when a spectator drove across the route in front of a Renault Dauphine driver, whose co-driver also lost his life. The final challenge, after all the earlier rains, mountains and accidents, was a short sandy section between Tucuman and Cordoba, in which 10 cars were eliminated, including two of the Volvo team. The hardest part of the route was over by the time the event reached Ascochinga, a town well known to present day rally drivers. By the time the race reached Cordoba, before the easy run back to the finish only 51 cars were left but even so the accidents continued. Two cars collided with each other and both had to retire. Just 47 cars were classified. The ‘publicity’ entry, Ewy Rosqvist won the in her Mercedes in front of a Volvo driven by Boris Garagulic, and a locally-built Peugeot 403. The next best finisher in Rosqvist's class was a Jaguar 3.8 which was 12 hours behind. The days of city-to-city races are now over, this sort of long distance competition is today in the realm of cross country ‘raid’ events. But the spirit of these events goes on, not the least in that the same roads are still used in international competition. Villa Carlos Paz is even more involved in motorsport being the hub of the present-day world championship Rally of Argentina. The roads in the Cordoba region that were used by the Gran Premio are now being used as closed road special stages, not by Mercedes and Volvo cars, but by Citroens and Fords. In the old days the routes through the mountains west of Villa Carlos Paz varied from year to year. The route out of Villa Carlos Paz in 1962 took the ‘Altas Cumbres’ route, the iconic gravel roads used on Day 2 of the 2012 Rally of Argentina, over the El Condor and Guilio Cesare roads, in the opposite direction. In 1963, the Gran Premio used the Tanti to Salsacate mountain road, which this year forms part of the 66km ‘marathon’ stage. Marathon, you say? Marathon by today's standards, but only a minor fraction of the competitive route in the days of the Gran Premio! Ewy Rosqvist was a special lady, someone who beat the macho men of Argentina at their own game. She married and became Ewy Rosqvist von Korff and is now 82 years old. Her co-driver Ursula Wirth celebrates her 78th birthday on April 25 this year. Her Swedish rally tradition continues this year: Swedes Ramona Karlsson and Miriam Walfridsson compete in a Mitsubishi in the Production Car world championship category of the event and will follow in the tracks of the Gran Premio drivers on the classic roads of the Altas Cumbres and the route from Tanti to Salsacate ... Fangio (left) and his all-girl team mix with the crowd ... 38 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: RALLY >>> FEATURE