Chopard Takes Us Back In Time With The 1000 Millas Sport Argentina Rally
Photography by Alvaro Pinzón
Patagonia is one of those places where you can easily lose yourself in the beauty of the “el Fin Del Mundo”. The landscapes, deep blues skies, bright white snow, beautiful shades of green and yellow vegetation on display in late November serve as a perfect backdrop for the impressive selection of classic cars present at the 1000 Miles Sport Argentina rally. This was quite the reward after flying 9 hours from Bogotá, Colombia over the Andean mountain range to Bariloche on the western side of the country, where we were welcomed by our friends at Chopard, who have sponsored the event for several years.
We’d heard that rallies in Latin America deliver a unique concoction of danger, excitement, and pleasure combined with what classic cars petrolheads love the most; the visceral sensation of speed dispelled by the sound of roaring engines.
The 1000 Miles Argentina brings together a great selection of classic cars from many different eras. This included an Osca FS372, a Maserati A6GCS, a mix of rare Bugatti prewar cars T35, T37 & T57, a Renault 5 Turbo which was an original participant in the Tour de Corse and a Lancia Flaminia GT amongst a combined total of 113 entries from the last century. We could barely imagine these beauties racing through the Andean mountain range, and it became perfectly clear why the 1000 Miles Argentina has been held almost without interruption in this same region of La Patagonia for the last 31 years.
We discussed this in-depth with the organizers of the legendary CAS Club which boasts past members such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Froilan Gonzalez, and every other big name in Argentinian motorsports. Damian Pozzoli and Edgardo Petrizzo explained that the route changes each year, this time the rally would take us in three stages through two provinces, Rio Negro and Neuquen and bring us closer to the border with Chile up in the Andean mountain pass.
With a cold-weather forecast ahead, the cars lined up early in the morning at the gorgeous Hotel Llao Llao, one of the main attractions of the rally built in 1937 by Alejandro Bustillo, one of the more important Argentinian architects, on the banks of Lake Nahuel Huapi and Lake Moreno.
After a few final checks, the cars took off one by one on the first timed sections, testing the participants’ skills with a mix of dirt and paved roads over a total of 370 Km. Not bad for a first day. During the midday stop in El Santuario, we had a chance to talk to some of the competitors, including Martin Sucari racing on his own in his Renault 5. He kindly invited one of us to be his navigator for the afternoon and the experience was phenomenal.
As we headed on through the free timed sections of the rally we talked about his love of automobiles and especially for rally cars from the 70s and 80s.
“My love for cars started back when I was 16-17 years old and drove an Alfa Romeo 1300 Spyder. Of course, the car broke down on the way to meet my girlfriend, so to avoid that happening again, I read as much about a car’s mechanics and everything related as I could. We’re fortunate to live in this time when you can test-drive everything from the last 100 years of car development and my goal is to test as many interesting cars as possible. Through the years my taste has evolved and as a driver who has tested all the best cars, I can honestly say you only need a couple of 50s Ferraris like the 250 – 275 series and 5 rally cars from the 70s and 80s: a rally-spec Lancia Stratos, a Renault R5 Turbo, a Lancia 037, a 205 Turbo 16 Group B, a Delta S4, and an Integrale.
I am fortunate to have most of these cars and they deliver the best driving experience. Last year I brought my Lancia Stratos rally spec and this time I’m doing it with my R5 Turbo 2 Group 4 “Radiola”. I bought it from a French friend who had it since new and shipped it over nearly 10 years ago. The car has been kept stock from its early days of racing without any further modification. It came 5th in the 1986 Tour de Corse rally behind Jean Ragnotti and was raced all the way through the end of the 80s. It’s such a pleasure to drive a piece of history and you have to show it the respect it deserves.”
On the second day, we traveled with our friends from the CAS Club through the longest day of driving on the rally, a route of more than 550 km, heading north to Junin De Los Andes in the province of Neuquen. A mid-way stop at the stunning lakeside Hotel Correntoso gave us another chance to talk to some of the participants, such as Dr. Oscar Civile, driving a rare Lancia Flaminia Convertible 2.8.
“One day, my wife and I were invited to a classic car event and we just caught the bug. This 1961 Lancia Flaminia Convertible 2.8 is one of 180 and probably the only one in South America. I love its design and elegance, I acquired this car from a friend of mine and I feel very fortunate to own such an incredibly well designed Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. It’s very comfortable and I try to do as many rallies as possible; most of the time with my wife but this time I’m participating with friends.
The final stage was about 370 km, and sunny weather welcomed us back to the Hotel Llao Llao. This was much appreciated by drivers Alejandro López and Gabriel Gourovich who completed the rally in a Delage DMS from 1927.
One thing everyone agreed on was that in the end, no matter who wins the race, the important thing is to enjoy the ride, to drive tastefully with friends and family, and to create unforgettable moments by sharing our passion for cars.