The Gran Premio Argentino Histórico Honors A History Scrappy Road Rallying
Photography by Alvaro Pinzón
It’s nice to daydream about taking a hyper exotic car to a hyper exotic place, but you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars of disposable income to experience the joys of driving, and this holds true for the vintage sect too, proven recently among the participants in the 15th running of the Gran Premio Argentino Histórico road rally.
In the 1950s, the Automovil Club Argentino (ACA), started what became known as the Argentinian GP (not to be confused with the former Formula 1 event in the country, this was akin to road rallying, part of a series of races that made up the Turismo Carretera). In the years that followed, the race was run sporadically before ceasing altogether, but during the golden age of Argentinian motorsports (the ‘50s) it saw plenty of action, and the ACA has been hosting the Gran Premio Histórico Argentino in honor of those exciting years where the Gálvez brothers were racing against the likes of Juan Fangio and Froilán González (overall winner at Le Mans in ’54, and the first man to win a GP for Ferrari, in 1951) on the hard-packed and rutted roads that were a far cry from the smooth circuits of Formula racing.
I had the honor of being invited to the staging area at the start of the three-day rally earlier in November, and saw well over 100 cars (from years 1957-1975) come streaming out of the Plaza del Libertador in the city of Buenos Aires, from former TC competitors like the custom Ford and Chevy coupes known as cupecitas, to the staples of vintage road rallying in South America like Peugeot 404s, Volvo 544s, Fiat 1500s, Ford Falcons, IKA Torinos (like the cars that did so well in the 84-hour long Nürburgring race, the Marathon de la Route), and of course, plenty of Renault Gordinis.
I enjoyed the close up view of the cars and their drivers, but much more exciting was the chance to see these cars mingling in the street with typical daily traffic—there’s a certain flutter in the heart, seeing them “out in the wild,” as it were. Lawn shows and rows of pristine cars are all well and good, but to see them in the context of more pedestrian, newer, blander vehicles makes the classics all the easier to fall in love with. At this point nothing is being timed, and the departure from Buenos Aires is more of a symbolic stage in the course of the weekend, the cars assembling here before setting off to the small town of Bragada where the timed portions kick off.
The entirety of the rally will see the cars attempting to cross a few provinces in the country, with six stages in total taking the group through Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Misiones, and a smattering of small towns within and in between those provinces.
Despite being a rally for historic cars, the full course totals roughly 3,565km. This is not a ceremonial drive nor a parade lap. You need to take this kind of distance seriously if you want to place well, and the drivers and navigators need to be on top of things for stretches of 600km at a time, meaning the drivers had to stay in the cars for about eight to ten hours each day, for consecutive days, an incredible feat that is accomplished by both pro and amateur drivers in the GPH. Some of them run with their sons or friends and take it less seriously, but regardless of performance it’s an incredible feeling of passion and partnership and family that emanates from these people, whether they were driving or just leaning on the fences next to me.