Senna’s eternal ties with Argentina: karting competitions, a podium with Reutemann, his love affair with Fangio and the only visit to the Autódromo de Buenos Aires

Senna’s eternal ties with Argentina: karting competitions, a podium with Reutemann, his love affair with Fangio and the only visit to the Autódromo de Buenos Aires
Senna’s eternal ties with Argentina: karting competitions, a podium with Reutemann, his love affair with Fangio and the only visit to the Autódromo de Buenos Aires

Ayrton Senna the day he visited the Buenos Aires Autodrome, in 1993. Next to him, Felipe McGough (@fmcgough)

That noon in November 1993, Ayrton senna arrived at the Ezeiza International Airport. He took his private plane and returned to Brazil for his well-deserved vacation in Angra dos Reis. But she left with a special enthusiasm because at last he had known the Buenos Aires Autodrome Oscar and Juan Gálvez. It was a whirlwind visit to the scene where he longed to race in October of the following year, the original date for the return of Formula 1 to Argentina (later it took place in April 1995). The expected reunion did not come. He was killed in that accident in Imola, on May 1, 1994. We Argentines could not see him in the Máxima. And the Brazilian did not manage to race again in our country, where he had a connection since his beginnings in motorsports.

Already in karting, Senna made Argentine friends. The first one he was very close to was Marcelo García Lobeloswho covered the specialty for CORSA. They met at the Sudamericano in San José (Uruguay) in 1977. Ayrton, who was 17 years old at the time (he was born on 03/21/1960), needed someone to help him with the dissemination and allowed him to publish his notes in the first place. person. He valued his colleague so much that in 1991, after being a three-time F1 champion and being the best driver on the planet, he invited him to the inauguration of his kart track in San Pablo.

Although in those South American tournaments he forged more friendships like those from San Juan Henry Martin and the porteño Gustavo Der Ohanessian. Both, in addition, were his clients, since they bought items that the Paulista stopped using. Ayrton, although he had some sponsors, also needed to sell because he did not have enough budget at the beginning. Those were the times of his only races in Argentina. First in San Juan, on April 6 and 8, 1979. There the contest was held at the El Zonda Kartódromo. Senna was runner-up behind his compatriot Deccio Bellini.

In chat with Infobae, Der Ohanessian recalled an anecdote from another Senna visit. “We were at the Panther factory, which was the chassis I raced with. Henry (Martin) and his father, Pocho, were also there. I was 14/15 years old. And Roberto Brea, the owner of the factory, told me ‘Gus, Take my car and go look for it in Ayrton, Ezeiza. Bring it here and then we’ll take it to the hotel.’ I was carrying vegetables. I hit him in the middle so hard that the car stayed where it was. I broke the entire trunk and the radiator. We never went to look for him. He got a terrible fever and took a taxi to the hotel. “We saw him on the track one day and he insulted us, but when we told him what happened he laughed his ass off.” Anyway, the Brazilian couldn’t race because he didn’t have an Argentine license…

Ayrton Senna in action at the 1979 South American Karting in San Juan. Behind him appears Gustavo Der Ohanessian

In 1981 he was invited by the Karting Association, which organized an international event for the Seniors category in the town of Saldan, on November 14 and 15. He dropped out in the first and third races. However, in the remaining one he was second. In the sum of times he finished eighth in the general classification.

It was in England where he made silver friends. At that time he used his paternal surname and became known as “Ayrton da Silva”. First he generated a good bond with Enrique Mansilla, despite the fact that they had clashes on and off the track in British Formula Ford. In a race at Mallory Park in 1981, the Brazilian grabbed him by the neck and those who were with them prevented them from coming to blows.

Another compatriot who was close is Victor Ruben Rosso, with whom he competed in 1982 in Formula Ford 2000. The treatment between both of them was very good. The man from Cordoba had to stop running on the islands due to the Malvinas War, but the friendship continued and they stayed in contact. They met again at a German Formula 3 race at the Nürburgring in 1985. Later, in 1993, it was Senna who came up to greet him at Suzuka, at the Japanese Grand Prix (his penultimate victory in F1).

In Great Britain, Senna raced and was champion of Formula Ford 1,600 in 1981, Formula Ford 2,000 in 1982 and Formula 3 in 1983. He then debuted in the Máxima in 1984 and his story is well known: three world titles with McLaren (1988, 1990 and 1991), 41 victories, 65 pole positions (a record broken by Michael Schumacher in 2006) and 19 lap records.

Ayrton Senna and Enrique Mansilla were rivals in the British Formula Ford (Enrique Mansilla).

While playing his debut season in F1, Ayrton was invited by Mercedes Benz for a promotional race of the 190 E 2.3-16 model. 20 F1 drivers competed, including former drivers and others who were active. It was on the small circuit that it debuted at the Nürburgring. After 12 laps, Senna won that competition. They escorted him to the podium Niki Lauda and Carlos Alberto Reutemann.

While there was an Argentine who marked it and was Juan Manuel Fangio. He always said that Chueco was the best pilot in history. Every time they were able to meet at a circuit where F1 raced, they had warm talks. And it was in Brazil, in 1993, when an emotional peak was seen. After his victory, the Quintuple gave him the trophy, Senna hugged him and pointed to him in front of everyone saying “he is number 1.”

Throughout his career he showed that he was the best and he still is. But above all he is a great man.“Ayrton said about the Balcarceño. On one occasion the Brazilian was able to have dinner with Fangio in Buenos Aires. Between 1991 and 1993, after the F1 season in Australia, Senna took a transpolar flight to Argentina for events organized by Marlboro (then McLaren’s main sponsor). But he also came because he liked our country.

That summit meeting was in 1991 and there was shared praise. Fangio indicated that “The young man is doing very well. He has a lot of time, many conditions. I wish him the best because apart from being a great driver he is a great man and that is the most important thing.” Senna was not far behind and assured that “it is very great to be able to share some moments of my career with Fangio. He always showed a lot of love for me, affection and admiration. “He was the driver who won five world titles.” And he gave a wink to his followers in our country. “A hug to all Argentine friends and who knows, in some future, the F1 Grand Prix will return to Argentina, because the passion that Argentine fans have for racing is as great or greater than that of the Brazilians. Who knows, one day, if I continue racing, I may race in the return of F1 here in Buenos Aires”.

Meeting between Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio in 1991

Regarding those visits at the end of the year to our country, another compatriot who had a lot of contact with him is colleague Philip McGoughone of the people most responsible for the return of F1 from 1995 to 1998. He is one of the Argentines who best knows the environment of the Máxima. Infobae He also spoke with him and told rich anecdotes with Senna. Among them, his only visit to the Buenos Aires Autodrome.

“I met him in England, when he raced with ‘Quique’ Mansilla and ‘Bichín’ Rosso. But at first he was just one more. Then we had a very good relationship at the end of his career. When he was champion in 1991 he invited us to the inauguration of his kart track. He was a very simple guy. He loved Argentina because our motorsports had a lot of passion like in Brazil. “He took a transpolar flight from Australia to visit our country.”

“When he came in 1991 we interviewed him with Fernando Tornello and then he asked us if we could reunite him with Fangio. It was there that they met for dinner. Ayrton, whenever he could, wanted to see Juan.”

“In 1992, when he came from Australia, we went to look for him in Ezeiza to do the customs procedures. We agreed to make two notes in the VIP lounge at the airport, a long one for our program on Telefe (it broadcast the F1 races in the country), and another one was made by ‘Lanchita’ Bissio for VideoMatch, which was very funny. Well, it turns out that Ayrton gave me his passport and the immigration person who helped me told me ‘the first page is missing’. I walk back and Senna was looking at me out of the corner of his eye. And he told me ‘yes, I know, it was because of Berger’s son (Gerhard), who tore it from me before getting on the plane in Australia. It was a joke. But I didn’t have any problems because in Brazil they are going to let me in.” I went back to immigration and spoke to the same person and begged him ‘please let him pass. It’s Ayrton Senna!’ He replied ‘yes, I know it’s Senna… Okay, let it happen, but get out of here’. We got away and were able to interview him.”

Together with Ayrton Senna at the time of Formula Ford 2000 in 1982 (CORSA Archive)

“The one in 1993 was a visit to the region promoted by Marlboro, which included a press conference. That year there was another great anecdote because she stayed at the Four Seasons, the same hotel where he stayed. Michael Jackson. Ayrton told me ‘I want to meet Michael, can you help me?’ I knew Hector Cavallero and we talked. He was the producer who brought him to Jackson, who did not have time to meet Senna. “It would have been a great meeting.”

“There was another one in which on the podium in Brazil in 1993, when he won and greeted Fangio, he fluttered his cap and grabbed it. Juan Fossaroli (journalist in the F1 GGPP), who at that time was a cameraman. He grabbed it and kept it. Then when Senna came to our country that year he signed it for her. Ayrton remembered that cap and jokingly told him to give it back to him.” Colleague Fossaroli said that that cap was lost during a move in 2009…

“In 1993 we were already having conversations with Bernie Ecclestone to do the race in Argentina. Marlboro was the main sponsor and to handle the issue I coordinated to take it to Ayrton to see the Autódromo de Buenos Aires. Our idea was to use Circuit 15 (later 6 was used for safety reasons), which was where F1 raced in the seventies and until 1981. He remembered a lot about that time and talked about ‘Lole’ Reutemann. We took a walk around that route and he loved it. He imagined running there and hoped that soon we could close the date in Argentina. Then I took him to Ezeiza. Some time ago, Martin Salaverry son (in those years his father was responsible for the private management of the Autódromo) he sent me a photo in which the three of us are. That image is very special because it was the only time that Senna was at the Autodromo.”

By the way, Viviane Sennahis sister, in an interview with CORSA In 2018, he assured that “Ayrton would have liked to race in Argentina. He was very loved by the fans there and he also had enormous affection for the country.”

That afternoon in November 1993, Ayrton began his vacation, but he already imagined how he was going to run in Buenos Aires. It was not possible to see it in F1 at the Autodromo. Less than a year passed between his death and the return of the Máxima to our country, on April 9, 1995. That weekend, when the pilots had to qualify in the rain, everyone took several precautions and waited to go out. clue. It was very risky to do it on a new layout with a wet track. But he was present. Someone said “If Senna was alive, he would have been the first to go out for a spin”. He was already a legend without borders. And the love of the Argentines reached the sky with a flag whose dedication was “Ayrton: in Argentina, we love you just like we love Fangio and Reutemann”.

 
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