Nasif Estefano

Nasif Estefano

18/11/1932 - 21/10/1973

Nasif Moises Estefano started racing in the Turismo Carratera. He failed to qualify for the 1962 Italian Grand Prix in a deTomaso. Returned to Argentina and won the 1965 and 1966 Argentine F3 Shampionship. Went back to Turismo Carratera endurance events but was killed in the Gran Prémio de la Reconstrucción Nacional.

An Argentinian driver who was highly regarded on his own shores, started his racing career in 1955 in Turismo Carretera races.

In 1960 he had his debut in Formula 1 at Buenos Aires in the Argentinean Grand Prix at the wheel of a private Maserati 250F, finishing the race in eighth place.

Estefano was tempted to Europe and he acquired a single-seater Junior built by Alejandro De Tomaso for the 1961 Formula Junior season.

In 1962 he drove the singularly unsuccessful De Tomaso 801 in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and in a few non-championship events the following season.

At the end of that season he returned to Argentina to race in the Mecánica Nacional Fórmula Uno series, the country’s top single-seater championship and won back-to-back championships in 1963 and 1964.

He continued to race sports cars in Europe and in 1964 Nasif shared a Porsche 904GTS with compatriot Andrea Vianini, in the Reims 12-hour race, taking fifth place overall and class victory and taking tenth overall in the 1000 Kilometers of Nürburgring. he also took in rounds of the European Touringcar Championship, in which he took part with an Alfa Romeo Giulia TI. His best result with the latter was a fourteenth overall in the Grosser Preis der Tourenwagen at the Nürburgring.

On his return to South America, Estefano raced in the Turismo Carretera championship, driving a Ford Falcon and an IKA Torino, as well as quickly asserting his skills becoming the Argentine F3 champion in 1965 and 1966 driving a Brabham BT15 and a Lotus 41. He was rightly regarded as one of the best local talents when the visiting teams from Europe contested the F3 Temporada series.

In 1972 he won three races in the Turismo Carretara, finishing the championship just behind Héctor Luís Gradassi – who, like him, drove a Ford Falcon.

In 1973 Estéfano was the main force Turismo Carretera, winning five races in what seemed to be an unstoppable march to the title. One of the last events of the season was the Gran Prémio de la Reconstrucción Nacional, a two-stage race held in a “circuito rutero” – a circuit using public roads - on the mountains around Concepción. The first round, a 443-kilometer stretch from Concepción to La Banderita, Singuil, La Puerta, Catamarca, Las Chañaritas, San Martín, Chumbicha, Bazan and then to the finish line in La Rioja, was raced on Friday, 19 October, with start at 9h30. Estéfano hold the lead at the end of this leg, scoring five points that would be enough to allow him to clinch the title as the Hermanos Suárez retired from the race with engine problems. However, Estéfano’s celebration would be dimmed by the death of driver Humberto Pasciulli, who lost his life in when his Chevrolet went off the road and fell into a ravine.

On Saturday, October 20, the crews and their cars rested in La Rioja before taking on the two last stages of the Gran Prémio the following day. The second and last stage would take the competitors back from La Rioja to Concepción, but the route was not a mere inversion of the one used for the first leg. Instead, it went from La Rioja to Bazan, Carrizal, Aimogasta, Alpasinche, Londres, Belén, Andalgalá, La Banderita and then to Concepción, covering 454,3 kilometers.

The start took place at 9h00, and past Bazan and Carrizal, Estéfano continued to lead, with his team mate Gradassi in second. Heading towards Aimogasta, some 108 kilometers from the start Estéfano, maybe surprised by the different route used for that leg of the race, let two wheels of his Ford Falcon drop off the road when going around a very fast uphill bend. The wheels hit a sandbank, and the car rolled several times. Estéfano’s safety belt broke and he was thrown out onto the rod - only to be hit by is own car, which fell on top of him. He suffered terrible injuries, which included multiple traumas to the skull, spinal and chest fractures and a broken left foot. He died on his way to hospital in Aimogasta. His co-driver José Pacione was unhurt.

A report found no mechanical failure, leading to the conclusion that Estéfano had just made a tragic mistake. Gradassi was the winner of the race, and Estéfano was crowned the 1973 Turismo Carretera champion, the only posthumous winner in the history of the series.

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