Oscar Cabalén

Oscar Cabalén

4/2/1928 - 25/8/1967

Oscar Cabalén was one of the heroes of the Argentinian motorsport in the 1960s.

Oscar Cabalén started racing in the Turismo Carretera category on July, 1st, 1950.

In 1953 he participated in the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico, finishing third in class. Returning the following year he finished seventh.

In 1955 he travelled to Italy for the Mille Miglia, driving an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce he came fifth. Throughout the year he travelled extnsively with his friend and mentor, Juan Manuel Fangio.

Back in Argentina, Cabalén finisihed runner up to Osca Galvez in the Turismo Carretera Championship in 1961.

In 1966 he won the Gran Premio de Turismo driving a Ford Mustang and in 1967 he was one of the members of the Ford Argentina racing team.

On Friday, 25 August 1967, Oscar was carrying out tests at the temporary Circuito de la Siderurgia in San Nicolás, Provincia de Buenos Aires, just prior to the upcoming 6th Gran Premio de Turismo Carretera General Manuel Savio to be held on the Sunday. Cabalén was driving a car designed by Horacio Steven and built by Baufer, which looked more like a sport-prototype than a typical Carretera; indeed, the vehicle was then known as Ford Prototipo, or Ford TC F.100 - as was written on the side. After completing a lap with his co-driver Horacio Pedernera aboard, it was his 35th Birthday, Cabalén stopped so that his mechanics could make a few adjustments.

Pedernera asked Cabalén if he wanted to use the support that he was carrying, so that he could be more comfortable. After a moments hesitation, Cabalén declined, and told Pedernera to put the support back in his road car. Pedernera left, and one of the mechanics, Guillermo Arnaiz, took this opportunity to ask Cabalén for a short ride in the Ford.

Once the changes were made Cabalén and Arnaiz departed. Going down one of the straights at more than 240 km/h, the Ford inexplicably veered to the left, over the hard on that side of the public road before crossing the pavement and climbing an embankment on the right side of the straight. The car flew into the air and, already in flames, landed some one hundred meters down the road back on its wheels. It was a most unusual accident, and tragically both Cabalén and Arnaiz lost their lives.

Cabalén, who was known by his fans as "El Califa Grande" (as opposed to Nasif Estéfano who was know as "El Califa Chico"), had fought long and hard for the construction of a purpose-built race track in Córdoba. Sadly he died before his dream came true. When the circuit was finally completed it was named after him.

The car in which Cabalén and Arnaiz lost their lives was the same one that was involved just a few days earlier in another racing accident at the Buenos Aires circuit. That accident claimed the life of J.L. Giménez, Atilio Viale del Carril's co-driver.

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