3/3/1893 - 5/2/1961
Record updated 03-Mar-23
As great as Fangio was, Ernesto Blanco was the national hero. Unlike Fangio, he never went to Europe to race, but in Argentina, his record was unsurpassed.
He and two other fine Argentinian drivers, Raúl Riganti and Antonio Gaudino, who was actually born in Italy and emigrated to Argentina, were called "Los Tres Mosqueteros" ("The Three Musketeers").
Born in 1893, Blanco began his motor racing career with motorcycles in the early 1920s, but by the 1926 he had won the ACA 12 hour race at the Circuito do Morón. His original racing car's provenance is relatively unknown, maybe Indy or maybe from the distributor in Buenos Aires who had changed the name of the car to Rio, as the word Reo in Spanish translates as 'criminal'.
Blanco is said to have owned two REO. The second one was built in Buenos Aires. This second Reo was designed by Macoco de Alzaga and Luis Viglione one afternoon in 1930. “We were trying to copy the “Gold Seal Special” of Guadno, which was a gorgeous car,” said de Alzaga. The body was new, but the car was mechanically very similar to the Chrysler they were copying. They kept the Reo engine, rated at 125 hp, although displacement was increased to around 7 litres. They fitted Winfield carburettors and a custom exhaust manifold, but changed little else. According to de Alzaga, the result was good for 180 hp–190 hp, more than enough to be competitive. The standard Reo “silent second” transmission was retained, as was the spiral-bevel rear axle.
If you could fix the chassis to get the centre of gravity down and fit a lightweight racing body, there was no reason it couldn’t be a very competitive car. That’s exactly what they did. They modified the rear of the chassis by increasing the curvature and lowering the frame down over the axle. In addition, the front-to-rear weight balance was lopsided, given the huge size and weight of the inline 8-cylinder engine, so they moved the drivetrain back several inches. Volpi brakes were added later.
Blanco began racing this car in September 1931 and, in what is believed to be its first outing, he finished second. Over the next ten years, Blanco would earn an astonishing twelve 1st place finishes, along with five 2nd and a half dozen 3rd and 4th place finishes. Although Blanco retired the Reo in 1955, he continued racing until just before his death in 1961.
Motor racing was highly popular in Argentina, and the competition was intense, with many of the best cars in the world brought in to compete. In this demanding environment, Blanco and this Reo managed podium finishes for 22 years, from 1931 through 1954, a truly monumental accomplishment for both and certainly the stuff of legend.
Ernesto Blanco also raced a 308 GP Alfa.