Borgward Competition History in Argentina
Mr Angel Cacuri member of the Red Trefoil circa 1958
“That category will not produce successful drivers … it is only for marques … no driver will become well known …”. These were the comments of the Argentinian automobile cognoscenti in the 1960’s. But, the following years were to prove them wrong. The Standard Tourism (TS), Tourism Improved (TM), and later Annexed J Tourism Improved race classes produced great results that gave the drivers a powerful, enthusiastic and passionate following. The series did not use formulas. It was sufficient to enter in speed events to prove the suitability of a marque and also to discover its faults. As a result, technical improvements and rational solutions to the problems were a spin-off from competition, which brought about improvements to the product. A win would promote sales, whilst a failure would bring about improvements. In view of the political and economic conditions in the country in 1957, the Standard Tourism class offered the opportunity for people to race ordinary production cars without the need to invest millionaire sums.
Of course, the Standard class did not raise drivers to the iconic status of a Fangio, but it had the virtue of being popular. Thus, the neighbour who runs, a companion brother, or a long- lost friend became the “great ones” of Standard Tourism. So, with the aid of a large number of enthusiasts, a driver would, by trial and error, try out production cars for their suitability and reliability under severely demanding mechanical and climatic conditions.
It was in 1958, on the occasion of the Standard Grand Prix (Gran Premio Argentino), that Roberto Lamela Díaz, Juan Angel Diez, Angel Edmundo Cacuri and Alfredo López Quijada formed the Scudería, “The Red Trefoil”, around the Isabella TS, on the basis of their great affection and admiration for Borgward. The name, “Trefoil”, or four-leaved clover, was thought up by Roberto Lamela Díaz after his experience in the Grand Prix the previous year.
For seven years, the four raised the enjoyment of the sport by adding spice to its popular passion. They created moments and landmarks, which are difficult to forget. For example, the performance of the Scudería during the International Grand Prix of 1961. With cars that the German factory, in Bremen, had assembled to run in Argentina, team drivers Gastón Perkins and Lamela Díaz finished 6th and 7th, respectively, in the general classification behind the official Mercedes Benz and Alfa Romeo teams. In their class, 1100 – 1500cc, (Peugeot 403’s were their principal rivals) Borgward had held the first five positions on the first two stages of the race. At the end, only one other car in the class finished behind the two winning Borgwards. This happened only a few days after the Borgward factory, in Germany, closed. Also, it is worth pointing out the seven wins in twelve races that the Scudería achieved in 1962 and the consecutive victories of Lamela Díaz in Ensenada and Tandil (nr. Buenos Aires). In the latter race, “The fat person” (as they nicknamed Roberto) was almost unbeatable in the race statistics, achieving an average record speed of 140.273 km/h, which was not surpassed for a long time. The top speed of the race was 185 km/h at about 6,700 rpm. Also, in 1962, Angel Cacuri was runner up in the Argentinian championship.
The amateur style of the race drivers was epitomised in a famous anecdote about Oscar Marcolongo, “ The Lord of the Roads” (as people called him), in the Grand Prix of 1959. Marcolongo was not party to the official Borgward equipment and was a member of the Scudería, “The Trunks”, with colleagues Claudio Fernández and Danilo Costanzi. Whilst fighting out first position in the race with his friend Rodriguez Larreta, he stopped to give the latter five litres of fuel when his car became stranded in a desert place called Mine Capillitas. At the end of the race, Rodriguez Larreta was best classified and won.
The Isabella TS gave much satisfaction to the drivers, but the cessation of production of the cars put the drivers at quite a disadvantage against other marques.
It is worth mentioning that during a visit by the Borgward Team to Germany, in 1961, many technical solutions were provided to the problems that the cars suffered. However, the best performance was obtained from the development, which the drivers did in their search for the ultimate limits. This is not completely acknowledged in the History of Races in Argentina. Without becoming idols of the ‘snobs’, the drivers were shown to have the aptitudes and attitudes of true racing drivers. They were quick and effective on block pavé, dirt roads, debris or mountain.
Today, almost forty years after the last participation of the marque in a Grand Prix in 1966, the brothers Javier and Hernan Anselmo Goñi got on board an Isabella TS de-Luxe (owned by Roberto Lamela Díaz – most faithful follower of the marque) to appear once again in a Scudería running in the II Historical Grand Prix YPF. The return to the tracks of this historic car was the result of a meticulous work of recovery in which the “leit motiv” was to maintain intact the mechanics, the appearance and the spirit of the car. This was possible with the active participation of three of the greatest drivers who brought honour to Borgward: Lamela Díaz, Marcolongo and Cacuri. Thus, was reborn a car, a marque, and a Scudería, the history of which has been jealously cherished by each one of them – especially Roberto – for four decades.
The agreement of the Argentinian Car Club to allow the “old” drivers to participate in the II Revival Grand Prix by flagging off the participants from the starting ramp means that a small part of motoring history is remembered and lives on to the present day.
After the experience of the Grand Prix and feedback received from all parts of the country, the Club Borgward Argentina was formed. The drivers of the Red Trefoil are honorary partners and so far, eighteen additional members have joined. The Club’s car count is at present fifteen, which includes several Isabella TS’s, Saloons, and Coupés.
Javier E. Anselmo Goñi
A dinner for honorary members of the CBA : H. Goñi, O. Marcolongo, J. Goñi, G. Perkins, A. Cacuri, R. Lamela Díaz and J. Lostaló.
Javier's car in 1961 finishing 2nd in the V gran Premio circuit in Buenos Aires
Gastón Perkins at the wheel
of the winning 1961 TS
before the start of a race in Costanera Norte.
Javier and Hernan Anselmo Goñi participating in the X Gran Premio 1966
The racing team visits the Borgward factory in 1961
Roberto Lamela Diaz and E. Gerlero drivers in Gran premio in 1966
Roberto Lamela Diaz and E. Gerlero drivers in Gran premio in 1966 Pampa de Achala
Roberto Lamela Diaz in 1966 X Gran Premio ACA this is now Javier's car
The Lord of the Roads Oscar Marcolongo
Oscar Marcolongo being interviewed at the start of races like old times.
Oscar Marcolongo wrote to Bill Blydenstein many times for help in improving the power of his cars
and here is a pdf file of some of those letters Blydenstein Engine Mods.
Sadly, on Sunday, 27 July, 2008, at the age of 88, Sr. Oscar Marcolongo died. He was rememberd as “ The Lord of the Roads” (as people called him), in the Grand Prix of 1959. Marcolongo was party to the official Borgward equipment and was a member of the Scudería, “The Trunks”, with colleagues Claudio Fernández and Danilo Costanzi. Whilst fighting out first position in the race with his friend Rodriguez Larreta, he stopped to give the latter five litres of fuel when his car became stranded in a desert place called Mine Capillitas. At the end of the race, Rodriguez Larreta was best classified and won.
He participated in countless races in Tourism Standard with Borgward Isabella. In 1961 he visited the Borgward Factory in Bremen to prepare and later import the race cars to Argentine.In the 70's was Team Director of the Scuderia Dealers Fiat and in the 80's was the General Coordinator of the Lancia team for the Rally of Argentina.
Oscar probably will be directing and preparing his "new" race with so many friends who made in the world of the races.
Thank you for everything and you will always be remembered "Lord of the Roads".
A los 88 años de edad nos dejó
el "Caballero del Camino" Oscar Marcolongo quien fuera en sus inicios
corredor de motonáutica en fuerza libre e hiciera debutar en la categoría
a Regnicoli (hijo). Fue uno de los miembros del recordado Equipo Oficial Borgward
y creador de la Escudería Los Troncos. Participó en infinidad
de carreras de Turismo Standard con el Borgward Isabella, incluso en la categoría
de Turismo Carretera en Tres Arroyos y Carlos Paz. En la década del 70
fue Director de Equipo de la Scuderia Concesionarios Fiat y ya en los 80 fue
Coordinador General del equipo Lancia para el Rally de Argentina.
Marcolongo será recordado entre tantas otras cosas por su gesto que le valiera uno de sus apodos durante el transcurso de la Etapa a Tucumán del Gran Premio de 1959 en el cual le dio 5 litros de nafta a Larry a fin de que este llegara hasta su auxilio aún cuando luego finalizara dicho Gran Premio en segunda posición detrás del Peugeot 403. También por su record en un Gran Premio desde el ACA hasta Arrecifes en 1 hora 20 minutos, inclusive un muy buen tiempo hoy en día con autopista.Oscar seguramente estará dirigiendo y preparando su "nueva" carrera junto a tantos amigos que le había dejado el automovilismo.
Gracias por todo y siempre te tendremos en el recuerdo "Caballero del Camino"
Arq. Hernán Goñi
Presidente Club Borgward Argentina
Javier E. Anselmo Goñi historic racing in 2005
SAN JUAN - III GRAN PREMIO HISTORICO ACA 2005
CATAMARCA - III GRAN PREMIO HISTORICO ACA 2005
TUCUMAN (1) - III GRAN PREMIO HISTORICO ACA 2005
TUCUMAN - III GRAN PREMIO HISTORICO ACA 2005
Co pilot at "work" in a Gran Premio. Note the roll cage
Sadly, on Wednesday, 19 April, 2006, at the age of 78, Sr. Gastón Perkins died. He was a leading figure in Argentinian motor sport and an honorary member of the Club Borgward Argentina. During an extensive career in motor sport his outstanding triumph was with an official team Isabella TS in the V International Standard Grand Prix of 1961.
We are also sorry to report the passing of Roberto Lamela Diaz on the 12th September, 2006, in Argentina. You will recall from the September NewsSheet, that Roberto (affectionately nick-named "the fat person") was a member of the ‘Red Trefoil’ team, which put Borgward on the South American competition map in, and after, 1958. We extend our sympathies to his wife and sons.