The pilot who started in seven Grands Prix in 1988 talked about his life and his career with Clarín, among anecdotes with Fangio and the past and present of the highest category.
Carlos Reutemann had just been runner-up in Formula 1. However, after running the first tests of the 1982 season in South Africa and Brazil, he announced the end of his career. The hope of a country was then supported by a 27-year-old pilot, who had been in Europe for two years and who would be consecrated that year European Formula 3 champion: Oscar Poppy Larrauri.
The santafesino had an offer from the French team Ligier and that is why he was encouraged to pick up the phone to call Amalia Lacroze from Fortabat with the illusion of getting the 300 thousand dollars in sponsors that I had to contribute to enter the Big circus.
But he had no support from her or anyone else. In an Argentina with a military dictatorship in the midst of a crisis of legitimacy, which sought to gain popularity in society by invoking nationalist sentiment with the Malvinas War, the concern did not go through having an Argentine in a Formula 1 dominated by English.
In this context, Larrauri stayed on foot. She bummed out. And he came to wonder what the meaning of being alone and far from his country was. “What am I doing here? What am I doing? I don’t run. Who is going to give me a car?”, He said to himself during those early mornings of 1983 in his apartment in Italy. Until one day something changed.
He had just had coffee in a bar when he ran out. “I have to show God that I am thirsty, that I have confidence. I have to go out and run. Why am I going to be so listless if I have a future. Last year I won in Formula 3,” he repeated himself as he climbed the steps agitated to change into sports clothes and go for a run.
“When I go out and cross the street, I start running and believe me I felt that God was greeting me, because it started to rain and the sparrows began to flutter. And I swear I was running and crying. I am excited to tell it because it was such a cute response that shortly after they called me to offer me a car“, Larrauri tells Clarion At 66, on the other end of the phone.
His story to become one of the 22 Argentine drivers who raced at least one Formula 1 Grand Prix is full of sacrifice. It goes back to his native Baigorria Grenadier, distributing meat and dreaming of racing cars. Includes dinners to raise funds to go running to Europe, with the bait of Juan Manuel Fangio as the star guest. And it includes the perseverance to, once there, keep the dream of arriving, even eight years later, in 1988, when he got a seat in Euro Brun.
In that debut season of a Formula 1 with pre-qualification, he managed to enter the starting grid of eight Grands Prix, although the first – the one in Brazil – did not run due to an electrical problem before the start. Two tests later, surprised in Monaco. He did a great job in the rain, which allowed him to qualify 18th – while his teammate, Stefano Modena, failed to get into the 26th in the final – although in the race he dropped out on lap 14.
“The good work came out in Monte-Carlo, where I was fighting the first five places underwater and I qualified as a result of so much experience on that track, where I had raced and finished second in Formula 3. I was racing with the Renault, I had studied the track and it favored me a lot, “he recalls about that performance in which, however, he made Giampaolo Pavanello, one of the owners of Euro Brun.
“What the fuck are you doing?”said the Italian after destroying the rear wing of one car and breaking the trunk of the other. “I was furious (sic) “, says Larrauri in a mixture between the Italian (angry) and Spanish (angry). “I hit everything. At one point in the pool, behind the pits, with the left front wheel I touched the wall and I realized why the car moved to the right a little. Two more millimeters and it would break the wheel and fly through the air. A mistake pays dearly and you go to the limit, really. But if you walk the Monte Carlo track, you will see how the walls are worn. They are touched by all the pilots “, clarifies.
In the next Grand Prix, that of Mexico, got his best result (13th), while he returned to consecutively enter the finals in Canada, the United States and France. Then he was 16th at the Hockenheimring circuit (Germany) and managed to be in the last race of the year, that of Australia. In 1989 he remained in the Euro Brun team, but, with a record of 39 entries, could no longer pass prequalification nor did the team put a car on the grid.
“Dreaming of going to Formula 1 was not immediate nor were you Ayrton Senna, but you arrived. You have the credit. Nobody had the obligation to give you a car, have faith or trust or that Argentina did not support you, “he speaks to himself.
“I never blamed anyone. There are people who are born with a star and there are people who have to go looking for them and I am one of those: If I want the star, I have to go find it, nobody is going to give it to me, “he remarks Poppy.
Perhaps that is why, when it comes to saying which moments were most important in your life, you choose “the worst.” Which are? “When I didn’t run and when I had the willpower to say: ‘Here I stay and I’m going to try to get to Formula 1’. I left in 1980 believing that I was going to beat everyone and the following year I was going to be racing in Formula 1. But the reality was stark: I arrived 8 years later I arrived. And I thought it was the blink of an eye, “he says.
And he adds: “Believing in people too, leaning on a lot and making friends. If I have to choose a moment, I highlight more the one of trust, security and the fight to achieve what I longed for.”