The Carlos Pace Story

With friendships at school there are always those problems. Sometimes they exist for a year, sometimes for the time of being in school, but sometimes also for a life and for a career. Wilson Fittipaldi jr, son of a famous radio correspondent, and Carlos Pace were schoolfriends. Young Emerson, two and three years younger, was very close behind them.

In Brazil they were, in spite of being the same age, no war-babies. The fate of a Jochen Rindt they were not confronted with. They played football and drove go karts, both with enthusiasm and a lot of ambition. For their material existence they had not spent any sorrows on. First Emerson took the risk to go to England, Pace followed soon, for Wilson jr it took a little longer. At that time someone, who wanted to enter Grand Prix racing had to go through the hell of the British Formula 3. This was held nearly exclusively in the cool rain and no alternative did exist in contrast to the times later. To send a Brazilian into the British Formula 3 is nearly the same as sending a Bedouin onto the North Pole. He will suffer extremely. Emerson and Carlos lost weight dramatically during that time.

In 1970 Emerson was able to join a great works team, Lotus, and that was mainly forced by the fact, that Rindt announced his retirement for the end of the season, maybe a little rashly. With Bruce McLaren and above all Piers Courage he had lost two friend that year. And Stirling Moss has highly recommended "this Brazlian with the funny name" to Ford director Walter Hayes. When the leading B.R.M. of Pedro Rodriguez ran out of fuel in Watkins Glen 1970, to come into the pits for refuelling shortly before the finish, Emerson took his first victory when competing in only his forth Grand Prix. Brazil`s rise onto the top Formula One nations had just begun.

Carlos Pace entered the business in his slip-stream in Kyalami 1972. Wilson jr followed a little later in Jarama, also in a works team, at Brabham, partnered by Argentina`s rising star Carlos Reutemann, but above all by the legendary Graham Hill. He gave a youngster the possibility to learn a lot from, also without opening his famous black book. Hill won, after he had succeeded in Indianapolis and in two drivers`championships before, also in Le Mans that year. In a French Matra and with Henri Pescarolo, also being a star, as his co-driver. This guy was Pace`s experienced team mate in the privately owned March team of Frank Williams. This experience did not help the Frenchman very much that time, because he had a lot of of very big shunts and the series of write-offs did not want to stop. Frank Williams, on the move to become a works team of his own rights, had to pay a lot of great bill in Bicester. Anyhow there were sponsors, Motul from France and Politoys from Italy, and Ron Tauranac, who had been sacked before at Brabham by Bernie Ecclestone, was the technical advisor. In contrast to Pescarolo, who drove the March Ford 721 and, in the British Grand Prix, the Politoys Ford, Pace sat in the 711 from 1971 the whole year, only being revised in details by Tauranac. To score his first worldchampionship points in his only fourth Grand Prix was a fine success, because Nivelles is not Waterloo, in spite you can go from one town to the other as a pedestrian very easily. But it should take nearly another one and a half years, before Pace was able to score points again.

After the disappointing end of the Politoys Ford project at Brands Hatch, when Pescarolo escaped the repeating of Jo Siffert`s inferno of October 1971 only by an extraordinary portion of luck, Frank Williams signed contracts with Italian sportscar manufacturer Iso Rivolta and Marlboro. But Pace was reminded of the desaster, Williams had gone in with the de Tomaso Ford (Designer: Gianpaolo Dallara) in 1970. Some younger people learn from history very, very fast. And Pace was not only intelligent, but also hard-working. You can say: He was Latin America`s answer to Niki Lauda.

At Rob Walker and John Surtees he thought to be an the secure side, because a V12 he did not want to drive that time. He knew very well, how difficult it is to establish himself in Formula One and to remain there contantly. The risks for his career taking a downturn did not come from the engines, but from the Firestone tyres that year, maybe used by Surtees, because also being in the need for their money. The TS14, wide and elegant, was a good car. No Tyrrell, Lotus or McLaren, but in general good for winning, had it been on Goodyears. Pace brought the car home 4th on the Nuerburgring and 3rd in Zeltweg and in both Grand Prix he did the fastest laps. But there were also quarrels within Team Surtees about the set up. Mike Hailwood, maybe the greatest genius of all times when riding bikes, the team`s number one, was not really interested in the complicated Formula one technology. Because on this field you have to work really. For this reason John Surtees was not only the team`s chairman, but also their test driver, but what he had developed mainly at Goodwood, worked well for Hailwood, but not always for Pace. He had got his own, excellent ideas, but to carry them through, took until mid-season. John Surtees had ever been a man of strong principles, but in some rare cases, that is not always good in a reality.

For 1974 the man from Edenbridge/Kent, also being a multiple motorcycle world champion, constructed the TS16, small like a Formula 3 car and fragile like an early Lotus. And he insisted to stay with Firestone, Surtees did not want to go away from. There had been a terrible quarrell with Walker and Hailwood, both switching to the Yardley McLaren of Phil Kerr. Carlos Pace became the number one in the team, the young German Jochen Mass drove the second car. In a column for a German magazine Mass declared, that the TS16 would become as competitive as the Tyrrell Ford 005/006 of Stewart and Cevert. A big, well-known sponsor was signed up, Bang & Olufsen from Denmark produce luxery Hi Fi equipment and television sets, but John Surtees claims until today, that they had not paid a single Cent ever. But the TS16 was not only too slow, it was also dangerous. Pace and Mass had left the team until mid-season because of so many suspension breaks, when the TS16 claimed the life of a driver: In Watkins Glen the young Austrian Helmut Koinigg, a student of technolgy and journalism, at that moment writing his thesis, was killed.

Carlos Pace had become nervous. His 30th birthday was not far away, he was married and father of 2 children. His wife and both the kids had the same bithday: The 7th of May. At Brabham Rikky von Opel, partnered by the often pretty weak character of Carlos Reutemann, showed the same poor performance, as he had done the year before at Ensign. But it took a while to make up his mind, considering his retirement would be the best solution for both sides. Until this point had come, Carlos Pace drove for the privately owned Brabham team of Hexagon sponsored by John Goldie, a wealthy London car dealer, at the side of John Watson. When Pace got a bad `flu during the French Grand Prix at Dijon, he was not able to qualify for the race for the first and last time of his career.

But then the things developed very fast. Gordon Murray, the South African with the passion for red wine and pop music, himself looking like a rock star, technologist and aesthete, was the absolute number one among the designers, a man making trends liked it only had been done by Colin Chapman. Bernie Ecclestone liked Pace at once. In contrast to Reutemann, who only was able to fight, when everything went into the right direction, his second Carlos was both quick and constant. Set-backs made him even stronger, while the Argentinian was near to resignation. When Brabham switched to the Alfa Romeo 180° 12 cylinder flat engines in 1976, many things went wrong and in Italy the unit sometimes was called communist engine, Reutemann left the team mid-season to buy himself out of his contract by spending a lot of his private money. The rivalry of Pace, in the greater teams usual for better performance of both drivers, he was not able to endure. Before that, he had to see, how a whole Latin American nation had celebrated Pace winning the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos, while only an 8th place had remained for himself.

But that should remain Pace`s only Grand Prix victory, because his career was an unfinished one like those of many other drivers. In 1977 the Brabham Alfa Romeo BT45 became a potential wiinner with the most powerful engine of the whole grid, having only one disadvantage: It consumed much too much fuel. But surely the engineer Pace would have been able to solve this problem, too, and it had not taken a lot of time certainly. Carlos Pace might have been Brazil`s second Formula One world champion, before Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna had been able to do so. After 1974 he and John Watson had become team mates again and the Ulsterman is a gentleman. Bernie Ecclestone said later: "If Pace had not lost his life, there had been no need for Lauda for me in 1978 and 1979."

Grand Prix drivers are a very special kind of people. From the aggressiveness necessary on the tracks they cannot really switch to the mentality of a German railway officer in private life. For this reason they are confronted with higher risks there, as when competeting. Nino Farina, Mike Hawthorn and Mike Hailwood were killed in their road cars. Ron Flockart, Graham Hill, Tony Brise, Harald Ertl and David Purley died in air-crashes, Rupert Keegan and David Coulthard were able to survive with a lot of luck. Once Patrick Depailler was taken to hospital for several months after a heavy shunt with the delta-glider and later also Emerson Fittipaldi, at this time of an age of over 50 years, lucky escaped the fate of sitting in a wheel-chair when crashing with his ultra light.

The 18th March, 1977 was a Saturday and in Brands Hatch the traditional Race of Champions took place, when the news from the heavy jungle far away from Sao Paulo came to Europe. It was an air-craft with only one engine facing a thunderstorm. There were no survivors, with Pace his flying instructor and the owner of the plane died.

The romantic names, belonging to many Brazilian sportsmen or artist, like the footballer Pele or the television presenter Xuxa, do not exist for the Grand Prix drivers. Wilson jr was named after his father, Emerson after the great US-American philosopher. Piquet`s real name is Soutomajor and Senna`s da Silva. And also Josč Carlos Pace had got another name when being a school-boy: Moco, and that means in English hard of hearing man.

Klaus Ewald



graphics by project * 2000



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