Tag Archives: Carlos Pace

F1weekly podcast # 490

Carlos Pace

“Moco” – The Missing Pilot

Interlagos, São Paulo. The annual pilgrimage of the F1 circus to the Brazilian city, the largest in southern hemisphere, is held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. It was at this track in 1975 that “Moco” – as he was affectionately known – led a one-two for local drivers in what turned out to be his only Grand Prix victory. His friend “Emmo” Fittipaldi was second.

Pace was born in São Paulo on October 6, 1944. His father was a textile industrialist and the young Pace started out in karting. He raced a Renault Dauphine early in his motor racing career. Then, armed with an Alfa-Romeo T33, he won the Brazilian Championship three years in a row, ’67 thru ’69.

Pace arrived on the European shores on the first wave of great Brazilian racing talent. In 1970, he won the Forward Trust Formula 3 Championship and also competed in the higher profile Lombank F3 Championship and placed third. In both series his Lotus 59 was entered by Jim Russell Racing Driver School.

The 1971 season saw him drive for Frank Williams in Formula 2. The highlight of the season was victory at Imola in a March 712.

The then ever-struggling Williams operation took him to Formula 1 in 1972. While his friend from their school days, Emerson Fittipaldi, became the youngest world champion, Pace could only score three points during the season, single point from his sixth place finish in Spain and two from his fifth position in Belgium.

Pace moved to Surtees F1 team for 1973. He retired from five of the first six races of the season. His two points scoring finishes came in successive events; he was fourth in Germany and made his first podium appearance in third place at the ultra-fast Österreichring, and recorded the fastest lap of the race.

His sports-car foray with Ferrari was more successful. Sharing a works Ferrari 312PB with Italian cowboy Arturo Merzario they finished second at Le Mans and Nürburgring, and third at Watkins Glen.

The 1974 season for Pace started with Surtees and ended with Brabham, as teammate to another Latin driver and another Carlos, Reutemann. The Brabham boys occupied the top two steps of the podium at US Grand Prix, the Argentine Carlos leading his Brazilian namesake. Pace set the fastest lap of the race.

His day of days came on home soil in January, 1975. The local boy won his first Formula 1 Grand Prix in front of his home crowd and happily shared the podium with old friend Fittipaldi.


The season proved to be his best in Formula 1. He followed up on his success with his maiden pole position in the following race, the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. His podium finishes at Monaco and Silverstone helped him to sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship.

In 1976, the Brabham team switched from Cosworth to Alfa Romeo power. The 12-cylinder Milanese engines were not only heavy but also less reliable and thirsty for fuel. Pace was placed 14th in the championship with seven points while the other Carlos bid ‘adios’ to the team before the season was even over.

The 1977 season started on a high note. Pace was second in the season opener at Buenos Aires behind surprise winner Jody Scheckter in his all new Wolf. Pace failed to score in his home race and also in the next round in South Africa, where he was classified 13th.

Thirteen days later, on March 18, after deciding to skip the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, Pace was killed in the crash of a private plane in the hills near São Paulo. Also killed were Marivaldo Fernandes, a wealthy Brazilian businessman who also once raced in British F3 and their friend Carlos Roberto de Oliveira.

— Nasir Hameed

Podcast number 490

Motorsports Mondial With Nasir Hameed and…

Special repeat interview with Mario Andretti


F1weekly podcast # 469

Photo: f1prints

F1weekly podcast number 469

Following team orders in Brazil will result in prison time.

Motorsports Mondial with Nasir Hameed and…

Special Interview with Laurent Seve.

Autodromo Carlos Pace: The old version of the Brazilian circuit incorporated most of the tight and twisty infield still present today, along with a balls-out, high-speed section. The original layout consisted of four fast corners, split up by long straights, in which the cars would remain flat out for around 20 seconds. With significant bumps throughout the lap, the track was considered very dangerous – especially by 1980 when cars were running ground-effect aerodynamics. That, and the encroaching favellas around the circuit, saw the Brazilian Grand Prix move to the more glamorous Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro. When it returned in 1990 a $15 million redevelopment plan had stunted the circuit to today’s layout. Interlagos literally means ‘between the lakes’ referring to two large manmade lakes built in the early 20th century to supply the city with water and electricity. The land on which the circuit stands was originally bought in 1938 by two property developers who intended to build houses on the site. When they discovered that the site was not suitable they decided to build a circuit instead, and as Sao Paulo continued to grow at an astounding rate it was not long before the track was surrounded by houses.

Owing to the success of Emerson Fittipaldi, the country expressed an interest in hosting a race. Interlagos held two non-championship races in 1971 and ’72 before joining the full championship calendar in 1973, and the circuit proved to be a lucky one for the local racers Fittipaldi, Carlos Pace and Carlos Reutemann who all won races there. In fact, it was the scene of Pace’s only F1 win, and following his death in a plane crash in 1977 the circuit was renamed in his honour.

In 1978 the Brazilian Grand Prix moved to the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro, but it returned to Interlagos the following year. In 1981 it was moved to Rio permanently as the organisers felt the slums of Sao Paulo were at odds with the glamour of F1. It would take a promise of a US$15million redevelopment programme to bring the race back in 1990.

The circuit itself is one of the very few circuits on the calendar that runs anti-clockwise, and this, combined with its bumpy surface means it is considered hard on cars and drivers alike. The resurfacing of the track in 2007 ironed out most of the worst bumps but the circuit still retains the character as it follows the lands contours making it an interesting circuit to drive.

Despite the lack of a real Brazilian hero since Senna’s death the passion of the local fans has not diminished and the race continues to draw good crowds.