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70 years before Hamilton, Benedicto Lopes


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#1 Atreiu

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 20:17

Maybe he was the first black pilot. And possibly the one and only black GP pilot ever.

Of course colour doesnt matter and has nothing to do with anything, but I came across this today and I wondered if anyone here knows anything else about him. He ran in Portugal and Italy shortly before WW2 and got three podiums aboard an Alfa Romeo. He also won some races here in Brazil and came close of winning at "O Circuito da Gávea" when a collision with a backmarker ended his race with 3 laps to go in 1935. I don't much about our pilots of old (shame on me), but I confess being quite curious about Benedicto.

There's more here, but it's for subscribers only.

So, what do you guys know about him?

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#2 HistoryFan

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 21:21

Interesting story! I've an old post by alessandro silva here about him (I think it's that Lopes you mean) :

"Benedicto Moreira Lopes, Campinas, 1904/1989. Of humble origins, started to work as a mechanic in Campinas. Car racing made him famous. He moved to Rio, where he owned a garage. Called the "Flying Campineiro" [Campineiro Volador], since he was very quick. His racing career, however, was impaired by bad luck and ill health. He died poor, ill and forgotten in Campinas."

#3 RStock

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 21:24

I know that's one crazy looking car he's leaned on in that link you provided . Is that thing made of wicker ?

That is an interesting story . Sorry I have nothing to add . Sounds like he was a pretty good pilot .

#4 HistoryFan

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 21:33

What I find in quick search:

He drove with an own built Ford V8 Special in the Rio de Janeira GP in 1935. It was the race you mentioned who he was crashed leading 3 laps to go...

and on forix I read about the Rio de Janeiro GP 1937:
"Brazilian top-runner Benedicto Lopes finished 6th. He used the ex-Hellé-Nice Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza that he had bought from her and repaired. Soon after, he would race the car twice in Portugal, obtaining one 2nd and one 3rd place. "

In 1941 he startet with an Maserati in that GP.

#5 RStock

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 01:20

Originally posted by HistoryFan
What I find in quick search:

He drove with an own built Ford V8 Special in the Rio de Janeira GP in 1935. It was the race you mentioned who he was crashed leading 3 laps to go...

and on forix I read about the Rio de Janeiro GP 1937:
"Brazilian top-runner Benedicto Lopes finished 6th. He used the ex-Hellé-Nice Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza that he had bought from her and repaired. Soon after, he would race the car twice in Portugal, obtaining one 2nd and one 3rd place. "

In 1941 he startet with an Maserati in that GP.


There are a couple of photo's of him there also .

http://forix.autospo...w/rio34-37.html

#6 HistoryFan

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 21:19

I searched a little bit about Lopes, but I found only little more things:

- his grandparents from his mother came from Portugal, his grandparents from his father from Africa (don't know where exactly). His father was completly black.
- Benedicto Lopes ended his career in 1954 because of illness.