Jump to content


Photo

Racing in Brazil during WW2


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Michael Müller

Michael Müller
  • Member

  • 1,179 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 20 June 2001 - 07:12

In the thread about Landi our new member Chico came over with a very interesting detail, namely that during WW2 racing on gasoline/petrol was prohibited on Brazil, and that the cars ran on gas. Although “gas” is a typical American wording for “gasoline”, it seems that here it stands for LPG (liquified petroleum gas). Any details known about this? How did they convert the racing cars? And how did they arrange the necessary – most probably cylindrical – pressure tank?

Advertisement

#2 Chico Landi

Chico Landi
  • Member

  • 155 posts
  • Joined: June 01

Posted 20 June 2001 - 11:27

Michael, I'm really looking for more details about this period, but as I said before, I'll be in Brazil only by the end of the year and there I may find some more useful and trustful information.

Sorry about my english, but I don't know how can I translate "gas". Anyway, I have a wonderful book called "A História do Automobilismo Brasileiro", which have an english translated part at the final pages. Here's what they wrote about this period:

BRAZIL GASES UP
The outbreak of war in Europe resulted in gasoline rationing all over the world, among many constraints. This affected the automobile industry and motorsports to an even greater extent. As the leading race-car manufacturers were Italian and German, their activities were completely halted by the conflict. In Brazil, in addition to the lack of foreign drivers and cars for competitions, there was a ban (quite correctly) on the use of fuel for sporting purposes.
But nothing could dampen brazilians' passion for these races. A solution was soon found: the automobiles would be fuelled by gas or alcohol (a fuel that was not very efficient for racing, and still in experimental phase). The Formula Gasogen was thus invented, as a more or less official title to identify races where the competing cars carried huge coal boilers and cylinders of gas strapped to their trunks. More than the improvised fuels, what kept Brazilian motorsports going at that time was sheer passion. There could be no greater proof of this than a declaration by Chico Landi in a 1987 interview: "We built gasogen-fuelled cars. They had a boiler behind, like a ship, with spade after spade of coal shovelled in. Baby Pignatari manufacured gasogen, and set up the Amélia team with three cars, and called me to join him. For me, there is no car that is better or worse. It is a matter of passion. The same thing happens with soccer. They can be black or white, made from leather or a sock, but they're all footballs".

(Source: A História do Automobilismo Brasileiro - pg.259 - by Reginaldo Leme - GMT Editores ltda. 1999)

#3 Michael Müller

Michael Müller
  • Member

  • 1,179 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 20 June 2001 - 12:13

This is really amazing! When reading the term "gas" in the Landi thread, of course I thought immediately about the woodgas vehicles which crowded Europe's roads during the war and the years thereafter, but I never believed that this was practiced for racing cars! Landi e.g. in this period raced an Alfa-Romeo 8C-308, so could you imagine such car which a smoking wood or coal boiler mounted to the rear?? Pictures - I need PICTURES!!!

However, the term "gas or alcohol" should be explained more detailed. Does it mean that either coking gas OR alcohol was allowed? I know that ethanol (made from sugar cane) is a rather common fuel in Brazil since the oil crisis in the 70s, is it possible that this was used already in the 40s? Ethanol has a similar calorific value than methanol, octane rating is lower, but with approx. 105 RON still higher than gasoline. Most pre-war European racing cars had been developed for methanol fuel, so the conversion to ethanol would have been rather simple.

Would really like to know which cars ran on ethanol, and which on coking gas.

#4 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 20 June 2001 - 18:17

What I need to know is more about is A História do Automobilismo Brasileiro. Chico kindly provided publishing details, but could he give more information? How big is the book? What period does it cover? What is its racing coverage like? Does it have pictures?

#5 Chico Landi

Chico Landi
  • Member

  • 155 posts
  • Joined: June 01

Posted 20 June 2001 - 18:56

Michael, I have the book but I have no scanner. And also, I don't know how to post photos here (can I post photos from my HD or must they be published at a website?)...

There's only one picture about this period and they are for sure no grand prix cars or voiturettes. It show a line of normal street cars, like Simcas or Fords, and the first one is with, I presume, two coal boilers attached to the front of the car...

David, I really love this book, though it's for sure not the definitive book about motorsport in Brazil. It has 288 pages and is divided in 4 chapters, each one centered in one driver: Landi, Fittipaldi, Piquet and Senna. Actually it covers from 1891 (first car to arrive in Brazil) until 1999.

The first chapter is for sure the best one (no personal feelings here... or maybe just a bit ;) )! It has amazing pictures of the races at Gávea in the 30's and 40's. From the second chapter on, the history gets more obvious, centered in F1 and in the three brazilian world champions.

The best thing is that the book is filled with photos (big photos, one or two pages photos, and also plenty of small ones). Even the photos from Senna, Piquet and Emerson were not obvious ones. Most of them are really beautiful.

The bad thing is that the books brings NOTHING about results. No appendix or results pages, just a plain text telling about the history (and sometimes, very superficially) sided by beautiful images.

For those who can not read portuguese, no problem! It's a bilingual book: legends from the photos in portuguese and english, and in the final pages the whole book is translated in english.

You may see the cover and buy the book at:
www.livcultura.com.br (search by author name: "Reginaldo" and you'll find it easilly).
It's a bit expensive (about US$ 55,00 + mail expenses). The conversion is more or less 1 US$ = 2,5 R$.

Good luck!