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TKART magazine Editorial | Mario Pazos: Argentina, 1976
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06 February 2016

In 1976, many of you readers weren’t even born yet. Yet, folks were already getting serious with go-karts, far and wide around the globe. I was one of them.

That year the South American Championship was being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I talked about it with my buddy-mechanic Juan (Sanchez, years later he joined Comer-Top Kart as an engineer) and we decided we just couldn’t miss it. We were young, full of dreams, and without a penny to our name. Hugo Scarlatto, the defending Argentinian Champion, owed us a couple of favors, so we convinced him to let us borrow his red Méhari: a 2 CV jeep-style cabriolet Citroën with a glass-fiber body.

Before leaving, we spent the morning breaking in the only engine we had on a closed strip of highway that was a karter hot spot.

And it seized on us! It was an English ZIP, so we set off on a pilgrimage visiting every preparer in Buenos Aires to find the right piston. In the end we got it from the “Turk”, Salmun Feijo, the Swiss Hutless importer.


After reboring and doing another break-in, we loaded up our fully equipped kart (chain, gear wheel, tires - that was the standard back then), covered the carb with a rag, grabbed our tool box, two saw-bucks (service trolleys didn’t exist) and we finally set off. We had no replacements - not an axle, back then they measured a full 30mm, not a set of rims, nothing!
In Zarate, 200 km from Buenos Aires, we took a ferry across the Rio de la Plata. On the other side, around Gualeguaychu, the highway turned into a dirt road headed for the jungle of La Mesopotamia. From Buenos Aires to Rio it’s about 3,000 km and it took us 5 days at 80 an hour to reach the race track. We drove through Curuzù Cuatià, Santo Tomè, Foz de Iguazu, Londrina… and many other towns that I don’t even remember. Cars were a rare sight. Mostly we crossed paths with the occasional farmer tending to his cows and barefoot kids on the way back from the river with huge red fish stuck on bamboo canes. We ate where and what we could and slept on the side of the road, using our sleeping bags as mats to beat the sticky heat. After Sao Paolo, we discovered that the dirt road turned back into a paved highway. We couldn’t believe it! The downside was that the conditioner on the Méhari was stuck on hot and kept blowing torrid waves in our face, so, before heading off on our last stretch to Rio, we decided to jam a tennis ball into it.
Then one day, were driving in the middle of nowhere and started to get whiffs of burnt rubber. Since the Méhari is made of glass-fiber and we had several gas tanks with us, we bolted out of the car, fearing an explosion. Instead, it was the damned tennis ball!

Born in 1958 in Buenos Aires, from ‘76 to ’82 he managed karting and F. Renault teams, then moved to Europe and spent 8 years in journalism, before joining Comer. From ‘90 to ‘96 he went back to managing teams in motorcycle racing and F3, then returned to karting with Top Kart. With the OTK Group since 2010, today he is Chief of Foreign Markets.

Pazos' trip stops
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