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TKART magazine Editorial | Mario Pazos: legendary brawls
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22 October 2017

Some years ago, I got to the final of the KF Europeans with four of my drivers sitting in the top four positions. A few minutes before the start, a journalist came up and, with that penchant for stirring up trouble and sparking controversy that journalists have, he asked me if I was worried about them messing up on the first corner.

Ask anyone who knows me, I am not a nice guy and I am anything but patient. So, I turned to him with a hateful stare and replied sharply: “There won’t be any problems!” and left to go watch the race where nobody could bother me.

While I was heading to the track terrace, my mind wondered to a similar situation from way back. It was 1979, round three of the F2 European Championship in Thruxton, England, on a track that used to be a RAF airfield from World War II. Some of the soldiers that were sent off to the D-Day left from there. In 1946 The British army gave it up and some years later it was turned into a car and motorcycle raceway. At the beginning the actual track consisted of the runways and the side alleys, but in the late ’70s it was renovated with the layout it still has today. Every time I go to the PFI, I stop in to take a look and it’s all exactly like it used to be in the ‘80s, with that typically English retro feel.


It has a set of three corners that is called “The Complex”: the Campbell, the Cobb and the Seagrave; and a chicane called the Club. It’s considered one of the fastest circuits in Great Britain and the straight is actually a long open bend that you do full throttle, without seeing the end of it until you get there and sometimes you see it too late.
Anyways, that F2 Championship had 23 drivers on track, 22 of whom eventually went on to F1. And they were all ex-karters, go figure. Back then kids stayed in karting until they really learned how to drive and only then did they go on to Formulas. A different world...
So, the top four on grid for the final, after two qualification heats, were Teo Fabi, who would eventually race with Brabham and Benetton and in Indycar with Porsche (he made pole at the 1983 Indy 500 and won a Sport Prototype World Championship); fellow column contributor Beppe Gabbiani, who after karting went on to race in F1, Shadow, Surtess, Osella and Sport Prototypes; Marc Surer, who did 80 F1 races with Ensing, Arrows and Brabham; and Stephen South from Wales (just one F1 race to his name, but as “stand in” for Prost, who had gotten injured, on his McLaren). Following in fifth there was Brian Henton, who at the time had already debuted in F1, but was still also racing 250 karts. I remember him saying once that he still wasn’t sure if he was racing the 250s to train for F1 or viceversa!

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