Argentine motoring is in mourning. Today passed away Jorge Cupeiro, one of the best pilots of the sixties. El Gallego suffered a severe illness and was 83 years old. He was one of the best pilots of his time where he achieved 41 victorias in all the categories he ran, including the Tourism Road where the mythical Chevytu ran, one of the cars that changed the history of the category. He also joined the Argentine Mission with the Torinos at the Nürburgring.
He was born on October 15, 1937 in the City of Buenos Aires. He started racing on motorcycles, where between 18 and 23 years old he competed in 50 cm3, 250 cm3 and 350 cm3 displacements in our country and in Chile. He raced over 300 races and jumped from one cylinder to the other. On Sundays I could run in up to five categories and many brands, NSU, Gilera, Guzzi, Aermacchi and Honda, to name a few.
But he transcended in motorsport where his sports godfather was another glory of Argentine motoring, José Froilán González. Pepe saw him and entrusted him with a Mecánica Argentina F1 car that was a Maserati 4CLT chassis to which he had placed a Chevrolet 6. It was in 1963 that he made his debut (2nd) with that single-post, on a circuit formed by a straight with two restarts of the Santa Fe waterfront. In its evolution, the engine used reached 255 HP on the test bench and in the second race it won at the Esperanza circuit.
Then Froilán went for more and was key to another step where Cupeiro was the protagonist. He rose to fame for driving the Chevrolet Super Nova that became known as Chevytu and forever changed the history of the TC. That car was imported by González from the United States. He made his debut in 1964 in a race at the Autodromo de Buenos Aires where he abandoned due to mechanical failures. However, in 1965 he achieved nine victories and he fought the title to the then unbeatable Emiliozzi Brothers (Ford), who surpassed him on the last date. In 1966 there were three other triumphs.
The Chevytu was a Chevrolet Nova of American origin. In its external appearance it was a kind of Chevrolet 400 -which was already being assembled in our country- but 2-door sedan and of the compact type, without a chassis. Without gasoline or crew, it weighed 1,279 kilos, so it had to be ballasted to reach the minimum weight in the category. Its bodywork was worked, especially in the completely aluminum hood and had modifications in the nose and tail. The engine was 6 cylinders in line with 3,880 cm3 of displacement and an original power of 140 horsepower and that was brought to 230 HP.
Such was the revolution that the Chevytu generated that there were people who threw stones at it because it represented the beginning of the end of the cupecitas in the TC. Although the Ford Falcon made its entrance before, with the success of Cupeiro’s car, a renovation of the park was promoted in the TC that in the following years had the cars that are known today: the Oval model was joined by the Chevy coupe from Chevrolet, the Torino 380W and the Dodge GTX.
Thanks to his good work, Cupeiro was later selected for the Formula 3 Automundo Team. It was an Argentine team that participated in Europe in 1966. He had the chance to be able to race in Formula 1, although he did not like the environment and that is why he decided return to Argentina.
In local motorsports, in addition to TC, he raced in the Standard Turismo, Annex J, Improved Turismo, Argentina F1 Mechanics and Sport prototypes categories. In the latter he participated, but in the World Endurance Championship that ran the 1,000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires, in the capital circuit. In 1970 he was sixth along with the Swede Ronnie Peterson aboard a Lola T70. The following year the pair was repeated and they finished 12th with a Lola T212. With a similar car, in 1972 he abandoned, but racing with the Belgian Hughes de Fierlandt.
Although another milestone of his was the participation of the Argentine Mission that stood out at the Nurburgring in 1969. It was that homeland with the Torinos and the team whose director was Juan Manuel Fangio and the technical manager Oreste Berta. He went with car No. 2 and shared the seat with Gastón Perkins and Eduardo Rodríguez Canedo. He led much of the competition, having to leave due to confusion. The No. 3 car was the one that finished the race and it stood out because it was the one that made the most laps and could have won if not for a penalty for making a repair in a prohibited place.
It stood out for its versatility. His 41 wins between 1960 and 1973 and they point out its ductility in terms of brands and categories run. Three in Standard Tourism (NSU, Alfa Romeo), nine in Tourism Annex “J” (Alfa Romeo, Porche, Jaguar, Torino), one in Sport (Jaguar), four in Improved Tourism (Alfa Romeo, Fiat 1500), four in Argentina F1 Mechanics (Maserati-Chevrolet, Trueno-Chevrolet), fifteen in Road Tourism (Chevitú, Liebre III-Chevrolet, Chevrolet 400), five in Sport Prototypes (Martos-Chevrolet, Baufer-Chevrolet).
His driving style was cerebral, polished, of fair braking and lowering, without temperamental outbursts. It gave the feeling that he was driving very comfortable traveling at 240 km / hour.
He retired on a regular basis in a TC race at Olavarría in 1973. It was with a Dodge GTX and left after crashing due to a broken tire. And in 1982, at the age of 45, he returned sporadically at the brand new Club Argentino de Pilotos, which was a bet he made with Pairetti. Both imported a score of Datsun 280 ZX. El Gallego was already involved in a business where he did very well and was a pioneer in some way.
It is that outside the tracks he dedicated himself to the importation and commercialization of cars. As reported by the Autoblog site in the sixties, it was the first Honda importer in Argentina. And, shortly after, he invented the business of selling exotic cars: sports, luxurious, very expensive, unattainable. Cupeiro’s agency in Libertador attracted attention for many years.
His death hit Argentine motorsport hard because it was part of a golden age. Between 1965 and 1975 this sport at the national level experienced its period of greatest growth with top-level international categories such as Sport Prototypes and Argentine Mechanical F1. Also for the inauguration of racetracks. El Gallego was one of the references of the time as Dante Emiliozzi, Eduardo Copello, Héctor Gradassi, Carlos Pairetti, Gastón Perkins, Juan Manuel Bordeu, Jorge Ternengo and Luis Rubén Di Palma, all legends that made history.
I kept reading
Why he rejected Formula 1, his relationship with Fangio and the day he almost lost his marriage for a race: six anecdotes from Jorge Cupeiro
How the mythical Torino with which Jorge Cupeiro raced the 84 Hours of the Nürburgring was restored