DRIVERS: OSCAR GALVEZ

Name: Oscar Galvez
Nationality: Argentina
Date of birth: August 17, 1913 - Buenos Aires
Date of death: December 16, 1989 - Buenos Aires

Oscar Galvez was born in the Buenos Aires suburb of Caballito in the summer of 1913, one of five brothers. His father had a small engineering workshop and the boys began working in the business while they were still at school. With the money he earned he bought a Model T Ford in 1934, although he had to store it with a neighbour in order to avoid his father finding out what his sons were up to. In 1937, when Oscar was 24, he saw an announcement in a newspaper of a race between Buenos Aires and Sante Fe and the brothers built their own Ford-engined cars which in the years that followed were raced on the highly-dangerous Turismo de Carretera road races.

It would be 10 years before he won his first title but Oscar was soon a crowd favourite, known by his nickname of "Aguilucho" (the small eagle). His major opposition came from Juan-Manuel Fangio, who was known as "El Chueco" (bandy-legs). The competition was intense and there were many thrills and spills, including a crash in 1940 when Galvez went off a cliff, after which he obtained a parachutist helmet to protect him in any future crashes. Galvez was Argentine national champion in 1947 and 1948 and would later add three further national titles in 1953, 1954 and 1961, along with class wins in 1939, 1949, 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1960.

He started racing single seaters in 1947 and was impressively competitive, finishing third at Rosario behind Achille Varzi and Gigi Villoresi. In the years that followed he was always competitive when the Europeans came for the Temporada races and in 1949 became the first local driver to beat the visitors in the Peron Cup on the Palermo circuit in Buenos Aires. He did not receive support from President Juan Peron and so was unable to race in Europe with Fangio and Froilan Gonzalez but he remained the biggest star of national racing throughout the 1950s, competing in a total of 177 races in his career and winning 49 of them.

When the Formula 1 World Championship visited Argentina in 1953 he was hired by Maserati and finished fifth. He continued racing until 1961. His brother Juan was also a multiple national champion until he was killed in a high speed accident in 1963.

In 1989 the city of Buenos Aires announced that it would rename the Autodromo Municipal after Galvez, in recognition of his victory in 1949. Galvez was by then sick with cancer and died at the age of 76 a few months later.

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