Today in Transportation History – 1984: The passing of an auto racing champion

Gino Bianco, who achieved fame as a racecar driver from Brazil, died in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 67. He had been born Luigi Emilio Rodolfo Bertetti in Milan, Italy, in 1916, and immigrated to Brazil as a child with his family. His original automotive career involved working as a car mechanic and running his own shop near the world-renowned Copacabana Beach in southern Rio de Janeiro. By the late 1930s, he started racing cars instead of just repairing them and adopted the pseudonym “Gino Bianco” for his new career.

Bianco eventually established himself as a formidable competitor in races in his adopted homeland. One of his first major racing events of note was the 1948 Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix, which involved having drivers make their way around a zigzagging and altogether difficult route in the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Gávea. Bianco, racing in a Maserati 8CM automobile, finished sixth in this event.

Bianco went on to gain similar acclaim in car races elsewhere in Brazil, performing especially well at a competition in Petrópolis in 1949 and another one in Boa Vista in 1951. His reputation earned him a place on the Eschdeeria Bandeirantes team of Uruguayan racecar champion Eitel Cantoni when those drivers traveled to Europe to compete in Grand Prix events there during the summer of 1952.

Bianco, driving a Maserati A6GCM automobile that was made all the more memorable by its two-tone brown livery, took part in a total of four Formula One World Championship Grand Prix races in Europe that year. In doing so, he became one of the first people representing Brazil to participate in these competitions. Bianco’s best result was in the Silverstone Circuit of the British Grand Prix, in which he finished 18th. He retired from professional racing a few years later.

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