Jose Carlos Pace
- October 06, 1944
- March 18, 1977
- Not Active
Jose Carlos Pace was a Brazilian racing driver who competed in Formula One during the 1970s, recording 72 starts with three different teams (Williams, Surtees and Brabham). He scored only one victory, in the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. After his death, (in an aircraft accident in 1977) the place of his only F1 victory was renamed to Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.
Outside Formula One, Pace's greatest success was the second place overall at 1973 24 hours of Le Mans where he was sharing the Ferrari 312PB with Arturo Merzario. Earlier in his career, he was the 1970 British Formula 3 champion.
Jose Carlos was a close friend of Emerson and Wilson Fittipaldi
José Carlos Pace was born on October 6, 1944, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He started racing in 1963, entering the various races at Interlagos with different cars, such as Willys, Gordini or Renault Dauphine. In the next couple of years, he raced at every Brazilian race track, entering some races with his friends, Fittipaldi brothers Emerson and Wilson.
In 1966 and 1967, Pace drove the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, but he also entered the Formula Ve, driving the Fitti F-Ve car. He finished third in his debut season, behind Emerson Fittipaldi and Marivaldo Fernandez. During 1968, Pace was driving Renault-powered Bino Mark II, scoring wins or podiums in every race. In 1969, Jose Carlos Pace was winning races all around Brazil with Alfa Romeo T33/2, driving alone or sharing the car with Marivaldo Fernandez.
Moving to Europe and winning the 1970 British F3 Championship
In 1970, when his friend Emerson Fittipaldi was debuting in Formula One, Jose Carlos moved to Europe to attend Jim Russell Racing Driver School and to compete in the Formula 3 races with Lotus 59 (Ford). Pace participated in three different British championships, becoming the winner of the BARC Forward Trust Championship. In the other two BRSCC-sanctioned competitions and he was third and fifth.
In 1971, Pace joined Frank Williams' team in Formula 2, competing both in Europe and Brasil, but without notable results. In twelve races he scored only one podium. Despite such results, Pace was promoted to Formula One in 1972.
Pace took a point in his only second Formula 1 race
He had a debut with Cosworth-powered March 711 at 1972 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami Circuit. He finished 17th, six laps behind the winner Denny Hulme. At the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, Pace finished sixth and earned his first F1 championship points. The race winner was Emerson Fittipaldi while the older brother Wilson Fittipaldi was seventh.
At Monaco Grand Prix, Pace was 17th again, and then he scored points again at the Belgian Grand Prix at Nivelles, finishing fifth. At the end of the season, Pace was 18th in the points. Pace's season-best result was second place at non-championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch. The championship winner was his friend and Ferrari driver, Emerson Fittipaldi.
Driving Ferrari and Mirage in endurance races
Pace was also driving for Ferrari in one race of the World Championship for Makes. It was in June at Zeltweg , where he partnered Helmut Marko in the #3 Ferrari 312 PB and they finished second.
In June, Pace was co-driver to Derek Bell at 6 hours of Watkins Glen and they finished third in the #10 Gulf Racing's Mirage M6. Pace was also participating in few races of the Can-Am Challenge but without notable results.
Joining Surtees for 1973 Formula One season
During 1972, Pace entered few Formula 2 races with Surtees and then he joined Surtees for the 1973 Formula One season. In fifteen races with Cosworth-powered Surtees TS14A, Pace retired nine times but still, he was more successful than in his debut season because he scored two great results in August.
He finished fourth at German Grand Prix at Nürburgring and then reached his first F1 podium at Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring. In both races, Pace set the fastest time. With seven points on his account, he finished 11th in the final classification.
1973 Le Mans podium with Ferrari
The highlight of the season was another podium finish, the one at Circuit de la Sarthe on June 10. In his first and only appearance at 24 hours of Le Mans, Pace was partnering Arturo Merzario in the #16 Ferrari 312 PB. They finished second overall, six laps behind Matra's Henri Pescarolo and Gerard Larrousse.
It wasn't Pace's only sports car race that season because he partnered Merzario in seven more races (Nürburgring , Vallelunga, Dijon, Spa, Monza, Zeltweg and Watkins Glen). Their best results were second place at Nürburgring and third place at the Glen.
Moving from Surtees to Brabham in 1974
The season of 1973 was Pace's last year with a double program in Formula One and World Championship for Makes, because in 1974, he was concentrating only on Formula One races. He remained with Surtees until the mid-season, when he parted ways with team owner John Surtees. During that period, Pace's best result was a fourth-place finish in Brazil.
At French Grand Prix, in July at Dijon, Pace was driving Brabham for Goldie Hexagon Racing and then he moved to Brabham's team for the last six races of the season. After finishing fifth at Monza, Pace scored his second podium in the season-closing race at Watkins Glen, finishing second behind his teammate Carlos Reutemann. At the end of the season, Pace was classified 12th.
Pace won the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix
Reutemann and Pace stayed together in the Martini Racing re-branded Brabham team for the 1975 F1 season. They finished second in the Constructors' standings, behind Ferrari.
In the second race of the season, Pace took his maiden Formula One victory in front of his home crowd at Interlagos, winning the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of his old friend Emerson Fittipaldi in the McLarenM23. In the next race, at the South African Grand Prix, Pace took his first and only pole position, finishing 4th in the race. Later in the season, he added podiums at Monaco (3rd) and Silverstone (2nd), ending the season sixth in the points.
Alfa Romeo engines weren't good choice for 1976
Reutemann and Pace were again Brabham's pair in the 1976 Formula One season, but the engine change, from Cosworth to Alfa Romeo, seemed to be the wrong decision and the team's cars weren't competitive as they used to be. Pace's best results were two fourth-place finishes at Circuit Paul Ricard and Nürburgring. He ended the championship in 14th place.
When Reutemann left the team before the end of the 1976 season, Pace had a new teammate for 1977. It was John Watson. Better competitiveness and durability of the Alfa engines allowed Pace to score a podium in the first race of the season, finishing second at Argentine Grand Prix. He was strong in the next two races but retired at Interlagos after an accident and mechanical troubles put him in 13th place at Kyalami.
In 1985, Interlagos was renamed after Jose Carlo Pace
Two weeks after his last race, the sudden death stopped the promising career. Pace was killed in an aircraft accident near Sao Paulo, on March 18, 1977. Eight years later, the Interlagos track was renamed Autodromo José Carlos Pace in his honor.