Alfredo Costanzo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alfredo Costanzo
Nationality Australian
Born (1943-01-03) 3 January 1943 (age 71)
Calabria, Italy
Retired 1998
Australian GT Production Car Championship
Years active 1997–98
Teams House of Maserati
Best finish 8th in 1998 Australian GT Production Car Championship
Previous series
1967–68
1968–84
1968–71
1975
1977–79
Australian 1½ Litre Champ.
Australian Drivers' Champ.
Tasman Series
Australian Formula 2 Champ.
Rothmans Int. Series
Championship titles
1980
1981
1982
1983
Australian Drivers' Champ.
Australian Drivers' Champ.
Australian Drivers' Champ.
Australian Drivers' Champ.

Alfredo Costanzo (born 3 January 1943, in Calabria, Italy[1]) is a retired Italian born Australian racing driver. From 1980–1983 Costanzo won a record four Australian Drivers' Championship in a row, equalling the record set by Bib Stillwell from 1962–1965.

Career[edit]

Formula Racing[edit]

The Italian-Australian was Australia's foremost domestic open wheeler driver in the late 70s and early 80s, proving equally adapt at winning races in the powerful Formula 5000 class as much as the nimble Formula Pacific cars that replaced them. Under the patronage of Porsche Cars Australia distributor Alan Hamilton,[2] Costanzo won four Australian Drivers' Championships, the CAMS Gold Star. His titles straddling the transition from F5000 to Formula Atlantic based Pacific cars.

The first of Costanzo's four Gold Stars was won utilising a conventional Lola T430, but the following 1981 title, the last Formula 5000 national level title ever held globally, utilised a McLaren M26, modified for the task by Tiga Race Cars.[3] Costanzo won the 1982 and 1983 Australian Drivers' Championships driving a Tiga FA81 powered by a 1.6-litre, 4 cyl Ford engine. Driving the FA81, Costanzo finished second to long time rival John Bowe in his similarly powered Ralt RT4/85 in the 1984 championship, before Alan Hamilton pulled out of open wheel racing following Costanzo's 4th place at the 1984 Australian Grand Prix leaving Costanzo without a drive and into semi-retirement.

Despite winning numerous races and championships in various classes of open wheel racing, Alfie Costanzo never achieved his goal of winning the Australian Grand Prix. He competed in 11 AGP's between 1969 and 1984, with a best finish of 4th in 1980 and again in 1984. On both occasions he was the first resident Australian driver to finish behind international Formula One drivers. Alf led from the start of the 1983 Australian Grand Prix, and built up a small lead over eventual winner Roberto Moreno of Brazil, before the diff in his Tiga FA81 failed on lap 25. Moreno later admitted that Costanzo would have been very hard to catch or pass.

Although formula cars have evolved and have generally gotten faster over time, Costanzo still holds an outright lap record for a still active Australian race circuit. His time of 50.16 seconds set in the F5000 Lola T430-Chevrolet for the 2.41 km (1.5 mi) Symmons Plains Raceway has stood unchallenged since 23 March 1980.

Touring Cars[edit]

While a more than capable touring car driver, finishing second in the 1979 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 alongside Allan Grice he was generally overlooked for drives by the top teams and was never able to establish himself full-time in the category, and the popular Italian-Australian faded from the racing scene when he left Formula Pacific in at the end of the 1984 after finishing 4th in the Australian Grand Prix held at Melbourne's Calder Park Raceway. Costanzo was the leading local driver at the end, finishing behind winner Roberto Moreno (Brazil), 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg (Finland), and Italian driver Andrea de Cesaris, though he did make a couple of shirt-lived comebacks.

At the insistence of his long-time open wheel rival turned touring car racer John Bowe, who to this day rates him as the best Australian driver he raced against, Costanzo was drafted into the Volvo Dealer Team in 1986 for the Castrol 500 at Sandown and the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst. Driving a Volvo 240T, he failed to finish in both events. Again at Bowe's insistence, Alfie was the drafted into the Dick Johnson Racing Team for Sandown and Bathurst in 1988 to drive a Ford Sierra RS500. He finished 6th at the Sandown 500 with another former open wheel racer John Smith. The car he was to drive at the 1988 Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst finished 2nd overall but unfortunately Costanzo didn't get to drive. Team leader Dick Johnson's car expired on lap 22 and Bowe's car on lap 28. Both then moved to drive the Smith/Costanzo car. Smith had driven the opening stint which left Aflie a spectator on the day.

The late 1990s saw a brief comeback as the lead driver in a factory supported Maserati team of production specification Maserati Ghiblis in the Australian GT Production Car Championship.[4] The comeback proved to be short-lived however as the cars were uncompetitive against the Porsche, Ferrari and Mazda teams. Costanzo finished 10th in the championship in 1997, and 8th in 1998.

Sports Cars[edit]

In December 1984 Costanzo accepted an offer from that year's Australian Sports Car Champion Bap Romano to co-drive the Romano WE84 Cosworth in the 1984 Sandown 1000 as part of the 1984 World Endurance Championship, the first FIA World Championship event held in Australia. Despite never having driven the car previously (a prior commitment with Porsche Cars Australia saw him miss testing the car at Calder prior to the event), Alfie showcased his skill by qualifying the 3.9L V8 powered Romano in 13th (fastest in the special AC or Australian Cars class), almost two seconds faster than car owner Romano, and only 0.4 seconds slower than the Group C2 pole winning time. After brake and gearbox troubles in the race the pair finished 109 laps, 100 laps behind the winning Porsche 956, although, despite still running at the end, the car had not completed enough laps to be classified as a finisher.

Career results[edit]

Season Series Position Car Entrant / Team
1967 Australian 1½ Litre Championship 12th Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford Maranello Motors
1968 Australian Drivers' Championship 15th Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford Maranello Motors
1968 Australian 1½ Litre Championship 9th Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford Maranello Motors
1970 Tasman Series 12th McLaren M4A Cosworth Argo Racing
1975 Australian Formula 2 Championship 2nd Birrana 274 Ford Alfredo Costanzo
1975 Van Heusen Calder F2 Series[5] 1st[5] Birrana 274[6] Alfredo Costanzo[6]
1976 Australian Drivers' Championship 5th Lola T332 Chevrolet Stock 84 Brandy
1977 Rothmans International Series 6th Lola T332 Chevrolet Auto Sprint Motors
1977 Australian Drivers' Championship 4th Lola T332 Chevrolet
1979 Rothmans International Series 2nd Lola T430 Chevrolet Porsche Cars Australia
1979 Australian Drivers' Championship 3rd Lola T430 Chevrolet Porsche Cars Australia
1980 Australian Drivers' Championship 1st Lola T430 Chevrolet Porsche Distributors[7]
1981 Australian Drivers' Championship 1st McLaren M26 Chevrolet Porsche Cars Australia
1982 Australian Drivers' Championship 1st Tiga FA81 Ford Porsche Cars Australia
1983 Australian Drivers' Championship 1st Tiga FA81 Ford Porsche Cars Australia
1984 Australian Drivers' Championship 2nd Tiga FA81 Ford Porsche Cars Australia
1984 World Endurance Championship NC Romano WE84 Cosworth Bap Romano Racing
1997 Australian GT Production Car Championship 10th Maserati Ghibli Cup Cisco System Maserati
1998 Australian GT Production Car Championship 8th Maserati Ghibli Cup House of Maserati

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tuckey, Bill, ed. (1988–89). The Great Race (Hornsby: Chevron Publishing Group) 8: 237. ISSN 1031-6124. 
  2. ^ Alfredo Set To Take Series, The Age – Feb 14, 1979 Retrieved from news.google.com
  3. ^ "Australian Drivers Championship". Australian Motor Racing Yearbook (Chatswood: Berghouse Media Services Pty. Ltd.) 11: 131. 1981–82. ISSN 0158-4138. 
  4. ^ Parker, Jason (April 1997). "Alfredo Costanzo to Drive Maserati Ghibli in GT Production Championship" (pdf). The Maserati Club of Australia. p. 11. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Australian Competition Yearbook, 1976 Edition, page 154
  6. ^ a b Official programme, Calder Raceway, Sunday 16 March 1975, page 5
  7. ^ Entry List, 1980 Australian Grand Prix, Souvenir Program, Calder Raceway, 15–16 Nov., page 44

Further reading[edit]

Grant Nicolas, Alfredo Costanzo – The Italian Australian Open Wheeler Champion, Motor Sport Legends, Aug/Oct 2008, pages 20–26

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Johnnie Walker
Winner of the Australian Drivers' Championship
1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983
Succeeded by
John Bowe