Article originally posted here: http://blog.axisofoversteer.com/2016/04/the-racing-career-of-pablo-escobar.html
Plata o sin-plomo? Nobody ever protested his cars.
Would you believe some of the first mentions of Pablo Escobar in the Colombian press were not for of his activities as narco-trafficer or "politician" but as a competitor in the popular Copa Renault 4 in the late 1970s?
Naturally the need for speed was irresistible and in 1979 he entered the inaugural Copa Renault 4 championship at the Autodromo Ricardo Mejia circuit. in Bogota.
The passion for bikes ran in the family, Escobar's brother Roberto was a well known cyclist who later started the bike company Ositto (after his nickname "little bear"), sponsor of Escobar's and his posse's race cars.
By all accounts, Don Pablo was an enthusiastic but mediocre driver. It probably did not help that he used to light up before every race "to focus his concentration". What did help was that in a nominally "spec" series, his cars were always more "spec" than others. He was slow in the turns but uncatchable in the straights. Not surprisingly, there are no records of his cars being found illegal.
In 1979, after six races Escobar was second in the championship "I can't deny it, life smiles at me, I'm a lucky man" he told a journalist.
Of course Escobar was not above using some of his "professional" methods in competition: one time he used his connections with the local police to make sure his main rival in the series from getting to the track for what was the first nationally televised race. "Police kept us on the side of the road for hours checking papers" said his rival Alvaro Mejia " we got there minutes before the start".
Cuchilla was the first Colombian to drive in Formula One, almost. He drove for Ensign in practice for the 1981 Brazilian GP but Bernie Ecclestone made it so that he would be denied a Superlicence once he caught wind of where his sponsorship came from.
That day, in the Martini liveried 935 which must have looked like a spaceship to the people of Medellin, Escobar finished eight seconds behind his rival. A huge margin in racing but to him, he had "won the bet fair and square" something he was immensely proud of.
Happy, carefree days before the horror he wrought on his country in the next decade. Escobar met his end in 1993 at the hand of the police. Londoño was gunned down in 2009.