Nephew of Chico Landi, Camilo João Christofaro was one of the biggest race drivers of the Brazilian golden age. Encouraged by his uncle, he started his career in 1953, and won many races of the Mecânica Continental with his Maserati-Corvette. Camilo's fist car was an Alfa Romeo-Ford, also from the Mecânica Continental, that carried the characteristics that would be his trademark whenever in race: the number 18 (tribute to his wife birthday date) and a styled drawing of Disney's character L'il bad wolf, request of Camilo's son, who was a big fan of that character. Apart form those cars, he also ran endurance races with FNM cars an Carreteras until he bought Gimenez Lopes's Carretera and, in 1963, he decided it was time for him to build his own carretera. The chosen basis was a '37 Chevrolet, that had it's wheelbase shortened, roof lowered and windscreen inclined. The front part was also modified, a new aluminum one been built, and that reminded much the 50's F1 cars.
Not only the body was modified, but also the mechanics were changed to one of the most modern ever used on a carretera. Disc brakes were used, and the suspension and gear box were taken from a Ferrari 250 GTO Drago. The engine, a 323 cu inch Chevy V8 received special care with an aluminum Harrinson radiator, reworked crankshaft, piston and conrods, chrome moliben piston rings, bigger intake and exhaust valves, polished cylinder head, bigger diameter exhaust manifold, 505C roller cam, special valve springs, moliben push rods and magnesium valve locks. That was good enough to make the engine achieve a top power of approximately 400cv, driven by the rear wheels through Pirelli 210VR15 tyres (on the front the tyres were Pirelli 175x400). According to an estimative of Camili, he would have spent circa Cr$ 10 million to build this package, hadn't he received help in many ways, like the Balli driveshafts and his cousin's auto shop, always at his disposal.
The first run was during the 1600 km of Interlagos of that year, having Antonio Carlos Aguiar as partner, which ended with a DNF. During the next years Christófaro gained fame due his remarkables performances with the fast #18, like in his victories at the 250 Miles and 500 Miles of Interlagos in 1965, many races of the São Paulo Championship and the IV Anniversary AVCP GP in 1966. His detractors, however, said that he missed a victory on a longer race, like the Mille Miglia, were he had already raced but never had a good result. Well, in 1966, in what was probably the bigget Mille Miglia, the Camilo (having Eduardo Celidônio as partner) finally get his consecration. This race was a mark in Brazilian motorsports, as it was the last time a Carretera won the most important race in Brazil. The Christófaro/Celidônio duo got the third place during the qualification, with a time of 3'55"6, behind Wilson Fittipaldi Jr.'s Karmann-Guia-Porsche (3'28"2) and Luiz Pereira Bueno's Alpine 1300 (3"47"2). During the race, Christófaro received a two laps penalty for driving with his head lams off during the night, what threw the duo down in the classification table. However, one after other, the main competitors who where ahead (2 Karmann-Ghia-Porsche and 2 Alpine 1300) suffered technical failures and started to lose positions. With few laps remaining to the end of the race, the only car ahead of the #18 was Emerson Fittipaldi/Jan Bader 's DKW GT Malzoni, that also suffered from the loss of a cylinder, meaning that Christófaro/Celidônio were the winners. After that, during the Prova Rodovia do Café (disputed on a highway in Paraná), Christófaro ended up having an accident, that partially destroyed the car and left him with an injured ankle.
Checkered flag of the legendary 1966 Mille Miglia.
Despite that, Camilo didn't give up the Carretera, and rebuilt it, taking part in many races with reasonable success. In 1967 he was second in the 12 Hours of Interlagos, won the 100 Miles of Interlagos and took part on the 6 Hours of Speed in Interlagos and the 250 Miles of Interlagos, not finish the both. During it's life time, the #18 received many improvements, like a new aluminum intake manifold prepared to receive four two barrel Weber carburetors (that made it's engine produce about 450 cv) and wider slick tyres. As Interlagos was closed to repairs between 1967 and 1970, very little happened on São Paulo motorsports, and Camilo took part in few races, highlighting the fourth place at Prova Governador Paulo Pimentel, raced on Xisto Highway in Paraná. In 1970, Camilo used the #18 in the Copa Brasil de Automobilismo, racing against much more modern cars, like the Lolas T70 and T120 of Wilson and Emerson Fittipaldi respectively, a Ferrari 512S, a factory Nissan Z432R (until now no one understand why a factory based effort was made by Nissan in Brazil, as by the time they had no business here) and an Alfa Romeo P33. Altough he was able to be champion in his category (Division 5, for Brazilian cars over 2000cc), Christófaro finished the overall championship in a distant 14th place, with only one point. That, a new deception occurred on the 1500 km of Interlagos, when a tyre blew up forcing him to quit the race after three hours of intense dispute with Ciro Caires's #9 BMW.
The last victory would come still that year, in the Records Festival, a launched kilometer race realized at Marginal Pinheiros (the first edition was won by Bird Clemente in his Opala, with an average speed of 232,51 kph). The two main competitors were the 7-liter Ford Galaxie of Luiz Pereira Bueno (achieved 198,192 kph) and the event highlight, Alcides Diniz's brand new Lamborghini Miura. Alcides got an average speed of 224,413 kph, complaining that he could had been faster hadn't he had trouble to change from fourth to fifth gear. Then it was Camilo's turn. On the first run he got an average speed of 231,213 kph, enough to win, but not enough to get the record. On the second run, achieved 242,261 kph, with a final result of 236,737 kph, with a top speed of 268kph @ 6700rpm on the clocked stint. The #18 would be used one last time on the first round of the Copa Brasil in 1971, as Camilo was waiting for his Fúria-Ferrari to be finished.
Diniz's lamborghini on the last victory of Christófaro driving the #18.
Histórico em competições:
Revista Quatro Rodas, número77, dezembro de 1966.
Revista Quatro Rodas, número 78, janeiro de 1967.
Revista Quatro Rodas, número 79, fevereiro de 1967.
Revista Quatro Rodas, número 81, abril de 1967.
Revista Quatro Rodas, número 84, julho de 1967.
Revista Quatro Rodas, número 88, novembro de 1967.
Revista Quatro Rodas, número 90, janeiro de 1968.
Revista Quatro Rodas, número 92, março de 1968.