DRIVERS: ROBERTO MIERES
Name: Roberto Mieres
Date of birth: December 3, 1924 - Mar del Plata
Born in Mar del Plata in Argentina, Mieres was the son of a wealthy family. His father had raced a Peugeot as early as 1910 but his son's passion was any kind of sport. He excelled at tennis, rugby, rowing and yachting.
He took up automobile racing almost by accident when in 1947 some of his friends who owned MGs decided to hold a race at the San Justo Speedway. Mieres, known as "Bitito", was a little surprised when he won the event. They had had so much fun that they then decided to start their own car club and raced whatever cars they could find. These included pre-war Grand Prix machines such as the Bugatti Type 35 and even a Mercedes SSK. There was also an old 2.3-litre supercharged Alfa Romeo and Mieres took this to Rosario where he took part in a race supporting the Grand Prix there. The car was seen by Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari who went to find the driver and recommended that he try his hand at racing in Europe.
At the time the Argentine authorities were paying for drivers to go to Europe and Mieres competed in a number of races with a Gordini and a Ferrari. He was sixth in Aix-les-Bains but really made an impression when he finished fourth in the Grand Prix des Nations in Geneva. The government however soon stopped funding Argentine drivers and Mieres returned home and competed in local events. In 1953 he went to the United States and raced a Jaguar at Bridgehampton on one occasion.
Finally he went to Europe on his own and, thanks to his friendship with Harry Schell, did a deal to become the reserve driver of Gordini, where Schell was teamed with Maurice Trintignant, Jean Behra and Robert Manzon. While waiting for his chance he went to Italy and talked his way into a test with Lancia. He went faster than the regular drivers but he was unable to work out a deal with Gianni Lancia because Mieres needed to earn a salary and so he returned to Gordini and finally got his chance to race a car in Bordeaux. In 1953 he participated in three World Championship GPs.
He also raced sportscars and at the end of the year he received an offer to drive for Maserati in 1954. At Buenos Aires he was able to take on the dominant Ferraris of Ascari and Farina but when they got back to Europe it soon emerged that Mercedes was impossible to beat. He then suffered nasty burns when an engine blew up and he was sprayed with burning fuel but three weeks later he was back racing again, clad in bandages. That year he scored several good placings including fourth in Spain and at the Swiss GP and added another fourth place in Holland in 1955.
At the end of 1955 he dropped from the Formula 1 scene but continued to race whenever he could and drove Porsches at Sebring and Daytona and an OSCA in the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. After that he began a relationship with Volvo which saw him racing at home in Argentina and in other odd places such as Puerto Rico. By then his interest had switched towards yachting and in 1960 he went to the Olympic Games representing Argentina in Rome in 1960 in the Star Class, finishing 17th.
In 2004 Mieres returned to racing, trying a J2 Allard at the Monaco Historic event, at the grand old age of 79.