Juan María Traverso: "I wanted to be the one to say 'no more' and that's how it was"

15 years ago El Flaco put an end to his sports campaign that included 16 titles and many feats.

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El 8 August 2005 Monday, around 17, Juan Maria Traverso announced his retirement from motorsport at the age of 54, something that many foreshadowed after his rudeness the day before when he decided not to participate in the Sunday activity of the Road Tourism in Olavarría. The announcement was made at a press conference he gave at the headquarters of the Urtubey Competition in Don Torcuato and in which they were also present Alejandro Urtubey, owner of the team; Y Dares aventin, then president of the Road Tourism Corridors Association.

Juan Maria Traverso
This was the farewell. After Flaco's announcement, Oscar Aventin and Alejandro Urtubey recognized the champion as if they were on a podium. Photo: Marcelo Carroll

Although the news struck at the time, it was not a surprise. Not if you carefully analyze what happened in the previous months. Because there were small signs that Flaco knew how to correctly interpret and that led him to say "No more." The internal problems that existed in his team may have had something to do with it, but they were not decisive. That foul that hit the podium of the race of Top Race in Olavarría to recover from the intense struggle he had for the victory with Henry martin and the renal colic that prevented him from running in this same category in Balcarce were part of that wake-up call.

“In these 34 years of experience, I have severely punished my physique. Not only because of cigarettes, but because inside a race car the body suffers constantly ... I am again deaf, I also have a crooked spine and surely there are some other things as a result of the 65 degree temperature inside a cabin "Traverso confessed at that press conference. Taking as reference those events and the words of the protagonist himself, the reasons for the surprising news seem to be visible ...


Juan Maria Traverso
El Flaco in action on the Torino del Urtubey Competition. Photo: Jorge Marchesin.

Anyway, nobody expected it. Even the Monday before TC's race in Olavarría, the multiple champion was optimistic after securing the support of several companies for the latter part of this year and for all of 2006. “I will continue racing at TC next season. My continuity was in doubt because the contracts with my sponsors expired at the end of this year, but since I now have new agreements with other companies, I decided to continue. From now on we are going to fight for the championship and I do not rule out doing it this season as well ", he had stated.

But all expectations of going in search of a new title came to nothing that Sunday 7 in Olavarría. “I got up at six in the morning because I was running in the first heat. At eight thirty I went to put on the diver and at that moment I decided not to run anymore. The first to find out was Miguel Angel Etchegaray, who had come to drink mate. He asked me if it was because there was a problem in the team and he said no, that had nothing to do with it. I clarified that it was a final decision and he congratulated me "he related.

The cover was the cover of all the newspapers after his decision to retire.

When Etchegaray told reporters who were attentive to what was happening with Traverso that he did not feel like running, they all thought that the lack of courage was a consequence of problems in the team. But nobody thought that this "rudeness" - harshly criticized by all the media, without exception - would be the last ... “I always wondered how it could be that some athletes decided right off the bat to retire. I didn't understand it, but now it happened to me. Whenever I thought about the possibility of retirement, I wanted the decision to be mine and not someone else's. I did not want to go into retirement because they could not give me the medical license, for example. I wanted to be the one to say 'no more' and that's how it was "He said.

They were 34 years of pure passion. Both the one that Juan María Traverso put inside the cars, and the one felt by those who saw him drive. Because there were those who idolized him and those who defeated him. But that didn't stop Skinny himself from thanking everyone, "Because surely those who did not love me will have won a barbecue when I was champion with Ford or Chevrolet."

Photo: Jorge Marchesin.

On August 8, 2005 Juan María Traverso announced his retirement. The man knew how to interpret the signs and that allowed him to make the most difficult decision of his life with the conviction that he had not made a mistake.. "In these 34 years I squeezed out every last ounce of the passion I felt for racing in cars, I am not losing a race before", was the phrase with which he supported the measure.

They will say that he left in the middle of controversies, they will say that he did not go through the front door. The former may be right, but wasn't the controversy something that also characterized El Flaco in his career? As for the others, they are wrong in a way, because retiring after winning 16 titles, winning 145 races and staying in force for more than three decades is - like it or not - to leave as a true great.


Photo: Marcelo Carroll

Next, the most salient phrases that Juan María Traverso “threw” during the press conference where he announced his retirement.

  • “I'm fine, at least now… Maybe in a few days, when the cars go to the track, something will happen to me. But I am totally calm and convinced of the step I took. I felt that I no longer wanted to get in the car, that it was a sacrifice to stay inside ”.
  • “On Sunday night I met with my three children, Paula, María Manuela and Juan Cruz, my two sons-in-law and my granddaughter and I told them that I was retiring from motor racing. They uncorked a champagne and toasted. Manuela told me that now they were not going to suffer any more for me. It was the first time that I became aware of what was happening every time I was going to come ".
  • “Racing is my life. I would not know what to do outside of this activity. I'm going to go to all the races, I want to enjoy them from below ”.
  • “I did not miss anything in motorsports, I won races and championships… I never raced to be famous. With what motorsport gave me, I have plenty ”.
  • “People are going to remember many of my races, many triumphs. But the world goes on and there will be other pilots. But each one occupies its space. At the time Fangio retired, the Gálvezes left, Mouras was killed, Luis Di Palma had an accident, and motor racing continued, but each one had their space and no one replaced them ”.
  • “I was wrong thousands of times, but I completed a stage on top of a race car and I totally squeezed it. Now I will try to contribute things to motorsport ”.
  • “Until 10 years ago I was a survivor of motorsport. In the 70s, the one who was not afraid before starting was because he had a bad head or was farting. There was not much security and you ran on the route, where you climbed a hill thoroughly and you did not know what was on the other side. At that time you had to have a lot of courage and know how to drive. Today, on the other hand, you have to know how to drive very well. The boys who start running today may be afraid of a strong blow, but no one thinks that it can be killed ”.


Juan Maria Traverso1971 He made his motorsport and TC debut in a Torino at the Vuelta de Pergamino on October 31. "I was happier because Copello, my idol, had won than for having made his debut in Road Tourism"recalls JMT.

1972 On October 29, he won his first race: the YPF Supernafta award played in the semi-permanent on May 25. On his triumphant return to Ramallo, a crowd waited for him and the festivities lasted three days.

1973 He joined the official Ford team occupying the place that had been left vacant by the death of Nasif Estéfano. He has as a companion Héctor Luis Gradassi, whom he would always say was his teacher.

1977 He achieved his first Road Tourism championship. He won 7 of the 11 races contested. The following year, he also claimed the title with a campaign that included 8 wins on 15 dates.

1979 Due to inconveniences with the ACTC and the Ford team, Traverso went racing to Europe in Formula 2 with a March. Bernie Ecclestone offered him a contract for Formula Aurora and to compete in two F.1 races on the American continent. Due to his father's financial problems (Fiplasto, a company owned by Don Juan Cruz Traverso, was in a call for creditors), he preferred to return to the country.

1985 He joined the Renault TC2000 team with a Renault 18 and in 1986, with Oreste Berta as trainer, began a string of successive victories and titles in the category. With the legendary Fuego coupe he won the 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 scepters.

Juan Maria Traverso1993 He went to race at the Italian Tourism and stayed with the runner-up behind Miguel Angel Guerra, his teammate.

1994 He returned to TC driving a Chevrolet prepared by Jorge Pedersoli.

1995 He won the two titles of the most important categories of Argentine motorsport. In the TC he established himself with a Chevy and in the TC2000, with a Peugeot 405. This is a record that no one has equaled until now.

1996 He got his fourth championship in the TC based on strategy, since those pilots who arrived in the top three of the Final were penalized with ballast. In 1997, returned to get the crown in the popular category.

Juan Maria Traverso1998 He had two very strong accidents. The first was at the opening of the TC in Mar de Ajó, where he destroyed the Falcon that he debuted in that competition after crashing against the wall of the main straight. The other happened in a TC2000 race in Olavarría when he stumbled several times with his Honda Civic. He won the title of the Top Race, a category of which he was also champion in 1999 and 2003.

1999 He achieved his last scepter in the TC. At the end of that year he left the category due to differences with the leaders of the ACTC and the CAF.

2002 He returned to TC with a Chevy from the Urtubey Competition team. Although he did not achieve good results with that car, many remember it because it was painted simulating an Argentine flag.

2004 He ran with a Torino, a mark of which he was always driving. He won in Salta and Olavarría and finished the tournament ninth.

2005 On August 8, a day after deciding not to race in Olavarría, he announced his definitive retirement from the tracks.


TC2000 7 with Renault (1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993) and Peugeot (1995)


304 (record in category) 68 (record in category) 73 (record in category)
Road Tourism 6 with Ford (1977, 1978 and 1999) and Chevrolet (1995, 1996 and 1997)


235 46 (He is the third most winning driver in the category behind Juan Gálvez, who has 56, and Roberto Mouras, who achieved 50).


Top Race 3 with Mercedes (1998 and 1999) and with BMW (2003)


88 19 6

Note: During his campaign he also ran in the Argentine Pilots Club and Rally. At the international level he intervened in the Formula 2 European and Italian Tourism.


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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, e-driver.com y kmcero.com and on the radios Rock pop y Vorterix.com. He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by RadioArroba.com; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog: automundo.com.ar.

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