If we say “The Wizard” or we mean Guillermo Coria or Oreste Berta. And since we are talking about motorsport here, the doubt dissipates.
For a reason they called the greatest car and engine trainer in Argentine history “El magician”. I still remember and I will not forget when I bought a Torino coupe in 2002. And I took it to Alta Gracia to leave it original. It looked like a factory outlet when he gave it back to me.
Oreste is a self-taught. What bounds his figure. He is Honorary Causa of the University of Córdoba, San Juan University and National Technology.
He was born on September 29, 38 in Rafaela. It started in the United States, fixing Ducatis and Cucciolos. He returned to the country in ’65 and set up a Renault Dauphine for the Road Tourism. That made him debut with Copello. He led the three laps he ran, until he broke engine. That’s where it all started.
He was hired by IKA for Road Tourism precisely. He prepared the 380W, type “Hare Torino” that won the championships of 67, (68 runner-up), 69, 70 and 71. Loose papers passing through the IKA… In 69 he was the Technical Director of the Argentine Mission at 84 hours of Nürburgring. From the hand of “El chueco” Fangio.
Here in Argentina, trouble was waiting for him… that’s weird. The drivers of Tourism Road said that the regulations favored the Torinos. So Oreste and Luis Rubén Di Palma decided to retire from the category. Again, the punishment turned out worse for the punisher. In 1973 he set up the famous 7-bench Torino engine. The “Torino OHC” of 3800 cm3. It offered a power of 215 HP and a top speed of 205 km/h. That one with my coupe… I cry!
The international step
In 1969 “The Wizard” put together an International Sport Prototype. Based on its own design and powered by a Cosworth V8. It was called “Berta LR” because in the project put money on the, at that time, the great newspaper “La Razón”. Unfortunately, two major accidents stained their debut, in the 1,000 kilometers of Buenos Aires. 1970. Where it was measured against the Porsche, Ferrari, Matra and Alfa Romeo.
After getting the feat (origin of his nickname?) to rebuild the car in 3 days, was measured against the most powerful. It was handled by a Carlos Marincovich. Encouraged by the result in the race and by President Carlos Onganía, the idea grew. Now it was about making a completely Argentine car. There were several attempts, even to achieve an F1. But they were all frustrated by lack of financial support.
The most recent story
The one we all know. The partnership with “The Yoyo” Maldonado to assemble a Volkswagen F2. It was the Berta VW. Champ. Then the F2 Codasur. With the record of Oreste and Yoyo being the only team champion of all the years that lasted a category. South American F3 replaced the Codasur. And another championship came. After “The Wizard” retired, he was called in 2005 from the category to supply the engines.
TC 2000 with Fire and Traverse. Champion in 1986. The squad with the most consecutive titles between 1988 and 1993 6. Idem for Oreste as a biker. 4 of those titles, from Traverso.
In 1997 he was hired from Ford. He set up the Escorts. From whose team “Oresito” was DT. Champion in 1997, 2000 and 2001. Champion in 2003 and 2005 with the Focus.
Then came the TRV6 by Berta, originally from a Jaguar engine, and the Duratec by Berta. That drove the Top Race, the Top Race Junior and the TC2000.
It’s Oreste Santiago Antonio Berta. “The Wizard” of Alta Gracia. If I had been an economist, today we would be a world power…
Illustration “Illuminated by Glory”, courtesy of Daniel Sonzini (@daniel62sonzini)
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