When I crossed the finish line, I did not know if I was World Champion or not! ~ Edgardo Rossi
The Kart Grand Prix of Italy at Lonato, the venue for the final of the FIA Karting European Championship – KZ / KZ2, as well as the second of the three FIA Karting Academy Trophy Competitions, had the immense honour to receive a visit from Edgardo Rossi. For several years, the Swiss Driver wrote some of the most beautiful pages in the history of Karting. He reached the heights by becoming World Champion in 1967 at a time when the title was decided over three meetings. At Lonato, Edgardo Rossi was impressed by the paddock’s status, the dexterity of the youngest Drivers and had fun telling interesting anecdotes from a bygone era.
WHY DID YOU INSIST ON COMING TO LONATO?
Karting has always been in my blood. For me, it has been a part of my life, but a very important part. Feeling the atmosphere, the noise, the smells, is always a pleasure. The history of Karting continues season after season and I am pleased to continue to participate by coming to Lonato. I live in the southern part of Switzerland, where we speak Italian. The circuit is not far from my home.
REMIND US ABOUT YOUR CAREER?
I started karting at age 22, much later than today’s kids who start much earlier. My ascent to the top level was quite fast, I became World Champion in 1967 and I hung up my helmet aged 28. Then I organised Competitions, before accompanying my son for a few years. He won the Swiss Championship in 1981.
HAVE YOU TRIED CARS?
No. In my day, we did not necessarily do Karting to then move to cars. In addition, I could not afford it!
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE HISTORICEVENTS THAT HAVE INCREASED IN RECENT YEARS?
It’s a very good idea. It enables a more accurate idea of the equipment that existed during the early decades of Karting. I understand that some Drivers who drove in the 60s or 70s still participate in these events, which is great! I myself was at such a meeting at Lonato a few years ago, which is an excellent memory.
WHO WERE YOUR MOST SERIOUS OPPONENTS?
The toughest was certainly the Belgian François Goldstein. I understand why he has five World Champion titles to his name. At the end of the 1960s, it was also Guido Sala, the winner in 1964 and 1965, and Giulio Pernigotti. Suzanna Raganelli was also very fast. I raced in 1966 in Copenhagen, Denmark, when she won the crown.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1967 …
The first two competitions at Vevey in Switzerland and Düsseldorf in Germany went very well. But there were still five Drivers aiming for the title when arriving at Monaco. Firstly my mechanic sabotaged my carburettor, because his brother was running in the Italian team! I had to go through the Repechage. Quickly, in the pack, I realised that many Drivers wanted me out so an Italian Driver could win. I had the idea of changing my racesuit so as to go unnoticed. I removed the Swiss team suit which was white, to wear a blue outfit from my club! I finally got back in to the top 10 and won the title. But it was very tight, I was only a few points ahead of Goldstein, Pernigotti and Raganelli. When I crossed the finish line, I did not know if I was World Champion or not!
WHAT EQUIPMENT DID YOU HAVE?
A Birel chassis with a Parilla engine. This type of 100cc kart was already very powerful. I remember I used great tyre that came from the United States, much more soft and effective than the tyres of the time.
TODAY, DO YOU STILL KNOW PEOPLE IN THE PADDOCK, AND WHAT IMPRESSED YOU THE MOST?
In Lonato, I did not meet people I knew, with very few exceptions. At Birel for example, I knew Oscar Sala. Now, it is his son Ronni Sala who manages this brand that I raced with. Concerning the paddock, I was especially impressed by all these big awnings used by the teams. As for karts, they have changed a lot visually with their bodywork. I admit that I really liked the FIA Karting Academy Trophy races. Seeing the speed and fighting spirit of these young people, aged 12 to 15 years, is really encouraging.