RACER - The Story of Alfie Costanzo

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

ALFREDO COSTANZO trophies ALFREDO COSTANZO trophies

Free-to-watch documentary explores the life of one of Australia's greatest racing drivers

A year ago, the Australian motorsport community gathered recently to celebrate the achievements of open wheel star Alfredo Costanzo that have been made into a documentary by Weightless Productions.

Italian born Costanzo, known to everyone as Alfie, is a four-time winner of the Gold Star Australian Driver’s Championships won in both the brutally fast Formula 5000s and smaller engine Formula Pacific cars.

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Early in his career in the late 1960s Costanzo drove a 1.5-litre Elfin, moving to a McLaren for the Australian leg of the Tasman series, a two month romp across New Zealand and Australia with 8 races over consecutive weekends and contested by the star F1 drivers of the day and local heroes.

Then came Formula 2 which Costanzo competed in with a locally made Birrana 274.

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1976 saw Costanzo move to Formula 5000, the recalcitrant, powerful but flimsy open wheelers with powerful 5-litre V8s, huge wings and tyres and not much else. They were more potent than an F1 car and Costanzo relished the challenge in taming this wild cars.

Early on it was a Lola T332 backed by Stock 84 Brandy before his was taken under the wing of fellow F5000 racer and Porsche Cars Australia boss, Alan Hamilton. It was there that Alfie shone, winning his four Gold Star titles.

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Although he competed in 11 Australian Grands Prix, Costanzo never won, his best result was 4th on two occasions.

Following his retirement from openwheelers, with Hamilton closing down the team, Alfie turned to touring cars and joined our good friend John Bowe in the Volvo Dealer Team and Dick Johnson’s Ford Sierra team.   

But it was Sandown Park where he left an indelible mark on Australian motorsport history.

The original Sandown layout was a fearsome, high-speed circuit that rewarded the brave. All the greats raced there; Jim Clark, Graham Hill. Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Jochen Rindt, Chris Amon and local stars Frank Matich, Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett and Leo Geoghegan.

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In 1981 Alfredo Costanzo at the wheel of Hamilton’s McLaren M26 drove the 1.92-mile Sandown Park circuit like no other and became the only driver to lap the track under the magic one minute mark.

His time of 59.5 seconds is etched in the record books and motorsport folklore.

The documentary showcases Costanzo’s racing career and life away from the track and gives a fascinating insight into one of Australia’s greatest racers and is available for free online at Vimeo - or watch the documentary in full below.

 

RACER - The Story of Alfie Costanzo from Weightless Films on Vimeo.

 

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