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Carlos Menem Jr; The F1 test that never happened

There are drivers and stories linked with the Formula One most of us have forgotten while time passes by. This is one of these stories. About the Argentinian, rally driver Carlos Menem Jr, the son of former president of Argentina Carlos Menem. Who was to test with the Minardi M193 in October 1993. However, the test never happened and Carlos Menem Jr would die a few years later during a controversial helicopter crash. Many thanks to Giancarlo Minardi with providing some great details.

So who was Menem Jr? As said, he was the son of Carlos Menem who was the president of Argentina between 1989 and 1999. As far as I could uncover he experienced his first taste of rally racing with a Peugeot 504 outside of Argentina in 1986 or 1987. In 1987, he took part on the Marlboro Rally of Argentina with a Renault 18 GTX. From 1991 onwards, he started to appear in the FIA World Rally Championship until 1995.

Sadly, I’m unable to uncover much about his earlier days in autosport. It seems though that he mostly did some rally racing. Perhaps he did some track races as well though I can’t find info about this. The fact he was a rally driver makes it even more curious why he was to test with the Minardi M193 in October 1993.

An article appeared in the Autosport magazine from 16 September 1993 stating that Menem Jr was to test with the Minardi with several other Argentinian drivers. The test was organised by Philip Morris, who back then organised many rallies in Argentine it seems. The reason for his test with the Minardi was to promote the Formula One in his homeland, and to promote the Argentinian Grand Prix.

So who were the other drivers? Well, I can’t answer that. I was unable to uncover the names of the rest. While it was announced it seems the test did not happen. While creating the list with test drivers of 1993 I did not came across the name Menem either. It only happened after I recently purchased many Autosport magazines from someone.

As I couldn’t figure out If the test did or did not happen, I asked Giancarlo Minardi if he could remember some details about the event and about Menem Jr. I received an interesting answer. It all started with a meeting in the Casa Rosada, which is the office of the President of Argentina. Talks were held for this test. However, eventually nothing came from it. And it seems the plan to promote the Grand Prix in Argentina with testing a bunch of Argentinian drivers was postponed.

Sadly, there are simply not that many details left to tell about the test that never happened.  Eventually Carlos Menem Jr. would die in a helicopter crash that occurred the 15th of March 1995. He piloted a Bell 206 Jet Ranger with another Argentine pilot Silvio Oltra. While it was said to be an accident. The rumours went quickly that he was shot-down by snipers. It remembered me of the story of Russian Berkov, which I wrote before.