Continental Notes and News, April 1939
Continenta. Notez and. News
Rift/In the Lute
The trouble between France and Italy in the political sphere, is bringing on a first-class crisis in motor-racing.
It came to a head in the matter of the Pau Grand Prix, but actually the trouble has been brewing for some time. The Italians seem determined to make things RS unpleasant as they can for France, and their first move was to forbid any Italian driver to take part in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Attention was then turned to Pau, and before you could say jack Robinson the Italians struck again, this time issuing a general order that no . Italian racing motorist—or racing cyclist, for that matter—must compete in France in future.
The effect of this soon became apparent, when the Auto-Union people realised that their first-string driver, .. Tazio Nuvolari, came under the Italian’s ban. Not unnaturally, they were considerably piqued at this lack of co-operation by the Southern end of the Axis, and all the forces of German officialdom were brought into play in an endeavour to get the Italian attitude modified. But even the great Huhnlein himself was unable to make any impression on the adamant Italians, in spite of using his strongest pleas that politics should be kept out of sport. At the time of writing it is by no means certain that Auto-Union will run at Pau with their depleted team, in which case the race should be a walk-over for Mercedes-Benz. All this has caused the Germans to brood on many actions of the Italians recently which have not been helpful in giving the greatest effect to German motor-racing superiority. There was that
Tripoli business, for example. The sweepstake run in connection with this race has made it the most lucrative of all, and. the German teams have reaped a nice little harvest out of the trip for several years past. And now the Italians go and make it a 1,500 c.c. race, instead of a full Formula Grand Prix They have decided that this was a deliberate move to prevent a German victory—although In fairness to the Italians it must be added that there was not much point in demonstrating the inferior speed of their own cars in front of their own people.
The trouble with the Italian attitude to France is that it jeopardises a day of races which was likely to be the high spot of the European racing season : July 9th. In the morning there is to be the Sporting Commission Cup for 1,500 c.c. cars, and in the afternoon the Grand Prix de l’A.C.F. Take the 11-litre race first. The entry list, which has already closed, consists of two ” works ” E.R.A.s, to be driven
by Arthur Dobson and Raymond Maya; two independent E.R.A.s entered by Con. Pollock and ” Bira ” ; Abecassis on his Alta ; three Alfa-Romeos with drivers as yet unnamed ; Maseratis entered by
J. Jos, H. Dipper, Cortese, Seconds, Loyer, Louis Gerard and G. Soffietti ; two Simea-Fiats entered by Gordiui and Paul ; and Plate’s rebuilt Talbot. By AUSLANDER
Eighteen cars of which nearly half are to be driven by Italians. If the ban is still in force, the race as a race will be a flop. I don’t suppose the French-owned Maseratis will be as fast as the ” works” E.R.A.s, the Alta challenge will suffer from lack of nurniers, and the Simca Fiats will be outclassed
in speed. What is more important, however, is the fact that the first clash between the new E.R.A.s and, the AlfaRomeos will be postponed.
In the Grand, Prix, the absence of Maseratis and, Alf as, as well as Nuvolari from the Auto-Union team, would deprive the race of all interest. If Auto4Unions rim, which is by no means certain if the Pau Grand Prix can be taken as a. precedent, there is a possibility that Muller and Stuck would chase the Mercedes’ s, or even lead them, but in any case it would be a two-make race. The new Darracq cannot be expected to be really cracking in what may be its first big event, and the Delahayes and Sefac are no match for the Germans in speed.
It all seems a great pity, and completely unnecessary.
Talk continues to revolve round the possibility of the Grand Prix formula being altered to 1,500 c.c. next year. The great Charles Faroux has declared that in his view it ought to give scope for unblown cars as well, suggesting 1,500 c.c. supercharged and 8-litres unsupercharged as fair limits. It is difficult to see on what grounds he bases his opinion, after our experience of blown and unblown ears in the present formula. Does he really think that an unblown 8-litre would be able to hold a candle to the latest E.R.A., Alfa-Romeo or Ma.serati ? Both in all-out speed and acceleration the small car would have it every time.
Another suggestion—this time from Signor Jan°, one-time head man at Alfas,—is that cars should be two-seater saloons with adequate luggage room and equipped with a spare wheel. The body should be of all-metal construction, and the use of ultra-light alloys would be forbidden (which seems a bit reactionary, I must say). There would be no limitation on the engine size or the weight of the car, but it would have to be capable of running for 312 miles on ordinary pump petrol without refuelling. On the credit side Jano’s scheme would probably broaden the entry in Grand Prix races, as it would be much cheaper to build cars of his specification. On the other hand, the snags are that the races would loose their spectacular interest ; research work in. the matter of high efficiency design tuning would give place
to making the best of our present knowledge, and we should cease to find out anything more about light alloys and fuels.
What do you think ? As for the future of the formula, it would certainly be a fine thing for Britain if it were limited to 1,500 c.c. Firms like E.R.A. and Alta would have a good start on newcomers in the problem of extracting really high power outputs from small engines, but most important of all would be the fact that Britain would once more be represented in full Grand
Prix racing. What is more her cars would have every chance of being successful, in which case it would be the first time a British car won a Grand Prix race since 1928, which is a long, long time ago. The Germans continue to deny that they have any 11-litre cars in preparation,
which is only understandable. But if Huhnlein does really mean business in suggesting a 1:Witre formula, it can be taken as certain that German 1,500 c.c. cars do exist. I would even go so far as to say that they must be in a pretty advanced state of development, and showing every signs of promise. Otherwise they would never have advocated a .change in the formula.
The search for new drivers goes on. In Italy the Alfa people received no less than 800 applications from hopeful drivers who thought they deserved a place in the team for 1939. Their records and testimonials were accordingly sifted by a specially appointed committee, and the most likely of them are to be given a trial at Monza in the near future. Actually, the Alfa Corse is in need of some really top-line men. The roll-call at the moment, for both Formula and 1,500 c.c. cars, reads : Farina, Biondetti, E. Villoresi, Aldrighetti, Seven, Pinta cuda, Tadini and Righetti. All good men, especially Farina, Biondetti and Pintacuda, but somehow not quite in the same flight as Caracciola, Nuvolari, Von
Brauchitsch, Lang and. Seaman. But maybe that is unfair, and is based on the fact that they have not been seen on such. fast cars.
Anyway, it is significant that Achille Varzi, now reported to be completely recovered from his long spell of ill-health,. has been invited to join the Corse to drive in the Formula team. It seems that we can’t get along without the old-timers, and Hans Stuck has been dragged from his retirement on the shores of Lake Zurich to take his place once more in the Auto-Union team. How often he will race in long Grand Prix events will probably depend on the way Meier and Iligalke shape. Kautz is no longer with the team this year—he got married in Paris last month—and Hasse may stand down. Stuck himself, I believe,
would much prefer to confine his racing to hill-climbs, which do not require the stamina which he feels he lack nowadays.
Talking of drivers, Darracqs have signed up Etancelin, Le Begtte and Carriere. I had an idea that Chiron and Wimille might be seen in the team this year, but apparently it is not to be so. At pre sent the plans of these two are undecided, but it certainly seems a thousand pities that Wimille has not been given a mount by some firm, I have always thought that
he has it in him to become a top-liner, if he were given the right car.
Round the Clock
Le Mans looks like being a pretty good show this year. The Lagonda people are laying their plans with all the patience and far-sightedness that characterised the Bentley successes of old—and which so largely contributed towards them. To begin with they are not really concerned about winning the race at all. They regard it purely as a full-course trial on the actual tideway. The two cars are coining along nicely, delivering plenty of b.h.p. and being light in the chassis withal. I should imagine they will go like bombs from the word go.
One car will be in the hands of Lord Waleran and Lord Selsdon, the other being entrusted to two drivers whose names are at present a state secret. I don’t think there is any harm in saying that one of them is a leading E.R.A. exponent, and the other has already driven Lagondas in races, as well as being one of Britain’s steadiest and most competent drivers.
The B.M.W. challenge in the 2-litre class will be a formidable one, three cars being entered with Prince SchaumbergLippe, Briem and Heinemann as drivers. Entries to date total forty-six, and include three cars under the mysterious nomination ” Ecurie Watney.” These have now been revealed as a new type of competition-model Delage to be known as the “Olympic,” for which great hopes
are held. The engine is a 3-litre sixcylinder, with push-rod overhead valves. It has three carburetters, five crankshaft bearings, cast-iron cylinder block and head, pistons of R-R alloy, and a compression ratio of 8 to 1. Adequate lubrication is assisted by an external oil radiator in front, and the maximum power is developed at 5,300 r.p.m. As is the case with other Delage models, the ” Olympic” has a Cotal electro magnetic gearbox. A total weight of only 15-A. cwt. for the chassis results in an excellent power-to-weight ratio, and with a short wheelbase of only 8 ft. 6 in., the car should be very handy in races. A maximum speed in the region of 125 m.p.h. is talked about. The front suspension is, of course, independent, with semi-elliptics at the rear. • The drivers so far nominated by the Ecurie are Louis Gerard and Georges Monneret, the French motor-cyclist. Another has yet to be named, and I understand that several English drivers are in the running for the odd place in the
team. The patron is Mr. Walter S. Watney, an Englishman who has lived in France for some time, and his plans for the season include Le Mans, the Tourist Trophy, Independents’ Day at Montlhery, Antwerp Grand Prix, Liege Grand Prix and the Paris 12-Hours Race. This ” Olympic” racing model forms the basis of two additional cars in the Delage range, the ” Olympic Normal ” and the “Olympic Sports.” Both cars will have a longer wheelbase of 10 ft. 4 ins., and they will have hydraulic brakes instead of the mechanical type used on the competition car. Other alterations are that they have flexible engine mounting, instead of the fixed method applied to the racing-car, and the external oil radiator is dispensed with. Tbe ” Sports ” has three carburetters,
and the ” Normal ” only one. The ” Sports ” type is already in production, and is reputed to give a comfortable 90 m.p.h. with a full sized body.
In the passing of Signor Zerbi, technical director of the Fiat concern, the motorracing world has lost a distinguished
pioneer. For it was Zerbi who really put the supercharger on the motor-racing map. It was at the French Grand Prix at Tours in 1923 that the Fiat team surprised everyone by turning up with supercharged engines. They had won the race the previous year, and were all out to repeat the.pexforniance. Bordino, Salamano and Giaccone were the drivers, and they soon showed that their cars possessed
tremendous speed. Alas, the blowers were of the paddle-type, and they could not last the distance. One by one the Italian cars came to a standstill, and Segrave went ahead with his Sunbeam to record the only all-British victory in an International Grand Prix since the War. However, Zerbi profited by the experience and scrapped the paddle type of blower in favour of the Roots. For the rest of the year the Fiat team was
invincible, and after that other manufacturers all took up the use of superchargers.
Not This Time
First place in the Paris—St. Raphael
Rally eluded the British competitors this year, but they nevertheless did very well. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the car in front dropping a pool of water on the road at the Drapuignan test, Miss Haig
might very well pulled it off once more. As it was her M.G. got into a fearful slide when she braked, which utterly ruined her time.
There was some excitement at the new Orange hill-climb, including a complete somersault by film-star Mme. Kronbauerova with her little Jawa, without damage to car or driver. Instead ,she pluckily carried on and won the class for competitors who have not figured previously in the first three places in the General Classification. The full results were as follows :
CLASS A in the
(Competitors having previously figured in the first three places in the General Classification)
1, Mme. Simon (Hotchkiss), 2,133_ pts.; 2, Mine. Rouault (Delahaye), 2,080 pts.; 3, Miss Betty Haig (M.G. S.), 2,077 pts.; 4, Mrs. Kay Hague (Riley), 1,893 pts.; 5, Countess Moy (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.), 1,843 pts.; 6, Miss Enid Riddell (Fraser-NashB.M.W.), 1,820 pts. • 7, Mine. Fleury (Darracq), 1,634 pts.; 8, Mine. lioufridi (Hotchkiss), 869 pts. ; 9, Mine. Griffon (Deluge), 630 pts.; 10, Mine. Charziol (Shwa-Flat), 467 pts.
(All other competitors)
1, Mine. Kronbauerova (Jaws), 1,799 pts. ; 2, Mlle. d’Oncieu (Georges Ira), 1,672 pts.; 3, Mlle. Cassignol (Georges hut), 1.625 pts. • 4, Miss Patten (Peugeot), 1,596 pts. ; 5 Mme. Lefebvre (Georges list), 1,504 pts.; 6, Mile. Daasonville (Peugeot), 1,040 pta.•, 7, Mlle. Meyrat (Standard), 992 ts.; 8, Mlle. Barrier (Peugeot), 760 pts. ; 9, Mine. Gibon (500 Simca-Fiat), 234 pts.
750 c.o. :1, Mme. Kronbauerova (Jaws). 1,100 c.c. : Mlle. Cassignol (Georges list). (M1,800.). c.c.: Mrs. Hague (Riley) : 2, Miss Haig .G
2.2-litres: 1, Countess Moy (B.M.W.): 3, Miss Riddell (B.M.W.); 4, Miss Patten (Peugeot). 3-litres •. 1, Mme. Fleury (Darraeq).
Over 3-litres : 1, Mine. Rouault (Delahaye) 2, Mine. Simon (Hotchkiss). Concours d’Eleganee Pratique de la Route
Grand Prix Winners: Mlle. Stress (Simca-Fiat), Mine. Meyrat (Standard), Mine. Jourdan tied with Miss Patten (both with Peugeots), Mine. Fleury (Darracq), Mine. Simon tied with Mine. Boufridi (both with Hotchkiss).
Premier Awards : Mine. Kronbauerova (Jawa), Mine. Lefebvre (Georges list), Mrs. Hague (Riley), Mlle. d’Oncieu (Georges Ira), Mine. Rouault (Delahaye).