FINE RACING AT DIEPPE
PHILIPPE ETANCELIN (1VIASERATI) GAINS HIS LONG-AWAITED VICTORY OVER THE SCUDERIA FERRARI— BRITISH DRIVERS DO WELL TO GAIN 3RD, 4TH AND 5TH PLACES.
AYEAR ago we prophesied that the Circuit of Dieppe would become as popular with British competitors as the races held at Boulogne, where many of our best drivers picked up their road racing experience. That the drivers themselves were attracted by the idea is proved by the fact that there were nine British entries for the racing on July 22nd, these being Earl Howe (Maserati), a regular performer at Dieppe, C. Penn Hughes (Alfa Romeo), who entered last year, but did not start, F. E. Clifford (Alfa Romeo), J. L. Ford (M.G. Magnette), C. S. Staniland (Mathieson’s Bugatti), A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti), T. E. Rose Richards (Bugatti), Raymond Mays (E.R.A.), and H. C. Hamilton (Maserati), who has built up a magnificent reputation for himself this year on the Continent as a member of Whitney Straight’s stable.
From the driver’s point of view, participation in the Circuit of Dieppe is worth more than innumerable sports car races on the road. The opposition is the best in the world, with Chiron, Lehoux and Etancelin on the same starting line, and a careful study of such masters’ methods in action, even if they soon disappear ahead, is worth a tremendous lot. The circuit itself is an interesting one, exactly the right length, and the atmosphere is “Grand Prix” to an extent never found at sports-car events. The organisers do everything in their power to make the race a success and the drivers comfortable, a point which is for som? perverse reason often overlooked in this country. As to the spectators, they, too, are well provided for, and can see as much of the race as they can desire. Contrary to previous years, the programme this time took the form of two preliminary heats and a final. In theory, the system is a good one, for there are, in effect, three separate races, with massed starts, but care has to be taken that drivers do not content themselves with merely qualifying for the final without trying to win a heat, thereby saving their cars for the final. The only way to avoid this is by levelling up the prize
money so that a heat is really worth winning.
Some idea of the interest aroused by racing at Dieppe can be judged by the fact that three of the four grandstands by the Maison Blanche corner were full for the first practice period. The existing lap record was 3 mins. 41 secs., and this was beaten by the holder, Marcel Lehoux, in 3 mins. 36 secs. His old rival, Philippe Etancelin, was only a shade slower, with 3 mins. 38 secs. However, the fact that the order on the starting line was to be determined by drawing lots, and not by practice times, did not encourage the drivers to try very hard. Before the second period a violent storm broke out, so that the roads were dangerously wet when the cars set off. No one tried to lap very quickly, the fastest being Louis Chiron (Alfa Romeo) in 3 mins. 43.2 secs. The morning of the race was bright and sunny, and from an early hour a steady stream of traffic left Dieppe for the circuit, just outside the town. Intermingled with the cars, taxis and buses were the
racing cars of some of the competitors, roaring up the hill to the Maison Blanche. The sun betokened a scorching day, and a lucrative trade was being done by sellers of smoked-glass spectacles. On arrival at the tribunes all the English spectators were very disappointed to hear that neither Whitney Straight nor H. C. Hamilton would be starters. The former’s car could not be prepared in time, and Hamilton was representing the stable at Albi. The start of the first heat took place at 9.30 a.m., and the following drivers ranged themselves in rows of three before the gaily decorated stands : Etancelin (Maserati), Lehoux (Alfa Romeo), Scaron (Alfa Romeo), Penn Hughes (Alfa Romeo), Clifford (Alfa Romeo), Eonnet (Bugatti), Ford (M.G.), Villapadiema (Maserati), Staniland (Bugatti) and Eccles (Bugatti). When M. Charles Faroux dropped his flag the lead was instantly taken by Marcel Lehoux, on a Ferrari-owned Alfa Romeo. The acceleration of this car was simply astonishing, and the tyres
were still spinning furiously as he passed the point where we were standing, near the footbridge across the road. The rest of the cars got away in orderly fashion, and disappeared up the straight to the Val Gosset corner. In a moment the leaders were round again, Lehoux lying about 5 seconds ahead of Etancelin, and these two being well ahead of the rest. The British spectators were delighted to see Penn Hughes appear next, followed by Staniland, Scaron, Villapadierna, Eonnet, Clifford and Ford. But where was Eccles? At last the news came through that while trying to pass Villapadierna on the winding stretch of road from Val Gosset to St. Aubyn he had lightly chipped the bank at the side of the road. This was sufficient to turn the car sideways, after which it became uncontrollable. Rolling over and over, the front axle and the radiator being wrenched off in the process, the car eventually came to rest as a piece of tangled wreckage. Eccles had the good fortune to be thrown out on to the road, the impact with which was reduced by the fact of his wearing a crash-helmet, and his injuries were confined to a badly cut lip, severe bruises and shock. Fortune continued to favour him, for a conveniently placed commissaire hauled him up the bank out of the path of the following cars.
Meanwhile the duel between the leaders was brought to an early close when Lehoux pulled up his Alfa at the pits on the third lap, complaining that the third speed of his car no longer functioned. Heated discussion resulted in his continuing the race with a view to qualifying for the final, although all chance of being able to catch Etancelin had gone. Staniland was getting into his stride with Mathieson’s Bugatti, and passed Penn Hughes to take third place. Of the remaining Englishmen, Ford had rammed the straw bales at St. Aubyn so firmly that he could not extricate his M.G. Magnette, and he had to retire, while Clifford was very slow on an Alfa Romeo, and was lapped by Etancelin in half-a-dozen circuits. Another slow driver was Eonnet, who made a pretty tie-cl-queue at the Maison Blanche hairpin hard by the stands. Etancelin put in a lap of 3 mins. 44.2 secs. the fastest so far, and was steadily drawing ahead of Lehoux, who in turn was comfortably ahead of Staniland. A great fight for 4th place was being waged by Penn Hughes and Jose Scaron, both driving Alfa Romeos, the English driver leading the whole time. No other alterations took place in the order, and Philippe Etancelin was flagged home the winner after one hour, having covered 127 kilometres 826. Clifford and Eonnet were still running, but did not
qualify for the final. Result of First Heat.
I. P. Etancelin (Maserati), 127 km. 826.
2. M. Lehoux (Alfa Romeo), 127 km. 026.
3. C. S. Staniland (Bugatti), 123 km. 859.
4. C. Penn Hughes (Alfa Romeo), 122 km. 463.
5. J. Season (Alfa Romeo), 122 km. 442.
6. De Villapadiema (Maserati), 114 km. 790. Everybody were thoroughly enjoying themselves, the tribunes were full and the crowds at the St. Aubyn ” Esses ” extended right up to the top of the sloping fields. After an interval of halfan-hour the cars in the second heat were dispatched, their names being as follows :
Chiron (Alfa Romeo), Zehender (Maserati), Earl Howe (Maserati), Rose Richards (Bu gatti), Biondetti (Maserati) , Mlle. Helle-Nice (Alfa Romeo), Delorme (Bugatti), Cazaux (Bugatti), Gaupillat (Bugatti) and Mays (E.R.A.). Chiron, of course, jumped ahead at the start, and a feature of the first lap was the meteoric progress of Gaupillat on a very fast 2-litre Bugatti. Lying fifth at the start, he managed to pick up to second place behind Chiron before the end of the first lap—a fine piece of driving. Then came Zehender, Rose-Richards, Earl Howe, Raymond Mays, Biondetti, Delorme, and Mlle. Helle-Nice. Cazaux had soon got himself into trouble, leaving the road at the” Esses “at speed, without injury to himself. Delorme was another retirement, due to a skid at Val Gosset. Gaupillat did not hold second place for long, and was soon passed by Zehender
interest now centred on the duel between Earl Howe and Biondetti for 3rd place. After a stern duel the latter’s Alfa Romeo caught fire at Val Gosset, without harming its pilot. Rose-Richards thereupon came fourth, , with Mlle. Helle-Nice slower, but nevertheless steady, fifth.
Result of Second Heat.
1. L. Chiron (Alfa Romeo), 122 km. 819.
2. F. Zehender (Maserati), 118 km. 731.
3. Earl Howe (Maserati), 117 km. 147.
4. T. E. Rose Richards (Bugatti), 115 km. 401.
5. Mlle. Helle-Nice (Alfa Romeo), 104 km. 309. There was now an interval in the proceedings, so far as car-racing was concerned, until three o’clock, but meanwhile motor-cyclists made merry for an hour and a half. The British riders showed their marked superiority as a whole in this event, and one hardly knew whether to be terrified or amused by the innumerable falls made by the rest of the entrants. We saw one “beauty” at the “Esses “
and Earl Howe. It was while following the latter’s Maserati down the incline at the end of the ” straight leg,” past the tribunes that Gaupillat had the crash which was to cause his death. His Bugatti seemed to strike a gully at the side of the road, probably owing to fierce braking, and in an instant it had shot in the air and began to hurtle along the road, eventually striking a tree. Gaupillat was terribly injured and died in hospital at 8 o’clock that evening without recovering consciousness. Consternation was caused when the ambulance was seen returning to Dieppe “against the traffic,” but it got through without mishap.
The race was obviously going to be an easy thing for Chiron, and he steadily built up a lead over Zehender, who was well ahead of Biondetti. The latter had been driving very well, and had improved his position from 5th to 3rd place. The unfortunate Cazaux was called in by the officials and disqualified for having received assistance in getting his car back on the road after his accident. Raymond Mays had constant trouble with the E.R.A. and retired after many pit stops. With Chiron and Zehender safely established in the leading positions,
which would have been comic but for the risk of the performer injuring himself seriously.
Then came the real business of the day in the two-hour final for cars, in which the following took part : Chiron (AlfaRomeo), Lehoux (Alfa-Romeo), Etancelin (Maserati), Staniland (Bugatti), PennHughes (Alfa-Romeo), Scaron (AlfaRomeo), Zehender (Maserati), Earl Howe (Maserati), Rose-Richards (Bugatti) and Mlle. Helle-Nice (Alfa-Romeo). So determined were the dirvers to make the most use of their getaway that the whole pack moved forward slowly before the starter dropped his flag. This was not good enough, so they tried it all over again. This time he got them away together, all except Zehender, who stayed on the line. Lehoux’s gearbox, incidentally, had been changed in the interval between heats and final. Lehoux and Etancelin were in the front row, and the former shot ahead to give his team mate Chiron room to come up and take the lead. At the treacherous Esses of St. Aubyn, however, Chiron committed a rare error of judgment in skidding round completely, coming up against the bank rather heavily. The result was that Lehoux appeared first at the end of the lap, followed by Etancelin, Staniland, Penn
Hughes, Scaron, Earl Howe, RoseRichards, Chiron and Mlle. Helld-Nice. Poor Zehender was just getting away from the line as the other competitors completed their first lap.
Etancelin was not long in getting to grips with his old rival Lehoux. Twice this season has the Rouennais driver been within an ace of scoring a victory over the invincible Ferrari Alfa-Romeos and he saw at Dieppe yet another chance to bring this about. After four laps there were only a few feet between the cars, and Etancelin succeeded in passing the Alfa on the straight after the tribunes, only to be repassed at Val Gosset. Almost immediately he got past once more, and finished the fifth lap about 5 seconds ahead of his rival. Both men were putting every ounce of energy and skill into their driving, and this reshuffling of positions was carried on for lap after lap, keeping the spectators on their toes with excitement. This duel was apt to overshadow the really magnificent driving of C. S. Staniland with his 2.3-litre Bugatti in 3rd place, and for six laps the Bugatti was never a great way behind. Then the engine packed up and the fastest British driver in the race was forced to retire.
Chiron was out of luck, and retired with broken shock absorber brackets as a result of his momentary lapse early in the race. Zehender, too, fell out with brake trouble. After this the race took on a two-fold aspect. Etancelin versus Lehoux in the van, with Earl Howe, Penn-Hughes and Rose-Richards fighting a separate battle on their own, some 2f minutes astern. From being last of the trio, Rose-Richards gradually passed both the others, and took 3rd place on the 16th lap, only to fall right back again to 5th place. The strain of battle with Etancelin’s Maserati proved too much for Lehoux’s Alfa Romeo, and he had to stop on the 23rd lap for a fresh supply of plugs, allowing Etancelin to gain a clear 2 minutes lead. Now Etancelin could afford to ease up a little, and this he did, always conserving a useful lead until the end of the race. The Englishmen’s ” triangular match” resulted in a well
Gaupillat, but consolation could be found in the thought that Eccles, too, might well have been gravely injured. The organization of the Dieppe Meeting calls for special comment. For complete thoroughness and efficiency the Committee
judged victory for Earl Howe, with Rose-Richards hard on his heels and Penn-Hughes bringing up the rear. Scaron and Mlle. Helle-Nice were still going, but some way back. The usual scenes of enthusiasm followed, and the ” ” added the final touch to the picture. It had been a wonderful day’s sport, three good races and plenty of first-class scraps. The only. cloud was the critical condition of
headed by Monsieur Jullien can serve as a model to all race organisers, and their treatment of foreign drivers and pressmen is the acme of courtesy.
Result of Final.
I. P. Etancelin (Maserati), 241 km. 928. 120.964 k.p.h.
2. M. Lehoux (Alfa Romeo), 238 km. 751.
3. Earl Howe (Maserati), 236 km. 466.
4. T. E. Rose Richards (Bugatti), 236 km. 273.
5. C. Penn Hughes (Alfa Romeo), 236 km. 062.
6. J. Scaron (Alfa Romeo), 233 km. 710. 7, Mlle. Helle-Nice (Alfa Romeo), 208 km. 156. hough set up several ri6w British and International Class J records, as follows :
British and International Class J. 200 miles … 51.37 m.p.h. (new record) 3 hours … 51.03 m.p.h. (Antony 34.65 m.p.h.)
British Class J.
50 kilometres… 51.35 m.p.h. (new record)
50 miles … 52.27 m.p.h. „ „ 100 kilometres… 52.90 m.p.h.
100 miles … 51.51 m.p.h. 200 kilometres… 51.69 m.p.h.
1 hour … 52.37 m.p.h. PP PP PP IP