RACING IN SOUTH AMERICA
A READER’S ACCOUNT OF THE SAO PAULO RACE
A reader of your admirable motoring gazette, which covers racing in all parts
of the world, and a follower of Grand Prix racing through your articles, it crossed my mind that an account of Sao Paulo’s first G.P. event might be of interest to you. As forecast in your magazine, the Rio de Janeiro G.P. was held for the fourth time on the 7th of June, and no doubt, by this time a full account of the race, more famous this year owing to the participatibn of two Scuderia Ferrari entries, will have appeared in your columns. Ferrari were represented by Pintacuda and Marinoni in inde pendently sprung ” Alfas ” fitted with two-seater bodies. As you know, Marinoni never completed a lap of the ” Circuito de Gavea ‘ course, whilst his teammate led until the 21st lap when he retired with differential trouble. Pintacuda was hotly chased by the Brazilian champion, Manuel de Teffe who drove an Alfa ” of ’34 or ’35 vintage. Teffe himself fell back into third place when the race seemed his and the honours eventually went to Coppoli of the Argentine who was driving a Bugatti. Mlle
Helle Nice who came out from Europe with the two Italians, never really got going, and she was (in some newspaper results) classed as the last finisher, eighth. However, the reason of this letter was to touch on the matter of the Sao Paulo G.P., or as it is known locally, “Grande Premio Cidade de Sao Paulo.” So great was the enthusiasm for the Rio de Janeiro race that it was decided to hold a similar race in Sao Paulo on the 12th of this month and to invite all entrants of the
Rio G.P. The first prize was half that of the latter, being approximately f,600 with appropriate secondary prizes. The Italians delayed their departure as did Mlle Helle Nice.
The course chosen, lay in the residential quarter of the city and consisted of 60 laps of a suitable 4.25 kilometre asphalt circuit.
Pintacuda and Marinoni on the red Alfa-Romeos were the main attractions the two older type ” Alfas ” of Teff6 and Helle Nice being fancied for a place. MaCarthy, Rosa and Coppoli arrived from the Argentine with the same cars they had used in the Gavea race and the local talent was made up of Bugattis and improvised American cars with Nascimento (V8 Ford) and Landi (Fiat monoposto) worthy of mention.
Public enthusiasm ran high. Three hundred thousand paid to see the race. From the beginning of the race, held in good weather conditions, Pintacuda and
Marinoni forced their way to the front. The order at the end of the fourth lap was :—Pintacuda, Nice, Teffe, Landi, Coppoli and Marinoni, the latter having lost some time by skidding completely round on a curve. At quarter-distance the order was the same, but with Marinoni back in second place. So fast were these Italian cars that the interest of the race focussed on Helld Nice and Teffe the local champion, the French girl delighting
the crowd by the way she handled her ” Alfa.” These two passed round lap after lap with only yards separating them.
The first sensation of the race occurred when Marinoni skidded on a turn on the far side of the course, and could not restart his car. He had practically given it up as hopeless, having lost seven minutes, when his team-mate Pintacuda seeing his plight, placed the radiator of his car to the tail of the other “Alfa,” and enabled it to start by means of a “push start” This action was later to cause bitter feeling amongst the other competitors, or some of them, and the outcome of this action was that Marinoni had to forfeit 40 per cent, of his place money. This money was allocated to an ” accident fund ” for people killed in a disaster which occurred later in the race. Marinoni’s misfortune let Helle Nice into second place which she held against all Telles efforts to displace her. Her cornering was fast and beautifully controlled and she was lapping within four to eight seconds of the leading Ferrari Alfa. Marinoni then drove like one
possessed, breaking the lap record with 2 min. 12 secs., an average speed of 115 kilometres for the lap. This was to remain unequalled and on the 40th lap Marinoni once more passed into second place which he was to hold for the remainder of the race.
And now came the Nice-Teffe duel which was to drive the crowds into a frenzy. When leading by half a lap, Helle Nice made a pit-stop which let Teffe into third place behind Pintacuda and Marinoni. Coppoli had dropped out and Rosa the Argentine, driving an ” Hispano Suiza,” entered the leader board with Nascimento in his amazingly speedy V8 Ford close behind. Landi after ten stops for water fell farther behind in his monoposto Fiat. Out of a field of 20 only a dozen cars were now ‘running. After a pit-stop, Hell4 Nice found herself half a lap behind Teffd but this deficit she commenced to cut down lap by lap. The race neared its final stage, Pintacuda finishing a lap ahead of his team-mate, the two ” Alfas ” crossing the line side by side. Pintacuda was over three laps ahead of Teffe. On the 51th lap Teffé led Hale Nice’s blue ” Alfa ” by about 800 yards and was appar ently driving at his limit. Corner by
corner the blue car closed down on the yellow” Alfa “ahead and the 60th lap was entered upon with only 200 yards separating the two cars. Yard by yard as the finish drew near, Hell Nice still further reduced Teffe’s advantage. With two kilometres to go the French girl was only 100 yards astern, and as Teffe entered the final hairpin bend 800 yards from the finish Helle Nice was almost at his tail. The excitement of the crowd beggars all description, it was one continuous uproar. Helle Nice hung on to Teffd and 200 yards from the finish she was accelerating to such an extent that it was obvious that ‘she would overtake him—to do this she had to pull her car out to the left which she did. The crowd went wild, those behind pushed those in front in an attempt, to see the finish. What followed is hard to describe so quickly did it occur but a barrier of straw bales was toppled on to the course.
A soldier was trying to keep the crowd back off the road and was caught by Helle Nice’s car. Her car then hit the bales of straw which were in the road, turned completely round at nearly 100 m.p.h. and swept people off the foot of the grandstand, Helle Nice herself being thrown over the heads of the crowd.
Four days after the race, Hell6 Nice, was still in hospital and progressing satisfactorily, after a miraculous escape, suffering from severe shock but with no fractured bones. Three spectators were killed outright, four have since died, and there were 33 injured, of whom several are in a dangerous condition. It is satisfactory to note that the subsequent police report absolved Helle Nice of all blame. The final results were :—Pintacuda, 2 hrs. 25 min. for the 255 kilometres, Marinoni second in 2 hrs. 27mins. 17 secs. Mattoel de Teffe third four laps behind at the time Pintacuda finished his 60th. Helle Nice (awarded) fourth place with Vittorio Rosa and Naschnento Junior in fifth, and sixth places respectively,