Two drivers killed at Deauville

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48

Marcel Leroux dies in a tragic accident. Chambost also killed. A dangerous circuit.

The first Deauville Grand Prix, organised on July 19th, was a disastrous affair. A circuit badly suited to fast cars was chosen, and criticism of it was forthcoming from both drivers and spectators before the race. And then, to crown everything, came the tragic accident to Marcel Lehoux.

A good entry had been received, two Ferrari Alfa-Romeos, to be handled by Farina and Dreyfus, WimiIle’s Bugatti, Lehoux’s 2-litre E.R.A., Chambost’s, McEvoy’s, Cholmondeley-Tapper’s and Raph’s Maseratis, and Alfa-Romeos entered by Charles Martin, Sommer, Austin Dobson and de Villapadierna. The officials decided that Cholmondeley-Tapper’s brakes were not up to their work, and he was refused permission to start. As was expected, Guiseppe Farina shot ahead at the start, but Wimille was not far behind. Then, to the great joy of the British spectators, came Marcel Lehoux on the 2-litre E.R.A., which for once was on its best behaviour. Dreyfus (Alfa-Romeo) and Sommer (Alfa-Romeo) were lying third and fourth.

Lehoux’s performance was no mere flash in the pan, for he proceeded to hold his position with regularity, and when Wimille dropped back with a quick pitstop, the English car moved into second place. Meanwhile Benoist, on his works Bugatti, had rammed the sandbags on a difficult hairpin corner, thus joining Austin Dobson, who had previously done the same thing.

It was roughly after three-quarters of the race that the catastrophe occurred. Farina had gained one lap on Lehoux, and was about to pass him. The road was winding at the point when the big Alfa came up behind the E.R.A. Suddenly the spectators (they were mercifully few at that point) saw a front wheel of the dark red Italian car touch the rear wheel of the E.R.A., and in an instant both cars gave a mighty leap before rolling over and over. They finished up one on each side of the road, and the E.R.A. was soon enveloped in flames.

Of the two drivers, poor Lehoux was killed outright, while Farina, who apparently did everything in his power to avert the accident, was not seriously injured. There is no doubt that passing is the most dangerous phase of motorracing, and one sometimes wonders that accidents from this cause are not more frequent. The collision between Lehoux and Farina was only the second accident of the day, for early in the race Raymond Chambost had overturned his Maserati on a corner. He was seriously injured, and a few days later succumbed to his injuries in hospital. Interest in the race abated considerably after the news of Lehoux’s death, for he was one of the most popular drivers in France. Wimille was now leading, followed by Sommer, de Villapadierna and Martin. When Sommer retired with his usual back-axle trouble there were only three cars left in the race, which had almost degenerated into a fiasco.

RESULT

I. J. P. Wimille (Bugatti) 211. 57m. 44.6s. Speed 77.73 m.p.h.

2. C. E. C. Martin (Alfa-Romeo) 2h. 59m, 11.6s. Speed 76.89 m.p.h.

3. J. de Villapadierna (Alfa-Romeo) 2 laps behind.