RACING IN THE RAIN
RACING IN THE RAIN ALFA-CORSE WIN THE BELGIAN “TWENTY-FOUR.” TORRENTIAL RAIN CAUSES SEVERAL ACCIDENTS
IN accordance with their established practice of holding races for Grand Prix cars and Sports-Cars in alternate years, the Belgian R.A.C. held the 24-Hour Race for the latter type of machine in July this year.
Seldom has the writer attended a race held under more melancholy weather conditions. When the twenty-five cars lined up at the side of the road at the start, the rain was coming down in buckets, and only a handful of spectators lined the course down to the left-hand corner. It was not to be wondered at that the drivers were not contemplating the next twenty-four hours with much relish. The full list of starters was as follows : Over 4,000 c.c. : Sommer and Biondetti (Alfa-Romeo), Pintacuda and Seven i (Alfa Romeo) : 2,000 to 4,000 c.c. : Mazaud and Ravenel (Delahaye), Chaboud and Tremoulet (Delahaye), Levegh and Trevoux (Talbot), Gerard and Monneret (Delage), Thirion and Briere (AlfaRomeo). 1,500 to 2,000 c.c. : Lohr and Von Guilleaume (Adler), Hanstein and Muhle (Adler), Serre and Delfandre (Imperia), Sauerwein and Orrsich (Adler), Haeberle and Scholle (Hanomag-Diesel), De Burnay and Druck (M.G.), Schaumburg-Lippe and Roese (B.M.W.), Heinemann and Brudes (B.M.W.), Brion and
Scholz (B.M.W.). 1,100 to 1,500 c.c. : Gouvion and Guerrini (Lancia), Thelusson and Andre (Lancia), Reano and Humblet (Lancia), Gay and Stapleton (AstonMartin). Under 1,100 c.c. : Gordini and Scaron (Simca-Fiat), Viale and Breillet (Simca-Fiat), Alain and Serret (SimcaFiat), Molinari (Sinica-Fiat), Bonneau and Hagebaum (M.G.). As was expected, Raymond Sommer’s Alfa-Romeo immediately took the lead at the start, with Pintacuda on the second Alfa Corse car behind, both of them leading Gerard’s Delage and Mazaud’s Delahaye comfortably. The slippery surface of the road necessitated the utmost wariness on the part of the drivers, for the Spa circuit is a tricky one at the best of times. The M.G. driven by Bonneau was the first car to come to grief, charging through a fence and landing in a ditch. And then, in quick suc cession, we heard that Lobr (Adler), Sauerwein (Adler), and Viale (Simca
Fiat) had all gone off the road, too. Meanwhile, everyone was simply aghast at the driving of the one Imperia in the
race, which was all over the place and was only kept on the road by more luck than judgment. Sommer and Pintacuda were taking it fairly easy, for when they stopped at the pits to refuel after three hours, Gerard.’s Delage slipped by into the lead. As for the other, the 13.111.W.s were
keeping in close fort-dation ; the Lancias were impressive ; and the Simea-Fiat driven by Gordini was well ahead in the 1,100 c.c. class. And so night fell after many more hours of rain, and still there was no break in the clouds. The two Alfas seemed in no hurry to get back into the lead, but they did so at the end of five hours when the Delage was handed over to the ex-motorcyclist Monneret, who was a good deal
slower than his team-mate, Gerard. By this time Seven i had got in front of Biondetti, and the position of the two Alfas was thus reversed. At 10 p.m., or quarter-distance, the order in the various classes was as follows: Over 4-litres: 1. Pintacuda and Seveni
(Alfa-Romeo), 50 laps ; 2, Sommer and Biondetti (Alfa-Romeo) 36 secs. behind. 4-litres: 1, Gerard and Monneret (Delage), 50 laps :2, Mazaud and Ravenel (Delahaye) 48 laps. 2-litres : 1, Briem and Scholz (B.M.W.), 45 laps ; 2, Heinemann and Brudes (B.M.W.), 7 secs. behind. 1,500 c.c. : 1, Ream and Humblet (Lancia) 40 laps ; 2, Gay and Stapleton (AstonMartin), 4 ruins. 58 secs. behind. 1,100 c.c. : 1, Gordini and Scaron (Simca-Fiat),
41 laps ; 2, Molinari (Simca-Fiat) 40 laps.
The night was full of the most sensational accidents. The first to go was Chaboud, winner at Le Mans a few weeks previously. Coming down the hill at Masta he skidded off the road into a tree, around which the Delahaye was neatly wrapped. The point of impact, fortunately for Chaboud, was just in front of the cockpit, and the driver only cut his knuckles on the scuttle, but the car was well and truly bent at a distinct angle. Then the only English team in the race, that of Gay and Stapleton on the Aston-Martin, was eliminated by an accident to the latter. In trying to pass a Simca-Fiat on a right-hand corner the Aston driver found himself on the grass verge and unable, by virtue of his speed,
to .pull back on to the road. Luckily there were no obstructions in his path, and the car eventually sank axle-deep into a morass. This equipe, incidentally, must have broken all records in casualness in its preparation for a long-distance race. The pit personnel seemed to consist of the odd driver who happened not to be driving, and a young Belgian mechanic borrowed from a local garage. Added to which, the drivers only made their acquaintance with the circuit on the morning of the race, when they covered a few laps each. On top of it all, they drove in the pouring rain, in sports-coats and flannel trousers, which were drenched through in one lap. The same corner was the scene of a
much more serious accident. Mazaud, the young Delahaye driver who won at Antwerp, took the bend too quickly and ran off the road. The car sank into the soft mud, but as it was going much quicker than the Aston-Martin the earth simply piled up under the front axle. The result was that the car turned end over end, bounced in the middle of the road, crashed into a tree on the other side of the road, and ricocheted back into the middle of the road, where it formed a very disturbing obstacle for the following cars. Mazaud was hurled out as the car somersaulted, and was taken to hospital with multiple but not fatal injuries.
The third accident involved Levegh, co-driver with Trevoux of a Talbot, but this was a much less serious affair. It was still raining the next morning, and little incident of note occurred until the leading Alfa driven by Sommer and Biondetti pulled into the pits with trans mission trouble. Mechanics immediately set to work to repair the car, slaving away for about an hour—all to no avail, First place was now securely in the hands of the second Alfa, driven by Pintacuda and Seven, who were about a dozen kilo metres in front of the Delage, which was putting up a splendid performance. In the other classes Schaumburg-Lippe and Roese were leading the B.M.W.s, the Lancia driven by Kean° and Humblet
led the “fifteen hundreds,” and Gordini and Scaron’s Simca-Fiat was hundreds of kilometres ahead of its nearest rival. During the morning the weather got worse, instead of getting better, and a
terrific hailstorm added to the driver’s discomfort. Those in open cars were envying their lucky rivals in the closed Adlers and Lancias. This generally miserable race ended on a miserable note. Many of the drivers realised that, with only a few minutes to go, they would have to start another lap if they passed the pits, and that further more their position in the race would not be affected if they stopped and waited for the last few minutes to tick by. This they did, lining up on the downhill stretch from the hairpin to the pits and waiting for the twenty-fourth hour of the race to expire. This manceuvre nearly caused sonic terrific pile-ups, because other ears came down the hill at a high speed to find the road blocked by station ary cars, two abreast. However, some phenomenal avoidances prevented any actual disasters, and immediately four o’clock struck the procession moved forward to the finishing line. In this way
the three B.M.W.s were able to cross the line side by side, scoring a triple deadheat in a 24-hour race ! In the same way two Lancias shared second place in the 1,500 c.c. class. The greatest distance, 2,996 km. 100 m. was covered by Pintacuda and Seven i on their Alfa, which also won the over 4-litre class. The other class winners were Gerard and Monneret’s Delage, which went
extraordinarily well and averaged twelve miles to the gallon at an average speed of 75.8 m.p.h. ; the three B.M.W.s ex aequo ; Reano and Humblet’s Lancia ; and the Gordini-Scaron Sitnea-Fiat.
The King of the Belgian’s Cup for the best team performance went without a shadow of doubt to the B.-.1.\*.s, which were together throughout the race. RESULTS
Over 4-litres : 1. Pintacuda-Severi (Alfa-Romeo), 2,996.100kms., speed 76.44 m.p.h.
4-litres 1, Gerard-Monneret (Delage), 2,972.600 RMS., speed 75.85 m.p.h.; 2, Thirion-Briere (AlfaRomeo), 1,664,700 k-rns.
2-litres • Sr aequo : Prince Schaumburg-Lippe and Roese, 11(Aneinann-Brudes, and Briem-Scholz (three B.M.W.$), 2,675.6011 kins, ; 4, Von lianstein-Van der Made (Adler), 2,539.80(1 lons.; 5. Lohr-Von Guilleamne (Adler). 2,524.40() kins.•, 6, Haeberle&holly (14anomag-1)1ese11. 1,976.200 kms. 1,500 c.c. : 1, Reano-Humblet (Lancia), 2,378.100 kills., speed 60.67 m.p.h.; 2, ex aequo : ThellussonAndre (Lancia) and Gouvioa-Guerrini
1,100 c.o. : 1, Gordini-Scaron (Sinica-Fiat), 2,107.900 knits.. speed 61.44 m.p.h.
King’s Cup : The B.M.W. team. Fastest Lap • Sommer (Alfa-Romeo) in 6m. 20s., at 87.23
(Ierard’s Delage and Gordini’s Fiat, winners of the 4-litres and 1,100 c.c. classes respectively, both ran on Dunlop tyres.