Contrinenta„ Notes and N©w
Nu rbu rg Notes
Well, the German Grand Prix was a most satisfactory affair from most points of view. Good driver though he un doubtedly is, Seaman had never really entered into the average person’s cal culations as to who would be the winner, but he thoroughly deserved his success, nevertheless. I believe that the last time an Englishman wan a national Grand
Prix was in 1923, when Segrave carried off the French Grand Prix in a Sunbeam.
Seaman’s car was German, but still, who knows ? Perhaps an E.R.A. Will win a Grand Prix for England before the present formula has run much further ! Seaman’s victory, as I have said, was thoroughly deserved. Of course, lots of people have said that he wouldn’t have
won if Brauchitsch’s car had not caught fire, but such accidents are all in the game. Perhaps the best way of demonstrating the merit of his win is to remind the doubters that he made the fastest lap in the whole race. In practice his best lap was done in 10 mins. 1 sec., as compared with von Brauchitsch’s astounding record of 9 mins. 48 secs. and Lang’s fastest circuit in 9 mins. 54 sec. Withal, Seaman looks beautifully smooth and
calm even when he is trying all he knows, and his driving methods seem to result in a minimum amount of wear and tear on his car and tyres. Seaman’s behaviour after the race delighted everyone, because it fitted in SO perfectly with the Continental idea of how an Englishman would behave under such conditions. Although he was obviously gratified in the extreme at his success, he remained outwardly calm and without animation. It took von Brauchitsch’s spontaneous congratulations to bring a smile to his fake. At the Mercedes dinner at the Eifelerhof Hotel in Adenau, that same evening, he was given the place of honour, sitting with the Ftiehrer’s enormous Prize in front of him and the
charming daughter of the B.M.W. Managing Director beside him–an enviable position, indeed. By now Seaman was
more modest than ever, and his attitude to the whole business seemed to be more objective than subjective, if you know what I mean. Certainly his Victory in the greatest sporting event in Germany and his complete lack of conceit have made him enormously popular with the German motor-racing crowd. England could not have a more likeable representative. The people of other nations hear so much about German nationalism that the apportioning of applause must have astonished visitors to the Nurburg Ring. Far and away the most popular driver with the crowd was not a German, but was none other than the Italian maestro, Tazio Nuvolari. When the drivers walked over to the cars on the starting grid, a tremendous cheer went up at the sight of his slim, wiry little figure. He was wearing his usual tight-fitting polo jumper,
complete with the famous tortoise mascot, a monogram ” TN,” and the ringed Auto-Union badge. It was a thousand pities that he came to grief on the first lap. He was lying
second at the time, and would have undoubtedly given the Mercs. a much better run for their money had he kept going. Accounts varied somewhat as to the cause of his leaving the road, but the official Version that he received a dab of oil in the fate from the Mercedes in front seemed to be the best explanation. Outwardly it appeared that he came into Brunnch.ezz corner a shade too fast, skidded round backwards, and went into the ditch. When he got back on to the road he was last but one, but he did not call at the pits immediately, continuing for another lap. The crowd was bitterly disappointed to see him retire so early, but they made up for it when he took over Muller’s car at half distance. All round the course he was cheered to the echo, especially in the neighbourhood of Brunnehen corner, where he had crashed. The Germans are always ready to appreciate and applaud a display of pluck. Some idea of how Nuvolari gradually mastered the different “feel” of the AutoUnion can be seen by his practice times. On the first day his fastest lap was covered in 10 mins. 15 secs. ; on the second day he reduced this to 10 mins. 7 sec. ; and on the third and flal day he got down to 10 mins. 3 secs. His obvious popularity seemed to work like a tonic on the great
little man, and at the Eifelerhof, after the race he was unusually animated, even to the extent of speaking English ! Normally, of course, he absolutely refuses to utter a word in this language, although I am quite sure he possesses more than a smattering of it.
Of the other Auto-Union drivers, Stuck put up a very fine performance and thoroughly deserved his third place. It was only too clear, however, that he was extremely fatigued at the end of the race. When he announced his retirement last year, he gave his inability to stand the strain of long-distance races as his reason for doing so, and his decision to return and to help Auto-Unions out of their difficulties, is, I think, extraordinarily sporting. For sheer speed in cornering, of Course, Stuck has no peer, as his hillclimbing exploits have proved.
As for the rest of the Auto-Union drivers, Hasse and Muller were steady, if unnoticeable.
OW Mercedes-Benz, it was a pity that Caracciola was not feeling fit, but fortunately the cars were so superior to all the others that his illness didn’t seriously affect the issue. Lang and von Branchitsch were as brilliant as ever, but the man who particularly caught my eye was Walter Balmier, who took over from Lang a car that was not in the best condition. In spite of this he drove really splendidly, and struck the as being one of the Most promising drivers I have seen for a long time. This was his first appearance in a race for the Mercedes team ; although he was a cadet all last season. English readers have seen him in action with an Austin, and will know that he is a driver of class. I think he is going to be equally successful with bigger cars.
Before leaving the subject of Mercedes, I would like to contradict the impression given by the bare results that the new formula cars are much slower than those of last year. Quite apart from von Brauchitsch’s record practice-lap, the reason for the slower race speed was that the cars were not pressed by the opposition.
How the Others Fared
It was decidedly not an Alfa Corse day. Biondetti ran off the road at the Tribunen Kurve on the very first lap, and although he tarried on for a bit, he soon
retired. As for Farina, after leading a couple of A uto-Unions for a few laps, he cattle in and retired. His reason for (Wing so was somewhat obscure, a fact which no doubt gave rise to the rumour (unconfirmed) that the Stewards had called him in for reckless driving. This is practically an unknown action by Stewards abroad, who probably think that recklessness has its own reward, so I personally do not think there was any truth in the rumour. The Emilie Bleue were equally out of
luck. The new single-seaters were not au point for the race, and the two-seaters wyFc outclassed on the winding circuit. Comotti was soon out, but Dreyfus was as polished as usual, and did well to finish fifth. At the Delahaye party in Adenau after the race, incidentally, Louis Chiron was in terrific form.
An outstanding and much appreciated performance was that of Paul Pietsch with his 1,500 c.c. Pi1aserati, who got well ahead of Dreyfus and all the independents on sundry Alfa-Romeos and Maseratis. He went like a bomb for most of the race, and only blew up a few laps from the end. Bad luck, indeed. Pietsch, of course, is an old hand at the Ring, and I remember him having great duels with the Englishman Penn-Hughes when they both drove 2.3-litre Alfas in the Effelrermen some years ago.
Hyde, the English independent driver of a 3-litre Maserati, was quite badly hurt when he overturned at the Tribunen Kurve. In practice he had looked a little erratic, but he settled down well in the race itself. As time wore on, however, he grew visibly tired, and it became apparent to discerning spectators that he was going to have difficulty in staying the course. The Ring must be easily the most tiring circuit in the world, being one long sequence of fastish corners and curves. A lap or two before he finally crashed a friend of mine saw him nearly come unstuck at the Swallow Tail, that miniature Karussellkurve, and he looked very fagged then. All of which goes to show how very fit people like Lang, Seaman, von Brauchitsch and company must be.
As for the general atmosphere of the days before the race and the race itself, one or two things must have struck those who have been regular visitors to the German Grand Prix in recent years. On the practice days, for example, I noticed a good deal less enthusiasm than in previous years. Fewer people seemed to be making a long stay of it, and they all came on the day of the race instead. Adenau, too, was not so gay as it has been in other years duting the practice days ; on Friday night, for example, everyone appeared to be in bed by ten-thirty:
This quietude was more than compensated for, however, on the day of the race, and a personal estimate is that the crowd was bigger than ever before, which is saying something.
From the Press point of view the affair was a memorable one, a fact which was due to a certain extent to the party given by Karl Kudorfer, the genial and extremely efficient Mercedes press liaison officer, on the eve of the race. This took place at the Wilden Schwein, and was a onehundred per cent. success—in spite of the fact that the company included such a variety of nationalities as German, English, Belgian, Dutch, Roumanian, Luxemburger, French and Italian, so that the place was a perfect babel. The general din was added to by George Monkhouse, the English photographer and author, who gave car-splitting imitations of the G.P. cars, on various parts of the Ring, much to the joy of all present.
Again, an exceedingly acceptable cold luncheon was handed round to the Press folk in the stand, consisting of half a chicken, sausage sandwiches, some fruit, and a bottle of Rhine wine. In contradiction to this admirable organisation, that of the race seemed to suffer by comparison. The start was delayed by nearly fifteen minutes, for some
unexplained reason, while Korpsfeuhrer Huhnlein’s speech at the end went sadly wrong. To begin with he started too soon after Seaman had crossed the line, and as some of the other finishers did not get in until a quarter of an hour later, he had to go on speaking for about three-quarters of an hour. This was too long by far for most people, even normally zealous Germans slinking away until the great man was left speaking to a mere handful of persons. A bad show.
That the traffic after the race was worse than I have ever seen it before, even the journey back to Adenau via the Ring being slow, was due no doubt to the bigger crowd.
His victory in the German Grand Prix will earn for Seaman the coveted Mercedes badge which is only awarded to drivers who have won a national Grand Prix.. This takes the form of the famous Mercedes star-in-a-ring made of tiny diamonds set in silver, and it must be the most coveted badge of its kind in the world. Providing they are kept to limited numbers, these things have an irrestible attraction for most people. Not many people, I believe, know that Ettore Bugatti once had twelve little Bugatti badges made of solid gold, and these were given to the Bugatti drivers who attended a select luncheon party some
years ago. I forget who they all were but I know that Chiron, and Varzi were there. A very good friend of mine has one of these badges which used to belong to a driver who is now dead. Incidentally, these twelve badges are not to be confused with the ordinary Bugatti brooches, of which there are
many hundreds in circulation. The special gold ones are much smaller.
Sports-Car Forward !
In France there is still a great deal of interest in sports-car racing ; no doubt due to the absence of serious French competition in Grand Prix racing.
Latest event of this sort to be announced is a Twelve-Hour Sports-Car Race at Montlhery on September 11th. The biggest prize, amounting to 10,000 francs, is to be given to the winner on formula, but there will also be substantial awards for class winners, the car covering the greatest distance, one-make team winners, and for the ladies (if any).
The minimum average speeds for the various classes are as follow 750 c.c., 41.03 m.p.h.; 1,1(X) c.c., 47.15 m.p.h. ; 1,500 c.c., 51.44 m.p.h. ; 2,000 c.c., 55.11 m.p.h.; 3,000 c.c., 58.79 m.p.h.; over 3,000 c.c., 62.46 m.p.h. On the full Montlhery -circuit-routier these speeds should not present any difficulty.
The twelve-hour period will begin at 6 a.m., so that the competitors will not have to worry about headlights.
English competitors would be extremely welcome in this race, and they will be able to Obtain full particulars, entry forms and other paraphernalia from the Association Francais des Coureurs en Automobiles, 1/4, Avenue des Champs Elysees, Paris. Entries must be filed before August 28th.