MOTOR RACING IN 1926.
A Review of the more Important Events of the Past Year.
By E. K. H. KARSLAKE.
TO most English motor racing enthusiasts, the memory of the year 1926 will remain distinctly paradoxical, for while it marked the first Grand Prix race ever to be run in England, the great continental events of the year received a very poor measure of support. Objections to the rules which govern the big international events, as well as unpreparedness with their new 11 litre racers, unfortunately caused many of those manufacturers, whom one is accustomed to see in Grand Prix races, being absent from the starting line.
The prospects for the year seemed bright enough. In France Delage, Talbot, Bugatti and Sima-Violet were known to have sets of entirely new 1500 c.c. racers. In Italy everyone was talking of the long expected 1,1 litre Fiats, with 6 opposed-piston cylinders working on the 2-stroke principle, which were said to be capable of 11,000 r.p.m., and only to be going to ” rev.” normally at 5,000. Then Itala had a set of 12-cylinder front wheel drive cars on the stocks, and a team of straight-eight racers might be expected from the O.M. factory at Brescia ; not to mention the rumours which were current concerning other famous Italian firms. For one reason or another, however, many of these cars were delayed, and none of the Italians have appeared during the year, while the Talbots have only shown their best form at the very end of the season.
The Championship of the World Races.
The first round for the championship of the world was, as usual, the 500 miles race at Indianapolis. The race attracted 39 entries, including 3 Guyots, 2 Eldridges and a Bugatti from Europe, and gave every promise of being its usual success. Unfortunately, however, the race, whilch was run off on May 31st, was entirely spoilt by rain. The track became so slippery, and the drivers had such difficulty in seeing, that the officials decided to call the race off at 400 miles. At this distance, a Miller special driven by a young and comparatively unknown driver, Frank Lockhart, was leading, and was followed home by Harry Hartz, also on a Miller, with C. Woodbury (Boyle Special) third.
The most unfortunate event of the year was undoubtedly the French Grand Prix. In 1925 this event left the public highway—its traditional setting—to be run on the specially prepared track-and-road circuit at Montihery. This year it took place on a track pure and simple, at Mirainas, although, in order to attract more entries the officials included an artificial double-loop in the circuit. By the closing of entries at ordinary fees in February, the race had only attracted 6 entries, composed of 3 straight-eight Talbots and 3 two-stroke SimaViolets. In despair the A.C.F. did all in its power to Induce other firms to compete, and by the end of April had added a team each of straight-eight racers from Delage and Bugatti to the list. In spite of this, however, when the race was run off on June 27th, only Bugatti presented himself at the starting line, with three cars driven by Jules Goux, Pierre de Vizcaya and Meo Costantini. Of these the last two were unable to complete the distance of 500 kilometres (3121 miles), owing to trouble caused by the use of an unsuitable fuel, which had been accidentally substituted for their proper spirit When the race was stopped after Goux had finished, Costantini was still running, and so gained the second place.
Prospects for the European Grand Prix, which was run on the Lasarte circuit, near San Sebastian, on 18th July, were considerably brighter, as the Spanish club received twenty-one entries, composed of three cars each from Delage, Talbot, Bugatti and 0.M., 4 from Sima-Violet, 2 each from Guyot and Jean Graf and one Eldridge Special. Here again, however, the race was disappointing, as only the Bugatti and Delage teams started. The heat of the day was terrific, and the spectators lay and gasped by the road-side, wishing they had brought three times as much wine, and occasionally braving the Spanish soldiers, to make dashes across the course to the mountain streams for water. The Delages showed themselves the faster cars at the outset, but their drivers, seated so low that they were very well protected from the wind, but not from the heat of the engine, were overcome by the heat, and one by one had to give up the struggle for a time. This allowed Jules Goux to get home first on his Bugatti, covering the 484 miles in 6 hours, 51 mins. 52 secs. (70.25 m.p.h.). The second to arrive was Bourlier (Delage), with Costantini (Bugatti) third ; Bourlier’s car was, however, later disqualified as it had been driven for a part of the race by Senechal, who had not been weighed and approved as a driver by the club. Costantini was therefore officially second, and third prize went to the Delage driven by Morel and Benoist, which had finished fourth. The latest development however is a reversal of this decision so that the Delage gains second place after all.
The story of the British Grand Prix, which was run at Brooklands on August 7th is too well known to readers of Motor Sport, to need recapitulation here. It provided a win for Delage cars, which finished first and third, while second place went to the Bugatti driven by Malcolm Campbell, and it was undoubtedly the most successful of the races for the World’s Championship. It was hoped that for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on 5th September, all the European firms who had 1500 c.c. racers completed would enter, with some Americans as well. Actually, however, only 3 Bugattis, 2 straight-eight Maseratis, and a Chiribiri started. The Bugattis had it all their own way, and a comparatively unknown French driver running under the name of ” Sabipa,” finally carried off the victory, with Costantini second. The race was run in conjunction with a lighecar race for 1100 c.c. cars, which was won by Morel (Amilcar), with Duray (Amilcar) and de Joncy (B.N.C.), second and third.
By securing 3 firsts and 3 seconds in the five races run for it, Bugatti secured for himself the title of Champion of the World, 1926, by a very wide margin.
The ” Free-for-all” Races.
This year a considerable tendency has been evinced to favour the free-for-all type of race, in which any machine of any size can compete. The classic example of this type of race is, of course, the Targa Florio, which took place this year over the Madoine circuit on 25th April. This race is run on an extremely mountainous course in the island of Sicily, and comprises 5 laps of 67 miles each. The course rises from sea-level to a height of nearly 3,000ft., and abounds in hairpin turns. The race this year attracted 36 starters, ranging from an Austin Seven to a big Hispano-engined Itala. The day was unfortunately marred by the death of Count Masetti, who won the race in 1922 on a Mercedes, and whose Delage, No. 13, turned over at a corner on the first round. Victory went to Costantini on a Bugatti, with Minoia and Goux on similar cars, second and third. Materassi’s so-called Itala was fourth, Dubonnet (Bugatti) fifth and Wagner (Peugeot) sixth. The official Bugattis, which secured the first three places, had straight-eight engines of 61 x 100 mm. bore and stroke, giving a capacity of 2350 c.c.
Earlier in the season, on March 28th, another race of this nature, known as the Grand Prix de Rome was run on the outskirts of the Italian capital over a distance of 300 kilometres (187i miles), and resulted in a win for Count Maggi on a Bugatti, who was followed by BrillPen (Alfa-Romeo) and Bonmartini, also on an AlfaRomeo. One of the features of the San Sebastian meeting this year was a free-for-all race, entitled the Grand Prix d’Espagne, and was run over the same circuit as the European Grand Prix, on 25th July. Entries numbered 10, and comprised 3 Delages, 6 Bugattis, and Segrave’s 12-cylinder Sunbeam, which recently took world’s records. Three of the Bugattis, driven by Costantini, Goux and Minoia, were 2-litre cars, the other 1500 c.c., while the Delages were 3 of last years 2-litre Grand Prix racers. The Sunbeam led until, on the 5th lap, it broke a front wheel bearing, and victory went once more to a Bugatti, driven by Costantini. Goux on a similar car was second, with a Delage third, driven by Wagner and Benoist. On 12th September was run the last race of the year of this type—the Grand Prix de Milan—on the Monza circuit. Segrave’s Sunbeam was again entered, but again had to retire with mechanical trouble ; and once more
The Bol d’ Or, which is a 24-hour race for light cars not exceeding 1100 c.c., was run on May 23th-24th, at St. Germain outside Paris, and was won by Robert Senechal on a car of his own make. Second home was a Sandford, also driven by its maker, while another in the hands of Marguerite, was third. The next important French light car race, the Grand Prix d’Alsace, also for 1100 c.c. cars, marked the first appearance of the new straight-eight supercharged Bugattis of 1092 c.c. One of these cars driven by Andre Dubonnet was first, with Count Maggi and Pierre de Vizcaya on similar cars, second and third. The German Grand Prix which was run on the Avus Track on 10th July, was unfortunately marred by several accidents, one of which caused the death of two people in the time-keepers’ box, and all of which were due to Bugatti was the winner. Costantini was the first home on a 2-litre super-charged car of this make, with Jules Goux on a similar car second, while third place went to Farinotti, the amateur driver of a Bugatti.
Other Continental Events.
Of what may be termed the lesser continental racing events, there have been a great many this year as usual. Miramas track held its first event, the Grand Prix de Provence, on March 28th, which provided a win for H. 0. D. Segrave on one of the famous ” invincible ” 4-cylinder supercharged 1500 c.c. Darracqs. Second was Moriceau on a similar car built at the Clement-Talbot works, with Williams on a 2-litre Bugatti, third.
The rain which made the out-of-date German track very slippery. The race was won by Caracciola on a 2-litre Mercedes, with Ricken on a 3-litre N.A.G. second, and Cleer (3-litre Alfa-Romeo) third. The Boulogne meeting, which was attended by a large number of English motorists, included, as usual, a race for light cars, entitled the Grand Prix de Boulogne. In the 1500 c.c. class G. E. T. Eyston and J. C. Douglas, both on Bugattis, got home first and second, with Violet (Sima-Violet) third. Unfortunately, however, Douglas’ exhaust pipe dropped off during the race, with the result that his car came 6 lbs. under the minimum weight, and he was, therefore, disqualified, following a protest by Violet. In the 1100 c.c. class, 2 Salmsons, driven by Bourdon and Newman were first and second, with Ivanouski o’n a 750 c.c. Ratier third.
The last event of the season, the Grand Prix du Salon, was run at Montlhery on 17th October for 1500 c.c. and 1100 c.c. cars. In the larger class, the three Talbots driven by Divo, Segrave and Moriceau led throughout, and finally finished in that order. In the 1100 c.c. class, the veteran Duray on an Amilcar was the winner, with Perrot (Salmson) second and Sandford (Sandford) third.
Touring Car Races.
In sharp contrast to the events for racing cars proper, the touring car races this year have shown no falling off in popularity. The most important of these is, of course, the Grand Prix d’Endurance 24-hour race at le Mans. The race, which took place on 12th and 13th June, proved to be a magnificent triumph for the 6-cylinder 3447 c.c. Lorraine-Dietrichs, which captured the first three places, all averaging over 100 k.p.h. (621 m.p.h.), driven respectively by Bloch and Rossignol, de Courcelles and Mongin, and Stalter and Brisson. The second car also won the second biennial Rudge-Whitworth cup, for which it qualified by its performance last year. The contest for the cup is run on a handicap basis, and this year’s race was the final round for it.
A similar race known as the Grand Prix de Belgique was run over the Spa circuit on 3rd and 4th July. The greatest distance was covered by an 18 h.p. sleeve-valve Peugeot, driven by Boillot and Rigal, with Diels and Caerels on a big Excelsior as runners up. Two cars, a 1500 c.c. P.N., and an 1100 c.c. Chenard et Walcker tied for 3rd place, as they each covered 1,388.7 miles in the 24 hours.
The third 24-hour touring car race of the year was run at Monza on the 11th and 12th September, and provided another victory for Andre Boillot on the Peugeot. He covered 1,616.7 miles in the day’s running, against 1,585.99 by the Lorraine-Dietrich at le Mans ; the latter, however, still holds the 24-hour world’s record for the road as, although the race was run on the road circuit, Monza counts as a track. In the Italian race, Louis Rigal was second, also on a Peugeot, and Dosio on a 2-litre O.M. third.
In connection with the San Sebastian meeting, a touring car race was held on July 22nd. Placing was on a basis of distance covered, the cars being allowed to run for different periods, ranging from 12 hours for the 1100 c.c. Chenard et Walckers to 101 hours for the big Mercedes. On this basis the winner was one of the little Chenard et Walckers, driven by Leonard and Manso, with a similar car driven by Lagache and Pisart, second ; third greatest distance was covered by a 2-litre 0.M. driven by Minoia and Morandi.
The Georges Boillot Cup race for touring cars has been for some years now a classic event of the Boulogne meeting. This race, which this year took place on 29th August, is also run on a handicap basis, which again allowed a Chenard et Walcker of 1092 c.c. to carry off the trophy, ln the hands of Lagache. Leonard and de Zuniga on similar cars were second and third respectively, and so succeeded in achieving a grand slam for this marque.