LOOKING BACK ON 1935
GERMAN AND ITALIAN RIVALRY, ASTONISHING SPEEDS AND A HAPPY FREEDOM FROM SERIOUS ACCIDENT THE CHIEF CHARACTERISTICS It is more probable that in years to come we shall look back on the 1935 motor-racing season as one of the finest in the history of the sport. A full programme of races has been fought out
by four, and sometimes five, works teams, supplemented by a group of worthy independent drivers. Speeds have never been so high, nor fatal accidents so rare. Only the premonition that 1936 Maynot be so good deters one from rhapsodising on the glory that was 1935.
The foregoing applies, of course, to Grand Prix racing, which is the essence of motor-racing. Sports car events, hillclimbs, Brooklands, will all be touched an in this review, but must of necessity yield pride of place to the great road races of Europe.
The season opened with a curtainraiser in the shape of the Pau Grand Prix. The Scuderia Ferrari demonstrated their early preparation by being the only official team to enter. Nuvolari and Dreyfus (in his first drive with an Alfa) played variations on the theme of followMy-leader and eventually finished in this order. There was a terrific scrap for third place, Soffietti and Falchetto with brace of Maseratis finishing neck and reck—so close in fact that they collided. But the first big race, as usual, was the Monaco Grand Prix on April 22. The race was awaited with exceptional interest oi,ving to the entry of three MercedesBenz, which had yet to show their paces on the exacting Monaco circuit. Meteoric Lap times caused them to start red-hot favourites. The Alfas were giving away a.litre in engine capacity, and were additionally handicapped by experimental brakes and syringing. Zehender’s “. works ” Maserati had a 3.2-litre engine and torsion-bar springing in front, while Etancelin’s mount was a 3.7-litre “six.” The race was a fine, if unpopular, victory for Fagioli’s Mercedes-Benz, hut Herr Neubauer had some distinctly uneasy moments before the chequered flag was unfurled. Von Brauchitsch broke his gear-box in getting away at the start, and Caracciola was lured into a disastrous scrap with Etancelin, from which he retired with a broken valve. It did not
do Etancelia’s Maserati any good, either, but ” Fl-fl “finished an honourable fourth. Dreyfus pleased Ferrari, and himself, by finishing second, with Brivio an excellent third. If anything had happened to Fagioli . . . . These spring months saw the appearance of a new challenger, the bimotore Alfa-Romeo, to the German supremacy— but only in races outiile the lowrnational
formula. Such an event was the Tunis U. P. in North Africa, in which a clash between Varzi on an Auto-Union and
Nuvolari on the new Alfa was promised. Suitable tyres for the bimotore could not be found in time for the race, however, SO Nuvolari had to be content with a 3.2 litre mono posto. The race was a walk over for Varzi, who was driving an Auto Union for the first time. A strong wind blew sand across the road and made driv Lag fast an unpleasant business. Ze hender crashed, without hurting himself, A magnificent fight was put up by Vim ille with a ” works ” Bugatti, and he
finished second. So far there had not been a meeting of all the teams, but with the Grand Prix of Tripoli came the opportunity of gauging the relative strengths of the rival marques. The ” Race of Millions ” was run under the fornzule libre, thus permitting the entry of two binzotore AlfaRorneos. These were pitted against two Auto-Unions, three Mercs and a host of lesser Alfa-Romeos and Maseratis. Only Bugatti was absent from the fray. For t I Iree-a uarterc of the r7”-•• looked a safe bet with his Auto-Union, but tyre trouble delayed him a few laps from the finish, leaving Caracciola to score a Mercedes-Benz victory. The big Alfas had continual tyre difficulties. The winner’s speed was no less than 122.03 m.p.h. and he also made the fastest lap at 137.6 m.p.h I Brivio had a terrific crash at
full speed, but was not badly injured. A fortnight later a return match took place at Avus. This time the fact that the race was 😮 be run in short heats and a final, brightened the prospects of the Alfa-Romeos, but in the first heat Nuvo lari was put out of the running by persis tent tyre trouble. Stuck won this race, ahead of Fagioli. In the second heat Chiron, on the second bimotore, drove steadily to qualify for the final, in which he was joined by Stuck and Varzi on Auto-Unions, Caracciola, Fagioli and von Brauchitsch on Mercedes-Benz, and Dreyfus on a 3.2-litre Alfa-Romeo–the identical car which Moll drove to victory in 1934. The race began with some meteoric laps by the Auto-Union drivers, but they wore out their tyres in doing so. Fagioli then went ahead to win, being astonishingly free from tyre trouble. Second place was taken by Chiron, in one of the finest successes of his career. He, too, went through the race without a tyre change. Smooth driving won the day. The speeds recorded were terrific. Fagioli’s average was 148 m.p.h., and as the Avus race is not to be held again this will probably rank as a world’s race-record for many
years to come. Fagioli was timed at 190 m.p.h. over a kilometre, and the fastest lap was Stuck’s 162 m.p.h. On the same day another race was being held, the G.P. of Picardie, in France. It turned out to be a victory for the only ” works ” car entered, Ben oist’s 3.3-litre Bugatti. Lord Howe’s similar car was second, a whole lap be hind. A couple of weeks later another minor road race was contested at Biella,
Italy. This was a round the houses affair, run in two heats an I a final. Nuvolari won the first and Chiron the second, and finished in the final in that order. Trossi made a brief but brilliant reappearance, setting up a new lap record before retiring. Varzi turned out with a Maserati, but did not run in the final. It was left to Farina to supply the Ferrari people with opposition, and this he .did to the utmost capabilities of his 2.5litre Maserati. The Eifel race on June 16 was chiefly remarkable for the sudden rise to fame of Bernd Rosemeyer, the ex-motor-cyclist
Auto-Union driver. Von Brauchitsch built up a long lead at first with his Mercedes-Benz, until he burst his engine. Rosemeyer slipped into the lead, and it took Caracciola all he knew to pass him within sight of the finishing post. Chiron was a fine third, ahead of Fagioli. The peak of the Grand Prix season was the G.P. de l’A.C.F. or French Grand Prix, now, alas, a thing of the past. In spite of resulting in a processional victory for two Mercedes-Benz the race was not without interest. Ferrari produced two 3.8-litre engines for the occasion, and Bugatti had a power-unit of similar size in Benoist’s car. Nuvolari surprised everyone by leading at the start and had a lively duel with Caracciola before his transmission gave trouble. Chiron ‘s car also dropped out, and the next sensation was the wholesale retirement of Auto Unions. It looked like a 1, 2, 3, Mercedes victory until Fagioli’s car started misfiring, which was the chance for Zehender’s Maserati to come into the limelight for the first time in the race, finally finishing third
A week later the much delayed Barcelona G.P. was held. Auto-Unions were busy overhauling their cars after the Mont!fiery debacle, and the race was an easy thing for two 1),Iercedes-Benz, Fagioli being the winning driver. Nuvolari and Brivio, on Ferrari Alfas, put up a spirited fight, but were outclassed. Once again there was trouble over the Marne G.P. This time it was the default of the Auto-Unions, which had been entered and scratched at the last moment. No German cars took part, and the result was a deservedly popular victory for Rene Dreyfus, on an Alfa-Romeo. The race was run in heats, Dreyfus winning the first and Chiron the second. Lord Howe, the Hon. Brian Lewis and Charles Martin all took part on 3.3 Bugattis, Lewis and
Martin furnishing fifth and sixth. The new V8 Maserati made its first appearance, but blew up in the final. On the same day a race was held at Turin, two heats and a final. Nuvolari and Brivio took the leading places for Ferrari. The Belgian G.P., being a national race, saw the Mercedes-Benz team in action again, and once more victory was theirs: Caracciola was the winner, but he was threatened by Fagioli until the latter was deprived of his car by the team-chief. Chiron and Dreyfus made a great fight of it, the latter collapsing un
der the strain. The race was extremely arduous, owing to the severity of the Spa circuit and the great heat. In spite of this, von Brauchitsch lapped at 10:.: m.p.h. and the race was won at 98 m.p.h.
The Dieppe race was an easy thing for the Ferrari Alfas, and Dreyfus once again beat Chiron. Wimille was the hero of the day, bringing his Bugatti into third place after a hectic drive. Shuttleworth gave the best performance of his career to date in coming home fourth, leading all the continental independents. And now we come to what was undoubtedly the finest” race of the season, the German G.P. on the Nurburg Ring. For months the Auto-Union and Mercedes-Benz teams had prepared for their national race, and everything pointed to a home victory. To the intense surprise of everyone, himself included, Tazio Nuvolari succeeded in winning on a 3.8litre Affa-Romeo. On the last lap von Brauchitsch was leading comfortably, although Nuvolari had been drawing nearer and nearer. Then a tyre burst on
the Mercedes-Benz, and Nuvolari snatched a dramatic victory. Auto-Unions returned t ) form, and Stuck finished second.
It is seldom indeed that an independent driver can hope to win a race in the face of works opposition, but that is what Sommer managed to do at Comminges. Chiron and Cotnotti were the Ferrari drivers, and both qualified for the final. Comotti retired with back axle trouble and Chiron spent nearly three minutes at the pits. He tried hard to make up the lost ground, but Sommer ran out a clear winner. Lehoux lost second place through running out of petrol within sight of the finishing line.
On the same day Nuvolari was defendingthe Ferrari colours in the Coppa Ciano, on the Montenero circuit. He won quite easily, leading three other Ferrari drivers across the line. The Auto-Unions went down to Pescara for the Coppa Acerb° determined to have their revenge on the Italian victory at Nurburg. This they did quite easily,
and Varzi won by 4 minutes from Rosemeyer, who was delayed by a lurid skid. Ferrari Alfas finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
However the Alfas had a field day at Nice a few days later, Nuvolari, Chiron and Dreyfus finishing in that order.. Shuttleworth confirmed his Dieppe performance by a fine drive, and would have finished fourth but for an unfortunate incident.
The Swiss Grand Prix, held for the second time, promised a grand fight between the leading teams. It turned out to be a runaway victory for the Mercs, however, in spite of Auto-Union opposition. Geier crashed his Mercedes-Benz in practice, but escaped with his life. Chiron did likewise in the race itself, but not so drastically. Rain rather spoiled the event, apart from the ease of the Mercedes-Benz victory. The Grand Prix of Italy was once more an unsuccessful race. Numerous chicanes completely wore out the brakes of most of the cars, of which there were five
finishers out of sixteen starters. Stuck’s Auto-Union won, with an Alfa second. All the Mercedes-Benz retired with mechanical trouble, Which was unusual. The new 3.8 Alfas with streamlined bodies made a successful debut, NuvolarPs car making the record lap.
Another sweeping Ferrari victory was scored at Modena, where Nuvolari added to his long list of victories.
The Spanish P.P. at San Sebastian was the last of the three-cornered fights, and tesulted in a 1, 2, 3, win for MercedesBenz with Caracciola in the lead. Stuck led for half the ?ace, but Mereedk reliability won the day. Wimille made it gallant effort with his 3.3 Bugatti, and beat the Auto-Unions to take fourth place. This ended the Mercedes-Benz programme, but Alfa and Auto-Union met once more on the Masaryk circuit. The .more powerful German cars gained the
• day, and young Rosemeyer scored his first victory of the season.
Two minor Italian races followed, both going to Ferrari Alfas. Tadini won at Lucca, and Brivio at Cosenza. Last of all we come to the first G.P. road race ever to be held in England, the Donington Grand Prix. Foreign -opposition took the formidable shape of a new V8 Maserati piloted by Farina, and Sommer’s Alfa. Both retired with back axle trouble, ,however, and it was left to Shuttleworth to set the seal on his reputa
tion by winning a fine race. Only a skid prevented Charles Martin from winning, but he finished third. Road races have also been held in /reland and the Isle of Man. The Irish affairs were of necessity handicap events, but some exciting racing has been seen
and some close finishes. The Isle of Man Mannin Moar gave Brian Lewis his third successive victory on the Douglas circuit, with Martin second on another Bugatti. Of the minor French races, the Orleans race was won by Cazaux (Bugatti), the G.P. de France by Sommer’s Alfa, the G.P. de Frontiere by Steinweg (Bugatti) and the Lorraine G.P. by Chiron,
The 1935 has been marked by
a strong revival of 1,500 c.c. racing. This has provided Britain with a chance to show her mettle, and the E.R.A. won practically every race for which it was entered.
In three of them, the Nuffield Trophy, Dieppe and Marmin Beg, Fairfield’s 1,100 c.c. E.R.A. was successful. The most important race was probably the Eifelrennen, in which Mays was a fine winner and E.R.A.s finished first, third,
fourth and fifth. At Albi, Veyron’s I3ugatti was the winner, but no E.R.A.s were entered.
But it was Richard Seaman who scored the majority of E.R.A. successes, and his convincing victories over Maserati opposition at Pescara, Berne and Masaryk have given him a wonderful reputation on the continent.
Sports Car Events
Sports-car racing has continued to flourish, and fine British successes were scored on the continent by Aston-Martins in the Mille Miglia, Le Mans race„ and Targa Abruzzo. The fastest cars at these races were the Alfa-Romeos. The T.T. in
Ireland, in which the no-blower rule has proved successful, was a magnificent victory for Dixon’s 14-litre Riley, While Hall’s Bentley once again finished second.
Hill-climbing has declined in importance on the continent, but some good events were nevertheless held. Stuck’s A utoUnion proved invincible in most of them, but Tadini (Alfa-Romeo) scored a memorable triumph over Nuvolari and Varzi at the Stelvio. The new Grossglockner Pass was opened by a hill-climb, won by Tadini. Seaman won the 1,600 c.c. class on his E.R.A. and made second fastest time of the day.
At home, thanks to the limited number of events, Shelsley has lost none of its popularity. Raymond Mays once again gained the record for the hill, bringing it below the 40 seconds mark for the first time in history.
B.A.R.C. races are ever popular, and record entries have been obtained. The hief outer circuit race was the Gold Star, won easily by Charles Brackenbury on a Bugatti. The absolute lap record was contested by the Napier-Railton and the Barnato-Hassan, finally going to the former. On the mountain circuit, the championship race was won by Shuttleworth, who also holds the lap record. Three long distance races were held, all of them well supported and keenly contested. The International Trophy was won by a newcomer, Luis Fontes, on a
3-year-old Alfa-Romeo. Dixon won the Empire Trophy in fine style, while Cobb and Rose-Richards broke records in winning the 500 Miles Race at 121 m.p.h.