1936 IN RETROSPECT SUPREMACY OF THE AUTO-UNION. ROSEMEYER THE EUROPEAN CHAMPION. FRANCE IN THE DOLDRUMS
The year 1936 will go down in . motorracing history as a season of triumph for Auto-Union, the car, and for Rosemeyer, the driver. In the results of the big International Grand Prix their names occur in first place with almost monotonous regularity—in much the same way as did Mercedes-Benz and Caracciola in 1935, and Alfa-Romeo and Nuvolari in previous years.
Grand Prix Racing
Dealing first of all with the Grand Prix races in which the big factory teams have participated, the opening race of the season at Monaco went, not to AutoUnion, but to Mercedes-Benz. The new lower cars were used for the first time, and proved successful. The slow Monte Carlo circuit did not show up the suspension defects which were later to handicap them at high speed. Caracciola was the winning driver, and the race was notable for the tremendous pile-up which put many cars out of the running Happily, no one was injured.
The Tripoli Grand Prix generally goes to the fastest car in the race and the Auto-Union was able to demonstrate its supremacy in this respect when Varzi and Stuck came in first and second With less than five seconds between them. Their speed was 128 m.p.h., and they beat the leading Mercedes-Benz by More than 2 minutes. Great things were expected of the 127-cylinder Alfa-Romeos in this race, but Farina crashed one in practice at Monza and Nuvolari did likewise at Tripoli a couple of days before the race.
A week later another African race took place, this time at Tunis. Caracciola notched his second victory here, ahead of Pintacuda’s Alfa-Romeo and Windlie’s Bugatti.
Barcelona was the next venue, and a magnificent race resulted in 2 surprise victory for Nuvolari on a 12-cylinder Alfa-Romeo, beating Caracciola’s Mercedes by 5 seconds. It looked as though the Italians Were about to stage a ” comeback.” The next round took place at the Nurburg Ring, when the Eifel Grand Prix was held on June 14th. This race will long be remembered for the fog which descended and provided the drivers with
an entirely new hazard. Rosemeyer, however, who knows the many twists and turns of the Ring probably better than anyone, found that his knowledge stood him in eood stead for this ” blind driving,” and he ran out an easy winner by 2 minutes. His speed through the fog was astounding, but Nuvolari demonstrated his wizardry by refusing to slacken speed and finishing second in a unique race.
These two were at grips once more a week later, when the Hungarian Grand Prix took place outside Budapest. Tlu were never more than a few lengths apart, and Nuvolari finally got the better of his young rival by a Small margin. The circuit was particularly tiring, and many drivers complained of exhaustion at the end.
It has been noticeable during the season that in ” street races,” .where cornering counts for more than anything else, Nuvolari has been an equal match for the German cars. Such an event was the Milan race on June 28th, when the Italian maestro beat his old rival, Varzi, on an Auto-Union, by a matter of 10 seconds. The Meres were not competing.
After this there was a 11111 in G. P. racing, while the teams overhauled their cars and got down to some serious training for the German Grand Prix on July 26th. This race has displaced the French G. P. from its position as the Blue Riband of the year, and so keen are the German drivers to win it that they disregard team orders and scrap like terriers among themselves.
Auto-17nion, Mercedes-Benz and AlfaRomeo all had full teams in the field, while M.aserati managed to enfer a couple of cars and Wimille turned up at the last minute with his 3.3-litre Bugatti. Two Englishmen took part. Seaman on one of the ” works ” Maseratis and Cholmondeley Tapper on a 3-litre Maserati. The first few laps were characteristic of
the race, the leaders straining their cars. to the utmost. Then Rosemeyer emerged from the fray and by putting in a lap. which carved nearly half a minute off the lap record, he forged ahead. Driving the finest race of his career, he went on. to win comfortably from Stuck on another Auto-Union and Brivio on an Alfa.. The Mercedes were in trouble all the way. Thus Rosemeyer annexed his first title.. that of Champion of Germany.
With this convincing victory to their credit, it was natural to assume that theAuto-Unions would make short work of the Alfas in the Coppa Ciano, a week later. But the interval between the two races should have been utilised by theGermans to reline the brakes of their cars, and in the race they had to cut earlier and earlier for the corners. Theresult was a 1, 2, 3 victory for the home. team, with Nuvolari, of course, in first place. But the Auto-Unions took a ‘nigh t >revenge a fortnight later in the Coppir Acerb°, in spite of the Italians reducing. the length of the straight,. so that the Germans would not benefit so much from their high maximum speed. As it turned out, Nuvolari burst his engine in trying. to keep up with Rosemeyer and Varzi made fastest time over the measured
kilometre at 183 m.p.h. Auto-Unionsfilled the first three places. 1.936 IN RETROSPECT—continued The scene changes. This time it is the Bremgarten circuit, near Berne, and the race is the Swiss Grand Prix. The Mercedes-Benz team have been busy at Nurburg Ring, trying to get their cars au point. For some distance in the race Caracciola put up a marvellous fight against Rosemeyer, but then his car gave trouble and he was forced to
retire. The Alfas were in trouble, too, and eventually the three Auto-Unions swept up the first three places in grand style. Once more Rosemeyer was the winner.
There remained only the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. In a determined effort to get the better of the Auto-Unions, the Italians constructed artificial corners of such a pattern that the German drivers would have to exercise the greatest caution to avoid hitting a projection with their trailing back wheels. They succeeded in wrecking Stuck’s car, but Rosenteyer was not to be caught so easily. Driving superbly, the young German was unassailable, and he ran out a winner by more than 2 minutes from Nuvolari. Alfa-Romeo.
For his run of five big victories Berndt Rosemeyer has been awarded the title of European champion, and it is now generally agreed that, on an Auto-Union at any rate, he has no superior. Perhaps. ‘Nuvolari’s description of him is fairest: ” When he has more experience he will be the finest driver in the world.”
Lesser Races Abroad
So much for the heavy brigade. In
races of lesser importance the competition has been just as keen, and amatetn drivers have had a fair amount of races to choose from. The season opened on the very first day of the year, with the South African Grand Prix at East London. This was a handicap affair as usual, and went to Dr. Massacuratti on a 2.3-litre Bugatti which had previously seen a good deal
of service in England. Of the European contingent, Jean Pierre Wimille finished second and made fastest time of the day. The only race in February was the Swedish Winter G.P., which was fought
out by those old rivals, Eugene Bjornstad and Karl Ebb, victory going to the former’s Alfa-Romeo. Then came the revived 10 Pau G. P. in which Charles Martin drove his monoposto Alfa-Romeo into second
place behind Etaneelin’s Maserati. A Week later Bjornstad repeated his Swedish victory by winning the Norwegian G.P.
The little G.P. des Frontieres marked a British success, for the Dutch driver Hertzberger piloted his K-3 M.G. Magnette into first place ahead of two Bugattis. Another M.G. success was registered when Maillard-Brune ran away with the Bol d’Or.
Over in South America two members of the Scuderia Ferrari, Pintacuda and Marinoni, drove Alfa-Romeos in the Rio de Janeiro G.P. Back-axle trouble befell them, however, and they failed to finish.
Afterwards it was discovered that the Salt atmosphere of the ocean crossing had caused the metal to deteriorate. The trouble was remedied in time for the Sao Paulo G.P. in Brazil, and this time Pintaeuda and Marinoni came home in first and second places, afterwards disposing of their &Vides for much money. This race was marred by a terrific accident to Mlle. Helle-Nice, caused by a spectator being pushed into the road. The man was killed and Mlle. Helle-Nice severely injured. Tragedy also marred the Deauville (;rand Prix in France. The race was doomed from the start, with drivers complaining about the circuit and arrangements. Farina was leading comfortably with his Ferrari Alfa when he collided with Lehoux’s E.R.A. Both cars crashed and poor Lehoux was killed outright, Just previous to this Chainhost, a French amateur, had been severely hurt in a crash, and he died later from his
injuries. The winner was with Charles Martin scoring his second second place in a Continental road-race. Small Italian races have been much fewer this year, owing to the critical economic position of the country. Nevertheless a race was held at Lucca (where the olive-oil comes from) on September 6th, and provided a win for that excellent driver, Mario Tadini, on a Ferrari Alfa
Romeo. A fortnight later a similar race was held at Modena, where the Scuderia Ferrari has its headquarters. Nuvolari was the winner here, but Tadini ran him close.
Last of the road-races was the curious Vanderbilt Cup affair in America, on a circuit the like of which has never been seen before, and we hope will never be seen again. Nuvolari, of course, was the winner, followed by Wimille and Brivio.
4′ Voiturettes “
Races limited to cars of 11-litre capacity have been popular this year. The season opened with the Prince Rainier Cup at Monaco and resulted in an unexpected victory for Prince Birabongse, driving an E.R.A. Cars of the same marque filled second and third places. The British cars suffered a severe reverse on their next appearance, however, which was in the F,ifelrennen at the Nurburg Ring. The race was dominated throughout by Count Trossi on a Maserati with independent front-springing, and second place was also taken by a
Maserati. Birabongse was third, first of the E.R.A.s. Seaman had been strongly fancied with his renovated Delage, but he ran off the road on the first lap.
A fortnight later at the Picardy G.P. the E.R.A.s had their revenge, cars of this make filling the first three places in the final, after the heats had been won by Trossi’s Maserati and Seaman’s Delage, both of which had trouble in the final. A week later three Maseratis filled the places in the Milan race, in which no E.R.A.s took part. Then came the G.P. d’Albigeois, that peculiar French race which is decided by
the added times of two heats. Birabongse registered the best total after winning both races, with Veyron’s Bugatti second and Ruesch’s Maserati third. The next round went to the Maseratis, for Trossi won the Coppa Ciano race .quite easily from Embiricos on an E.R.A. Seaman took part in this race, but was Aelayed by carburetter trouble. In the Acerbo race a fortnight later the old
Delage was going splendidly, however, and he beat both the Maseratis and the E.R.A.s.
Seaman followed this up with a victory in the Prix de Berne in Switzerland, beating a couple of E.R.A.s, and so coneluded a successful Continental tour. The last 1,500 c.c. race was at Modena, when Trossi and two other Maserati .drivers swept the board.
” Sports Cars ” on the Continent 1936 has seen a determined effort in
France to revive sports-car racing. The move has met with poor response from the public, while many of the cars have
been of the specialised type primarily intended for racing. The Mille Miglia was the first of the sports-car races, and was dominated by G.P. Alfa-Romeos thinly disguised as sports-cars. Foreign competitors were conspicuous by their absence. The next
race should have been Le Mans, but economic difficulties led to the cancellation of a race which enjoys a higher reputation in England than it does on the Continent.
The Algerian G.P. was confined to sports-cars, and was scooped by Delahayes, which. incidentally, are probably the most gentine entries of any in this type of race on the Continent. Then came the” French Grand Prix.” (a sense of the fitness of things compels us to add the inverted commas). A streamlined Bugatti, driven by Wimille and Sommer won the general classifi
cation, followed by a brace of Delahayes. A week later the same car won the “Manic G.P.” at Rheims, and this race was notable for the very fine performance put up by an S.S. Jaguar in winning the 3-litre class. The ” Belgian Grand Prix” was run
in separate classes. The greatest distance was covered by Sommer and Seveni on a Ferrari Alfa-Romeo, while class wins were scored by Lagonda, Delahaye, Adler, Aston-Martin and Simca-Fiat.
The ” sports-car” scandal came to a head at trie ” Comminges Grand Prix,” when the cars were allowed to run stripped. The Bugattis appeared with racing bodies, and the other drivers threatened to strike. Wituille won both heats and the final. Hill climbing on the Continent has suffered a slump, several of the wellknown events being cancelled and others being restricted to national drivers. Stuck won the La Turbie Hill-climb, and Tadini was fastest at the Stelvio. Rosefneyer deprived Stuck of his German bergrneister title by winning at Freiberg. The only other climb was the Mont Ventoux, which went the way of all French events and was confined to sports
cars. Three Delahayes carried off the prizes.
Ch ez N ous • •
At home, Isrooklands has had a successful season of sprint races, the Instone Trophy going to H. G. Dobbs, and the Mountain Championship to Raymond Mays Of the long-distance races, the International Trophy Race was a most exciting affair, Birabongse snatching first place from Mays on the very line. The relay race was won by a team of Aston-Martins. The “500” attracted a smaller entry than usual, and turned out to be a runaway victory for Fred Dixon and Charles Martin on the former’s
special Riley. Once again this race revealed its devastating power of engine wrecking, and many cars fell out. Of the special races at B. A .R.C. meetings, Scribbans (E.R.A.) won the British Mountain Handicap, PaCey (BentleyPacey;-Hassan-Special) won the Gold Star, Gardner won the Locke King Trophy on his M.G.; Cobb beat Bertram in a Match race ; Mays won the Siam Trophy for E.R.A. cars ; and Tongue won the Inter-Varsity Mountain Handicap. Donington Park has blossomed forth as the scene of sonic fine races. The Empire Trophy Race, run on handicap, was won by Seaman on a 3-litre Maserati after a good tussle with Fairfield’s R.A. The Nuffield Trophy went .to Charles Martin driving Scribbans’s E.R.A., with Dobson and Whitehead on similar cars in the next two places. The revived 200-Mile Race for cars Of all sizes, run on 4 scratch basis, proved to be surprisingly successful. Not only were the big cars soundly beaten by the ” 1,500s ” but Seaman’s old Delage delighted everybody by its effortless non-stop run. A great fight was put up by Lord Howe on his E.R. A ., but Seaman had his Measure throughout. Finally, the Donington G.P. was a splendid race and …set the seal on the reputation of the Midlands track. Ruesch and Seaman had quite the fastest car
in their 3.8-litre Alfa-Romeo, but this did not detract from the interest of the
race. Martin chased them home and gained second place, with two “coming men,” Walker and Whitehead, in third position With an E.R.A. The usual Shelsley Walsh hill-climbs were held, and in both the fastest time Was made by Raymond Mays. Stuck
brought over his Auto-Union for the first event, but rain destroyed his chances. The annual Southport 100-Mile Race was won, on handicap, by R. D. Tong’s M.G. Ireland is rapidly developing a complete motor-racing calendar of its own. A new race at Cork was the first to be held, and was won by Tongue’s E.R.A., followed by two All a-Romeos. The County Down Trophy went to PowysT,ybbe with his veteran Alfa-Romeo, while Toohey on a Ford won the Leinster
Trophy. The Limerick Grand Prix was won by Hutchinson’s M.G. with Dobson’s E.R.A. second. This race was clamped considerably by the tragic death of the Duke of Grafton, who was driving a 3.3-litre ‘.igatti for the first time. The T.T. was v magnificent race, in spite of its handicap 3f being a handicap race. Once again Dixon scooped the pool, assisted by Dodson. Once again E. R. Hall was second on a Bentley. The team prize went most deservedly to the Frazer
Nash-B.M.W. team. An appalling accident, costing the lives of nine spectators, marred the race.
The Irish season closed with the Phoenix Park race, in whia, an M.G. Magnette gained a handicap victoiy over Birabongse’s Maserati.
Then in the Isle of Man, the R.A.C. held their annual Light Car race, resulting in a most popular victory for Seaman and his Delage, which from that date came a force to be reckoned with wherever it went.