A fact to which we have got to resign ourselves with the best grace possible is that motor-racing is harder hit by war than most other sports. Football, horse-racing, boxing, golf—all these have been started up again in a more or less modified form, but the likelihood of our seeing any motor-racing in any of the belligerent countries either this winter or next season is exceedingly remote.
It was the same in the last war, of course. The famous French Grand Prix was the last classic race of 1914, while I suppose the very last motor-race meeting of all before the war actually broke out was the Bank Holiday Meeting at Brooklands. On that occasion, you may remember or have read, two white German cars, fresh from a very commendable performance in the Grand Prix de l’A.C.F., took part in the racing and were ” interned ” in London for the duration. The fate of one of these Opels I have never been able to trace, but the Second one earned lasting fame for itself by being the first car raced by the late Sir Henry Segrave when Brooklands re-opened after the armistice, and, carefully renovated and preserved by its present owner, Mavrogordato, is still in fine fettle. This incident has no counterpart in the present war, but this does not prevent us from indulging in keen speculation as to the ultimate fate–after Hitler has been duly liquidated—of the Grand Prix Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union racing cars. It would be nice to think of those two teams carrying on with the same drivers and personnel, but I am afraid that this can never happen. Quite apart from the possibility of casualties occurring in their ranks, the economic position of Germany, no matter how lenient the victors may be in the terms of the next peace treaty, will preclude any chance of considerable sums of money being spent on motor-racing. It is all a great pity, for no finer set of sportsmen could be met than those German motor-racing teams, from Neubauer, Feuereisen and other executives, the drivers themselves, right down to the lowliest mechanic. Meanwhile the all-important necessity of crushing Hitlerism for ever forces us to regard
them as our nation’s enemies. It’s a crazy world. I see no reason, however, why a full season of motor-racing should not be enjoyed in Italy next year. In saying this I am discounting the rumour one hears of the war spreading to other frontiers of France, because such tales can only have one source. The Alf aRomeo factory, relieved from the threat of imminent war and the consequent necessity of concentrating all its resources on the production of armaments, is now finding time to perfect the design of a new sixteen-cylinder 3-litre car on Formula lines. This will no doubt include many of the features already tried out in the bigger sixteen-cylinder cars, and with the accumulated experience of so many years of continuous motor-racing By AUSLANDER
behind it, the latest Alfa should be capable of holding its own with the best. Lack of speed has always been the failing of Alfa-Romeos in recent years, their chassis layout and road-holding qualities being entirely adequate. That the Italian engineers have not extracted the maximum amount of power available from their engines has been proved, I think, by the remarkable speed of the British-tuned and modified Multi-Union, which is much faster than any of the factory monoposto 3-litre eight-cylinder cars has ever been.
Another item of extreme interest to British motor-racing followers is that the Alfa-Romeo people have made an experimental 1i-litre car with a twelvecylinder engine. it has been known for some time, of course, that they have not been entirely content with the straight-eight machine, especially after its trouncing by the untried MercedesBenz at Tripoli and there has been a good deal of bargaining going on with independent drivers with the idea of disposing of them. At least there was until the war intervened. However, the price reported to be asked for them was apparently too high for most people, because none of the cars has left the factory. On the other hand it may well have been that Alfas themselves withdrew from the negotiations, or delayed them, until such time as the experimental twelve-cylinder model showed definite signs of being a success. If and when the world returns to something like its former state, and motorracing is made possible once more, I think that we shall find a 11-litre Formula coming into force right from the start, in which case the new twelve-cylinder Alfa should have the beating of most of its rivals on the score of racing experience alone. That is, of course, allowing for a two or three years war. Some means may then be found of digging out the Mercedes-Benz V8s and the as yet unseen Auto-Unions from their retirement, unless they are scuttled—or whatever it is one does to motor-cars that one is incapable of using oneself and that one does not wish to fall into enemy hands. The new E.R.A. will presumably still be available, as well as lots of Maseratis, and after an interval of time Bugatti may be able to finish his new car. There are the makings here of a
really good Grand Prix field. I admit that it does SC2M rather fantastic to talk about Grand Prix fields at the moment, but a little building of castles in the air helps to relieve the monotony of the war that is not a war. I think I remarked last month how curious it was that none of the French racing drivers seem to be in the Air Force, which is where one would somehow expect to find them. Well, here is the proverbial exception, or rather two of them. Roger Loyer, the smiling, charming driver of a blue Maserati at Dollington and elsewhere this year, and a rider of motor-cycles in the Isle of Man T.T., is a pilot in the Armee de l’A ir, in which Vernet is a sergeant. Practically everyone connected with motor-racing in France is in a Service of some sort or
other. Trevoux, Monte Carlo Rally expert and race-driver of Rileys, is in the French edition of the R.A.S.C. Delpech, known to one and all as Raph’s mechanic, is in the mechanised section of the Army ; Lapchin, the Fiat driver,. is a fireman: Rene Dreyfus is a big noise in the transport division of the Army ; and Robert Letorey, the Percy Bradley of Montlhery for many years, is an Army officer. My last paragraph this month concerns the loss of someone who has done an enormous lot for motor-racing and who will be missed in every European country where the sport has taken place. I refer to Laury Schell, who was recently killed in a road accident in France. Lattry Schell was one of those fortunate people who are blessed with both an exceptional degree of enthusiasm—in his case centred on motor-racing and everything to do with motoring—and the means to give practical effect to that enthusiasm. Until recently Delahaycs were always his love, and he started by driving them in Monte Carlo Rallies with his wife, who shared his enthusiasm. From this he went on to the formation of the Ecurie Bleu racing stable, which had just switched over to Maseratis when war broke out. He himself was of American nationality, but he had spent
most of his life in France. Madame Schell, too, is an American by birth, and_ I am sorry to say that she was badly hurt in the accident, which took place near Sens. La,ury Schell was very seriously injured in a road crash last year, while his drivers and ears were in England for the Dunlop Jubilee Meeting. It is indeed ironical that he should have recovered from that accident only to be involved in another, this time with fatal consequences, t (Ave months or so later.