continental notes and news, February 1937
Contnenta_ Not,w and New
OUR CONTINENTAL CORRESPONDENT
“We’ve got the Men …”
Probably the most remarkable feature of Richard Seaman’s inclusion in the official Merddc s-Benz racing team has been the lack of. publicity it has received in the lay I ress. After all, here is a sporting achievement of international character which is worth being proud of, and yet it has been almost universally ignored by the newspapers.
The apathy in regard to Seaman’s appointment has only been equalled by that which greeted Eric Pernihough’s wonderful motor-bike records. Truly we are the most extraordinary nation—or perhaps we must blame our newspaper editors who fill their columns with ” human ” stories and refuse to regard real achievements as being of interest to the public.
At any rate no longer can the pessimists say that we haven’t got any drivers capable of handling modern G.P. cars. “We’ve got the men . . .”
Lining up the Teams
Caracciola, Seaman and Lang—so reads the Merddes-Benz team for 1937. Quite a formidable trio, for Caracciola is still capable of giving even the meteoric Rosemeyer a run for his money, and Hermann Lang clung to the Auto-Union driver’s heels for many laps in last year’s German G.P. It will be interesting to see how Seaman shapes in a G.P. field.
Freddie Zehender will be the MercedesBenz reserve driver, and it will be remembered that he nearly got his chance at Nurburg last July. He was actually in the cockpit when Neubauer told Lang to take over the car. Von Brauchitsch may still sign up, but there appears to be some difficulty about terms.
Then there is the cadet school, consisting of Walter Baumer, Brendel and Hartmann. These three are to undergo an intensive course of training as 1938 drivers, under the eagle eye of Neubauer. It is obvious that such astounding cars as the Merddes-Benz must take a great deal of getting used to, and a full year’s practice does not seem too much.
Merc(des-lienz are pinning great hopes on the new 12-cylinder cars. The engines have already shown their worth in record attempts, and meanwhile the rest of the car has received attention. A completely new frame has been designed, which ought to eliminate the road-holding troubles experienced with the 8-cylinder cars last year. The design of the frame is at present a closely guarded secret, but no doubt full particulars will be available later on.
As far as the Auto-Union team is concerned, there is no news of radical alterations being made to the cars for next season. In view of their marked superiority last year this is not to be wondered at, but the maximum speed of the 12cylinder Metes, will deprive them of their greatest asset. Unless, of course, the
amazing Dr. Porsche has been quietly stuffing some more horses into their sixteen cylinders. Actually, the chief query in regard to Auto-Unions concerns Hans Stuck. So far as my information goes at the time of writing, Hans has not signed on the dotted line. In many ways he would much prefer to drive as an independent once more, because he has never been really happy in Germany since the unpleasant episode at Kerrilberg in 1935. On the other hand he has no quarrel with the Auto-Union
personnel, and the advantages of the organisation of a great racing team are very attractive. If he goes, Auto-Unions will miss him badly, for their team will then consist of Rosemeyer (a host in himself), Von Delius and Hasse. Neither of the last two can be said to be top-liners, so that
Stuck’s presence would considerably strengthen the team. Spare driver will be Mueller, a German motor-cyclist who may or may not prove to be another Rosemeyer.
I have a feeling, however, that Berndt is a distinct prodigy.
All last season the Ferrari drivers were handicapped by lacking a maximum speed as high as that of the German cars. To remedy this, the engines of the 12-cylinder Alf a-Romeos have been increased in size to 5,6-litres. The road-holding of the Alfas leaves nothing to be desired so that Nuvolari, Brivio, and Farina will probably start on level terms with their rivals.
Trossi, Taclini, Pintacuda and Seveni will pilot Alfas for Ferrari in hill climbs and smaller events, as well as being available as reserve drivers for the Grand Prix cars.
There is still no definite news about the plans of Varzi, Pagioli and Chiron. Varzi, like Stuck, has been toying with the idea of running a 1,500 c.c. Maserati, and it is doubtful whether he would care to join Ferrari as second string to Nuvolari. There is talk of his driving sports-cars for Talbot. Fagioli has made a lot of money in recent years and may possibly retire from the game altogether. As for Chiron, he was very happy during his spell with Ferrari, and he may sign up with the Italians again—provided he decides not to join Delage in his sportscar venture.
Speed-Fever in Italy
Having disposed of the Abyssinian affair to their satisfaction, the Italians are looking forward to a full programme of national motoring events. There will be thirty-eight events in all, and the total prize money offered amounts to two million lire. In addition to the Mille
Miglia, Coppa Ciano, Coppa Acerbo, Tripoli G.P. and Italian G.P., there will be “city races” at Turin, Naples, Florence, Milan and Modena.
The Italians are fully alive to the value of 1,500 c.c. racing as a useful training ground for drivers, and every encouragement will be given to races of this type. Nearly a score of new Maseratis are on the stocks, and these cars will probably monopolise the Ii-litre class. Alfas are supposed to be turning out a ” 1,500,” which will be all to the good, while the perennial stories about Fiat are going the rounds.
The Italian season opens as usual with the Mille Miglia, which will be the eleventh race of the series. The organisers have decided to abide by the A.1.A.C.R definition of a sports-car, and it will be interesting to see what sort of car will pass the scrutineers. in previous years Ferrari has run G.P. Alfas fitted with two-seater bodies and mudguards, which
are no doubt great fun for the drivers but which would look rather out of place in, say, the T.T. Classes for touring cars will be run, the rules permitting a variation in eng ne
capacity of 5 per cent. The prize money for the race, incidentally, is the b ggest in the history of the race, amounting to more than £2,000. Now that the ” sanctions ” scare has blown over, the Italians are anxious to receive some foreign competition. start Martins and M.G.s have done well in this race in the past, and it would be nice to see some more British sports-cars in the Mille Miglia. Three ‘I albots will probably be entered, and should g ve the Alfas a great fight. Varzi may be in one car, Dreyfus in another, and the th rd will probably be in the hands of that great
team, Rosa and Morandi, who won the very first Mille Miglia on an O.M. and who have competed in every race since.
Many readers have written to me from time to time to ask what has become of the S.E.F.A.C. racing-car built by M. Emil 1 etit. This machine, it will be remembered, was designed for Grand Prix racing, but beyond a brief appearance at Montlh, ry on a non-race day, little has been heard of it. The late Marcel Lehoux was to have driven it. I remember coming across it in a shed at the Paris track one day, when it looked rather forlorn.
One of the chief reasons why the car never raced was that engine capacities went up by leaps and bounds while the original designs were being put into practice. Well under 3-litres, the S. E.F.A.C. would not have stood an earthly against its bigger rivals. Under the new G.P. formula for 1938, however, its smaller engine will not, necessarily be a handicap, and M. Petit
is accordingly working on the car once more in order to be ready for next season. No driver has yet been named.