Continental Notes and News, February 1939

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Continental Notes and News

Round the Rally

Opinions about the Monte Carlo Rally seem to be rather divided. Many people have an idea that it was not quite the success it has been in previous years, especially the general atmosphere at the finish. Others say the reason is that the novelty of the thing has worn off for regular competitors, and that therefore you cannot expect them to be quite so gay at Monte a3 they used to he.

On the other hand there is no doubt that the prolonged crisis in which we spend our lives these days has had the effect of slowing us all up a bit. We all worry too much about what Hit and Muss are going to say next to be able to let ourselves go, even at the end of the Rally.

For the grim shadow of the international situation is most noticeable on the Riviera just now, when chance acquaintances in cafes and restaurants often turn out to be refugees who implore you to help them to get to England. After such a conversation your Pernod doesn’t taste quite the same, somehow.

The organisation was definitely not up to standard. The controls in France were not too well run, and people at Monte had some difficulty in finding out what was going on along the routes in France. The arrival was a dismal affair. By AUSLANDER

Normally all the cars come in within the space of about two hours. This year they trickled in in ones and two’s, taking five hours in all. As a spectacle, in consequence, the test on the quayside was a flop. The last few people to come in actually had to do the test in the dark, which was a considerable handicap.

English drivers formed rather a large part—four out of eight, to be exact— of those who muffed the test. In some cases it seemed to be just a case of panic, in others the drivers concerned obviously hadn’t bothered to read the rules properly. To atone for these unfortunates, however, Lord Waleran was really brilliant.

Sunday—after people’s need for sleep had been. more or less satisfied—was rather a hiatus, especially as the officials had all day in which to check over the cars. The hill-climb was excellent, being a real test of cars and drivers. Rumours were flying about that some of the French drivers must have practised on the hill before, but I think, personally, that the hill was a genuine secret. What happened was that some of the best drivers took the precaution of getting up early and following the procession of twenty cars which formed the first group. They then examined the hill on foot, took good note of the corners and general conditions, and then hastened back to Monte in time to join their own batch of cars. There was nothing to stop anyone doing this, provided you didn’t happen to be in the first group, who literally saw the hill for the first time. As for the British performances, Charles Brackenbury was first-class with the big Lagonda, which he drove with great precision and determination. Next best, I would say, irrespective of sex, was Mrs. Vaughan, who drove her Standard

Ten up in grand style. She seemed absolutely confident, never looked like making a mistake, and yet took the corners as fast as she jolly well could. Some of the other women drivers, of all nationalities, were not so good. Miss Amy Johnson hit the bank good and hearty on one of the corners, got going again, and then missed her gear-change higher up. Bad luck, but troubles never come singly when things start going wrong on these occasions. This was especially the case with Mme. Renault, who is normally a very capable, calm and highly skilful driver. She began by taking a bend too fast and .crashing into a barrier which saved her from a nasty drop down the hillside. She rolled backwards down the hill into a field in Order to turn round, had to reverse twice, and roared up to the same corner at the same impossible-speed. The car skidded right round and crashed into the same barrier. She started once more, and this time drove like a flash up the rest of the hill.

The thanks of the British contingent, I feel, are due to Mike Couper and Leslie Seyd for being the life and soul of the party— in the best sense of the term— Mike’s conjuring tricks doing the trick very successfully.

Calendar

There’s going to be some fun and games, I believe, about the fixture list for Grand Prix races. Take this Swiss business, for example. Contrary to what I said last month—or was it the month before ?—the Swiss G.P. and the Zurich G.P. are going to be two separate races, the first at Berne on August 20th and the second at Zurich on October stle

Donington G.P. is scheduled for September 30th, which doesn’t give the teams much time to get back to Berne, bpt I suppose it cal’ be done.

The Masaryk G.P. is being revived— now that Hitler has had his own way with Czecho-Slovakia (don’t forget the hyphen, Mr. Compositor)—and its date is to be September 24th. The point arises as to which Germany would like to do most, to impress the people of Great Britain or the people of Czecho-Slovakia. The Berne G.P. is also not without its complications, for the organisers of the International Exhibition at Lic.’ge have now decided that a Grand Prix would enliven the programme. The date they have chosen is August 27th, one week later than Berne, and here again some fast travelling is going to be necessary for the teams to get around. However, I have no doubt that it will be done. The Zurich race will be over 60 laps of a 3-mile circuit, and will be held in the afternoon. In the morning will be a. curtain raiser for 1,500 c.c. cars, over a distance of 35 laps%

The Berne authorities have decided to retain the Swiss national race, held the day before, but it will probably be confined to sports-cars so as to avoid the big differences in speeds which have been so dangerous in previous years.

Voiturettes

It is going to be extremely interesting to see how the new E.R.A. and the new Maseratis shape up to each other. For the moment Maserati is rather pinning his faith to a four-cylinder engine, with either One Or two blowers, whichever gives the most WIT., but the six is being retained and is thought to be capable of much development yet. With Villoresi and Trossi up, these cars are going to take some catching, but Continental circles still believe that the E.R.A. —given rather more thorough organisation—is a mighty machine indeed. The recent appointment of a full time racing manager to the British team has been taken as an indication that they are going to leave no stone unturned to ensure success.

Anyway, it will all be good to watch, especially if the 1,500 c.c. Alfa finds that little bit of reliability and sets the pace for both of them.

Incidentally, it doesn’t look as though we shall see any 1,500 c.c. Alfas in private hands this year after all, as the original cars are all being prepared for next season’s programme of Alfa Corse. Alfas themselves, I believe, would like to regard this present machine as a trial horse, and build sonic news cars as well, but the factory is very busy just now with other things, and this plan will probably be -shelved for the moment.

Grand Prix

M. Logo seems to have made good use of the little sum of money he collected from the French Fund, and. the new Talbot-Darracqs are coming along well.

The chassis and body is already completed, being a slim affair with a singleseat off-set body and independent springing by transverse leaf in front. To begin With the engine will be an improved 41-litre unsupercharged six, and this will provide sufficient urge for any obvious faults in the road-holding and general handling of the car to be eradicated. Meanwhile the twin-overhead camshaft Tee sixteen -cylinder supercharged 3-litre unit is being steadily developed to the required state of b,h.p„ and as soon as it is ready it will be slipped into the chassis and a very potent Grand Prix be/44e should be the result. But all this will take a little time, and for the first few races, at any rate, we must content ourselves with seeing the car in unblown form,

Avanti !

True story. A Bugatti cabriolet is going through an Italian village, when suddenly a young woman darts out of a cottage to cross the road. The Bugatti pulls up all-standing, and the woman falls across the front mudguard. Men appear front everywhere, all talking at once. The driver prepares for trouble, when lo ! the Italians catch sight of the Bugatti radiator. They pick up the girl, curse her roundly, and send her back into the cottage in disgrace. She has committed the unforgivable crime of getting in the way of a real motor-car. They turn to the motorist, all smiles.

” Bugatti! Avanti ! “