CANCELLATION OF THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX.
RACING CAR GRAND PRIX AT N1JRBURG RING.
By our CONTINENTAL CORRESPONDENT.
The cancellation of the French Grand Prix for 1928 is an occurrence which will be regarded with much disappointment by all motor racing enthusiasts. The classic event was first run in 1906, twenty-two years ago, and up till the war it was merely called the Grand Prix, being the only race of its kind. Since then, races of a similar character have been run in England, Italy, Spain and Belgium, and although the opportunity has thus been given to manufacturers to compete in several big races in the year with the same cars, the entry lists have not been satisfactory. Finally, this year the A.C.F. were faced with the fact that Delage has decided to abstain from racing for the present. Fiat and Mercedes could give no definite assurance that they would run, and the only certain competitor was the everfaithful Bugatti. As the ” one-marque” Grand Prix of 1926, however, was not a very thrilling affair, they decided that the race•should not be held, and that they would confine themselves to running the race for the Coupe de la Commission Sportive, which, as last year, will be a limited fuel consumption event.
Although in England the French Grand Prix seems to be regarded as dead for ever, this is by no means the opinion in France, where this cancellation is regarded merely as a temporary measure. It must be remembered that the race was dropped in 1909, but that in 1912 it was revived, and by 1914 had reached a degree Of success which it has never achieved before or since. There is no need, therefore, to despair, and it may well be, that with a change in rules, the Grand Prix may take on a new lease of life in the near future. In the meantime, however, the other Grand Prix races are in a difficult position. England has this year got the task of running the European Grand Prix, but it seems to be doubtful whether the race will take place or not, as its prospects are not much more encouraging than those of the abandoned French race, and the same applies to the Grand Prix at Monza and San Sebastian.
Grand Prix for Racing Cars in Germany. While the countries which have run these races in the past, however, are considering abandoning them, a new race of this type will be run this year in Germany. The German Grand Prix for racing cars will take place on the Niirburg Ring, which as a circuit has proved
itself second only to the Madoine course in Sicily, on 15th July, the touring car grand prix, whichwas originally fixed for the 14th, having been put off till a later date. The race is for cars with any size of engine, but complying with the new international weight limit of 5.50 kilos minimum, and 750 kilos maximum, and will be over a distance of about 313 miles. Entries dose on the 20th April, and the race will be provided with 4-3,500 worth of prizes. The rules, incidentally, require cars to be painted in their national colours, and disclose those of Czecho-Slovakia, which are red and blue quarters, with a white number on a black ground.
Standard Car Races.
In the Meantime, the collapse of the Grand Prix type races has focussed attention on those for standard cars, and the opinion is freely expressed that this is the only type of race which has any future. In Our opinion, at any rate, while races for standard cars are an excellent institution, they do not in any way replace those for specialised racing cars. While they allow manufacturers to discover minor faults in their standard productions, they do not provide a testing ground for radically new ideas, which is the real cause of progress in design. Let us consider, for instance, the case of the supercharger, which is now becoming increasingly used on standard cars. The device was originally tried out on a specialised racing car, its faults discovered and corrected, and then applied to standard productions by manufacturers who reaped the advantage of this racing experience. In 1923, when the supercharged Fiats appeared, no manufacturer would have risked fitting his standard engines with superchargers and selling them to the public, as he would have had to have done if he had wished to enter supercharged cars for standard car races but to-day, owing to their testing on special cars, sufficient standard supercharged cars exist for them to be admitted for the forthcoming Grand Prix d’Endurance at le Mans. These cars, incidentally:, will compete on a special handicap basis, having to run as far as unsupercharged cars with larger engines to put up an equally good performance on formula. This year, also, the rules for this race do not require the hoods of cars to be raised, although they must be fitted, and as well as the triennial
Rudge-Whitworth cup for the best formula performance, there will be a cup for the greatest distance covered in the 24 hours. Otherwise, the same rules are in force as for last year’s event, and already a satisfactory number of entries has been received. Four cars have been entered for the final of the 1927-28 triennial cup, these being three Iwo c.c. cars, a Salmson, a Tracta and an E.H.P., and a 18°6 c.c. air-cooled, 6-cylinder S.A.R.A., while the Bentley and the S.C.A.P. which are eligible, have not yet been entered. As well as these, one Alpha-Six has been entered, while Tracta have entered two more cars in the 1928-29 cup race ; Alvis, B.N.C. and d’Yrsan have entered two cars each, Aston Martin three, Aries four and Lombard six. Of these, the Alpha is a 2-litre car, the Tractas, B.N.C., d’Yrsan, and two of the Aries are iroo c.c. cars ; the Alvises and Aston Martins are, of course, in the 1500 C.C.
division, while the two remaining Aries are 3-litre cars. As will be seen from this list, most of the cars already entered are in the smaller classes, but, while no definite decision has as yet been taken by the firm, it is hoped that a team. of Bentleys will be entered„.and possibly some Lorraine-Dietrichs.
The Targa Florio.
This year the Targa Florio will be run on 6th May, over the Madoine circuit in Sicily, and while real races are held on this course, one need not despair of the vitality of motor racing. This year, the race for the Targa, which goes to the driver of the car, will be combined with that for the cup, which goes to its manufacturer, and which is now run alternately in France and Sicily. The two races will be over five laps of the circuit, and the prize money amounts to 430,000 lire, of which ioo,000 go to the winner, and 30,000 is special prizes for ladies. Entries do not close until 28th April, but it is already fairly certain that Bugatti, Mercedes and Steyr will compete. It is interesting to note that, since the war, neither Bugatti no: Mercedes have ever been beaten when they have entered for the Florio races, Mercedes having won in 1922 and 1924, and Bugatti for the last three years ; the meeting of these two marques should, therefore, pro v ide a thrilling duel. Two of the Steyrs driven by Huldreich Heusser and Countess Einsiedel arrived in Sicily in December to start practice. This Austrian tar has several times made a good impression in the Targa Florio, and its winning day may not be far off. As well as these, Ambrosini, the Delage agent at Turin, has bought one of the successful 1927 Grand Prix Delages, and has announced his intention of entering it in all the big races of the Italian season, including, probably, the Targa ; while, although Alfieri Alaserati himself was killed last year, this young
firm have got together a racing team for next year, consisting of Maggi, Tonini, de Sterlich and Borzacchini, and will probably take part in the Targa in which they made such a good showing last year. This year the weight limits for the various classes, have been abolished, which will give an advantage to the bigger cars, which have hitherto, been under a considerable handicap on the difficult Sicilian course. The other big event of the Italian season, will be the second thousand-mile race orgainsed by the A. C. of Brescia. This race is over a course L000 miles in length, consisting of a round journey from Brescia to Rome and back, and is for touring cars. Last year the entries, although numerous, were almost entirely confined to Italian cars, and the race was won by Minoia and Morandi on a 2-litre O.M. This year, however, it is hoped that a more international entry list will materialise, as, indeed, it should for what is
undoubtedly one of the most sporting events imaginable. The race will take place on March 31st and April 1st.
A New Track.
Not content with the organisation of this race, however, the Brescia club is considering the embarkation on b. new enterprise. This is the construction of a track on the American pattern, five kilometres in length, at Ghedi, near Brescia. Track building is in fact, finding quite a vogue on the Continent, as there are also schemes afOot to build them at Breitenfurt, near Vienna, and at Travenuiinde in Northern Germany. Finally, the Belgians are setting to work to build one at Liege. This energy in building tracks must seem, in the circumstances, rather misplaced. As far as the Italian venture is concerned, the track which already exists at Monza is in a somewhat precarious financial position, and probably no races will be run there this year at all, with the exception of the Italian Grand Prix, if it takes place ; admittedly the proposed Brescia track is to be of a different character from the Monza road-type circuit, but it is doubtful in any case, whether the development of pure track racers deserves encouragement. As far as the other tracks are concerned, it seems inopportune to construct new circuits at a time when the difficulty is to find racing cars to run on those already existing.
The Bngatti Grand Prix.
An event which promises to be one of the most sporting of the season, is the Bugatti Grand Prix. This race will be run over the le Mans circuit on the 24th June, that is to say, one week after the Grand Prix d’Endurance, and will, of course, be confined to Bugatti cars, driven by genuine amateurs, having no Connection with the factory. The organisation of the race will owe much to the direction of Meo Costantini, who has decided to include four classes, as follows :
I. 2-litre and 2.3-litre supercharged cars.
2. 15oo c.c. 8-cylinder supercharged and 2-litre and 2.3-litre unsupercharged.
3. 1500 c.c. 4-cylinder supercharged.
4. 1500 c.c. 4-cylinder unsuperchard.
, The cars will run for six laps of the le Mans circuit (about 66 miles), and then the first three in each class will be started in the final on a handicap basis drawn up by Costantini. This second part of the race will be over fifteen laps (about 168 miles), and the . first three will gain important prizes, which will be paid by the Bugatti works in kind, either in the form of a new car, or repair work, etc. The -first prize, for example, corresponds to a 2.3-litre supercharged car. As le Mans is quite accessible from England, it is probably that a good many English Bugatti owners will take part.
Records and Wagers.
In the meantime, interest is -centred on the shortdistance records which are coveted in several quarters. Malcolm Campbell will soon be leaving for the States With his car, which i8 now fitted with one of the Schneider Cup-type Napier engines, developing some 800 h.p.,
while in America, J. M. White is constructing a new monster with three 12-cylinder Liberty aero engines, placed one in front and two behind the driver. While he is evidently not of the opinion expressed in America on the occasion of the Sunbeam records, that ” Major Segrave moved too much iron,” Frank Lockhart apparently is, and he is, therefore, constructing a car with two eight-cylinder 2-litre engines. If any of these cars succeed in their attempts, the Sunbeam Company will attempt to recapture the records with an entirely new car haying two 4-litre engines, and a new torpedo type of streamlining.
Interest is also centring on the contest which will take place at Indianapolis on r6th April, when M. Charles Weymann will race a Boulogne Hispano Suiza for 24-hours against Mr. Moscovics’ Stutz. The race is for a bet of 25,000 dollars and arose from a discussion about the relative merits of French and American cars, a subject incidentally, which gave birth to the Bennet races some twenty-eight years ago. The Hispano will be driven by two French drivers, and it is obvious that they will have to work hard to become thoroughly acquainted with Indianapolis, which is a very tricky track. Incidentally, if the Stutz proves victorious, it will have to meet another challenge from Mr. Woolf Barnato to race against a 41-litre Bentley in the Grand Prix d’Endurance ; this at any rate, should add an extra excitement to this already interesting race.
This form of competition is evidentally becoming infectious, for as well as the Weymann-Mosco; ics duel, George Duller and P. Turner have decided to run a 3-litre Bentley against a 3-litre Austro-Daimler for 24 hours on the Montlhery track, each driver being the full time at the wheel. On the whole, therefore, it seems that the coming year will not be without its excitements.