"Two Fiat 'Firsts' and a Fiat Failure"


With reference to your article on Fiat in the 1923 200-Mile Race: in a hook entitled “The Romantic Story of Motor Racing”, by Sir Malcolm Campbell, he mentions a brief account of the race.

He mentions both cars as having superchargers but names no one make. He goes on to say that he and Salamano had an agreement that whoever held the lead after the first lap would stay in front until to laps from home and then every man for himself, but as we know the Fiats never got that far. He explains that -Salatnano’s car stopped, and his own engine died: “I coasted to the pits, there to discover that I had broken a connecting-rod, while Salamano’s car suffered a similar fate”.

In the book there appears a photograph, taken at the pits; showing Campbell sitting in his car with the bonnet raised and mechanics inspecting the engine, whilst a few others look on. As far as the cause of engine failure, Campbell mentions lapping at around the 100 mark behind Salamano’s car, expecting him to ease up; instead he increased speed and Campbell followed suit until they were both lapping at about to m.p.h. faster than the fastest of the other ears; this would mean a speed of about 107 m.p.h., as opposed to 97 m.p.h. of Eyston’s Aston-Martin and Joyce’s AC; surely such a pace so early in the race must have had disastrous effects on a relatively cold engine? The fact that a picture appears with the bonnet of Campbell’s car raised flatly contradicts The Light Car & Cyclecar.


[This is interesting but the suggestion that Campbell and Salamano duelled at 107 m.p.h. lap speed early in the race is not borne out by the official fastest lap, which they shared, of 101.64 m.p.h., and in any case Campbell passed Salamano after three laps, possibly because he had been instructed to win and the Italian let him through for just that purpose, or because Salamano’s engine was already giving trouble at that stage of the race. When The Light Car & Cyclecar said the bonnets were never opened after the Fiats had retired they presumably intended this to mean .after the initial investigation Of the “blow-ups”—not opened, in other words, where prying eyes could later see them.—ED.}