I waited until I read my December copy of Motor Sport to see whether any other reader commented on the article “Winter Approaches” by DSJ in the November issue. If my memory is correct, the Duesenberg to which it referred is the car driven by Count CF Trossi at Monza in September 1933, whose oil-spillage was responsible for the deaths of G Campari, B Borzacchini and S Czaikowski. My recollection is that the Italian Grand Prix that year was a Formula Libre event run in two heats and a final, with the two Italians dying in one heat, and the Pole in the final.
CJ Walsh, Woking, Surrey
The story that the Trossi Duesenberg engine failure caused the deaths of Campari, Borzacchini and Czaikowski at Monza in 1933 is a myth that Doug Nye and I disproved to our complete satisfaction many years ago.
First of all the event in question was not the Italian Grand Prix of 1933 , for that was held in the morning and was won by Luigi Fagioli in a monoposto Alfa Romeo. The Duesenberg was competing in the first heat of the Gran Premio di Monza, held in the afternoon. After analysing contemporary reports with a finetooth comb, talking to Gianbattista Guidotti of Alfa Romeo, who was at the race, and studying repairs made to the Duesenberg/Clemons engine which can still be seen, we are quite certain that the failure of the Duesenberg engine on lap seven had nothing to do with the accident in Heat Two, and the further accident in the Final. Guidotti is convinced that the former multiple accident was due to a combination of drivers out to win at all costs, a damp atmosphere, and the fact that the cars were using treadless track tyres. The damage to the Duesenberg engine was caused by the liner in No 8 cylinder breaking, allowing oil and water to mix and accounts for the report of the car pulling into the pits to retire with water coming out of the exhaust pipe. The beautiful Scuderia Ferrari repair to the corner of the engine can still be seen. There are no signs of a broken crankcase or sump (the only way that all the oil could have been lost) the engine being of wet-sump design.
The myth about the car being the cause of the accidents started when it came to England in 1934, as it was all that the English press knew about the car. They believed that it was a brand new Duesenberg racing car specially built for Count Trossi, whereas it has subsequently transpired that it was “cobbled-up” by Augie Duesenberg from a 1927 Duesenberg single-seater chassis and running-gear and a 1931 Clemons eight-cylinder engine more akin to a Miller engine than anything Duesenberg ever designed. Count Trossi only raced it at that one event in 1933, and after that it only ever raced at Brooklands, which is why I tend to refer to it as the Brooklands Duesenberg, and is also why it has gone to rest in the Brooklands Museum. DSJ