HE ROYAL GRAND PRIX E
ARCANGELI WINNEI ON MASERA
F all the races which are run nowadays the Royal Grand Prix of Rome approximates perhaps most nearly to the French Grand Prix races in their most flourishing days. It is an event for racing cars pure and simple, it is over a road circuit, which however, permits of higher speeds than are possible on the Sicilian circuit used for the Targa Florio, and somehow it manages to attract a good entry list.
This year it was obvious from the entry list that the race would represent a repetition of the battle of the Targa Florio, and it was interesting to see whether the result would be the same. Alfa-Romeo, the winner of the Targa, was again at the starting line, this time with what seemed a stronger team than ever. Achille Varzi, the winner in Sicily, again handled his 2-litre Grand Prix racer, and the other one of these cars which was intended for Campari in the Targa was now entrusted to Nuvolari. Campari himself, mindful of how uncomfortable the ” P.2.” as this type of Alfa is called, had proved during practice in Sicily and that his heart is now more in opera than in motor cars, preferred to start on his usual 1750 c.c. 6-cylinder machine. Another Alfa of the same type was driven by Tadini and there were also one or two amateur entrants on 1750 c.c. and 1500 .e. models.
Against the Alfa-Romeos there were firstly the Bugattis. Louis Chiron himself having been beaten by Varzi in the Targa by such a small margin was determined to have his revenge. He himself appeared at the starting line on the 2,300 c.c. supercharged car which was driven in Sicily by Williams, and he was backed up. by Bouriat and the German amateur von Morgen on similar cars, while Renzi drove a 2-litre car of the same make.
The next most dangerous team appeared to be the Maseratis. The fastest car was that handled by Arcangeli, which was not, as has been usually stated in the English technical press, a 1,500 c.c. machine, but had the usual straight-eight supercharged Maserati engine but with a capacity of nearly 2i litres. As a matter of fact the different Maserati racers are very hard.to distinguish as their outward appearance is very similar and each one being an entirely special job built in this racing car factory at Bologna, the engine sizes are varied in accordance with the race for which the car is to be entered. Actually Arcaugeli’s car had been specially built for this race and was designed to beat the Alfa-Romeo” P.2,” machines. Besides this car, there were two of the older machines with engines of just over 2 litres capacity driven by Pastore and Fagioli, while the two Neuzioni brothers had 1,500 c.c. racers. Running in the 1,100 c.c. class was yet another Maserati driven by Alfieri Maserati himself. This car has a straight eight
engine of exactly the same design as the larger models, and proved itself extremely fast. Another car which looked likely to be well up in the battle was the 1,500 c.c. 8-cylinder Grand Prix French Talbot, which has been practically rebuilt in the Materassi stable and is now fitted with a single-seater body. This car was driven by Biondetti, while Cailisch handled the big 7-litre Mercedes with which he won the recent Circuit of Caserta race, and which is undoubtedly fast.
The race was run on 25th May, the course being the Tre Fontane circuit near Rome. This circuit measures rather more than 8 miles to the lap, and the bigger cars had to cover it 20 times, making a total distance for the race of just over 163 miles. The 1,100 c.c. class, in which the Maserati was matched against a number of Salmons and Amilcars, had to cover only 8 laps, making a total of 65 miles.
As soon as the signal to start was given it became obvious that the real competition was going to lie between Arcangeli on the big Maserati, the two P.2. Alfas and Chiron’s Bugatti. Arcangeli set off at great speed and took the lead from the outset, closely followed by Chiron, with Varzi on the Alfa a short distance behind. The latter however, gradually lost ground to the leaders, and after the first few laps retired with clutch trouble. His place, however was quickly taken by Nuvolari, who passed Chiron on the sixth lap and began to press Arcangeli hard. Behind the monegasque champion came Fagioli, who proved himself very fast on the 2,100 c.c. Maserati and who led von Morgen on the second Bugatti, Biondetti on the Talbot and Campari on the 1,750 c.c. Alfa-Romeo. On the seventh lap Nuvolari succeeded in passing Arcangeli and gaining the lead, but the competition between the two men was intense, and Arcangeli, who is a native of Rome and determined to win on his home circuit clung to the leader like a leech, and on the eleventh lap succeeded in repassing Nuvolari and regaining the lead. Two laps later Nuvolari was again in front, and the excitement of the crowd was intense as the two cars went round with hardly a length between them.
Then on the fifteenth lap Nuvolari seemed to slow somewhat and Arcangeli shot past him again. Chiron was not far behind and he too passed the Alfa, while Fagioli on the second Maserati clung close to his heels. Chiron was now going great guns, and on the eighteenth lap, two from the finish, he proceeded to set up a lap record at 87.23 m.p.h. and passed Arcangeli. The excitement was now intense ; was Chiron. going to have his revenge for his narrow defeat in the Targa Florio ? Was the French Bugatti to beat the first of the Italian champions ? Try as he might however, Chiron could not shake off Arcangeli, and Fagioli was
in third place on the smaller Maserati. Nuvolari had now dropped back to fourth place, and on the nineteenth or penultimate lap he went out of the race with engine trouble, to be followed quickly by Fagioli with a seized bearing in his back axle. This let the second Bugatti driven by von Morgen up into third place.
As Chiron led into the last lap scarcely a length separated him from Arcangeli on the red Maserati. Round went the two cars as if locked together, and then on the long straight up to the finishing line Arcangeli began to creep up. Now the cars were level, now Arcangeli was ahead, and as they flashed over the line Chiron had lost the race by two-fifths of a second. It was probably the closest finish which has ever been seen in a longdistance road-race, and the tribunes were mad with excitement. Literally on the post, Italy had won ! Poor Chiron is earning the title of the eternal second in Italy, and both his defeats can be ascribed to nothing else than the overwhelming Italian determination for victory. Von Morgen on the second Bugatti was third, eight minutes behind the leaders, and be was followed by Biondetti and Campari, with Caflisch on the giant Mercedes sixth.
In the 1,100 c.c. class Alfieri Maserati had things all his own way on the car of his own construction and won easily from the two fastest Salmsons. His little car was extremely fast and covered one lap at 69.3 m.p.h. The event thus proveu a double victory for Maserati and the reputation of the young Bologna firm is now made for all time. The final results were as follows :-