Continental Notes and News, July 1936

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Continental._ N©t and. Newz

Force Majeure

What with strikes in France and Belgium, anarchy in Spain, and unrest in Poland, Europe is a difficult place to live in these days. A comprehensive tour :’pf the Continent would leave no one in doubt that Britain offers exceptional advantages as a domicile—but for how long remains to be seen. In the face of these major crises, motor-racing struggles on as best it might. So far, Grand Prix racing has not been hit, but the season’s sports-car programme looks as though it may easily

dissolve into thin air. The indefinite postponement of Le Mans came as a mortal blow to those who regard this event as the be-all and end-all of their existence. The race has acquired an established niche in the racing world, and that it should be missed entirely was indeed a calamity. The negotiations before it was finally abandoned hardly did us credit. The suggested dates of I uly 20th and 21st would have been ideal, and received everybody’s approval except our own R.A.C. This institution has been dealt with fairly adequately by the editor mt the beginning of this issue. But I would like to add the information that the R.A.C. is just about as popular with jI4’rance just now as Eden is with Italy. And for once—or should I say the first time ?—I must agree with the French.

As a certain statesman once proved, it is quite a good idea sometimes to limit one’s vocabulary to the word ” No I ” But it is a mistake to regard this as a golden rule. The R.A.C.—Oh, what’s the use. Before these lines appear in print the fate of the Grand Prix de will have been decided. For some time

during the strikes it looked as though this race, too, would have to be postponed. Since then the situation, while still with its doubtful aspect, has become considerably steadier. The trouble in France is that undercurrents of restless spirit can quickly burst into widespread activity, and knowledgeable observers predict a stormy future for France. The thin end of the ” red ” wedge has been driven fuanly in. The man with the hammer (to say nothing of the sickle) will soon want to drive it in a bit further, until the social fabric cracks asunder beneath the strain.

The Talbot and Delahaye factories are working at present, and the racing cars are being brought to concert pitch. The remaining question is that of petrol supplies. They are normal at the moment. The Spa race looks much more prob lematical. Belgium is in a troubled state, and at the time of writing it is a 50-50 chance as to whether order will be

restored without bloodshed. In the face of such trouble it seems almost childish to worry about motor-racing. The Belgium ” trouble ” was most inconvenient for the British competitors in the Eifel races, for Antwerp was at a standstill for several days. It is fortunate that France has returned to By OUR CONTINENTAL CORRESPONDENT

normal, otherwise one’s only remaining route to the Continent was Holland—or Germany.

A National Event

Let us turn from this gloomy recital

to a tale of success. The astonishing fact has to be assimilated (and it is not easy) that 300,000 people visited the Nurburg Ring for the Eifel race-meeting, That it pelted with rain and the clouds descended did not detract one whit from the success of the event. In the German mind it is the racing that counts.

Would that a similar state of affairs could be reached in Britain ! Whether it is the fault of our organisers, or the attitude of the lay press towards motoring in general, the fact remains that motorracing has a miserably small following in this country. The ordinary public, to say nothing of the average motorist, is just not interested in a sport, which, for thrills, excitement and usefulness beats every other.

One is forced to the dismal reflection that the limit of our countrymen’s intelligence is to hit a ball about. British schoolboys never grow up, they simply wear an old boy’s tie.

The Alfa Revival

The Grand Prix position is full of interest just now. Nuvolari’s victory at Barcelona was not just a bit of luck,

after all. He gave the Germans an anxious time in the Eifel race, and it was significant that All a-Romeos finished second, third and fourth, thus beating the Mercedes-Benz team and three Auto-Unions.

Then he followed this up with a smashing win in the Hungarian G.P., turning the tables on Rosemeyer in a masterly fashion. It is suggested in some quarters that the reason for this Alfa revival is that the German cars, as cars, are only superior to their rivals on circuits which permit maximum speeds. On giveand-take circuits the driver counts more than the car, and it is suggested that the answer lies in Tazio Nuvolari, than whom no man is quicker round corners. Up to a point this is all very true, but two important factors seem to have been omitted from the reasoning. The first is that the Alfas now have an efficient form of independent suspension, which puts them on a level with the German cars for road-holding and acceleration, and secondly the 8-cylinder 4-litre

engines and 4.2-litre 12-cylinder engines now give a performance equal to the German cars in all but maximum speed. These points having been agreed, we then admit that the Alfa victories at Barcelona and Budapest were due to the superlative skill of the great Tazio. 1VIercedes-Benz seem to be suffering from a temporary eclipse, and Neubauer’s

frown is enough to terrify the most hardened interviewer. The cars look all right, sound all right, and go all right, but they are no longer their supreme selves of 1935. There used to be a story in circulation that in the event of their being seriously challenged by a rival manufacturer, ‘Mercedes-Benz could increase the speed of their cars by 10 per cent.

without radical alterations. Now is the time to see whether this rumour is true or not.

Germany has made a great” discovery” in Berndt Rosemeyer. In point of fact, Rosemeyer is now the Auto-Union firststring, ahead of such mighty drivers as Achille Varzi and Hans Stuck. People do say that, having had no previous experience of orthodox cars, he has been able to adapt himself to the Auto-Union quicker and better than those who have done most of their driving on conventional machines. The next clash of the big battalions is the German Grand Prix at the Nurburg Ring on July 26th. Everyone is asking “Can Nuvolari repeat his triumph of last year, and follow up his victories at

Barcelona and Budapest ? ” It is a situation which will give this alwaysclassic race a peculiar interest, and the race is likely to be the greatest of the season. One thing is certain, the German teams will leave nothing undone to gain a convincing victory on their own ground. I don’t know whether the Fiihrer has acquired the dictatorial habit of sending telegrams “Race and Win,” as his Italian counterpart does, but if both German and Italian teams receive similar telegrams from their leaders, it is going to provide us all with a magnificent race.

The Light Brigade The battle between the E.R.A.s and

The battle between the E.R.A.s and Maseratis is just as interesting as that between the bigger cars. Trossi gave us all a shock at Nurburg, because his win was achieved with such apparent ease. His 6-cylinder car with independent springing is going to be a dangerous rival in the future. It is obviously very fast and corners like an eel. Maseratis have a fine driver in Tenni, the exmotor-cyclist, who can give points to all the E.R.A. exponents on a car which is probably slightly slower. Seaman’s challenge with the Delage suffers from lack of numbers. He has no team-mates to fill his place should trouble befall him, but when he is going he can show his back wheels to most people. It was a thousand pities he had to retire so soon at Nurburg Ring. However all the best drivers have had their narrow shaves, else how would they know when the limit of cornering speed has been reached ? Better luck next time, which will probably be at Albi on July 19th. ” Bira ” and Fairfield are both going over for this race, so Seaman will be fighting his customary

adversaries. Maseratis are bound to send some cars, and will be out to avenge their defeat at Perorme.

Anglo-Dutch Success in Belgium

Hertzberger, the young Dutchman who has raced a K.3 M.G. Magnette on

the Continent for some time, scored his first big success in the Grand Prix des Frontieres. The first part of the race was dominated by Barowski, with a li-litre Bugatti, but on the 10th lap he crashed, luckily

without hurting himself. Meanwhile Hertzberger had been holding second place, and thereupon took the lead, which he held to the finish, averaging 74.72 m.p.h.

There was a great scrap for second place between two Bugattis driven by Foury and Mme. Anne Itier. In the end the former won, but their fight was the most spectacular part of the race.

Only one British driver competed, Dobson with an E.R.A., but he retired from the fray soon after the start.

Grossglockner Substitute

The trials and tribulations of the Grossglockner hill-climb organisers last year are not likely to be repeated this year, for it has been decided to hold an event at the Gaisberg, near Salzburg, instead of the Grossglockner climb. The date is July 19th.

The Alpine Trial

It now seems fairly certain that the Alpine Trial will take place this year, but I am quite prepared for another crisis to have arisen before these lines appear in print. A route of 1,400 miles has been planned by the A.C. de Suisse. The daily stages will be as follow : First day, Lucerne to Lugano, via the Klausen, Oberalp and Lukmanier, distance 210 miles. Second day, Lugano to St. Moritz, via the San

Bernardino, Fluela, Ofen, Umbrial and Bernina, distance 195 miles. Third day, St. Moritz to Thin, via the Albula, Julier, Splugen, San Bernardin, St. Gotthard, Furka, and Grimsel, distance 288 miles. Fourth day, Thun to Lausanne, via the Schallenburg, Villars, 011en, Col des Mosses, and Col du Pillon, distance 283 miles. Fifth day, Lausanne to Basle, via Col du Marchairez, Col du Mollendruz, Manborget, Col des Bayaxds, the Wessenstein Pass, and Passwang, distance 224 miles. Sixth day, Basle to Interlaken, via Saignelegier, Mont Chasserel, Scheltenpass and Brunig Pass, distance 240 miles.

A day of rest will come in the middle of the trial, to enable competitors to witness the Grand Prix de Suisse, on the Circuit de Bremgarten at Berne.