LES 24 HEURES DU MANS
LES 24 HEURES DU MANS
VICTORY FOR BUGATTI AT RECORD SPEED. IMPRESSIVE DISPLAY BY NEW LAGONDAS. H.R.G. WINS 14-LITRE CLASS. GORDINI’S WONDERFUL SIMCA-FIAT
NE of the best races for years-was the general verdict of regular visitors to the Grand Prix d’Endurance which has been held here yesterday and to-day. It started with a magnificent duel between three or four cars which lasted for many hours ; there were incidents and accidents full of drama in which nobody was badly hurt ; big green British cars thundered round the course with the utmost regularity, as in days of old ; the dashing driving of Louis Gerard was a tonic in itself ; the race was run at record speed ; a new lap record was set up ; and the engine trouble of the Delage when it was leading by several laps after 20 of the 24 hours, thereby letting the Bugatti into the lead, could only be described as a coup de theatre. The weighing and scrutineering of the cars took place in the Halle aux Toiles last Tuesday and Wednesday. There were few queries or delays. Earl Howe, acting as the R.A.C. representative on the A.I.A.C.R., spotted that the Adlers lacked the proper provision for sealing the petrol tank, and quite rightly insisted upon this being made. The interest on the second day centred on whether the Bugatti and Sommer’s Alfa would get there in time. Sommer was reported to be having a terrible time getting through from Italy over the Mont Cenis Pass which was snow-covered. He himself turned up, looking quite fresh and fit, at about 2 o’clock, and at a quarter to four (4 o’clock was the deadline), his red Alfa saloon was pushed into the hall. Immediately after came the
huge, tank-like Bugatti, and so all was well. The engine size of the Alfa had not been declared, and there was some doubt as to whether it was the new twelvecylinder di-litre, an eight-cylinder 8-litre, or a new 2i-litre “six.” Actually, of course, it was a 2.4-litre, fitted with a beautiful streamlined saloon body, painted bright red. Exactly the same type of
body was used on Prince SchaumbergLippe’s B.M.W. The Bugatti turned out to be a colossal affair, its streamlining being no doubt very efficient, but not too easy on the eyes. It was obviously very well prepared. An unusual feature
was a spotlight set into the side of the body on the right-hand side, pointing diagonally towards the kerb. The groo’ve in which it was placed was covered with a tale window, so that it did not spoil the smooth contour of the body. The few days before the race passed pleasantly enough. All the hotels in Le Mans were full ; the big shots staying at the Paris, the Lagondas being garaged in the yard of the Moderne as the Bentleys were ten years ago, the Adlers and the Jones-Wilkins Singer at the Central, the Barnes-Wisdom equipe at the Auberge, the Aston-Martin and Morgan crews at the Ifs. Practice was done every night between l a.m. and C a.m., and gossip, about it was discussed at Gruber’s and the
Hippodrome. And what gossip I’ L’affaire Shrubsall kept everyone in. suspense until Lord Howe returned from. Paris to sit in conclave with the Cornmissaires Sportifs, who decided that it would be better if he did not start. This. meant that a general switch round in the Darracq entries. Shrubsall’s car was. a dark red two-seater identical with the one shown at Earl’s Court last October, and he was to have shared the driving of it with Antony Heal. Instead, this car was driven by Heide and Schumann, and Bradley, the son of that famous journalist, W. P. Bradley, was called from Paris to share No. 7 Darracq with Morel. Meanwhile Lord Selsdon was dazzling everyone at Gruber’s with his red cap, shirt of another shade of red, and tie of yet another—to say nothing of his bright blue trousers. The weather was very pleasant as the time of the start drew near on Saturday afternoon, with high clouds motionless in a blue sky. Gradually the road was cleared of all unessential people, like the writer, the drivers stood in their little rings painted opposite their cars, and at last M. Charles Paroux raised and lowered the tricolour. There was a pattering of feet, a frantic getting into of cockpits. and pressing of starter buttons, and almost immediately the first car was away. Very gratifying it was to see that it was Arthur Dobson on No. 5 Lagonda, and
he disappeared round the curve beyond the pits followed by Chinetti (Darracq) and the Bugatti, Wimille up. There were two unfortunates, Belle-Croix found that the gears of his Delahaye would not engage for some time, and Bonneau’s M.G. took several minutes to get away.
All eyes were turned towards the end of the straight leading to the stands, while the announcer told us that Chinetti had passed Dobson at Mulsanne. Soon a speck appeared, grew rapidly nearer and Chinetti’s blue Darracq swished by followed at a decent interval by Dobson, Mazaud (Delahaye), Wimille (Bugatti), Le Begue (Darracq), and Gerard (Delage). Next time round Chinetti was still leading, but Gerard had moved up into second place and Dobson had dropped back to sixth. On the third lap Gerard took the lead, with Chinetti second, Wimille third, Mazaud fourth and Le Begue fifth. Lapping at 93 m.p.h, Gerard went right ahead on the new Delage, driving
superbly and cornering with all his wellknown vigour. Wimille passed Chinetti for a few minutes, but before the first hour was out he had fallen back to fourth place behind Mazaud and Paul on their Dela.hayes, who were lying second and third respectively, while Chinetti was fifth, Heide sixth and Le Begue seventh.
Then Mazaud decided to set about Gerard. Lap by lap he gained on the blue Delage, and soon after six o’clock he caught up and passed it. In doing so he broke the previous lap record of S minutes 13 seconds, set up by Benoist on a 3.3-litre Bugatti in 1937, with a new time of 5 minutes 12.1 seconds <90 m.p.h.) which is pretty good going for an unblown 3i-litre car. ; We will leave Mazaud and Gerard fighting it out for a moment, and see how the other people were getting on. The biggest surprise came when the single Adler (the second one had blown up in practice) came into the pits after 45 minutes and retired with an unspecified
mechanical trouble. Selsdon made a quick stop at the pits for some sort of consultation, and Heide was at the pits for some time while a broken push-rod was replaced. Dobson was going nicely, not hurrying, and was lapped by Gerard in 18 laps. Sommer came into the pits with the Alfa, which had been running extraordinarily quietly, at a lap speed of 88 m.p.h. to change some plugs, and at his refuelling stop after 24 laps the car was stationary for an hour while the gasket was changed. The necessary seat adjustments to allow for the difference in height of Sommer and ” Bira ” were made, and the Siamese took over. In practice he had suffered from car-sickness and an electric fan had been installed to assist ventilation. At about this time Charles Paroux appeared with the black flag and waved it at Tremoulet’s Darracq. But he neglected to hold up the car’s number, and Tremoulet took no notice. Several times he came by while everyone in his pit, including the very charming Mme. Forestier, stood up and yelled at him. At last he came in, and then it was seen that his car was fairly dripping with oil, which had been making things very difficult for other drivers all round the coarse. So difficult, indeed, that poor little Mine. flier crashcd quite badly at Arnage, turning her Simca-Fiat right over and giving herself painful bruises and
no less painful shock. Another SirucaFiat carne to grief on the curve beyond the pits, the driver being Briellet, who won the 1,100 c.c. class in the T.T. at Dollington last year. The car clipped the inside of the .corner, swung round sideways, travelled like that for some distance (miraculously not turning over) fetched up against the outside fence with Such a thud that Breillet was hurled out of the eockpit, and then bounced back into the fairway, which is fortunately very wide at this point.
Night fell with a tremendous scrap still going on between the Gerard-Monneret Deluge, the Mazaud-Aloligin Delahaye and the Chinetti-Mat Ii eson Darracq all of which led in turn as the refuelling stops altered the order. The lights in the pits were switched on, and electric torches flashed at drivers who failed to turn on their headlights at W30 At 10 o’clock, after a quarter of the race, the order was :
1. Chtnettl-Mathicson (Diurnal), 65 laps.
2. Mazaud-Mengln (Delahaye), 21s. behind.
3. Gerard-Monneret (1)elage),23.9s. behind.
4. Wimille-VeyrOn (Biagatt1), I lap behind.
5. Loyer-Hug (Pelage), 2 laps behind.
6. Contet-Brunet (Delatinye), 3 laps behind.
7. Chaboud-Girand-Cabantous (1)elahaye), 3 laps behind.
8. Dobson-Brackenbury,(Lagnnda), 4 laps behind.
9. Le Begue-Levegh (Darracq), 5 laps behind.
10. Villeneuve-Biolay Melahaye), 6 laps behind.
11. Chotard-Sevlair (Delahs.ye), 6 laps behind.
12. Selsdon-Waleran (Legends), 6 laps behind.
At about 11 o’clock we took a few lap times, with the following results : Wimille (Bugatti), 5.31 (90.362 m.p.h.) ; Gerard (Delage) 5,27 (92,290 m.p.h.) ; Dobson (Lagoluia) 6.0 (83.836 m.p.h.) ; and Lord Waleran (Lagonda), 6.11 (81.35 m.p.h.). When we left the stands last night Raymond Sommer was in at the pits again with the Alfa-Romeo, this time pouring buckets of water over its rear brakes, from which clouds of steam arose. Then we made our way to the car park and drove by devious ways to Arnage. Here there was a good crowd lining the fence beside the road, and the ears made a fine sight as they braked for the corner and swung into the straight back to White House and the pits. The Bugatti was
using its spotlight, and very effective it seemed in illuminating the inside of the right-hand swerve before the headlights had time to shine round the corner. We stumbled along in the pitch darkness to the preceding corner, called indianopolis owing to its brick surface, and this was even better, for the cars approached it faster. Back at Arnage we had a. final drink in a crowded tent lit by oil-lamps, and so back to bed at Le Mans. We returned to the course next morning wondering what we should find. There was lots of news when we got there. Most important of all was the fact that the Delage was now leading by a street from the Bugatti, and was still going like a flash. But the two others of the four leading cars of the night before were both out of the race. At about 2 o’clock
the Mazaud-Mongin • Delahaye took fire while it was approaching the pits from the White House. The driver kept going, realising that his only hope lay in reaching fire-extinguishers. He pulled up in front of the Morgan pits, but it was too late. He himself was unhurt, but the fire had taken such a hold that it was all people could do to stop the petrol tank from blowing up, let alone save the car. This retirement had altered the position of the leaders a bit, and at 4 a.m. twelve hours after the start and half-way through the race, the order had been
1. Gerard-Monneret (Delage), 129 laps in 11h. 58m. 41.8e.
2. Mathieson-Chinetti (Darracq), 128 laps in 11h. 55m. 26s.
3. Wimille-Veyron (Bugatti), 128 laps in 1111. 56m. 13s.
4. Loyer-Bug (Delage), 2 laps behind.
5. Contet-Brunet (Delahaye), 7 laps behind.
6. Dobeon-Brackenbury (Lagonda), 8 laps behind .
7. Selsdon-Waleran ciatg.onda ,) 11 laps behind.
8. Prince Schaumberg Lippe-Wenscher (B.M.W.) 18 laps behind.
9. Villeneuve-Biolay (Delabaye), 14 laps behind.
10. Roese-Heinemaun (B.M.W.), 15 laps behind.
11. Walker-Connell (Delahaye), 15 laps behind.
12. Briem-Scholz (B.M.W.), 15 laps behind. There had been another accident in the night, and one which might have been very serious. Belle-Croix had for some unaccountable reason swerved while travelling fast along the tree-lined stretch of road at the beginning of the Mulsanne Straight. A hub-cap touched on the the trees, which are extremely thick and strong at this point, and the car spun round. Why it didn’t hit another tree is a miracle. Instead, it plunged between two of them, careered along, turned over, and crashed through a garden up against
the wall of a house. Belle-Croix was taken to hospital at Le Mans, and the worst was feared. However, it turned out that he was not badly hurt at all. Lucky man. The next big change in the order was cuased by Mathieson’s retirement. One of his tyres lost a big chunk out of its tread, and at Terte Rouge, where the new road joins up with the main Tours road, the weakened tyre gave way under the strain. The Darracq skidded across the road smack into a sandbank. There was a report that the Loyer-Hug Delage was on the scene at the same time, but was struck by the Darracq, but Mathieson could not confirm this. He pluckily got out and began the terrible job of digging the car free of the sand. Eventually he succeeded, and then he changed
the wheel. At last he set off once more, but at the end of the Mulsalme Straight he came to rest with mechanical trouble— bad luck after so much work.
This left the Delage safely in the lead, a lead which was increased still more when the Bugatti stopped somewhere on the circuit with a broken wheel, limped back to its pits, and was there for ten minutes before restarting. Arthur Dobson also had quite a long pit stop in order to have his clutch adjustment attended to.
The Alfa-Romeo was still going, but at about 11 o’clock ” Bira ” came in and the car was finally abandoned. Tommy Wisdom and Scott had also withdrawn their Singer, for a most unfortunate reason. The pit fuel tank was full of rust and filth (as indeed were all of them, which was a bad thing) and a lot of it got into the Singer’s fuel system. In cleaning this out they lost so much fuel that the car ran out of petrol after doing 23 of its specified 24 laps allowed between each refuel. The Aston-Martin went sick with valve trouble, and it was decided to keep going on three cylinders in the hope of qualifying. The Morgan and the H.R.G. were still going strong. Twelve o’clock came, four hours to go, and with it a dramatic change in the outlook. At this time the race seemed a certainty for the Gerard-Monneret Delage, which was nearly two laps ahead of the Bugatti. True, Wimille had speeded up a bit, and was clipping off about 3 seconds a lap from the Delage’s lead, but he could never hope to win at that rate. Then the Delage pulled into the
pits. The bonnet was raised, plugs changed, and the car set off again—misfiring. Into the pits on the next lap, a consultation, and the seconds ticked by. The Bugatti had already gained one of its laps, and now it was due round again. The big blue car came into sight, swished up the straight and past the stationary Delage to take the lead. Gerard got going again, but still misfiring, and the most he could hope for now was second place. There is little more to record. The H.R.G., after a splendid run, developed engine trouble a couple of hours from the end, but it kept going as the leader of the 1,500 c.c. class. The Morgan was quite monotonously consistent. And here it is time we said something about the Simca-Fiats of Gordini, one of which he drove himself, which were doing simply amazing things, lapping at about 80
m.p.h. The B.M.W.s, too, were marvellous, the little streamlined saloon being the faster of the trio and frequently lapping at 87-88 m.p.h.
And so the end came, rather inconsequently, as is the way with Le Mans, without any chequered flag for the winner, but a quiet flagging in of each and every competitor as soon as the 24 hours was. up. The French crowd were obviously delighted at the double French victory, as well as with Gordini’s winning of the Rudge Cup, but they gave a rousing cheer to the Lagondas, the B.M.W.s, the AstonMartin, the H.R.G. and its pipe-smoking driver, and the unobtrusive little Morgan. RES1TLTS
Grand Prix D’Endu.ranee : 1, Wimille-Veyrou (Bugatti), 2,083 miles at 86.8 m.p.h. (New record. Previous beat 85.13 m.p.h.): 2, Gerard-Monneret (Delage), 85.7 m.p.h.; 3, Dobson-Brackenbury (Lagonda), 83.5 m.p.h. ; 4, Lord Seisdon-Lord Waleran (Lagonda), 83.3 m.p.h. ; 5, Prince Schaumberg-Lippe-Wenscher (B.M.W.), 82.5 m.p.h.; 6, Villeneuve-Biolay (Delahaye) ; 7, Roese-Heinemann (B.M.W.) ; 8, Walker-Connell (Delahaye) ; 9, BrainScholz (B.M.W.) ; 10, Gordini-Scaron (Simca-Fiat) ; 11, Chotard-Seylair (Delahaye) ; 12, Morris-GoodallHitehens (Aston-Martin); 13, Lapchin-Phmtivaux (Simea-Fiat) ; 14, Clarke-Chambers (H.R.G.) ; 16, White-Anthony (Morgan) ; 16, Vernet-Bodard (Riley); 17, Camerano-Loueau (Stifles-Flat); 18, Jones-Wilkins (Singer)•, 19 Alin-Alin (Simca-Fiat 100). 20, Aime-Leduc (Simca-Fiat 500).
Rudge-Whitworth Biennial Cup : Gordini-Scaron (Simca-Fiat). Class Results Over 5 litres :1, Wimille-Veyron (3.3 supercharged Bugatti), 2,083.3 miles, (86.8 m.p.h.) 5-litres : 1, Dobson-Brackenbury (4,480 c.c. Lagonda), 2,000.5 miles, (83.5 m.p.h.); 2, SeisdonWaleran (4,480 c.c. Lagonda), 1,999.4 miles, (88.3 m.p.h.); 3, Walker-Connell (3,5’75 c.c. Delahaye), 1,875.9 miles (78.1 m.p.h.) ; 4, Chotard-Seylair (Delahaye), 1703.3 miles (70.9 m.p.h.);
8-litres: 1, Gerard-Monneret (2981 0.0Delage), 2,056.9 miles (85.7 m.p.h.). 2-litres : 1, Schaumberg-Lippe-Wenscher 1,976 c.c. B.M.W.), 1,980 miles (82.6 m.p.h.) •, 2, RoeseHeinemann (1,976 c.c. B.M.W.), 1,926.3 miles (80.2 m.p.h.); 3, Bricin-Scholz (1,976 c.c. B.M.W.), 1,855.6 miles (77.3 m.p.h.)•, 4, Hitchens, Morris Goodall (1,969 c.c. Aston-Martin), 1654.1 miles (68.9 m.p.h.) 1}-litres: 1, Clark-Chambers (1,496 c.c. H.R.G.), 1,611.8 miles (67 m.p.h.); 2. White-Anthony (1,104 c.c. Morgan), 1545.8 miles (64.4 m.p.h.) ; 3, VernetBodard (1,496 c.c. Riley) 1,609.4 miles (62.8 m.p.h.)
1,100 c.c. 1, Gordini-Scaron (1,087 c.c. SimcaFlat), 1,789.7 miles (74.7 m.p.h.); 2, LapchinPnativaux (1,087 c.c. Sims-Fiat), 1,638.2 miles (68.2 m.p.h.); 8, Camemno-Louveau (1,087 c.c. Simea-Fiat) 1,371.6 miles (57.1 m.p.h.); 4, WilkinsJones (072 c.c. Singer), 1,296 miles (54 m.p.h.).
750 o.e. : 1, Alin-Alin (570 0.0. Simca-Fiat), 1,239.7 miles (51.6 m.p.h.) ; 2, Aime-Leduc (570 c.c. 81111C4tFiat), 1,232.1 miles (51.8 m.p.h.). Fastest Lap (record) : Maraud (2,576 c.c. Delahaye),, 5m. 12.1s., (96.74 m.p.h.)