Crowd trouble at some football matches seems to be on the increase, but this unhappy trend is not, thank goodness, seen at motor races,where far larger and equally partisan crowds assemble. However, on my new theme, it did happen at the now desolate Miramas circuit in southern France in 1927, where the GP de Provence was held. The morning races, run in heavy rain, were won by Chiron and Lehoux in Bugattis, Moriceau in a Talbot and, fastest of all, Morel in a supercharged 1200cc single-seater Amilcar (73mph) and all went off alright.
But before the final for the Hartford Cup, with all these top cars expected to run, the spectators became restive when managers protested the dangerous conditions and could not decide whether or not to withdraw their cars. With no information being given out, trouble resulted. Benoist went off in the Delage for a warm-up lap, and found the course blocked with spectators’ cars; trying to stop he broadsided the fast-travelling GP car but it hit Duray’s Amilcar and the great Robert Benoist was slightly injured.
Instead of the expected 17 qualifiers, only a dozen of them started, the Delage, the Talbot team and a fast Amilcar failing to appear. At this the crowd invaded the track and stopped the race. The Talbot garage was stormed and cars on the track damaged. Pray, never again!