ANOTHER ” ROUND-THE-TOWN ” RACE
THE FIRST GRAND PRIX OF NIMES
WHEN the Automobile Club of Monaco announced their proposal, four years ago, of running a motor race in the town itself, there were many who were sceptical of its practicability. When the venture was crowned with amazing success, they merely said that Monte Carlo was different to other places, and that the same sort of thing could not be done elsewhere.
However, these critics have been confounded, for it can and has been done elsewhere, and on May 16th the Grand Prix of Nimes was held.
After much argument and opposition, the enterprising organisers of this event, the Auto Club du Gard got their way, and another race in a town was held.
The quality of the entry was enough to satisfy the most particular, and an enormous crowd assembled to watch the event, and if it had not rained in the early pa:t of the day the crowd would have been even bigger. However, the weather soon cleared up and by the time the Grand Prix, which was the chief event, was run, it was dry once more. In the class events, which were run previously, it is interesting to note another victory in the 1,100 c c. class for Scaron ‘s Amilcar, while another very popular win was that of Mme. Itier (Bugatti), who led her class from start to finish and never made a false move.
The Grand Prix saw 11 cars on the line. Etancelin (Alfa-Romeo) was dogged by bad luck. He became involved at the start in a mild collison with another car, and by the time he was disentangled and a wheel changed he was three laps behind, and unable to make it up.
Incidentally, anyone who has witnessed the concentrated fury of a massed start of modern racing cars must wonder at the skill of drivers in rendering such an incident so unusual. The race was over 70 laps of the circuit,
totalling 203 kilometres. Their appetites whetted by the excellent series of short races which they had already witnessed, the huge crowd watched the terrific getaway of the racers, with Chiron in the lead, but as they all tore for the first corner, two cars could be seen locked together, and officials frantically signalled the other cars to slow down to clear them.
It was then learnt that Canin had collided with Etancelin, Lansing the delay mentioned above. The latter was delayed 3 laps while the cars were parted, while the former had to retire with a seized brake, which was apparently the cause of the accident.
To add to the general excitement, jamy’s Bugatti caught tire, and although it was rapidly extinguished, he had to retire.
. After 3 laps Chiron still held his Bugatti in the lead, 10 secs. in front of Benoit, but at 10 laps the order was Clifton, 13m. 4s. (133.16 k.p.h.), Benoit (Bugatti) 13m. 4 1/5s., Dreyfus (Maserati) 13m. 37s., and then Czaikowski (Bugatti) and Druck (Bugatti). Then on the 11th lap came the great change in the race. Chiron drew in to his pit and waved his hands. ” C’est lini.” An oil pipe had broken and Benoit was in the lead,—a comfortable lead for a race of this sort of over 30 seconds !
As a result the pace eased ever so slightly, dropping from 133 k.p.h. for the lap to 129 k.p.h. on the 15th lap. At 20 laps Benoit led from Dreyfus by 14 seconds, while a lap behind came Czaikowski, then Druck, then Etancelin, doing his utmost to make up the lost laps and thrilling the crowd by his driving. It was not Alfa’s day out, however, and he was unable to cut down the lead. Dreyfus took up the fight to bring an Italian car into the lead, and on the 29th lap Benoit increased his pace once more and lapped at 137.36 k.p.h. (just over
85 m.p.h.) and managed to lead Dreyfus by 38 secs, At 40 laps he led by 42 secs., and in the thrill of this relentless chase the others were for the moment forgotten. Druck fell back, but no one seemed to notice the fact, although it meant Etancelin was now in fourth place, behind Czaikowski. But EtancelM’s delay and Chiron’s retirement had robbed the race of interest apart from the struggle for the lead, when the slightest mistake would let the Maserati into first place.
After 50 laps Benoit was only 31 secs. ahead, his time being Ih. 6m. 31s., and Dreyfus was driving a magnificent race in his endeavour to catch him. In such a race, however, between two such cars and drivers, half a minute might have been half an hour for all the chance Benoit gave him of catching up. 10 laps later the gap was down to 26 secs., this after 1 hour and 20 minutes running, while Etancelin had almost Ought Czaikowski.
Then the authorities announced that Druck had been called in and excluded from the race for going to get a wheel from his pit, when the regulations forbade any repairs except with what was carried on the car.
Now it was evident that Benoit was an almost certain victor, and after 1 hour 33 mins. 28 2,/5 secs, he crossed the line winner of the first Grand Prix. of Nimes at an average speed of over 80 miles an hour.
The cheering crowds swarmed over the course to welcome the winner, and so ended another successful ” race in a town.” The results were :—
1st, Benoit (Bugatti), lh. 33m. 28 2/5S.
Speed 130.307 k.p.h.
2nd, Dreyfus (Maserati).
3rd, Czaikowski (Bugatti).
4th, Etancelin (Alfa-Romeo).
5th, Consinie (Bugatti).