FANTASTIC SPEEDS IN TRIPOLI GRAND PRIX
VARZI (AUTO-UNION) HARD PRESSED BY STUCK, WINS AT 128.2 M.P.H. ITALIAN ACE ALSO SCORES RECORD LAP AT 141.3 M.P.H. MERCEDES-BENZ TAKE THIRD AND FOURTH PLACES
The Mellaha circuit, built with funds derived from the gigantic sweepstake organised in connection with the Tripoli Grand Prix, is undoubtedly the fastest road-course in the world, last year’s race being won by Caracciola on his Mercedes-Benz at a speed of 122.9 m.p.h. This year Varzi repeating his successes of 1934 and 1935, pushed the speed still higher, while the leadership changed no less than ten times during the course of the forty laps. Tyres must always be a problem at such elevated speeds and the Germans brought with them no less than 300 covers. Oddly enough the most powerful cars in the race, the 6k-litre Auto-Unions got through with fewest tyre-changes, Varzi completing the race with only three replacements, while the Alfa team made incessant stops. This result is due partly to Varzi’s driving skill and partly to the concentration of weight on the rear wheels of the Auto-Unions. With no weight-limit to conform to, incidentally, several of the cars weighed close on 1,000
kg. The rear tyres were of course, immense, the nominal measurement of those fitted to the German cars being 22 by 7. The starters numbered twenty-five, of which a considerable number were “inde pendents.” Of the teams, Auto-Union was represented by Varzi, Stuck, and Rosemeyer, all of whom were driving the ponderous 61-litre cars. Caracciola, Chiron, Fagioli and Brauchitsch, a formidable four, formed the Mercedes-Benz
team. They drove the new low-built cars, which had chassis fifteen inches shorter than the old pattern, and eightcylinder 4,250 c.c. engines.
The Italian hopes were centred principally in the new 4.1-litre 12-cylinder Alfa-Romeos, which were entrusted to Nuvolari, Brivio, and Tadini, while Pintacuda drove one of the 3.9-litre eights. Maserati took no official part in proceedings. Etancelin was the most formidable of the independent drivers. During practice Nuvolari had yet another of his miraculous escapes from death. He punctured a tyre on the rough stones which border the road, and the car turned completely over. He escaped with slight injuries to the back, not serious
but sufficient to keep him in bed for a time.
Fastest times made in the practices were Stuck (Auto-Union) 3m. 40s., Caracciola 3m. 41s., and Brivio 3m. 42s., but Rosemeyer slipped in a final round of Bin. 33s., which considerable damaged last year’s record. A strong westerly wind on the race-day made conditions unpleasant for the drivers, but it was at any rate better than the ghibli, which blows straight off the
desert. The immense concrete stands were packed to capacity, not the least enthusiastic of the spectators being those who had drawn drivers in the sweep and who had been given free passages from Italy.
A terrific reception was given to Nuvolari, who had somehow managed to pass the doctor, and was now seen at the wheel of his Alfa. The cars were drawn up in ranks according to the lap-speeds they had put up on the previous day, in the following order :
Rosemeyer (Auto-Union) ; Chiron (Mercedes) ; Varzi (Auto-Union) ; Stuck (Auto-Union); neon (Mercedes) ; Caracciola (Mercedes) ; Brivio (AlfaRomeo) ; Nuvolari (Aim-Romeo); PIntacuda (AlfaRomeo) ; Brauchitsch (Mercedes) ; Cortese (AlfaRomeo) ; Tadini (Alfa-Romeo) ; Seven t (Alfa-Romeo); Oberst (Maserati) ; Siena (Maserati); Etancelin (Maserati) ; Ruesch (Maserati); Battaglia (AimRomeo).; Balestrero (Alfa-Romeo); Magestri (AlfaRomeo) ; Rosa (Alfa-Romeo) ; Barbieri (Alfa-Romeo); Sothetti (Maserati) ; Taruffl (Maserati); Carraroli (Maserati). An almost unbearable sound rent the
air as the twenty-five engines burst into life. Stuck (Auto-Union) was away like a rocket with the fall of the flag, with Chiron (Mercedes-Benz) close behind. Varzi for some reason was slow in starting and was actually last to get away.
There are no long pauses on the 8.1mile circuit and three minutes later the first car came into view. It was Stuck in his Auto-Union, who had lapped in 3m. 33s. or 139.3 m.p.h. from a standing start. 300 yards behind was Rosemeyer, then Nuvolari, Caracciola, Fagioli, Brivio, Chiron, Brauchitsch, Tadini, Varzi and Pintacuda, Ghersi, Siena and Etancelin indicating a well-mixed field which gave every prospect of a hard-fought race. Siena only survived one lap and B alestrero two. Next time round Caratsch ” had overhauled Nuvolari, while Varzi was fighting his way through and had
reached eighth position. A lap later both Fagioli and Brivio had overtaken Nuvolari, who was not at his best after his shaking up, and Varzi gained another place, the next lap he had actually forced his way into third position, while the lead was now taken by the youthful Rosemeyer, speed 132.8 m.p.h. AutoUnions first, second and third.
The order after five laps was therefore Rosemeyer, Stuck, Varzi, Chiron, Brivio, Fagioli, Caracciola, Nuvolari, Brauchitsch, Pintacuda, Etancelin.
With nine laps completed, Brivio and Tadini, both driving 12-cylinder AlfaRomeos, came into the pits for a complete tyre change, and Varzi, whose car had more excuse after his strenuous effort to catch up, was in shortly afterwards, refuelling at the same time. Then came Nuvolari’s turn, which rather suggests that the suspension of the new Alfas is not all that it might be. The tenth lap saw Stuck once more back in the lead. Order at Ten Los
Stuck (Auto-Union) 37m. is. (131.9 m.p.h.).
Rosemeyer (Auto-Union) 37m. 4s.
Varzi (Auto-Union) 37m. 18s.
Chiron (Mercedes-Benz) 37m. 458.
Fagioll (Mercedes-Benz) 38m. 4s.
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz) 38m. 5s.
Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo) 38m. 24s.
Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz) 38m. 39s.
Two laps later there was another abrupt change in the order, for the three Auto-Unions pulled in for tyre changes, allowing the Mercs. to take their places. Then on the sixteenth Fagioli and Pintacuda were in with the same complaint, and Chiron and Caracciola visited the pits a lap later, so that the Auto-Unions once more regained their line ahead formation in front. Varzi lapped in 3 in. 334s. and then 3m. 33s.,. beating Stuck’s lap record, but still remained third.
Barbieri, Rosa and Sommer of the independents had already disappeared from the scene, but the first of tI4 team cars to go was the Mercedes-Benz driven by Brauchitsch, while Rosemeyer’s car caught fire on the eighteenth lap, forcing him to retire. This let Varzi into second place, while Fagioli had overtaken Chiron to take third place, but the Monogasque returned the attack and returned to third on the twentieth lap.
The Alfas were obviously quite a lot slower than the German cars and at the eighteenth Brivio came in for another change of tyres. Nuvolari preferred to drive more cautiously and so kept his treads in better condition. The order at the twentieth lap was as follows :
Stuck (Auto-Union) lh. 15m. 21s. (129.6 m.p.h.).
Varzl (Auto-Union) lb. 15m. 21 As.
Chiron (Mercedes-Benz) lb. 16m. 26.4.
Fa4.oli (Mercedes-Benz) lh. 16m. 27s.
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz) lh. 16m. 58s.
Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo) lb. 18m. 42s.
Brivio (Alfa-Romeo) lb. 19m. Os.
Tadini (Alfa-Romeo) lh. 10m. Os. Four-fifths of a second after 160 miles was racing indeed, and on the twentyfirst lap to the crowd’s delight Varzi clawed his way to the front, only to be passed again two laps later by the relent less Hans Stuck. Two laps later, the German pulled into his pit for a tyre change, then Caracciola, and at the twenty-eighth Pintacuda, Fagioli and Varzi. This reshuffling put Stuck again at the head, but Varzi, who had lost 52 secs. at the pit renewed his attack with vigour. The lap times of the various cars were still close, the Auto-Unions averaging 3m. 40s., the Alfas 3m. 47s., and the Mercs. 3m. 45s., and the final order would be decided on tyre changes more than anything else. At the thirtieth lap the order was as follows :
Stuck (Auto-Union) lh. 53m. 15s. (129.3 m.p.h.).
Varzi (Auto-Union) lh. 53m. 16s.
Fagioli (Mercedes-Benz) lh. 55m. 44s.
Caraeciola (Mercedes-Benz) lh. 56m. 21s.
Nuvolarl (Alfa-Romeo) lh. 67m. 57s.
Tadini (Alfa-Romeo) lh. 59m. 15s.
Brivio (Alfa-Romeo) lh. 59m. 20s.
Pintacuda (Alfa-Romeo) lb. 59m. 33s.
Chiron (Mercedes-Benz) 2h. 4m. 68. The struggle between the two AutoUnion men at this stage became so fierce that the team manager waved them down, and they eased back some ten seconds a lap. On the thirty-third Varzi stopped to change a front tyre, losing 30 seconds, but had enough power in hand to win back 5 seconds in the following lap. Nuvolari was in again and those stout-hearted
independents Cortese and Magestri, who were driving early monoposto Alfas, made frequent calls but carried on in spite of it. With four laps to go Varzi put up a lap in 3m. 35s., and was round with a lead of 15 seconds, much to the annoyance of Stuck, who had been running to team
orders. The next lap they were closer and on the thirty-ninth only a few yards separated them. The crowd was on its feet for that final lap, ready for anything from a blow-up to a dead-heat finish. There was nothing of a staged finish to the race however, for the fiery Varzi kept his foot down hard over those last eight miles and roared over the line with a quarter-of-a-mile to spare after an unbelievable last lap in 3m, 27s., (141.3 m.p.h.). The Auto-Unions had
proved their ability to beat the Mercs in a non-formula race over a fast course, and the Mercs. seemed to have lost some of their stability by the reduction in wheel-base. The new Alfas were not quite fast enough to compete with the German cars, but at any rate all four cars had finished.
1. A. Varzi (6.5-litre Auto-Union) 2h. 31m. 5s (128.9 m.p.h.).
2. 11. Stuck (6.5-litre Auto-Union) 2h. 31m. 29As. (128.9 m.p.h.).
3. L. Fagioll (4.2-litre Mercedes-Benz) 2h 33m. 38s. (127.2 m.p.h.).
4. R. Caracelola (4.2-litre Mercedes-Benz) 2h. 34m. 560. (126.1 m.p.h.).
5. C. Pintacuda (3.9-litre Alfa-Romeo) 39 laps. C. C. Tadini (4.1-litre Alfa-Romeo) 39 laps.
7. A. Brivio (4.1-litre Alfa-Romeo) 39 laps.
8. T. Nuvolari (4.1-litre Alfa-Romeo) 39 laps.
9. L. Chiron (4.2-litre Mercedes-Benz) 37 laps.
10. Battaglia. (2.9-btre Alfa-Romeo) 32 laps. 11. Magestri (2.6-litre Alfa-Romeo) 27.2 lap.s