ANGLO-NORWEGIAN VICTORY IN ITALY FIRST BLOOD TO E.R.A. IN 1,500 cc. RACING SEASON
The 1,500 c.c. race held in Turin on April 18th was particularly interesting in that it was the first clash of this season between those stern rivals, E.R.A. and Maserati. That the British make won is a very pleasant opening to the year’s racing.
On paper the odds were all in favour of the Italians, for there were no less than thirteen Maseratis against but three E.R.A.s, and moreover the Maseratis were led by the formidable Rene Dreyfus. The E.R.A. drivers were Prince Birabongse, Reggie Tongue, and Eugene Bjornstadt, the well known Norwegian driver who has recently acquired his British car.
The race was held in the Valentino Park, in Italy’s “Birmingham,” and naturally attracted a vast crowd, for it was to be followed by a race for Grand Prix bolides. It was a gloriously hot day, and the conditions were ideal when the Crown Prince of Italy lowered the starting flag and permitted the serried ranks of racing-cars to leap into animation.
The start was a pretty little object lesson in a well known Continental stratagem. The front row consisted of Birabongse on the E.R.A. and Dreyfus and Bianco on Maseratis. When the flag fell, the two last-named shot ahead, with Bianco in front. When Birabongse got into his stride, after a lap or so, he tried unavailingly to pass Dreyfus, waving his hands to the so-called flag marshals. Meanwhile, of course, Bianco was forging ahead with a clear track in front of him. On the fourth lap, however, Dreyfus let the Siamese go by, and the latter therefore set about reducing Bianco’s lead. It took him five laps to catch the
Maserati, and then the same old hectic business of trying to pass began all over again. The flag marshal steadily looked in the opposite direction whenever the cars approached, and the whole affair was a thoroughly bad piece of flagrant baulking. As for Birabongse, he saw for the first time the real meaning of the saying ” When in Rome do as Rome does “-only this happened to be Turin. If it had not been for the fact that Trossi and Farina, who were watching the race, both protested vigorously against the unfair tactics adopted by Bianco, one would be inclined to regard the Italians as the most unsporting people on earth. As it was, the officials took no notice of the protests, and left Birabongse to fight his own battles.
For fifteen laps the chase went on, and then at last Birabongse got by. That he had been held back was obvious, because he immediately drew ahead and was soon leading by 17 secs. Alas, his triumph was not to last long, for the gearbox of the blue E.R.A. gave out after the strain of prolonged ill-usage during the scrap with Bianco. All this while a series of excellent duels had been going on in the rear, unnoticed by the crowd. Dreyfus was pressed hard by Bjornstadt and Tongue on the remaining E.R.A. When Birabongse retired it looked as though the Maseratis would win after all, but by a magnificent spurt the Norwegian succeeded in passing both the Italian cars. Tongue was closing in, too, but he had been playing too much of a waiting game and could not hope to catch both his rivals. Excitement rose in the last few laps when Dreyfus passed Bianco, driving like fury in chase of the fleet Bjornstadt, but
it was not to be, and the Anglo-Norwegian combination, gained a clear-cut victory. Tongue passed Bianco before the finish, and thus gained a well deserved place.
1. Bjornstadt (F.R.A.). Speed 55.78 m.p.h.
2. Dreyfus (Maserati).
3. Tongue (E.R.A.).
4. Bianco, relieved by Rovere (Maserati). The Turin race for big cars will chiefly be remembered for the fact that Tazio Nuvolari crashed badly in practice, skidding into a statue in the Valentino
Park. At first it was thought that the Italian champion was seriously injured, but the latest reports indicate that he Is well on the road to recovery. Nuvolari’s place was taken by Pintacuda, and the entry read almost like a
list of Ferrari drivers. In actual fact, Pintacuda., Trossi, Brivio and Farina represented the Scuderia Ferrari, and were opposed by some more or less obsolete Alias and Maseratis. For this reason the race lacked interest, both for the spectators and the drivers, who seemed almost bored by the proceedings. It was hoped that Wimille would offer some resistance with his 3.3-litre Bugatti, but a broken oil pipe put him out of the
race. All the Ferrari Alfas except Brivio’s were troubled with boiling, and made stops for water. The result was that Brivio ran out an easy winner.
1. Brivio (Alfa-Romeo). Speed 58.33 m.p.h.
2. Farina (Alfa-Romeo).
3. Trossi (Alfa-Romeo).
4. Pintacuda (Alfa-Romeo).
5. Magistri (Alfa-Romeo).
6. Ventidue (Alfa-Romeo).
7. Mandirola (Maserati).
8. Festitich (Maserati).