Continental Notes and News, June 1939



ContolneirAta,_ Notes and News


Miniature Mercs.

Well, these Mercedes people have certainly given everybody something to think about. One expected that they would

would eventually produce a l. litre as good, if not better than anyone else’s.

But none of us, I am afraid least of all the Italians, were prepared for such a smashing success as the Mercs. enjoyed at Tripoli with a brand-new model. One is tempted to fall into the depressing thought that if the cars can average over 120 m.p.h. for two hours in the terrific heat at Tripoli, nothing will be able to stop them on other circuits, and that lf-litre races will develop into the usual .German procession we have become

accustomed to in Formula events. But things are not quite so bad as that. An E.R.A.—of an early type—won a race at Avus in the hands of Charles Martin at 119 m.p.h. a couple of years ago. Avus, I know, is a good deal faster than Tripoli for the very fast cars, but the E.R.A. performance is significant and well worth recalling, all the same The new E.R.A.S should be a lot faster than Martin’s car and, given thorough preparation, good driving and careful pit-control, there is no reason why they should not be a match for the Mercedes. After a mysterious report from Cologne —which was supposed to come from the usual ” reliable source “—that the Mer cedes would definitely come to England for the Nuffield Trophy at Donington, a

telegram was received by Craner from the Daimler-Benz A.G. at Stuttgart in which they expressed their regrets that they would not be able to come. I since learn that the Mercedes policy this seaon will be to avoid sending the 1,500 c.c. cars to any circuit where the Formula 3-litre cars are due to appear ; hence the Donington decision, and from

which it may be inferred that the Formula cars are definitely corning to the Donington Grand Prix. There is talk of the Swiss Grand Prix at Berne being a 1,500 c.c. race this

year, in which case it would absorb the Prix de Berne race for 11-litres. This would also mean that the Swiss Grand Prix would be a suitable race for the 1,500 c.c. Mercedes-Benz. The Metes., incidentally, seem to be exact replicas of the Grand Prix cars externally, with the exception of some extra louvres on top of the bonnet. Their Vee-eight engines bear a close resemblance to the Vee-twelves of the big’ ears, and the fact that the whole car is a scaled down version of the 3-litre probably accounts to a large degree for the apparent absence of any teething

troubles. I say apparent, because although it has been stated that the Cars were designed and built within the space of two months, no one has any real proof of this. It is more likely that cars have been gradually developed for much longer than that. As for their Italian rivals, the Alfettes simply lacked the necessary speed, and broke themselves in trying to keep up the pace set by the Germans. Did you notice that only one of the six that started finished in the first ten ? Whether they will be able to find the extra horses remains to be seen. Already there is talk of their building a new 24 cylinder car. It is through a multiplicity of cylinders, I believe, that future development in engines lies. In the meantime it is always possible that they will be able to boost up the present straight

eight a bit. In all other respects the Aliettes are perfect. It is just a matter of speed.

It was a bitter day for the Maserati brothers, with all three works cars going out on the first lap. Villoresi’s fate was the most regrettable, because his gearbox trouble developed at the start and he never got going at all. His fully streamlined car had made the fastest practice lap at 134. m.p.h., and might have served the purpose of breaking up the Metes.

by setting a really hot pace. The Maserati cup was filled to the brim when both Trossi and Cortese suffered broken pistons on the very first lap. However, I doubt whether either of these cars were as fast as the Mercs., and even if they had kept going they would not have been able to press them sufficiently to cause them to hurry, as Villoresi might have been able to do. The result of the race, I understand, has led the Maserati brothers to consider the idea of making a new 6-cylinder car. Before leaving the subject of Tripoli, it is worth recalling a few previous performances on this circuit, which will serve to put the miniature Metes, in their true perspective. The most similar speed of a winner in bygone years was Caracciola’s in 1935, when he drove a Mercedes to victory at 122.03 m.p.h., as compared with Lang’s 122.9 ni.p.h. this year on the 1I-litre car. The year before that Varzi averaged 115.41 m.p.h. on a 2.9-litre Alfa, and in 1933 Tani again won, this time with a 2.3litre Bugatti, at 104.7m,p.h. Speeds faster than Lang’s, on the 1I-litre, are his own in 1938 with a 3-litre Mercedes at 127.45 m.p.h., his own again in 1937 with a -litre Mercedes at 134.42 m.p.h., and arzi’s with a 5i-litre Mercedes in 1936 at 129.62 m.p.h. The fastest lap ever recorded at Tripoli was made by Stuck (Auto-Union) in 1937 at 142.3 m.p.h. Last year Lang did 136.8 m.p.h. on a 8-litre Mercedes, and this year his best was 130 in.p,h. Last year, also, there was a race for 1,500 c.c. cars which was won by Taruffi on a Maserati at 110

As someone Once remarked, time marches on . .

Goings-on at Montlhery

It is a funny thing, when you come to think of it, that Montlhery has not been used more as a race track. After all, it is no farther from Paris than Brooklands is from London, and there are plenty of racing and sports-cars in

France. One would have thought that there would be no difficulty in getting enough entries for several meetings a year on the lines of the B.A.R.C. affairs.

An attempt in this direction has been made, of course, by the Independent Drivers’ Association, but they still do not have the programme of eight or nine short races that is so successful at Brooklands. On May 7th, for example, they held a meeting which comprised three races, all of them fairly long.

It began with the SportingCommittee Cup Race for sports-cars, in which Gordini scored a narrow win with his 1,100 c.c. Simca-Fiat, finishing one second ahead of Brunot’s 1,500 c.c. Riley in the general classification, these two being a minute and half ahead of Herkuleyns, the Dutch M.G. driver. After this Raymond Sommer took out his 2.9-litre Alfa-Romeo on to the piste de vilesse (the other races were on a short road-cum-track circuit of 3.3 kilometres) and proceeded to attack Mrs. Stewart’s long-standing lap-record. In this he was eminently successful, clocking 148.44 which struck me as being pretty good going for a road-racing Alfa of several years of age. It also reminds us of how extremely fast Montlhery is as a track, and stirs up interest as to owlat. a Grand Prix Mercedes could do n it

Then came the Coupe de Paris, fcr racing cars, in which Sommer, with a nicely warmed-up engine, had a tremendous scrap with Wimille on the 4.9-litre latest type Formula Bugatti. The two of them went at it hammer and tongs, and at half time the Bugatti was a couple of seconds ahead. Behind them Lebegue and Carriere were both going well on Darracqs, with the rest of the field of Delaha.yes and Datracqs strung out. After half-way Sommer fell back a few yards—there was never very much in it—and at the end he was about ten seconds astern of Wimille. Lebegue did extraordinarily well to finish 36 seconds behind Sonuner after three-quarters of an hour of hectic racing. The final event came as an anti-climax, for the competitors were the leaders in. a rally which finished at the track. The winner was a Fiat ” mouse “—on Formula, of course—with Contet’s Delabaye and Sommer’s Alfa third The future of Montlhery is a bit un

certain at the moment. It has been officially taken over by the French Government for the purposes of national defence, but exactly what those purposes are no One seems to know. Presumably it will be used as testing and training ground for mechanised units of the army. Judging by the wobbling and general uncertainity of sOme army motor-cyclists I saw at Versailles last year, this should fill a ” long-felt want.” Beyond the Coupe de Paris meeting and the 12 Heures de Paris race to be held on September 10th, Montthery is

rather dead these days. I wonder whether the ” Dome Heures ” will be held now.

Joie de Vivre

I was talking the other day to a wellknown motorist who took part in the Paris-Nice Rally one week and the British R.A.C. Rally the next. He said the difference between the respective road sections was perfectly astounding. In the Paris-Nice all the’ competitors (who have previously been timed over the flying lap at Montlhery) are lined up in pairs on the main road at a little village on the outskirts of Paris, beyond which is the open country. The start is given to all the competitors simultaneously by the firing of a maroon—just like a Grand Prix. None of that half-minute interval business. Prom there to Grenoble, where there is a check which you can reach as early as you like, it is one long race. For the first few miles there is a lot of jockeying and jostling, with an occasional Darracq or Delahaye going by with a ” whoof.” Then the field strings out and each driver gets down to the job of packing as many kilometres into an hour as he can. Last year, for example, Lebegue, on a Darracq averaged 72 m.p.h. from the start at Boissy St. Leger to Grenoble. Take a look at the map, if

you haven’t been over the road before, and you’ll see what that means. The R.A.C. Rally. of course, is a very

different matter. My friend told me that after averaging 53 m.p.h. from his starting control to Scarborough, which he reached at 2 a.m., he went to bed for six hours before checking in ! And that was supposed to be the ” all alight ” run.


As predicted, the 2-litre sports-car race over a four mile circuit in the City Park at Hamburg on May 7th was won by B.M.W.s, who took first, second and third places. The race started with a terrific battle in which H. J. Aldington got the better of his rivals and was leading at quarter-distance. He was being pressed all the way, however, and about half-way through the race he unfortunately crashed rather badly on a corner. The car turned right over and was smashed up, but Aldington luckily escaped with no more than bruises and a shaking. In extenuation of what must be his first incident of this sort in a distinguished driving career, it is only fair to point out that Aldington arrived at

Hamburg shortly before the race and had had very little practice on a tricky circuit.

In the 1,500 c.c. race an M.G. put it across a whole pack of B.M.W.s to win at 70.8 m.p.h., which was quite gratifying to a handful of British spectators.

. . . sloppetl

The Grand Prix of Finland—Elaintarhanajo-Djurdgard-Sloppet—did not attract the German cars after all. You will remember that it was thought that as Caracciola and Lang were going to Tripoli on the same day, Seaman and Von Brauthitsch might go to Finland with the Formula cars.

As it turned out, a local boy in A. Westerblom made good with an AlfaRomeo which he drove to victory at 63 m.p.h. The slow speed is partly accounted for by the fact that the circuit was short –only a mile and a quarter—twisty and hilly.

There was also a race for sportswagens which was won by the inevitable B.M.W., this one being driven by IT. Richter, who averaged–mirabile dictu—the same speed as the Grand Prix winner.

And that will be all to-day, thank you.