ANOTHER GRAND PRIX ABANDONED.
Last month we were comforting ourselves for the loss of the French Grand Prix with the thought of a racing car event on the Niirburg Ring. Now, however, we are faced with the news that this race will also be abandoned, owing to inadequate support. This in Germany is tantamount to saying that the organisers realized that the firm of Mercedes-Benz would not send any cars to the starting line. Doctor Porsche, in fact, who used to be with Austro-Daimler, and who is now devoting his engineering genius to Mercedes, has expressed himself dissatisfied with the present racing rules, on the ground that even with a weight limit, engines of unlimited capacity can be made to develop so much power that the cars would be too fast to be held on the road. Under these circumstances the engines would never be stressed to their limit, and consequently no lessons would be learnt by manufacturers. This opinion is at any rate comforting to the less eminent engineers among us who have come to the same conclusion. Doctor Porsche also has practically decided that no Mercedes racers can be ready for the Targa Florio this year, and the hoped for Mercedes-Bugatti duel in that race must therefore be postponed. The German firm had also hoped to enter for the Grand Prix d’Endurance at le Mans, but again unpreparedness will probably necessitate their abstention ; on the other hand the German Automobile Club announces that it is finding good support for its Touring Grand Prix, which will be run on the Niirburg Ring on 15th July, and. we can therefore hope to see the 36-220 h.p. Mercedes appear once more in this event which it won in so striking a fashion last year.
The Revival of Grand Prix Racing.
In England there seems to be a strong tendency to regard the eclipse of Grand Prix racing to say the least of it, with equanimity, and this is the case even among those who one may be pardoned for saying ought to know better. The reason for this seems to be the extremely insular one, that while this country has been reaping the honours in touring car races, we have not been making a very creditable showing in the Grand Prix races. On a somewhat “sour grapes” principle, therefore, one hears a great deal nowadays about ” freak ” Grand Prix racing cars. Presumably this appellation means that thesecars would not be suitable for the average unintelligent ” all-on-top ” driver ; but when one considers that Bugatti’s ” freak ” 2.3-litre supercharged car will move off on the starter with top gear engaged, and the clutch in, even this argument seems to fall rather flat. Be that as it may, however, there is a distinct feeling in France that. Grand Prix racing must be revived, and our energetic contemporary,
uto suggests that its salvation lies in the totalisator. In this connection it has sounded the chief French manufacturers on the subject with varying degrees of support. M. Louis Delage is quite definitely opposed to the idea as he considers betting immoral, while M. Paul Panhard agrees that it would almost certainly lead to ” irregularities ” among drivers, and spoil the sport. M .Koechlin, of the Peugeot Company is of the opinion that races would become contests not between cars, but between drivers, and that their benefit to the industry would thus be lost ; while M. Bugatti opines that owing to the small number of first-class drivers, people would soon know the winner in advance and therefore the system would not work. M. Weder of the Talbot company is of the opinion that it is not the expense so much as the disorganisation of the rest of the factory which is the chief objection to racing and that in this direction the” tote “could be of no assistance but the directors of the Chenard et Walcker, LorraineDietrich, Aries, Georges Irat and B.N.C. firms give more or less qualified encouragement. Personally, we think that M. Panhard has struck the most important note in the discussion, having in view the state of motor sport in America as disclosed by a correspondent some time ago in Motor Sport.
A piece of Good News.
In the meantime, however, the intelligence that Fiat are discontinuing work on their new 12-cylinder racing cars is compensated for by the definite announcement recently made by M. Louis Delage, that he has no intention permanently to abandon motor racing. Signor Ambrosine, the Delage agent at Turin, has acquired all the 1925 2-litre 12-cylinder racers as well as one of the 1500 c.c. cars ; while the other 1927 racers will probably be sold to America and run in the forthcoming Indianapolis race. In spite of this, however, Delage is scandalised at the idea that has gained currency that he will not race again ; this year indeed, he intends to abstain from races, but his racing department has not been broken up and he announces his intention of returning to the charge in 1929 on the sole condition that he is
assured of adequate competition, a condition which a can be called nothing if not sporting.
Ettore Bugatti’s Activities.
In the meantime, the other leading figure in the French racing world, M. Bugatti, is characteristically active in keeping motor racing going according to his own ideas. The cancellation of the French Grand Pr;x has led him to abandon work on the cars with two straight-eight engines with their crankshafts geared together which he was building for it ; but not content with the Bugatti Grand Prix at le Mans, which we described in our last issue, and which has already
received an entry from J. C. d’Ahetze, the French amateur, he is engaged in organising another new race. This will be called the “Grand Prix of the Aces” and the idea is to mount the world’s best drivers on identical cars and see who wins. Ettore Bugatti will select the best drivers from each country and provide an equal number of 2-litre supercharged racers. The drivers will then obtain their cars by lot, so that the result of the race will depend as far as possible purely on the driving skill of the competitors. The first race will take place at Montlhery, but if the idea catches on, Bugatti hopes to organise return matches at Brooklands, Monza and San Sebastian ; it is to be hoped that our own track at any rate will welcome the idea. Robert Benoist, Albert Divo and Andre Boillot, are already spoken of as representing France, with Pietro Bordino, Guisseppe Campari and Emilio Materassi for Italy, Lautenschlager, Willy Werner and Ludolf Carraciola, who by the way is a certain starter in the Bugatti Grand Prix, for Germany, and Frank Lockhart and Peter de Paolo
for America. M. Bugatti’s idea seems to be that just because there is going to be no French Grand Prix this year, that is no reason why the world’s best drivers should be left inactive. We hope to return to this subject when the details are more definitely settled. While all this is still somewhat in the air, however, M. Bugatti is seriously preparing for the Targa Florio. This year he has decided to enter an official team of six cars, and has already selected five of his drivers, who will be Louis Chiron, who so narrowly missed victory in the Free-for-all Grand Prix at Montlhery last year, Count Conelli, who ran second in last year’s Targa, and Spanish Grand Prix, Count Brilli-Peri, who won
the European Grand Prix on an Alfa-Romeo in 1925, Nuvolari, who won the Grand Prix de Rome last year, and the Englishman, W. G. Williams, who last year was a member of the Talbot team.
The Talbot Racers and Materassi.
Speaking of Talbots, incidentally, many people have doubtless been wondering what would become of these most attractive straight-eight racers. The whole team has, in fact, been sold to Materassi, while another Italian sportsman, Tosti, has acquired the spare car. Both Materassi and Tosti intend, to drive these cars in the Indianapolis race, while the former may entrust one of his other Talbots to Brilli-Peri. If some Delages are also entered, therefore, the European contingent in the American classic will be stronger than for several years past. Materassi, in fact, has drawn up a tremendous programme for himself for the coming year. Not content with having raced his Grand Prix Bugatti round a road circuit against an aeroplane, which flew
overhead and had to follow the windings of the course, he has got together an impressive racing ” stable ” which includes, as well as the Talbots, two 2-litre supercharged Bugattis and. two Italas. With these cars he intends to compete in the Grand Prix de Tripoli, the Brescia 1,000 Miles Race, the Targa Florio, Indianapolis, the Grand Prix de Rome, and the Italian Grand Prix, to mention °illy the most important.
The Coupe de la Commission Sportive.
Owing to the cancellation of the French Grand Prix, the race for the Coupe de la Commission Sportive now has the honour of being the only race organised by the A.C.F. in 1928. The rules as last year place no restrictions on engine size or bodies, but fuel and oil will be limited. While last year the event took place on the Montlhery track, this year it will be run on the road. The circuit chosen is that of Coxnminges, on which the motor cycle Grand Prix has been run for the last two years. This circuit lies in the Garonne valley, quite near the Pyrenees and about 40 miles west of Toulouse. Those interested can find a map of the course on Section 86 of the Michelin map of France (scale 2 cm. :
kilometre). From St. Gaudens, the course follows Route Departmentale 9, which is rather narrow, by Valentine and Martres to its junction with Route Nationale 125, which leads into Montrejeau, whence Route Nationale 117, a fast road, leads back to St. Gaudens. The whole circuit is about 16 miles round.
Last year this race provided some very interesting contrasts in the entries.
The Grand Prix d’Endurance.
The Grand Prix d’Endurance seems to be assured this year of its customary measure of success. Since our account in our last issue, a second Salmson has been entered for the 4th Biennial Cup, thus bringing the total entries in this division up to five.
Three Aston-Martins and two Alvises already entered, the British contingent will be increased by three 4k-litre Bentleys, three Lagondas and a 1500 C.C. Marendaz Special. Austro-Daimler also intends to enter a team of 3-litre cars, while Stutz can be counted on to start with two, and another American firm will enter a team in all probability. The probable starters in the 5th Biennial cup therefore seem to be at present :—Six Lombards, four Aries, three Tractas, two B.N.Cs’. , two Salmsons, two d’Yrsans, a S.A.R.A., an E.H.P. and an Alpha-Six for France, two Stutz for America, the Austro-Daimlers for Austria and the twelve cars already mentioned for England. As far as the Grand Prix d’Endurance is concerned, therefore, the competition will probably lie between the Bentleys, Stutz, Austro-Daimlers,Lagondas and Aries, but it should not be forgetton that the Sahnsons last year showed that smaller cars could be very fast, and the English 1500 C.C. division, especially, are likely to be well in the picture.