Unaccustomed Roles

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

In January we recalled how two racing drivers got unexpected opportunities to drive the very latest Grand Prix cars, when the regular drivers met trouble. The opposite extreme occurred during the 1912 French Grand Prix at Dieppe.

M. Pilain had entered two Rolland-Pilains, with four cylinder 6.3-litre engines having four inclined valves per cylinder operated by an overhead camshaft, and chain drive, entrusting them for this two-day, 956-mile race to the reasonably experienced Albert Guyot and the anonymous driver “Anford”. Guyot had a slow first lap and retired on the second, when the advanced engine packed it in. But the unknown driver “Anford” did better being in seventh place at the end of the first day’s racing, behind Bruce Brown’s leading monster Fiat, Boillot’s Peugeot, another Fiat, two of the Coupe de L’Auto Sunbeams which were to make such an impression on the morrow, and a Vauxhall.

The finishers were put in a guarded park for the night, ready for the 6 am start the next day. Alas, the remaining Rolland-Pilain was reluctant to start, remaining at its pit for about an hour, in the rain, and during this period M. Pilain became anxious that the mechanic who had been cleaning the sparking-plugs might have got the leads crossed.

So he stepped forward, and inadvertently touched the car. This involved either disqualification, or the person concerned taking over. As the car was quite well-placed, fourth in the Grand Prix proper in fact, the manufacturer had little option. He took the driving seat as the engine restarted, telling Guyot to climb in beside him. For Guyot, who had some racing experience as a driver, this must have seemed a mixed blessing!

As it turned out, Pilain did remarkably well, especially considering the long stop before the car restarted, coming home in eighth place, with five cars behind him overall. But one wonders what Guyot thought of his unexpected role of mechanicien?

The incident recalls the time when Ettore Bugatti stepped forward to remove the radiator cap of one of his Brescia Bugattis, which was leading an important voiturette race. The Bugatti was disqualified, there being no question of the great designer-manufacturer taking it on, as its engine was finished. To this day no-one knows whether Ettore really thought the car might need more water, or whether this was quick thinking on his part to draw attention away from the mechanical disaster. Motor racing history is full of unusual and unexpected episodes! WB