THE ITALIAN ” 1,000 MILE RACE.”
Overwhelming victory for Alfa Romeo team in Italian town-to-town classic.
Nuvolari, driving single-handed throughout, won the fourth Italian 1,000 miles race, which was run on the 12th and.13th April, on a 2-litre supercharged Alfa-Romeo. His time of 16h. 18m. 59-1/5s. gave him the truly wonderful average speed of 62.41 m.p.h. for the 1,007 miles, and surpassed by an hour and three quarters the record for the race set up by Campari and Ramponi last year. The Alfa-Romeo triumph was completed by three other cars of the team which captured the next three places ahead of the 3-litre O.M. and the 7-litre Mercedes.
Out of 143 entries, 134 appeared at the start in the town of Brescia on the Saturday morning, ready to set out on their 1,000 mile journey. It is hard for anyone who does not know the ” autophilia ” of the whole Italian nation to understand quite what this race represents. From Brescia these 134 cars of all sorts and sizes were going to race by Bologna and Florence to Rome; there they were going to turn back, and by Bologna, Treirso and Verona get back to Brescia. The roads they were going to race over were not closed, by order to other traffic, and the population had merely been appealed to by the newspapers to show their sporting spirit by not getting in the way of the racing cars. It is perhaps unnecessarily depressing to think what would happen in England under similar circumstances!
The event started with a particularly affecting little ceremony in Brescia to the memory of Count Brilli Peri, the famous Italian driver who was killed recently while practising for the Tripoli Grand Prix. Then at 11 o’clock on a sultry spring morning the first car was given the word to go. It led a line of 15 other cars all running in the “utility class,” i.e., machines with engines of more than 1100 c.c. and costing less than 25,000 lire (about £270). They consisted chiefly of Italian built 4-cylinder Citroens and the new 10-30 h.p. Fiats. They were followed by more than 30 1100 c.c. machines, the most interesting of which were the new 8-cylinder Maseratis. The rest consisted chiefly of “509” Fiats, of which the most exciting looking sports models exist in Italy, Salmsons and Amilcars, with a Rally and a Derby. It was not until the last of these had been despatched, however, that the really exciting cars, any of which might prove the winner, began to get away. Everyone regretted that the team of 4 1/2-litre Bentleys which had been entered by H. R. S. Birkin could not be got ready in time, as they would undoubtedly have added considerably to the interest of the race. In their absence the chief competition was expected to be between the Alfa Romeo team of 2-litre cars, the 3-litre O.M.’s, Arcangeli’s, 2-litre straight-eight Maserati and the 7-litre Mercedes driven by Caracciola and Werner. As well as these however there were a whole host of other cars, Fiats, Italas, Lancias, Bugattis, Chryslers, Jordans, Ceiranos’ Bianelis and the rest.
The First Stage.
From Brescia to Bologna the road runs dead straight for the most part, level and dusty, by Cremona and Parma across the plain of Lombardy. It was on this stretch that the big cars would have the greatest advantage, and it was here that the big Mercedes hoped to get the lead. The speed across the plains was terrific, and the first of the fast cars to arrive was Campari and Marinoni’s Alfa-Romeo, which had obviously averaged a terrific speed, but as the cars had started at minute or half-minute intervals, it was necessary to await the official times before it was known who was leading. They were soon published, and it was seen that the fastest time had been made by Arcangeli who in his 2-litre Maserati had covered the 120 odd miles in 1h. 30m., an average of over 79 m.p.h. Nuvolari and Guidotti on the leading Alfa-Romeo were only a fraction of a second slower, and their team-mates Varzi and Canavesi were bracketted third with the big Mercedes. In the 1100 c.c. class the leader was the little Maserati driven by Tamburi. Great was the joy in Bologna, for it is there that the Maserati is built. The position of the leaders at Bologna was as follows:
1. Arcangeli (2-litre Maserati), 1 h. 30m. 15-1/5s.
2. Nuvolari-Guidotti (2-litre Alfa Romeo), lh. 30m. 15-4/5s.
3. Varzi-Canavesi (2-litre Alfa Romeo) and Caracciola-Werner (7-litre Mercedes), 1h. 31m. 20s.
5. Tadini (2-litre Alfa-Romeo).
6. Rosa-Coffani (3-litre O.M.).
7. Bassi-Gazabini (3-litre (O.M.).
8. Ghersi-Cortese (2:-litre Alfa-Romeo).
9. Mancinello (2-litre Alfa-Romeo).
10. Maggi-Mazzoti (2-litre Alfa-Romeo).
1100 C.C. CLASS.
1. Tamburi (Maserati), average 64.7 m.p.h.
2. Matrullo-Grannini (Salmson).
3. Periccioli-Appollonio (Fiat).
4. Conconi (Rally).
Immediately after Bologna the whole character of the race changed, for the road left the plains and began to climb in a series of difficult corners to the Raticosa Pass, 3,200 feet above sea level.
The pass, dominated by the ruins of a medieval castle is one of the highest in the Apennines. Thence the road, dropped, only to climb to 3,000 feet again to the Puta pass before running down hill to Florence. On this section the size of the Mercedes was sure to be something of a disadvantage, while Caracciola was also handicapped by his inferior knowledge of the road. It is rather impossible to get much practice in a short time over a course which is 1,000 miles round! It was on this section that the superb brakes and road-holding of the Alfa-Romeo began to show to real advantage and the team rapidly gained the lead.
On leaving Bologna however, Arcangeli was determined not to lose the position which he had gained by his fast run from Brescia. He set off into the mountains at high speed, but his brakes proved unequal to the long succession of corners, and finally gave out on a bend. The Maserati left the road and was wrecked, while Arcangeli was taken to hospital with slight injuries. Thus one of the fastest ears was eliminated. This let Nuvolari up into first place, and at the end of the 185 mile run from Brescia to Florence, the order of the leaders was as follows:
1. Nuvolari-Guidotti (Alfa Romeo), 2h. 53m. 4s.
2. Bassi-Gazzabini (O.M.) and Varzi-Canavesi (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 54m. 5s.
4. Campari-Marinoni (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 56m. 13s.
The competition was thus now between the Alfa-Romeo and the O.M. driven by Bassi and Gazzabini, which was a repetition of previous year’s races. Caracciola and Werner had dropped back to seventh place, having lost eight minutes to Nuvolari.
From Florence to Rome, the road runs over the lower hills of the Apennines, never level and never straight. On this section Campari was nearly eliminated, for on taking a corner he found his path partially blocked by another car and ran off the road. He quickly got his Alfa Romeo going again, but thereafter he suffered from brake trouble and had to go slower. On this section also the O.M. driven by Bassi fell back, and the chances of this team were obviously fading as the fastest car driven by Minoia, the winner in 1927, had been eliminated early on with a cracked supercharger casing. Caracciola and Werner on the Mercedes also fell back further and when the cars reached Rome, 376 miles from the start, the Alfa-Romeos seemed to have things well in hand. The leaders at this point were as follows:
1. Nuvolari-Guidotti (Alfa-Romeo), 5h. 48m., 64.8 m.p.h.
2. Varzi-Canavesi (Alfa-Romeo).
3. Campari-Marinoni (Alfa-Romeo).
4. Bassi-Gazzabini (O.M.).
5. Tadini-Siena (Alfa-Romeo).
With Rome came darkness, and the competitors again set out over mountainous roads to Perugia and Ancona. The big Mercedes had by this time dropped back to ninth place, having lost thirty minutes on the leaders, and all hope of its victory seemed to have gone when during the night its lights gave trouble and it twice ran off the road. All attention was therefore concentrated on the flying red Alfas, as it now seemed certain that one of them must prove the victor. But among themselves Nuvolari and Varzi were having a most magnificent “dogfight,” with Campari, in spite of his defective brakes hot on their heels. At Ancona only a matter of seconds separated the two leading cars, and after the check in the town, the racers set out on the fast straight run by Rimini to Bologna.
This was Caracciola’s last chance and he made a magnificent effort, bringing the giant Mercedes up from ninth to fourth place. But there was no catching the Alfa-Romeos, and all the way up to Treviso and Feltre, back across the Venetian plains by Verona to Brescia, there was no change in the order of the three leading cars.
Just before 6 o’clock on the morning of Sunday, 13th April, Nuvolari roared into Brescia, winner of the fourth 1,000 Miles Race, having driven himself throughout and scored the third successive win in the classic event for Alfa-Romeo. Behind him came Varzi and Campari’s cars, while fourth place was captured by Ghersi and Cortese, also on an Alfa-Romeo. The victory of the Milanese firm was therefore complete, and as an indication of the severity of the struggle it may be mentioned that the first ten cars to arrive all bettered the record time set up by last year’s winner. The final results were as follows:
1. Nuvolari-Guidotti (Alfa-Romeo), 16h. 18m. 59-1/5s. Average speed 62.41 m.p.h.
2. Varzi-Canavesi (Alfa-Romeo), 16h. 29m. 51s.
3. Campari-Marinoni (Alfa-Romeo), 16h. 59m. 53-3/5s.
4. Ghersi-Cortese (Alfa-Romeo), 17h. 16m. 31s.
5, Bassi-Gazzabini (O.M.), 17h. 18m. 34-2/5s.
6. Caracciola-Werner (Mercedes), 17h. 20m. 17-2/5s.
7. Rosa-Coffani (O.M.), 17h. 22m. 58s.
8. Maggi-Mazzotti (Alfa-Romeo).
9. Ferrari-Poresti (Alfa-Romeo)
10. Fantanini (Alfa-Romeo).
11. Garandi (Fiat).
12. Bomigia-Balestrero (O.M.).
13. Pirola-Guatta (Alfa-Romeo).
14. Natali (Alfa-Romeo).
15. Cattalini-Polini (Alfa-Romeo)
16. Dafari-Balestrero (Alfa-Romeo).
17. Ruggeri (O.M.).
18. Richetti-Poilucci (Bugatti).
19. Peverelli-Orto (Alfa-Romeo).
20. Bellengeri-Zangrandi (Itala).
In all 73 of the 134 starters finished, and out of the first twenty, eleven were Alfa-Romeos.
The class winners were as follows:
1100 C.C. CLASS.
1. Perriccioli-Apollonio (Fiat), 21h. 30m. 42s. Average, 47.34 m.p.h.
2. Montanani (Fiat).
3. Matrullo-Giannini (Salmson).
1500 C.C. CLASS.
1. Pirola-Guatta (Alfa-Romeo), 18h. 30m. 46s. Average, 55.12 m.p.h.
2. Natali (Alfa-Romeo).
3. Peverelli-Orto (Alfa-Romeo).
As in general classification.
1. Bassi-Gazzabini (O.M.), 17h. 18m. 34-2/5s, Average, 58.81 m.p.h.
2. Rosa-Coffani (O.M.).
3. Bornigia-BaIestrero (O.M.).
1. Leonardi (Chrysler), 21h. 24m. 43s. Average, 46.5 m.p.h.
2. Longoni (Jordan).
3. Mercuri (Fiat).
1. Caracciola-Werner (Mercedes), 17h., 20m. 17-2/5s. Average, 58.74 m.p.h.
1. Mazza-Pezoni (Fiat), 23h. 14m. 31s. Average, 43.8 m.p.h.
2. Spotorno-Ghiringelli (Fiat).
3. Biagioni-Biagioni (Fiat).
As a comparison with this year’s results it is interesting to note the times of the winners in the three previous races, which are as follows:
1. Minoia-Morandi (2-litre O.M.), 21h. 4m. 48s. Average 48.25 m.p.h.
2. T. Danieli-Balestrero (2-litre O.M.), 21h. 20m. 53s.
3. M. Danieli-Rosa (2-litre O.M.), 21h. 28m. 2s.
1. Campari-Ramponi (1500 c.c. Alfa-Romeo), 19h. 14m. 5s. Average, 52.55 m.p.h.
2. Mazotti-Rosa (2-litre O.M.), 19h. 22m. 27s.
3. Strazza-Varallo (2-litre Lancia), 19h. 37m. 37s.
1. Campari-Ramponi (2-litre Alfa-Romeo) 18h. 4m. 23s. Average 56.05 m.p.h.
2. Morandi-Rosa (2-litre O.M.), 18h. 14m. 14s.
3, Varzi-Colombo (2-litre Alfa-Romeo), 18h. 16m. 12s.