PINTACUDA (ALFA-ROMEO) WINS MILLE MIGLIA RECORD TIME
A CLASSIC RACE IN WHICH BRITISH SMALL CARS DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES 1k-LITRE CLASS WON BY CLARKE AND FAULKNER ON ASTON-MARTIN
THE Italian Thousand Mile race this year was lacking in that spirited duel for first place which characterised most of its predecessors, but this was redeemed to a great extent by the variety of cars entered and the changing fortunes of „the back markers and the smaller cars.
No longer worried with the rival attraction of the Coppa d’Oro, the unwieldy and unsuccessful Round-Italy race of last year, the Italian manufacturers and racing stables were able to concentrate on the well-established Brescia classic, and the entries totalled no less than 106. The race was won by Carlo Pintacuda, driving a 2.9-litre Alfa-Romeo, who averaged 71,25 m.p.h. and beat the record time set up last year by Varzi in unfavourable weather with a margin of 311 minutes. Tardini on a 2.6 Alfa finished second with Battaglia on a similar car third. Only three English cars were entered but of these Hall’s Aston-Martin lay second in its class to within a short distance of Rome, Gazzabini led the 1,100 c.c. class to the same point, and Clarke and Faulkner carried off the 11-litre award on their Aston, which should considerably strengthen the respect felt on the Continent for English light cars.
There are usually few cars of a capacity greater than 3-litres running in the Milk Miglia, and this year the unlimited and the 3-litre classes was combined. As usual the entry in this clas consisted principally of Alfas, the majority of which were of Grand Prix type, with mudguards and two-seater bodies. Varzi was playing a lone hand on a six-cylinder Maserati, of which more anon. A 4i-litre Lagonda was entered by Miss Ellison, but did not run.
The most formidable of the Alfas was the 2.9-litre car entered by the Scuderia Ferrari and driven by Pintacuda, the young Florentine driver who won the Coppa D’Oro last year driving a La.ncia saloon. The Alfa was one of the Monoposto racing cars fitted with a two-seater body, mudguards, a tiny hood and electric lighting and starting. The engine developed 250 h.p. and the car was capable of about 130 m.p.h. Incidentally it had the reversed quarter-elliptic springing now being tried on the racing cars.
The other outstanding figure in the race was Varzi, who was driving one of the new 3.7-litre six-cylinder Maseratis. This car too, was of more or less racing type, though the wider chassis of the Maserati allowed of coachwork rather more roomy than that fitted to the Alfa.
The Maserati was even more powerful than its rival, developing about 300 h.p., though it was somewhat de-tuned for the Mille Miglia, and with a weight of 1,200 Kg. was reckoned to be capable of some 135 m.p.h. Altogether a pretty useful sports car.
Other useful runners in this class were Tadini, Battaglia, and Santinelli, who were driving 2.6-litre cars. Ruesch the Swiss champion, and Balestrero, on 2.3litre cars. The second Ferrari entry was a 2.3-litre six-cylinder Alfa-Romeo saloon which was entrusted to Rosa, the veteran driver who has competed and finished in every one of the nine Mille Miglia races, and other cars of the same type were driven by Cortese and by ” Ignis,” otherwise Mercanti.
There were no English cars in the 2-litre class, all the entries, but one, being Alias, with an Australian, McEvoy in one of them as second driver to Ghersi. In the 1i-litre class we had two representatives, Hall on a newly-purchased Aston-Martin, and Clarke and Faulkner, who were making their debut in Italy, on the car which was driven last year in the T.T. by Penn-Hughes. In this class there were in all 19 cars, two Maseratis of which that of Scarfiotti was the most fancied and a number of Lancia Augustas, several of them closed. The 1,100 c.c. class number no less than 51, though not all of them started. Fiats, of course, were in the vast majority with a sprinkling of Maseratis, including Strazza, the official works entry, and Max Bondy and Gazzabini on an M.G. Magnette.
The course this year was the same as the one used in 1934, and the rules were unaltered except for some new awards. II Duce had presented a cup for the fastest time from Brescia to Rome, there were prizes for the first ten Fiats home, for the oldest and the youngest ” coppia,” and a welcome innovation, all who finished the race had their entry fee refunded and were given gold medals. For a week before the race, Brescia had lost its customary calm, and bunting and the distinctive red arrows which point the route in this thousand mile crosscountry run were seen on every side. The police tactfully ignored the crackling exhausts of the competitors and their friends as they converged on the town from all sides, and the place was in its usual ferment of excitement for the verification of the cars, which as usual took place in the Piazza della Vittoria. This
was little more than a formality, for who cared if the seats or the mudguards of these disguised racing cars were a little under size ? Vive lo sport I In recognition of the importance of the occasion Mussolini had sent the Hon. Morigi Under-Secretary of the Fascist Party to represent him, while the Duke of Spoleto the President of the R.A.C.I. was also present. The first car was due to start at 4 o’clock in the morning, and long before that the crowds had taken their places along the brightly lit Viale Rebuffoni and were passing lively comments on the half-mile queue of small cars drawn up in
readiness for the ” Via.” Zero hour approached, the Duke of Spoleto took his place, starting flag in hand and at the appointed time sent number 1, Lombardi on a Fiat, chasing off on his thousand-mile mile journey. A bewildering crowd of small cars, 45 in all, were despatched at half-minute intervals. Bianco and Strazza, the two Maserati drivers were high up the list, and Dusio whose super-charged Fiat saloon No. 42 was the noisiest of a snarling pack while towards the tail, came Bondy and Gazzabini on the M.G. The 18 1k-litre cars followed on immediately at half-minute intervals. Opeia
and closed Lancias, one or two Alias, a Maserati, then Hall’s Aston Martin, which was well received, Scarfiotti’s Maserati, the favourite in the class and finally Clarke’s Aston, shot away amid shouts of good luck from the little knot of English spectators.
An interval of half-an-hour, then the 2-litres, another and then with the dawn just breaking the first of the ” bolidi,” Santinelli’s Alfa-Romeos roared off down the road. There was a special round of applause for the smiling Varzi on the red Maserati, which was given a push start by a mob of mechanics, more Alfas and then last of all Pintacuda on the converted Monoposto. Almost up to the last minute there were rumours that Nuvolari would be his fellow-driver, but the Ferrari stable were reserving the Mantovano for Monte Carlo and Pintacuda’s companion was the Marquis Della Stuffa. 17 cars started in the 3-litre class. Good weather was reported from most parts of the course, and some fast times were to be expected on the straight level roads from Brescia to Bologna. The first piece of news which came in was that Dusio had given up at Parma with a broken piston after averaging 140 k.p.m. with his tiny saloon. Then Bologna reported that Gazzabini had reached there on the M.G., beating Lord Howe’s time last year by over seven minutes, with Bianco and Strazza on Maseratis respectively two and six minutes behind. Scarfiotti was in the lead in the 4-litre class, with an advantage over Hall of over eight minutes, and had beaten Comotti’s record handsomely. Alfieri on an Alfa was lying third, with Clarke fourth, so British cars were well to the
Ghersi had dealt summarily with Pertile’s record, in the 2-litre class, reducing it by eight minutes, so what would happen in the 3-litre category ? To everyone’s surprise Tadini was in the lead, and had improved his speed of last year by 3 m.p.h. Varzi was 54 secs.
behind, with Pintacuda another 18 secs. in the rear. It was learnt afterwards that he had stopped three times with tyre trouble.
TIMES AND SPEEDS AT THE BOLOGNA CONTROL, 145.4 MILES:
1,100 c.c. class.
1, Gazzabini-Pelligrini, lb. 46m. Ols., 84.8 m.p.h.; 2, Bianco-Bertocco, lb. 46m. 42s.; 3, Strazza-Baldini, Ih. 50m. 17s. ; 4, Ambrosini-Bertone (Fiat), lb. 54m. 12s.
1,500 c.c. Class.
1, Scarfiotti-Penoti, lb. 41in. 29s., 86.26 m.p.h. 2, Hall-Marsden, Ih. 50m. 14s.; 3, Aflieri-Sciesa lb. 54m. 05s.; 4, Clarke-Falkner, 1h. Um. 30s.
1, Ghersi-McEvoy, lb. 44m. 24s., 83.64 m.p.h.
1, Tardini-Chbui, lb. 27m. 37s., 98.92 m.p.h.; 2, Varzi-Bignami, lb. 28m. 31s.; 3, Pintacuda-Della Stuffs, lb. 28m. 499. Bologna stands at the edge of the Plain of Lombardy and almost from its gates begins the heavy climb to the Raticosa and Futa Passes three thousand feet above sea level. Tardini led comfortably on this section in last year’s race, but
Pintacuda was getting well into his stride and knocked Si minutes off the record and made Florence, where rain was now falling, in three minutes less than his rival. Poor Varzi was only third. His dry-sump scavenge pump had given trouble before reaching Bologna, and the coachwork of his car, which was only completed the night before the race, was showing signs of disintegration. Soon after Florence he slowed right down and retired at his replenishment depot.
Pintacuda continued to forge ahead and had a lead of seven minutes at Siena. Santinelli was in third place With Battaglia on his heels, and Ruesch and Danese within striking distance. After Siena the leader was ordered to ease his pace a little, but even so arrived in Rome with a mounting advantage. His time to Rome was eight minutes slower than the record set up in 1932 by Borzacchini.
The fastest time in the Florence-Rome section was made by Danes°, who thus passed into third place.
In the 1,100 c.c. class Gazzabini still led on the M.G., hotly pursued by the two Maseratis. Ambrosini had left the road without much damage and other spots of bother were reported. Hall had been gaining on Scarfiotti over the mountainous roads to Florence, a magnificent feat for an unsupercharged car, but was forced to retire soon after Siena with a blown gasket. Clarke thus stepped into second place, and at Rome his was also the leading car in the unsupercharged class. Ghersi led the 2-litre as far as Florence but soon afterwards had to retire with a broken distributor.
TIMES AND SPEEDS AT THE ROME CONTROL, 396.2 MILES.
1,100 c.c. Class.
1, Gazzabini, 6h. 07m. 40s., 64.62 m.p.h. ; 2, Malmo, eh. urn. 40s.; 3, Straz.za, 6h. 21m.
1,500 c.c. Class.
1, Scarfiotti, 6h. 06m. 35s ., 64.8 m.p.h. ; 2, Clarke. f3h. 43m. 49s.; 3, Cantoni (Lancia), 7h. 1 lm. 13s.
1, Azzali (Alfa), 6h. 15m. 05s., 63.12 m.p.h.
1, Pintacuda, 5b. 28m. 09s.. 72.46 m.p.h.; 2, Tadini, Sli. 45m. I Is. ; 3, Danese, 511. 57m. 52s.; 4, Balestrero, 6h. 01m. 455. ; 5, Ruesch, 6h. 03m. 46s.; 6, Santinelli, 6h. 05in. 20s.
With seventeen minutes in hand, Pintacuda continued at a steady pace, if an average of 70 -M.p.h. over unclosed roads can be called steady, but Danese had his foot hard down and at Perugia had moved into second place, three minutes ahead of Tadini. This and the Ancona section proved unfortunate for the smaller cars, for Gazzabini on the M.G. retired after Rome and Strazza was Out with engine trouble on the coast.
Scarf:jai:0 had an even less unpleasant experience. He drove magnificently on the mountainous toads and was actually third in the general category soon after Ancona. Then he filled up with petrol and handed over to his spare driver and before they had gone three Miles the latter skidded and charged into a crowd of children, killing two. The only consolation to us at Brescia was-that the Aston than took the lead Id the 11-litre class. On gaining the coast Tadini made a great effort to recover the ground he had
lost, and succeeded in catching Danese, further attempts at chasing the flying Pintacuda being checked by wet roads in the Bologna district. The headlights of Danese’s car fell off and had to be replaced at Padua, while Balestrero broke a valve, ran out of fuel near Rome and had tyre trouble but struggled gamely on.
All Brescia by this time had gathered again at the Vaile Rebuffoni, and round about 7 in the evening, the loud speakers proclaimed the first car near at hand. It was Bianco and Bertocchi on the 1,100 c.c. Maserati, who had comfortably beaten Taru fii ‘s record in 1934, running, of course, under much better weather conditions. Frantic cheers from the crowds, ind a continued excitement as everyone waited, watch in hand, to see whether Pintacuda would beat the record of the course set up the first year by Varzi. A.t last he was sighted, with only two minutes to spare, and was welcomed amid the usual scenes of enthusiasm. There was an exciting moment when Ruesch and Danese roared over the line wheel to wheel and then an endless procession of finishers of all classes. Amongst them those stout fellows Clarke and Faulkner, who had brought their Aston-Martin over the thousand miles of hardship into first place in the If-litre class. A splendid performance and a fine car.