Continental Notes and News, May 1938



ConEnentall Notez and Newz


The Latest Monoposto

Having emerged from the ordeal of the Mille Miglia with full marks for reliability, the new type 308 Alfa-Romeo engine will not be altered very much for Grand Prix racing. It is a modified version of the famous 2.9-litre engine of which there are several specimens in England, with a bore of 68 mm. and a stroke of 69 mm., giving a cubic capacity of 2,991 c.c. The chassis layout is very different from the older monopostos, however, and the car as a whole is very low. The frame is of box section, and the springing is independent both fore and

aft. The total weight, with tyres, is 850 kilograms.

I somehow don’t fancy their chances very much against the Mercs.


The announcement that the Monaco Grand Prix has been cancelled shattered the summer-holiday plans of a good many racing enthusiasts all over the Continent. On the face of it, the race last August seemed such a grand show, attended by such a big crowd who spent their money freely in the Principality, that the financial success of the event seemed assured.

On the other side of the picture, the expenses of running the race must be terrific. The fact that it is on the ordinary roads, and in the centre of Monte Carlo at that, involves a tremendous amount of expensive organisation. Heaviest of all, however, falls the burden of providing starting money for the competitors, amounting to roughly 500 per car for the big teams, as well as lavish prize money.

It all seems a great pity, and I can’t help thinking that there must be a little more in it than a question of francs. People in England don’t realise how strained are the relations between France and Italy just now, with the growing menace to France’s Mediterranean link with her North African colonies by the active intervention of Italy in Spain. In return, the Italians are continually accusing France of helping the Spanish Government, which of course they are not, and the result of it all is an animosity on both sides which is greatly to be regretted. That there is more in it than money is indicated by the statement that it may be possible to run the race again in the Spring of 1939.

Come-back ” “

It is good news that ” Fifi ” F,tancelin is to return to motor-racing and is to handle a Talbot-Darracq in the French Grand Prix. ” Fifi ” has the Latin temperament in its most highly developed form, and is never happier than when he is involved in a hectic scrap with an equally bellicose Frenchman or Italian. Wearing a cloth cap turned round the wrong way—like a racing driver of pre-War days—” Fifi ” cuts a delightful figure as he shakes a minatory fist at other drivers, gesticulates frantically at flag-marshals and his pit attendants, and generally works himself into a state of terrific excitement. He

never admits defeat or inferiority, even when he is up against speedier cars, and somehow or other he often manages to be up with the leaders at the end of a race. He drives in a rather jerky, unsympathetic style which is all his own, and. his gear-changes can often be heard some way away as he brakes—generally rather late—for a corner.

He definitely adds something to the interest of a race, and it will be good to see him in action again.


The Marseilles Three-Hour Race, due to be held at Miramas on June 12th

The Search for Horses

One way of summing up the chance of the different marques in Grand Prix racing is to compare the power-outputs of the various new cars built for the new

formula. Of course, there are snags. Weight is one., and optimism is another. Anyway, for what it is worth, it is interesting to notice that Maserati claim 350 b.h.p. for their new 3-litre eight-cylinder engine, while All Corse give the output of their 2.9-litre Type 308 eight-cylinder unit as 306 b.h.p. Mercedes go one better and, are supposed to be getting nearly 400 b.h.p. from their 3-litre 12-cylinder engine.

However, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and it does not follow. that the Maserati will necessarily be quicker than the Alfas, although the Bolognese factory is extremely confident that their machines will be up with the leaders, if not actually in front, at many of the big races this season. The new Maserati engine is really a couple of four-cylinder 1,509 c.c. engines coupled together, so that in this case oneand-a-half litre racing is being of direct

assistance to the formula kind. Each block of four cylinders has its own carburetter and supercharger.

The first appearance of the new 3-litre Maseratis is scheduled for Tripoli on May 15th, with Varzi and Trossi up. Here’s wishing them luck.

The Lesson of Pau

The surprise victory of the twelvecylinder Delahaye in the Pau Grand Prix brings to light one very important factor which may have a great bearing on the

races run under the new formula It is. the vastly superior fuel consumption rate of the unblown cars as compared with their supercharged rivals.

What were the facts at Pau ? The Delahaye, 41-litres unblown, used 99 litres of fuel to cover the 170 odd miles of the race, giving a consumption of between 7 and 8 miles to the gallon. The Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, was doing less than 3 miles to the gallon, with the result that it had to make a stop for refuelling half-way through the race.

Now let us see what effect this has on the positions of the cars. At Pau the Mercedes had a lead of about 10 seconds when Caracciola drew into the pits. Although the car was only stationary for 50 seconds, Dreyfus was 1 mill. 27 secs. ahead by the time the Mercedes got into its stride once more. The race at Pau was over 100 laps, and counting the 10 seconds lead which it lost at the beginning of the pit-stop, it will be seen that this refuelling cost the Mercedes 97 seconds, or roughly one second per lap.

A Priceless Asset

Altogether, the Delahayc seems to have come out of the Pau Grand Prix very well, and it demonstrated that it possesses

that priceless motor-racing asset, reliability. No doubt this is largely due to the fact that the car was completed as long ago as last July, and that M. Francois, the designer, has had plenty of time in which to get the whole machine “an point.” Here are some details about the car, in case you don’t know them already. The engine is a V-twelve, with a bore and stroke of 75 mm. by 84.7 mm., giving a cubic capacity of 4,500 c.c. The crankshaft runs in seven main bearings, and the connecting-rods are mounted on roller-bearings. Ignition is by two mag netos. The transmission is orthodox, with a dry-disc clutch and a four-speed gearbox. Bendix brakes are used, and carburation is taken care of by three

Strombergs. The whole car bears a close resemblance to the ordinary sports Delab ayes, and the aim has been to use only those details of design which are adaptable to normal automobile practice. The limit of power from the engine has by no means been reached yet, and as the season goes on the car will develop

more and more speed. M. Francois prefers to work slowly, however, in order not to lose the all-important factor of reliability. At present the Delahaye cannot be said to be a good-looker, but this is being

remedied. A smooth-contoured singleseater body is already under way, and will probably be fitted to the car for the first time at the French Grand Prix.

Meanwhile the Delahaye effort has given a terrific impetus to motor-racing interest in France, and something to think about to its rivals in formula Grand Prix racing.

Gas-masks for Racing Drivers ? Rene

At the end of the Pau race, Rene Dreyfus had some strong things to say about the exhau: t fumes of the Mercedes-Benz.

” During the few laps when I followed Caracciola, before I. passed him,” he said, ” I was seriously handicapped by the exhaust of the Mercedes. I could hardly breathe, and the fumes gave me a painfully sore throat. I don’t know what the Mercedes fuel is made of, but I’m pretty well sure it contains ether.” This remark carried me back to the Belgian Grand Prix of 1935. On that occasion Dreyfus was driving an Alfa for the Scuderia Ferarri, and he became involved in a scrap with Von Brauchitsch’s Mercedes-Benz. All of a sudden he pulled into the pits, and I wondered what had

The Brooklands Year Book, 1938 (Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, IF). Year

Another edition of the Brooklauds Year Book has just been issued, containing, as in previous years, a report of the last season’s racing, excellent Brooklands pictures, much data about the Track, a complete list of car and motor-cycle lap records on the different circuits, lists of members, an article on the Aero Club, a report. of the 1937 B.M.C.R.C. season, and. an article on the procedure for attacking records. The book is a most valuable work of reference. A few errors have crept in. A photographic caption states that gone wrong with his car. Instead, to

my amazement, I saw that he had been taken ill. He had to be lifted out of the car and carried to the rear of the pit, where he lay prone on the ground for some time. When he recovered, he said that the exhaust of the Mercedes had gassed him.

Dreyfus seems to be particularly susceptible to this complaint. During that Belgian race Chiron drove for many laps behind another Mercedes without being affected—at any rate badly—and during the French Grand Prix that year I remember seeing Caracciola and Von Brauchitsch travel for most of the race with only a couple of lengths between them.

I admit that the Mercedes fuel certainly gives off peculiar exhaust fumes, but it seems equally peculiar that Dreyfus should be the only driver to be affected by it to any serious degree. He must have an extremely delicate throat.

Perhaps we shall soon see racingdrivers wearing gas-masks !

Those Non-starters

The big number of non-starters at Pau roused the ire of those intimately connected with the orga.uisation of motorraces in la belle France. From the organisers’ point of view, of course, it is a most regrettable thing that well known cars and drivers, previously advertised as entrants, should decide to scratch. The finances of a motor race are difficult enough at the best of times, without having the crowd kept away through lack of interesting entries (or should I say starters ?).

The A.C. Basco-Bearnais were extremely honest with the citizens of Pau, and kept them fully informed of the scratchings as and when they occurred. Luckily the elements of a good scrap were left between Dreyfus and Caracciola, and this fully lived up to expectations.

From the driver’s angle, it is difficult to avoid such troubles as cars catching fire in practice, running off the road and getting damaged, and being placed horsde-combat on the eve of a race by mechanical trouble. ” Car not ready in time for the race “is not such a good excuse, but in some cases it is permissible. As long as there is a chance of the car being prepared in time, the owner is only right to take the risk of losing his entry fee by entering.

This business of non-starters is bound to occur at. the beginning of any season, and still more when a new formula is used. As the season goes on, non-starters will no doubt become fewer. S. F. Edge drove an identical Napier at the Campbell Circuit Opening Ceremony to that with which he captured the 24-Hour Record in 1907. Actually, he drove a four-cylinder 1903 Gordon Bennett car, whereas in 1907 his Napier was a six-cylinder chassis. It is suggested that Auto-Union and Mercedes-Benz did not come to BrookIands hitt year to attempt the outer-circuit and mountain lap records possibly on account of the high figures . at which these records stand, but we think ” silencers ” a more likely solution. The old members’ badge is illustrated No mention is made of Lycett’s standing


So the Mille 3./Iiglia is to be held no

more. However much one regrets the passing of a unique race, the fact remains that town to town racing over long distances is an extremely hazardous pastime. It is almost impossible to control the crowds properly on a thousand-mile route, and motor-race spectators the world over have an irresistible urge to watch from the most dangerous situations, and to get as near the cars as possible.

The death roll of nine at Bologna this year shook the authorities considerably, and they have wisely decided to ban the race in future.

Tazio DecCties . . .

. . . Nuvolari, greatest road-racing driver of all time, has decided to retire. At least., so he says. Although he was not badly burnt or hurt in his accident at Pau, when the Alfa caught fire, Nuvolari seems to have been shaken quite some, particularly as to his nerves. The result is that he has officially declared

that he will race no more. No, never.

Of course we shall believe this only when he has managed to get through a couple of seasons without succumbing to the lure of handling a car in a Grand Prix. Meanwhile I somehow think that ‘Fazio is just as likely to hop into an Alfa again at short notice and dice round some circuit in his inimitable fashion.

The point arises, however, as it does in all sports, that it is possibly better for reigning champions, so to speak, to retire while they are still in their prime. Particularly so is this true of motorracing, where the penalty of a misjudgment can often mean death. Not that there was anything in the nature of a misjudgment, I would hasten to say, about Nuvolari’s accident at Pau.

European Championship

Talking of champions reminds me that the European Championship for cars and drivers is to be decided this year on the results of four races, to wit, the Grand Prix of France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, in that chronological order.

This means that the French Grand Prix at Reims on July 3rd, already destined to be one of the tit-bits of the year, will have an added interest as the first of the championship races.

By that time all the teams should be fully prepared, including Auto-Union and E.R.A. with their new 21-litre models, which are causing not a little uneasiness in certain quarters on the Continent.

Class B kilometre record which he established at Brooklands with the 8-litre Bentley. In spite of these matters the Year Book should be filed by every follower of British racing. We have in our possession copies for the years 192038 and are desirous of obtaining earlier editions if any reader can oblige. The fastest lap by a race-winning car last year was John Cobb’s Napier-Railton’s 139.9 m.p.h. in winning the Broadcast. Trophy Race at Easter. The Year Book is obtainable for 1/1 post free, from the I3.A.R.C., Brooklands Motor Course, Weybridge, Surrey.