The racing season opens

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WAR or no war, the 1940 Racing Season has commenced—in Italy. On April 28th, the new 1,000 Mile Sports-Car Brescia Grand Prix, which replaces the Mille Miglia, was due to be contested and, at the time of writing, there seemed every prospect of a strong international element. The new German B.M.W. team had been tried out on the circuit, lapping, it was rumoured, at around 100 m.p.h. These cars are 2-litres with new engines and streamlining that, while not revolutionary, is an improvement over the Type 328. The drivers were nominated as Lurani and Cortesse, Briem and Richter, Wencher and Scholz, and Pietsch and Roese. Italian opposition should have been supplied by hosts of small Fiats, the new 1½-litre Lancias, and Alfa-Romeos, with probably a modified 3-litre Lancia Astura, 2.8 Fiat and the sensational new 1½-litre Ferrari Siata Type 815 as well. The last-named has a straight-eight engine evolved from two modified 1,100 c.c. Fiat Balilla cylinder-blocks, in light alloy, linered to give a dimension of 63 mm. x 60 mm. Two downdraught Weber carburetters are used. This new, unblown sports fifteen-hundred is claimed to develop 72 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m. and to weigh about 13 cwt., giving a speed of 105 m.p.h., and a fuel consumption of 20 m.p.g. in ultra-streamlined sports two-seater form. France was expected to be represented by the Walter Watney Delage stable, and as French drivers were not permitted to take part under martial law, the Italians Brivio, Maggi Rosa and Morandi were nominated to handle these two 3-litre cars. The official Alfa-Romeo team was to have been Farina, Trossi, Pintacuda. and Biondetti, with the new 2.5-litre, and the 2.9-litre unblown six-cylinder cars. The circuit had a lap-distance of 103¾ miles with turning points at Brescia, Cremona and Mantova. A report of the race must wait until next month.

This excitement will be followed by the Tripoli Grand Prix for 1½-litre racing-cars on May 12th, the International Emergency permitting. It seems that Alfa-Romeo will run the famous and improved straight-eights, and not the new Flat-Twelve, though an initial try-out of this car is expected over the Tripoli Mellaha course any time now. Maserati will meet the Alfa-Romeo opposition with the four-cylinder, sixteen-valve cars, and the l½-litre Mercedes-Benz is still expected to run—the first time a country seriously at war will have continued to race its cars— but there is now little hope of the rumoured appearance of the 1½-litre Auto-Union. A little later, on May 30th, the annual American classic, the 500 Mile Track Race at Indianapolis, will be contested. The race is expected to lie between Wilbur Shaw with Boyle’s 3-litre, straight-eight Maserati, a combination which won last year at 115 m.p.h., and the 3-litre, straight-eight Alfa-Romeo with which Sommer finished fourth at Pau, fifth at Rheims and won the Angouleme Race last year, and which is entered by Thomas W. Dewart and Richard Wharton, two wealthy young Americans. Joe Thorn is said, however, to be running a Thorn-Special based largely on the Maserati, and Offenhauser, who designed the Miller engines which were in the winning cars in 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938, is likely to have his engines in fourteen of the entry for this year’s race, and, with a newly-modified design having a longer stroke and lower crankcase pressure, is rumoured to be very confident.  Certainly the presence of two late-type European Formula G.P. cars will greatly increase the intrigue of the 1940 Indianapolis. The Boyle Maserati is said to have new Offenhauser con. rods for the coming struggle. Nuvolari has been mentioned as the driver of the Dewart-Wharton Alfa-Romeo, which is most unlikely; he has also been rumoured to be handling one of the Delage cars in the Brescia race, which is even more improbable.

Ireland also proposes to have some motor-racing this year, with an I.M.R.C. Sprint Meeting on May 4th, the Leinster Trophy on July 27th at Tallaght, Phoenix Park, on September 14th, and a Dublin U.A.C. Speed Hill Climb at Kilternan on September 28th. Short trials are now being run and, if held, these racing events will be on a suitably restricted scale. Over here the R.A.C. ban affects everything.