Sidney Millard (Letters, April) may like to know that there was indeed a race in Egypt featuring the circus of Cisitalias that he saw. The year was actually 1947, when Piero Dusio of Cisitalia had the prescient idea of a one-make formula that would travel around and race to order. Unfortunately, apart from the appearance in Egypt, the idea went no further, as Dusio’s Swiss financial backers pulled out, causing him to lose a substantial amount of money.
Twenty-two 1.1-litre D46 single-seater cars were shipped to Egypt under the supervision of Piero Taruffi, who also drove in the race along with Dusio. The 14 drivers included Alberto Ascari, Giovanni Lurani, Franco Cortese, Louis Chiron and Antonio Brivio, all of whom were entertained by the Egyptian royal family. The race took place on a twisty 0.9-mile track in Cairo’s El Gézirah Park, on an island in the Nile, and comprised two heats of 25 laps and a final of 50 laps. For the benefit of the 6000 spectators, race numbers on the cars were also depicted in Arabic script.
Cortese won the first heat while Taruffi took the second. In the final it looked like Taruffi would triumph until his carburettor worked loose.
This misfortune allowed Cortese and Ascari to pass him and finish in that order, with Taruffi recording the fastest lap. Cortese was presented with the solid gold Sehab Almaz Bey trophy by King Farouk.
Afterwards the cars were sold to various private entrants who raced them in assorted events.
Simon Davis, St Albans, Herts.
We would love to see photos of this. Can anyone help? -Ed