RACE HELD DESPITE CANCELLATION. MERCEDES-BENZ GREAT VICTORY. BUGATTI FINDS ITS FORM, BUT ALFA-ROMEOS ARE OUTCLASSED.
THE political situation has been so disturbing lately that it was little wonder that the Automobile Club de Guipuzcoa could not decide whether to go ahead with the arrangements for the Grand Prix of Spain at San Sebastian. Three weeks before the event was due to take place the Committee revoked a previous decision to cancel the race, and the organisation was set in train at full speed. The road surface was attended to, particularly on the curves, and stands, pits and score boards were erected in great haste.
A first-class entry was received, in response to the offer of a first prize of 20,000 pesetas, and the magnificent President’s Cup. Teams were entered by the Bugatti, Auto-Union and MercedesBenz factories, and by the ScuderiaFerrari and the Ecurie Braillard, while independent entries came from Soffietti (AlfaRomeo), Bjornstad (AlfaRomeo), and Marcel Lehoux, driving one of Whitney ‘Straight’s Ma,seratis. Being at the end of the season the cars had all reached a fine pitch of tune, so that a fierce struggle could be expected.
The Lasarte circuit is fairly long, nearly 11 miles, or 17 kilometres 315 metres to be exact. This had to be covered 30 times, giving a total distance of 519 kilometres 450 metres. It is a fast circuit with some long straights, and the winding sections have been straightened out. Laps speeds of over 100 m.p.h. could be expected from the Auto Unions and Mercedes-Benz, for Nuvolari’s lap record of 97.2 m.p.h. (155.575 k.p.h.), was made on a Maserati of less power and speed than the German racers. The first practice period showed that the speed of racing cars has gone up, for Hans Stuck (Auto Union), made the fastest lap in 6 mins. 36 secs. (157.400 k.p.h.). Great interest and speculation was aroused at the sight of Tazio Nuvolari putting in some laps at the wheel of an Auto Union. Was this an augury for the future ?
On the next day Bugattis set the pace, Dreyfus clocking 6 mins. 27 secs. (160,655 k.p.h.), and Wimille 6 mins. 32 secs. Von Stuck’s fastest was 6 mins. 35.2 secs., and Caracciola’s 6 mins. 38 secs., Nuvolari, this time on a Bugatti, lapped in 6 mins. 39 secs., while Chiron and Varzi recorded 6 mins. 49 secs. and 6 mins. 45 secs., respectively. On the day before the race, Saturday, Nuvolari went out and equalled Dreyfus’s record. All night long a steady stream of cars converged on San Sebastian, and when the morning came the stands were immediately besieged, the rising ground round the course was filled with spectators and houses adjoining the road were thronged to the very edge of their balconies. During the morning it was heard that Nuvolari’s son, who has been ailing for some time, had taken a turn for the worse, and everyone’s sympathy went out to the little Italian Champion. By good fortune, some better news was
received just before the race and Nuvolari’s expression cheered up into something like its normal mien. The only non-starter was E. Bjornstad, the Swedish driver. His Monza 2-seater Alfa-Romeo was found to be too heavy
showing that the 3.3. Bugattis are at last finding their true form. Stuck covered his second lap in 6 mins. 34 secs., passing the stands a clear 200 yds. ahead of Caracciola, both cars roaring past the stands at a speed of 125 m.p.h. The Bugattis were showing themselves to be just as fast as the German ears and more than a match for the once-invincible Ferrari Alfa-RomeOs. Wimille was still third, with Nuvolari (by a stupendous effort), fourth, Dreyfus fifth, Chiron sixth, and Fagioli seventh. The first sensation came when Von Stuck failed to appear on his fourth lap. Then the news came through that he was held up with a broken oil-pipe, and so Caracciola now
at the weigh-in, so he had to scratch. At the last moment Prince von Leiningen replaced Morn berger at the wheel of the second Auto Union. Finally, shortly before 1 o’clock, the cars were arranged on the line in the following order : 1st row, Caracciola (Merced es-Benz), Wimille (Bugatti), and Von Stuck (Auto Union) ; 2nd row, Varzi (Alfa-Romeo) and Soffietti
(Alfa-Romeo) ; 3rd row, Nuvolari (Bugatti), Dreyfus (Bugatti) and Chiron (Alfa-Romeo) ; 4th row, Fagioli (MercedesBenz) and Lehoux (Maserati) ; 5th row, Prince von Leiningen (Auto Union), Brunet (Maserati) and Falchetto (Maserati), and all by himself at the rear Brivio (Bugatti). The starter was not very clever in his task of getting the field away together, for he allowed von Stuck to start before the flag fell. Caracciola, Wimille and Varzi, tore away after the receding Auto Union, but poor Nuvolari was left on the line and took a few moments to get going. In 6 mins. 38 secs. Von Stuck was round again, having averaged 152 k.p.h., for his standing lap ! He was followed by Caracciola and Wimille, the latter
led the race. Wimille became second, but Fagioli had passed Chiron, Nuvolari and Dreyfus, and was pressing the Bugatti driver.
There was great excitement at the pits. Soffietti came iii and worked frantically on his Alfa-Romeo, as did Brivio on his 2.3-litre Bugatti. The latter was to make many calls at the pits that day. At the same moment Prince von Leiningen pulled up at the Auto Union pits, and one glance at him showed that he was in a state of collapse. He had to be literally dragged out of th,e cockpit, and his place was promptly taken by Von Stuck, who had come in with his own car, beyond immediate repair.
Caracciola was drawing steadily ahead of the rest of the field, and young Wimille was doing enough to hold his second position. Nuvolari was in fighting form, and coming out of the village of Lazarte he overtook Fagioli to snatch third place from the Mercedes driver. The latter soon reversed their positions once more. After 10 laps the order was as follows :—
1. Caraedola (Mercedes-Benz), lb. 5m. 52s.
2. Wimille (Bugatti), 1h. 6m. 9s.
3. Fagioli (Mercedes-Benz), 1h. 6m. 21s.
4. Nuvolari (Bugatti), lh. 6m. 47s.
5. Drefyus (Bugatti), lb. fim. 53s.
6. Varzi (Alfa-Rome.’), lb. 7m. 39s. 7. Chiron (Alfit-Rome0, lb. 7in. 43s,
8. Von Lethingen-Stuck (Auto Union), lb.
9. Lehoux (Maserati), lb. 10m. 26s.
10. Falchetto (Maserati), 111. Iltn. 52s.
11. Brivio (Bugatti), Iii. 14in. 52s.
12. Soffietti (Alfa-Romeo), 1 h. 16m. 37s, 13, Brunet (Maserati), 11,. 19m. 5s.
At this stage, then, Mercedes and Bugatti were in the most favourable positions and would undoubtedly fight it out to the last. In the event of either team suffering a withdrawal there were still other members to take their places. Auto Unions vere out of it for the moment, while Alfa-Romeos were a shade too slow to be dangerous. The Maseratis served as useful ” background ” to the faster cars.
Although not pressed. Caracciola forged ahead and set up a new lap record in 6 mins. 24 secs. (162 k.p.h.). He was now nearly a mile in front of the next man. But Fagioli was not content to play second fiddle in this Way, so be passed Wimille and set out to catch the leader. In doing so he broke the lap record with a time of 6 mins. 23 secs. Meanwhile Chiron had pulled up at the pits, loking far from fit, and had handed over his car to Comotti. This clarified the position at half-distance into Mercedes 1st and 2nd, Bugatti 3rd, 4th and 5th. Fagioli had caught up with Caracciola and was only 10 yards astern, to the intense excitement of the crowd, who cheered, clapped their hands and shouted whenever they appeared. And now, one by one, the cars came in to refuel. Caracciola filled up with petrol, oil and water in 1 min. 2 secs. not troubling to change his tyres. sees., stopped on the following lap and took 58 seconds for the same performance. The Bugatti fortunes suffered a severe. set-back, however, for Wimille lost over a minute in excess of the time taken to refuel. When the cars were going again
1. Fagioli (Merceties-Benz), 2h. 12m. 395.
2. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz), 2h. 12tn. 57s.
3. Winfille (Bugatti), 2h. 13m. 48s.
4. Nuvolari (Bugatti), 2h. 14m. 38s. S. Dreyfus (Bugatti), 2b. 14m. 50s.
6. Varzi (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 15m. 32s. .
7. Von Leiningen-Stuck (Auto Union), 2h. 16m. 24s.
8. Lehoux (Maserati), 2h. 21m. 8$.
9. Cornotti-Chiron (Alfa-Romeo), 2b. 25m. 18s.
10. Brivio (Bugatti), 2h. 28m. 18s.
11. Soffietti (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 31m. 6s.
12. Brunet (Maserati), 2h. 38m. 13s.
13. Falchetto (Maserati).
Fagioli now put on speed, demonstrating his remarkable stamina, and soon put 42 seconds between his own and Caracciola’s Mercedes. On the 23rd lap Wimille had the appalling had luck to break a carburetter union on his Bugatti, and the blue car was silent at the pits for five minutes while the mechanics wrestled with the repair. This put Nuvolari into third place, about half a mile behind the Mercedes, and another blow to Bugatti hopes came when Dreyfus had to stop for a Minor carburetter adjustment. Brief as his stop was, Varzi and Stuck had roared past before he got on the move once more. At about this time Falchetto drove slowly into the pits and retired. The end was drawing near and Fagioli was now 1 min. 20 secs. ahead of Caracciola. Wimille was doing his best to make up lost time, and once passed Caracciola on the straight-but he was still a lap behind the German. In fact, the pace was speeding up all round ; Nuvolari lapping faster and faster on every lap, and Von Stuck going like a scalded cat, making a new and final lap record in 6 mins. 20 secs. (164.096 k.p.h.), for which he was to win 2,000 pesetas and a cup donated by the Omnia Assurance Company. Brunet got into difficulties on a corner and registered the only acci Fagioli made a great effort and passed Caracciola on the 18th lap, the two Mercedes being about a minute ahead of Wimille. At 20 laps the order was :
dent of the day, but he was uninjured, in spite of leaving the road.
At last Fagieli’s white Mercedes flashed across the finishing line to win the 10th Grand Prix of Spain at the record average speed of 156.310 k.p.h. Nearly a minute later came Caraeciola, and then Nuvolari only 24 seconds behind, scoring the finest Bugatti performance for some time, and proving the Molsheim factory to be dangerous competitors to the German cars next year. Von Stuck was a splendid fourth, having gained a lot of ground on the leaders.
Timed over a kilometre which included a slight curve, just before the pits, the Mercedes-Benz, driven by Fagioli, proved itself to be the fastest in the race, with a speed of 137 M.p.h. This stretch follows soon after the village of Lasarte, so that the cars are accelerating as they pass.
The organisation of the race was absolutely first rate. A point which received very favourable comment was the scorebeard. Beside each driver’s number there were three electric bulbs, blue. yellow and red, denoting three points on the circuit, Andoain (five kilometres from the start), Armeta (10 kilometres) and Irubide (14 kilometres). This device enabled the progress of cars engaged in a scrap to be followed by those in the stand, and was very popular.
1. L. Fagioli (Mercedes-Benz), 3h, 19m. 40s. (156.310 k.p.h.).
2. R. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz), 3h. 20n). 23$. 3. T. Nuvolari (Bugatti), 3h. 20m. 47s,
4. Von Leiningen-Stuck (Auto Union), 31.1, 21m. 3$.
5. A. Varzi (Alfa-Romeo), 3h. 21m. 495.
6. J. P. Wimille (Bugatti), 29 laps in 3h. 19m. 56s.
7. R. Dreyfus (Bugatti), 29 laps in 3b. 20m. 50s.
8. M. Lehoux (Maserati, 29 laps in 3h. 221n. 31s.
9. Soffietti (Alfa-Romeo), 29 laps in 3b. 22m. 515.
10. Chiron-C.omotti (Alfa-Romeo), 29 laps in 3b. 30m. 50s.
11. Brivio (Bugatti), 28 laps in 3b. 24In. 35s.