Continental Notes and News, November 1938

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36

Con6nenta._ N.otes and News

Formula

There has been a great deal of nodding of heads and whispering in ears lately about the Grand Prix formula, which nevertheless remains much as it was

before. Rumours apart, the only tangible thing that has happened was a meeting of the A.I.A.C.R. in Paris, at which the German representatives (who have rather the whip hand in being the providers of at least 75 per cent. of the field in most races) firmly vetoed the suggestion of Laury Schell, speaking for France, that more or less pump fuel should be used in future. This would, of course, slow the German cars considerably, but not, in my opinion, sufficiently to give the Delahayes a real chance against them. Anyway, the idea is out.

On the other hand, the Germans were amenable to slight alterations being made to the formula in regard to 1,500 c.c. supercharged and. 2,200 c.c. unsupercharged machines, in which, of course, they were quite safe. The rumours (or should I say The Rumour?) was to the effect that the formula would be scrapped next year in favour

of a 1,500 c.c. engine limitation. It is perfectly true that the Germans have been very disappointed at the scarcity of competition in the formula field, arguing that a hollow victory is valueless, but now that the rivalry between the two teams has developed to an interesting stage, the Maserati is shaping well, and the sixteen-cylinder Alfa is likely to be a strong contestant next season, I should hardly think the Germans would want to scrap their new cars. Point has been given to the rumour by the Second Rumour that MercedesBenz have a team of 1,500 c.c. cars on the

stocks. Direct inquiries among the Mercedes personnel produce nothing more than ” That’s the first we’ve heard about it,” which is only natural—whether the cars are actually planned or not. The thought certainly opens up the most attractive prospects of Junior Grand Prix races in which E.R.A.s would be pitted against Maseratis, Alfa-Romeos, and Mercedes-Benz, but it is too early to form a definite opinion yet.

Alfettes And that us to the tales of Alfa

And that brings us to the tales of Alfa Corse selling all four of the 1,500 c.c. Alfas and building entirely new ones for next season. That one, I think, ought to be clearly labelled ” To the Marines.” There is certainly no justification for it in the performance of the cars in the few races in which they have taken part. True, they have experienced a lot of plug trouble, but it is bound to take a little time to get the engines just right. For the rest they seem to sit down on the road beautifully, and their drivers do not appear to be working excessively on the swerves. That the Italians would scrap such promising little machines entirely is most unlikely, to say the least. The story probably has its origin in one or other of the several inquiries by I3ritish buyers received at Modena. Although my lips are as obdurately sealed AUS LAN DER

as those of any figure in a Low cartoon, I am able to say that I know of two well known English drivers, both of whom have raced on the Continent, who are toying with the idea of acquiring an Alfa for next year, and there are others whose toyings are not quite so serious. Perhaps some of them are thinking of running a scuderia, an ecurie or what have you ?

Nurburg

While on the subject of rumours, another one that crops up periodically is that Nurburg Ring is to be turned into a vast military camp.

There are two possible things that might account for this. The first is that one can sometimes see, on non-race days, fleets of armoured cars being tested there, and lined up in the car parks, and the second is that the Ring most probably would be turned into such a camp on the outbreak of war—just as the Brooklands Track in England was in 1914.

In Italy

The Italians have apparently decided that, in spite of the inviolability of the Berlin-Rome axis (only they happen to call it the Rome-Berlin axis), the spectacle of Italian racing-cars being beaten up by the Germans on Italian circuits— especially when you have to pay them to do it—is not an edifying one for their eyes. And so next year will probably see every Italian race confined to cars of 1,500 c.c. capacity, and that may go for such affairs as Tripoli, Pescara and Livorno, too. It only needs the new E.R.A. to come out strong to make them

really happy. Speculation is rife in Italy as to what will happen when the full teams of Alfa-Romeo, Maserati and E.R.A. meet for the first time. I can only tell you that they are quite confident of the result.

Record Roads

By the time these notes appear in print—and provided they escape the pitfalls of the Editor’s Pencil and the exigencies of space—the British motorist Major ” GOldie ” Gardner will have made his attempt on 1,100 c.c. records on the new Leipzig-Dessau .1i’eihsautobahn, thus being the first man to make use of a stretch of road which will be in the news for many years to come, if I read the situation aright. This really is an astounding road. It was actually ready some weeks ago, but the Crisis delayed the announcement of its completion. Probably the most extraordinary feature of it is that practically the whole of the straight stretch of fifteen Miles runs through a cutting, which protects the cars from the devastating influences of side-winds. From the surface point of view, German motor roads are infinitely superior to those in

most other countries, and the LeipzigDessau Autobahn should provide an ideal location for attempts on the World’s Land Speed Record. Its width is 85 feet.

But Germany is not the only country conscious of the possibility of new motor roads for record runs. In Hungary they are building a new road. between the towns of Dunafoldvar and Keczkernet which sounds very favourable, although I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. I anr told that when completed—which will be some time in 1939—it will have a length of 23 kilometres, which is not far short of the German road. But I don’t know its width.

Maserati

The possibility of motor-races in Italy being confined to 1,5M. c.c. cars has caused a little uncertainty as to Maserati plans. Even though the 3-litre job has shown plenty of promise this season, and would undoubtedly extend the Germans if it were persevered with, I have an idea that the Bolognese firm will concentrate mostly on 1,500 c.c. races in 1939. They have certainly got together a formidable team for these cars, consisting of Luigi Villoresi, Franco Cortese and Armand Hug, The latter is a newcomer to the team after a very successful season as an independent driver of a Maserati fourcylinder model. He comes from Switzerland, and has class written all over him, by which I don’t mean that he is tattooed.

Paris Notes

All sorts of things have been happening in Paris, which is not unusual, of course. First of all, everyone has been very anxious about poor Laury Schell, and later about his wife, Madame Lucy. Laury Schell, I am glad to say, has made a miraculous recovery from a condition which many feared would be fatal, and among other things he has survived a double trepanning operation. In view of this, it is only to be expected that he is still suffering from a temporary paralysis of one side, but this is gradually leaving him. The accident happened when his car collided with another which came out of a side-turning, and although Laury managed to complete the journey to Paris in a hired car, he collapsed on reach

ing his home. His illness has upset Madame Lucy to such an extent, and quite understandably, that she has had a minor nervous breakdown which we all hope will soon be cured. Louis Chiron is very much in the news. Following the example of Raymond Sommer, who used to be quite an adept at this sort of thing, he and Raph went in for a bicycle race at Montlhery recently, having fun if not success. Then Louis is down to drive the new Darracq formula motor-car which is reckoned to be ready for its first tests Some time in

December. Mystery shrouds this car, which is variously described as a 3-litre supercharged bolide (which would be exciting) and a 41-litre unsupercharged machine (which would not really menace the Germans).