Letters from readers, November 1940
Whilst reading with much interest your informative article “On the Rise to Supremacy of Germany in Motor Racing,” I would be tempted to place the commencement of this rise at a considerably earlier date. In other words, to the period which saw the arrival of the “36/220” and “38/250” Mercédès-Benz in the sports-car racing field. I believe I am right in saying that the first time these cars were seen in English sporting events was in 1928, when Thistlethwayte, the erstwhile Bentley and Thomas-Special driver, entered one in the T.T. Race and, despite difficulties, put up the fastest lap time. In May, 1929, he won the “Southport 100” in competition with a representative gathering of racing-cars, including the rejuvenated Vauxhall-Villiers Special.
In August, 1929, a team of Mercédès cars were entered in the T.T. and that driven by Caracciola was successful in winning. More astonishing still was their success in the Monza Grand Prix of that year, a race definitely for the Grand Prix type of car and including among the entrants the world-famous bull-nosed “P” type 2-litre Alfa-Romeos, Leon Duray’s front-wheel drive 1½-litre Packard Cable Special, the 1½-litre eight-cylinder Talbots, and among other Maseratis that potent sixteen-cylinder job of Ernesto’s.
Three Mercédès were entered, two of the six-cylindcr sports-car type, and one old four-cylinder, fitted with a blower (perhaps Mr. Peter Clark could tell me if this was one of the old 1914 cars modernised, as I understand one was driven at Freiburg Hill Climb as late as 1927?) To the wrath and astonishment of the Italian crowd, one of the six-cylinder cars actually beat the sixteen-cylinder Maserati right on the finishing line in the first heat and was, in the final, driven by Momberger, third to Varzi on the 2-litre Alfa and Nuvolari on the 1½-litre Talbot.
Equally astonishing was Caracciola’s second place in the Monaco Grand Prix that same year, driving a stripped sports-car-bodied, short chassis “38/250”. In 1930 Caracciola again won at Ulster and also at Phoenix Park against the Bentley team, owing to superior roadholding and acceleration, in addition, at Le Mans it took the combined team tactics of two blown 4½-litre Bentleys, backed up by three six-cylinder Bentleys to beat Caracciola’s six-cylinder Mercedes, which retired during the night with dynamo trouble.
Followers of motor sport must have visualised in these early days what was likely to occur when Mercedes-Benz turned their attention to Grand Prix racing.
I trust no one will be foolish enough to read into this letter any glorification of Germany; it is purely the disinterested opinion of the writer.
I am, Yours etc.,
H. L. BIGGs.
[There is a lot in what Mr. Biggs writes, but it must not be overlooked that Germany’s real domination of world racing was made possible when the Reich decided to assist Mercédès-Benz and Auto-Union for political reasons. Incidentally, the article referred to will be continued as soon as we can get our sources of reference out of the bombed area—-it is of historic interest to describe this period of racing and, as Mr. Biggs says, in no way glorifies Germany.—Ed.]
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I wish to obtain a fairly late model 1½-litre four-cylinder Frazer-Nash in really good order. I have tried various sources, but advertisements in the motoring Press are not very fruitful for this type of motor these days, yet they must be about somewhere.
I should be obliged if you could put me in touch with a likely seller or advise me where I might apply to pick one up.
I also know someone who is anxious to purchase a 1½-litre Aston-Martin (1935 vintage) and a really good 9 h.p. or 1½-litre Singer “Le Mans.” Can you help?
While I am stationed in Plymouth, I shall be only too pleased to entertain any members of the Services also stationed here who can claim to be motoring enthusiasts.
I am, Yours etc.,
C. W. MOSS.
[Please write direct. Ed.]
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I should very much like to take this opportunity of congratulating you once again on the fine manner in which you are carrying on in these hard times.
Your series of articles entitled “Veteran Types” is exceedingly interesting, and I would very much appreciate it if you could include some of the early histories of such famous marques as Bentley, Aston-Martin, Frazer-Nash, etc.
I am a Frazer-Nash enthusiast myself, and I use my Meadows-engined replica to go to work and back in every day, and I would very much like to meet any of the old “Chain Gangsters.”
I am, Yours etc.,
[Histories of all three marques mentioned by Mr. Woods appeared in MOTOR SPORT during 1927-28, in the series “Great Racing Marques,” by E. K. H. Karslake.-Ed.]