MONZA’S FATAL DAY
CAMPARI AND :BORZACCHINI KILLED IN FOUR-CAR CRASH-COUNT CZAIKOWSKI DIES IN BURNING BUGATTI. FAGIOLI (ALFA ROMEO) WINS GRAND PREMIO D’ITALIA AND LEHOUX (BUGATTI) THE GRAND PREMIO D’MONZA.
ALT OGETHER the most depressing motor race meeting that I have ever attended. First of all there was trouble about a Press Pass, which had been given to somebody else, then the footat-a-time crawl in a long procession of cars from Milano to Monza on Sunday morning in the pouring rain. Owing to bad organization of traffic, 50% of the spectators’ cars did not reach the track until long after the race had started. The track itself looked very forbidding under grey skies and a drizzle of rain, in spite of the newly erected pits and tribune (entrance costing approx. £2 7s. 6d.) and the usual array of Italian and Facist flags, which were now rain-sodden and drooping. And mud ! Mud everywhere-nasty sticky yellowbrown mud. The trim racing cars standing in the paddock looked beautiful but their tyres looked as though they had been through the Monte Carlo Rally, judging from the amount of mud collected. And the excitement ! The pitch of excitement to which the Italians whip themselves before a race has to be experienced to be believed. Every body just stands and shouts. It was easy to pick out Earl Howe’s box and Whitney Straight’s-there was no shouting going on therejust the quiet cussing of thoroughly happy British workmen !
Shouts and clapping however showed that the spectators were also intent on retaining their reputation for noise. The noise in the Paddock accordingly diminished as the cars were wheeled onto the track for the Parade of Entrants in the Grand Premio d’Italia. The military band in front of the Tribunes struck up and the cars were wheeled into position -engines started up-the flag dropped and the horde of cars were off. All eyes immediately focussed on the south curve around which the cars would presently come into sight. A little more than a minute elapsed. Here they come-No. 28 leading-that’s Nuvolari on the Maserati Monoposto ! Close behind him is Fagioli on an Alfa Romeo Monoposto, then Taruffi (also Alfa Monoposto), Premoli (B.M.P., seen at Shelsley this year), Chiron (Alfa Monoposto) and Zehender (Maserati Monoposto). The spectators in the tribunes begin to buzz like bees in a hive and once more all eyes are expectantly turned to the curve whilst in the distance the cars can be heard whining along on the other side of the track. Five laps are completed and the field has spread out. Fagioli and Nuvolari are running neck and neck followed by Taruffi, Chiron (his car’s exhaust emitting long flames) and Zehender. At the sixth lap Nuvolari is leading again with Fagioli just behind, The next lap sees these positions reversed. The following lap
Nuvolari has regained the lead and Fagioli coasts into the pits thumping his petrol tank. The signal is understood and mechanics stand ready with petrol-hose and a rapid fill-up is staged and the car is away in record time. Nuvolari now has a good lead, followed by Taruffi, Chiron and Zehender with Fagioli running fifth and going great guns to make up lost time. The rest of the field go by-Premoli, Siena, Brivio, Castelbarco, Ghersi and Lehoux-and still further behind Moll, Fellegrirti, Balestrero (all on Alfas), Brunet and Earl Howe on Bugattis, Biondetti (*Maserati), Gaupillat (Bugatti) and Whitney Straight (Maserati). On the 11th lap, Taruffi’s Alfa is leading, with Nuvolari a few yards behind. But on the next lap Nuvolari has regained the lead. Every car seems to he going faster. Chiron completes the 13th lap at an average of 181,8 k.p.h. At the 15th lap Nuvolari is still leading but Fagioli has passed Zehender and is in fourth position, then at the 17th lap Nuvolari coasts in to the pits pointing to a rear wheel. In spite of a very fast change, Nuvolari falls back to fourth position, Taruffi leading, Chiron second and Fagioli third. In the 18th lap Taruffi pulls up at the pits and Chiron takes the lead, Nuvolari working up to second place. Taruffi soon has to return to the pits and finally retires in the 25th lap after a wheel breaking-fortunately without serious results. In the meantime a great battle is going on between Chiron, Nuvolari and Fagioli, made all the more interesting because first one then the other is running in to the pits to tank petrol or change tyres. At the 27th lap Nuvolari has regained the lead with Chiron second and Fagioli third. A few laps later Nuvolari also makes a pit stop and Chiron is again first. His chances increase as Fagioli also runs in to the pits to change a wheel. After completing 35 laps Chiron has a clear lead of 2 minutes over Nuvolari Fagioli, Lehoux and Zehender being next. From this point onwards the race threatened to become monotonous until the 40th lap when both Chiron and Nuvolari pulled in to the pits-the former to change plugs and the latter to change wheels. The following lap Chiron retired with a broken valve, so that Nuvolari and Fagioli were left to fight the battle to the bitter end. Nuvolari had a 30 second lead over Fagioli and looked like holding it until the finish. Spectators were already beginning to shout ” Nuvolari ! Nuvolari wins!” when on the 48th lap with two laps to go, Nuvolari coasted in to the pits thumping a rear wheel. Jacks are readya few deft knocks with the hammer-hub-cap spins off-off comes the old wheel, on goes the newclump-clump goes the hammer
the jack is whisked away and the machine shot away from the pits leaving two black tyre-marks on the concrete. But too late ragioli’s red car had flashed past and his lead was now too great. Another lap was covered and Fagioli’s car appeared in the distancethey chequered flag was wagged at him as he flashed by and the Grand Premio d’Italy was won. Nearly a minute later Nuvolari was flagged in-second. Zehender third and Lehoux fourth.
1. Fagioli (Alfa Romeo), SOO km. in 2k. 51m. 41s. 109.2 m.p.h.
2. Nuvolari (Maserati), 2h. 52m. 21.2s.
3. Zehender (Maserati), 2k. 54m. 54.2s.
4. Lehoux (Alfa Romeo), 2b. 51m. 50.8s.
5. Siena-Brivio (Alfa Romeo), 2h. 52m. 56.8s.
6. Castelbarco (Alfa Romeo), 2k. 53m. 51.8s.
7. Pietro Ghersi (Alfa Romeo), 2b. 54m. Os.
8. Moll (Alfa Romeo), 2h. 54m. 44s.
9. Balestrero (Alfa Romeo), 2h. 55m. 22s.
10. Brunet (Bugatti), 2h. 52m. 32.4s.
11. Straight (Maserati), 25. 55m. 17.2s.
12. Lord Howe (Bugatti), 25. 52m. 1.8s.
13. Pellegrini (Alfa Romeo), 25. 55m. 36.4s. Fastest lap by Fagioli, 186.3 k.p.h. After a very third-rate lunch, during which I was charged 10 liras for a glass of water (about 3s. 6d. 1) the first heat of the Grand Premio d’Monza was announced by the loud-speakers. The usual parade took place before the tribunes. First of all Trossi with his lithe red Duesettberg looking very American-speed-tracky, followed by Count Czaikowski with his beautiful blue 4.9 litre Bugatti, then Whitney Straight and his very Brook lands-looking Maserati, and the rest of the “First Heaters.” The cars were lined up for the usual inspection by officials and soldiers in an assorted array of uniforms —engines started—the flag dropped and they were off. Around they come on the first lap—Premoli on B.M. P. leading,
followed by Straight, Trossi and Czaikowski. The cars appear to be going much faster than in the morning’s race, and Czaikowski fastest of all. As the cars appear for the second time, a wave of excitement runs through the spectators as it is seen that the Duesenberg is a few yards behind Premoli ! On the third lap the Duesenberg is running neck and neck with Czaikowski’s Bugatti, Premoli, Moll (Alfa Romeo) and Bonetto (Alfa Romeo) occupying the next positions, the pace having become too hot for Straight. On the next lap Czaikowski is leading, with the Duesenberg a few yards behind, and so the race progressed until in the seventh round, on entering the north curve, a cloud of smoke belches forth from the Duesenberg’s exhaust and a minute later it coasts in to the pits, water dropping from the exhaust pipe. All oil having been lost on the way, the engine had cracked up. The beautiful red machine was reverently wheeled off the track back to the paddock. Czaikowski was certain to win and his pit were hanging out signals to “take it quietly” as it was obvious that the other cars were outclassed. And so the first heat ended.
1. Count Czaikowsky (Bugatti), 20m. 49.2s., 113.472 m.p.h.
2. Moll (Alfa Romeo), 21m. Is. 3. Bonetto (Alfa Romeo), 21m. 4s
4. Straight (Maserati), 21m. 4.0s.
5. Premoli (M.B.P.), 22m. 30.6s.
6. Battilana (I3ugatti).
Fastest lap by Moll at 186.601 k.p.h. The second heat will remain in the memory of the spectators for many years to come. The cars came out for the parade —Campari receiving his usual enthusiastic ovation from the spectators—he seems to appeal to the Italians more than any other driver I know—the spectators are shouting ” Campazi ! Campari ! ” He smiles and waves to them and gives the Facist salute to Prince Umberto in the Royal Box—a picture that I shall not easily
forget—then comes Borzacchini, also a hot favourite. Everybody knows that the race will lie between these two men.
Then a hitch occurs—a car departs with a large broom and disappears towards the south curve. I rightly assume that it is going to clear up the oil which the Duesenberg has lost. The public begins to whistle, shout and stamp in the impatient manner which is usual in Italy—until at last an engine starts up, then another until the whole line are going grum-m-p,. grum-m-m-p, then whee-e-ethey’re off ! Each driver is fighting for position until the cars disappear from sight in the north curve. All heads turn to the south curve. Who will appear first ? Campari or Boracchini ? A buzzing in the distance— a red speck appears—voices cry “Campan ! ” others ” Borzacchini I” but the engine note doesn’t sound like the right one to me. No—it’s Balestrero (Alfa Romeo), followed by Pellegrini (Alfa Romeo) and Mlle. Helle-Nice (also Alfa Romeo). Balestrero gives the accident sign as he goes past. A minute elapses. What has happened to Campari, Borzacchini, Castelbarco and Barbieri ? Everybody starts to talk at once. The ambulance drives off and one or two officials start running towards the south curve. Minutes seem like hours. People begin to shout ” Notizie ! ” (News !) but the loud-speakers remain silent. The race ends with Balestrero first (22m. 22.4s.), Pellegrini second (23m. 7s.) and Mlle Helle-Nice third (25m. 58s.). People continue to shout for news. At last the laud-speakers give a preliminary” click.” A silence falls which one would hardly deem possible. A metallic voice announces ” A little incident has occurred in the south curve—we will let you know more later.” Boos, whistles and shouts break out anew in greater volume than before. Drivers and officials cluster round the pits. Barbieri is seen returning by foot down the track. Officials, drivers and mechanics run to meet him and the public seeing that someone has arrived who should know what has happened, increase their clamour. At last the loud-speakers’ ” click “—again the hushed silence. The metallic voice says “With regard to the slight incident which occurred at the south curve in which Campari, Borzacchini, Castelbarco and Barbieri were involved, we regret to inform you that Campari’s condition is very grave, Bor
zacchini’s lest grave and the other two are more or less unhurt.” Spectators chatter like monkeys, Nobody believes the kindspeakers-they feel that things are much worse-rumours have already arrived from the other end of the track that Campari is dead and that Borzacchini’s case seems hopeless. At last an official Press Delegation drives off and after their return it is finally announced that Cam pan is dead and. a few minutes later Borzacchini’s death is also announced.
Matters become further complicated as some of the drivers for the Third Heat refuse to take part on the grounds of the fatal accident. The public however does not agree and wants its” moneys worth” and makes this known by the usual stamps, boos and whistles. A meeting is held by the Drivers and after a delay of nearly two hours they finally agree to drive. Engines are started up and off they go-but interest has droppednobody seems to mind who wins or how. I was too busy trying to get details of the accident to see much of this heat. The results were :
1. Lehoux (Bugatti), 21m. 50.2s.
2. Ghersi (lingatti), 22m. 9.6s.
3. Biondetti (Maserati), 25m. 14s.
4. Cornaggia (Alfa Romeo), 25m. 45.4s.
5. Lord Howe (Elugatti), 26m. 40s.
At last the 11 starters were lined up for the final of the Grand Premio d’Monza. At the completion of the first lap, Whitney Straight’s Maserati was seen to be leading, behind him being Ghersi (Bugatti), Lehoux (Bugatti) and Czaikowski (Bugatti) but it was evident that the race would lie between Lehoux and Czaikowski. I remarked to my companion “This will be a fine Bugatti finish, first second and third, if Lehoux and Czaikowski will take things quietly and not race one another to death.” Strange words-how true they proved. Lap after lap Czaikowski led by a few second until in the 8th lap Lehoux appeared, slowed his car at the
pits and signalled that an accident had occurred. My interest as a ” journalist ” promptly lapsed. Campari-Borzacchini -they were just fine drivers to me and my interest was purely academic, but Czaikowski was a friend with the same feelings for his Bugatti as I for mine. His trouble seemed more real to me than that of the others, Then the news came through that he had skidded off the track, on the same fatal oil-patch as the other cars, at over 180 k.p.h.-petrol tank exploded-burnt to death-poor fellow . . .
I went back to my hotel without waiting for the finish. . . .
1. Lehoux (Bugatti), 21m. 17s. 109.62 m.p.h.
2. Moll (Alfa Romeo), 21m. 20s.
3. Bonetto (Alfa Romeo), 21m. 28s.
4. Straight (Maserati), 21m. 28.2s.
5. Balestrero (Alfa Romeo), 22m. 24$.
6. Biondetti (Maserati).
7. Ghersi (Alfa Romeo).
8. Cornaggia (Alfa Romeo).
9. Mlle. Helle-Nice (Alfa Romeo). R. H. R_