Alfa Romeo and Maserati
Further to my letter which appeared in the April issue, and to Mr. Rivers Fletcher’s letter in the June issue. Mr. Rivers Fletcher can accept my assurance that Caracciola drove the same SSK at the Shelsley Walsh meeting on July 12th 1930 as he did in the Irish GP a week later. During a recent visit to Ireland I checked the Autocar and Motor reports of that Shelsley meeting and both publish photographs of Caracciola during his runs. Unfortunately both are head-on views but both show clearly the German registration number plate on the car—IA 3467— which was the car used at Phoenix Park. I also noted Caracciola’s best run was 46.8 while Stuck reduced the existing record of 45.6 to 42.8. I did what I don’t claim to be a thorough check on Howe’s appearances, with the SS with the following result: September 1929 best run 47.6, July 1931 best run 46.8, July 1932 best run 47.2. He did not appear to have used the car at Shelsley during 1930.
In the July issue of your magazine, “From the Archives-10” shows Birkin’s Alfa Romeo of 1931 which you state won the 1931 Irish GP, This I’m afraid is not correct. The Irish GP of 1929-30-31 were two-day events, the entry being divided, up to 1,500 c.c. on Friday and over 1,500 c.c. on Saturday, because the circuit length of 4+ miles and the pit accommodation could not cope with the hoped-for entry. It was a handicap event on similar lines to the RAC TT. [Yes, we know all this, but you can’t put it all in a caption.—D.S.J.] The race on Friday was for the Saorstat Cup and on Saturday for the Eireann Cup (the then Irish Free State being known as Saorstat Eireann). The overall winner of the combined races won the Irish GP. In 1929 Ivanowski won both races with 1500 and 1750 Alfa Romeos, in 1930 Gillow (Riley) and Caracciola won, with the latter also winning the GP. In 1931 Norman Black (MG) won on Friday and Birkin on Saturday but Black it was who won the GP. As you no doubt know, Birkin’s car was the first of the new 8C 2300 models to be seen in these Islands. It was in fact driven overland from Milan by Birkin’s Dublin pit manager, Capt. Clive Gallop accompanied by a top Alfa racing mechanic, Alessandro Gaboardi, who also rode in the race with Birken. Gaboardi re-appeared after the war as a leading mechanic with the 158-159 machines and on at least one occasion—the 1947 Italian GP—drove one of these cars. In an article entitled “At the sign of the Trident” in the Motor w/e May 19th, 1969 one Philip Turner writes of the “two-seater sports cars of 1931-34 driven by George Eyston” and of Clive Gallop delivering Birkin’s “2.3-litre GP Maserati” to England by driving it from Italy. I know the Maserati Eyston drove in 1931 was a 4-seater and feel certain that Turner, having heard of the Alfa delivery has somehow managed to get his lines crossed. I mention this article in case some Motor Sport Staff member recalling it, would wonder if perhaps I had got my lines crossed. I myself cannot recall Birkin ever having owned a Maserati, or driven one until his last fatal drive at Tripoli in 1933.
May I in conclusion Say how much I look forward each month to Motor Sport, having been a reader almost from the start.
Woking C. WALSH