THE KLAUSEN HILL CLIMB
pROBABLY the greatest hill climbing event in the world, the “Klausen ” this year attracted a fine entry of the leading cars and drivers. There were works entries from Auto Union, Maserati, Mercedes Benz and Zoller ; stable entries from Brianza., Cazaux, EystonPenn Hughes, Ferrari, Genovese, San Giorgio, Subalpina, Toni and Whitney Straight, and a representative number of independents which included people like Burggaller, Steinweg, Zanelli, Rey, Chambost, Strazza, Tuffanelli, Maag, Stuber, Ruesch, Sojka and Hans Kessler. There were several English drivers besides Penn Hughes, namely H. C. Hamilton, driving a Ma.gnette for the Whitney Straight Syndicate, Cormack with his supercharged Alta which has
Miss Ellison with her i litre Bugatti at the start of the Klausenrennen.
performed well at Brooklands and Donington, J. L. Ford with an M.G. .Magnette, Thorpe and his Frazer-Nash, an Alpine trial car, and Miss Eileen Ellison with the white 1k-litre Bugatti, raced by herself and T. P. CholtriondeleyTapper at most speed events in this country.
Without some knowledge of Alpine Passes it is difficult to realist fully the skill required from man and machine in order to make a fast time at an event like the Klausen. To begin with it is nearly 14 miles long, and abounds in the most acute hairpin bends. It is impossible to ” learn” the hill, and those shades of difference between drivers that can easily be missed on easy circuits are fully exposed at the Klausen hill climb. As a matter of interest and comparison, the following list of record holders since
the war is illuminating :— 1922. Nieth (Hispano Suiza), 21w. 42s. 1923. Rutzler (Steyr), 20m. 24.4s. 1924. Metz (Mere clt.), 18m. 48.6s. 1925. Nfaretti (Sunbeam), 17m. 28.Ss. 1927. Rosenberger (Mere des). 17w. 17s. 1929. Chiron. (Bugatti), 16m. 42.45. 1930. Chiron (Bugatti), 16m. 24.6s. 1932. Caracciola (Alfa-Romeo), 15M. 50s. The three days before August 5th, were exceptionally bad, rain and snow falling heavily the whole time, Eileen Ellison had arrived in the neighbourhood a week before with her Lancia and 13uga,tti, and was camping out. She aroused the admiration of the Swiss people by her determination to stick it out. There was not so much practising done as usual, the only drivers who did a great deal being Caracciola and Von Stuck, under orders from the respective chiefs. Hartmann had a slight accident with his Bugatti, and bent his front axle. Most drivers contented themselves in getting their carburetters adjusted to the cold and damp atmosphere, but in this they were deceived, for the rain stopped just before the touring cars began to climb on the
day of the race, and the weather grew much warmer. Incidentally, the Straight Syndicate lorry attracted a lot of attention.
The Klausen Spectators are a hardy lot, and they arrived prepared for the worst, attired in macintoshes and gum boots, and carrying umbrellas. There was a tremendous noise of rushing water every, where, all the streams being flooded tO the brim with swirling brown water. There was a considerable anxiety among the organizers lest the principal torrent should burst its banks, while an avalanche on the straight stretch at Urnerbo.den made people wonder whether the event could be held at all. A large force of police was drafted to the pass in order to deal with the situation, and also many firemen—the purpose of the latter being somewhat mysterious. There is a mountain at Klausen Called Kilchenstoek, from which boulders and rocks constantly descend even in fine weather. The heavy rains loosened things considerably, and there was a constant roar as rocks and shale rumbled down the hillside. Above all, however, was a
constant sound of rushing water, eerie, and not a little disturbing. The drivers stood about in a ‘close group, cold and damp, most of them protected from the rain by umbrellas.
The Sports cars went up first, and a good climb was made by L. Beccaria on a supercharged Ballila Fiat, beating Wustrow’s M.G. Midget by 9 seconds. There was an interesting supercharged Derby driven by the Swiss driver Schneider, but the car was suffering from blower trouble. Then Count Lurani came up fast on 1,323 c.c. Maserati, making the fastest time so far in 18 mins. 5.4 secs. Thorpe’s Frazer-Nash, running in the 2,000 c.c.class with a 1,657 c.c. engine, did well to get third place. The car would obviously have done much better supercharged.
With the 3,000 c.c. class came the fastest time by a sports car, made by Balestrero on his first appearance at Klausen with an Alfa,-Romeo. Driving beautifully, Balestrero got up the 14 mile climb in 17 mins. 7 secs. Stuber, the Swiss driver, was favoured for this honour, but he was 21 seconds slower.
Then came the racing cars. There was no 750 C.c. class, so Burggaller’s slimlybuilt; Austin had to compete against 1,100 c.c. rivals. Easily the fastest was H. C. Hamilton, driving an M.G. Magnette entered by the Whitney Straight Syndicate. He roused the spectators to great admiration by climbing in faultless fashion in the time of 17 mins. 53.6 secs. Burggaller did extremely well to record 18 mins 38.6 secs., but the little car seemed to be handicapped by the size of the driver. A. J. Cormack was 12 seconds slower with the green supercharged Alta with which he has performed successfully at Brooklands and Donington. J. L. Ford had an accident with the wall in one of the tunnels at the beginning of the hill, but managed to carry on. A similar fate befell Count CaStelbarco in the 1,500 C.c. racing class, but he punctured a tyre. In spite of this he climbed to the top in 23 mins. 5.4 secs. In this class Miss Ellison made third fastest time, and also the fastest time by a woman driver. She would have done a good deal better had her Bugatti not developed a leak in the petrol feed. There was keen competition between Maag and Steinweg in the 2,000 c.c. class. Steinweg’s car was fitted with a monoposto body with a fairing behind the driver’s head, and he made the fastest time recorded so far in 17 min. 2.6 secs. Maag followed, but his car jumped about a lot on the level straight at Urnerboden. On a particularly bad bump he lost control and the car became ditched. It was not badly hurt, but a tyre was punctured and he decided to abandon the attempt. The fastest cars came last, those in the unlimited racing category. Here the duel lay between Caracciola and Stuck, for neither Varzi nor Chiron were competing. There seemed nothing to choose
between the Auto Union and Mercedes for speed, but Von Stuck made one mistake which cost him the few seconds which separated him from Caracciola. His Auto Union turned completely broadside on one corner, while Caracciola never made a single error. Whitney Straight seemed to have difficulty with the road holding of his Maserati, in spite of twin rear wheels, but • he made a splendid climb in 16 mins. 20.6 secs. Penn Hughes was much slower with 2.6litre Alfa Romeo.