THE NICE G.P. WON BY VARZI
NUVOLARI AND ETANCELIN (MASERATIS) GIVE THE FERRARI ALFA-ROMEOS A GOOD RUN FOR THEIR MONEY, AND THE LATTER FINISHES SECOND. RACE ATTENDED BY HUGE CROWDS.
THE Nice Grand Prix, inaugurated two years ago, is one of the most popular events in France. Immense crowds turn up at the sunny town, and huge grandstands are filled to overflowing-to say nothing of the hotels which line the course. The circuit is 3 kilometres 214 in length, and has to be covered one hundred times. The longest straight is the Promenade des Anglais, at the end of which a hairpin bend brings the cars back again to the Jardin Albert I and the Place Marrena. The road makes four sharp turns here, at the end of which the Quai des Eta.ts Unis finishes the circuit.
The full entry of 18 cars arrived on the starting line, and were arranged by order of practice times in the following lines : 1st Row, Dreyfus (Bugatti), Varzi (AlfaRomeo) and Nuvolari (Maserati), last year’s winner, 2nd Row, Trossi (AlfaRomeo) and Etancelin (Maserati) ; 3rd Row, Chiron (Alfa-Romeo), Straight and Ruesch (Maserati) ; 4th Row, Minozzi (Alfa-Romeo) and Sommer (Maserati) ; 5th Row, Veyron (Bugatti), Zehender (Maserati) and De lm o (Bugatti), ; 6th Row, De Villapadierna (Maserati) and R. Brunet (Bugatti) ; 7th Row, Marret (Bugatti), Del ‘Orto (Alfa-Romeo), and Earl Howe (Bugatti). Varzi leapt ahead at the start, and the cars could be seen rounding the virage du Ruhl, in a close pack. Varzi was still leading at the end of the first lap, followed at a short distance by Chiron, Nuvolari, Dreyfus, Straight, Etancelin, Trossi and the rest. There was not much change for several laps, but Dreyfus passed Nuvolari and took third place. Something happened to Chiron on the seventh lap, for he suddenly lost two places to Nuvolari and Dreyfus, while the latter passed Tazio’s Maserati, on the next lap. But with Nuvolari right on his heels Dreyfus found himself going too quickly at the virage Gambetta, and crashed into the straw barricades so heartily that he could not extricate his car. Sommer also retired on this lap, with mechanical trouble. The race was a tremendously keen one, for although Varzi covered a lap in I m. 45s. (Nuvolari’s record last year was Ina. 47s.), he was only 11 seconds ahead of Nuvolari and 20 seconds in front of Chiron. Nuvolari was giving a magnificent display of driving, returning to his old form, and delighted the crowd by. im
proving on Varzi’s record with a lap in 1 min. 44 secs. Sommer took over the Alfa-Rom,eo driven by Del ‘Orto, an Italian who was substitute for Soffietti. The latter has been suspended for a short time by the Italian Motor Club. Sommer did not have a long ride, however, for the back axle passed out after a few laps. On the thirteenth lap, Whitney Straight made a rare error of judgment and charged the straw barricades. He found that his front axle was bent so badly that he could not continue.
The duel between Varzi, Nuvolari, Chiron and Trossi, continued with the same amount of spirit, and Varzi equalled Nuvolari’s lap record of 1 min. 44 secs. But the latter’s Maserati’s proved unequal to the strain of keeping close to the Alfa, and on the 28th lap Nuvolari retired with a broken piston. Thus the Ferrari team no longer had to contend with those of their chief rivals, namely Dreyfus, Nuvolari and Straight, and at quarterdistance the order was Varzi, Trossi, Chiron, Etancelin, Earl Howe, Ruesch, Zehender, de Villapadierna, Veyron and Minozzi. There is always some particular duel in a race on which the crowd centres its attention. and for some time following Nu volari ‘s retirement everyone followed with keen interest the battle for second place being carried on between Chiron and Trossi. For many laps the latter led, but Louis got past eventually on the 30th lap, only to fall back again to third position two laps later. From then until half distance there was no real change in the order, which was as follows :
1. Varzi (Alfa-Romeo), lb. 29m. 51s.
2. Trossi (Alfa-Romeo), Ili. 30m. 51s.
3. Chiron (Alfa-Romeo), lb. 31m. I2s.
4. Etancelin (Maserati), lh. 31m. 48s.
5. Zebender (Maserati), lb. 34m. 18s.
6. De Villapadieraa. (Maserati), 1h. 35m. .9s.
7. Minozzi (Alfa-Romeo), lh. 35m. 22s.
8. Ruesch (Maserati), lh. 35m. 27s.
9. Earl Howe (Bugatti), lh. 36m. 25s. Varzi was a whole lap ahead of Etancelin, and the race became rather monotonous until Chiron was seen to pull into the pits. All the plugs were changed, and mechanics worked feverishly on the engine for 5 min. 30 secs. By the time he got going again he had lost third place and was now fifth behind Etancelin and Zehender. The latter, by the way, now drives a Maserati for the De Villapadierna stable. Chiron’s AlfaRomeo was not cured of its troubles,
however, and on the following lap the loud speakers announced his retirement.
The rest of the field were making a good show among themselves. The Maseratis driven by Etancelin, Zehender, De Villapadierna and Ruesch were all going well, while Earl Howe and Pierre Veyron had the sympathy of the crowd for their regular driving of the two 2.3litre Bugattis. Marrett and Brunet, on similar cars, were a little slower. Soon after the 70th circuit, Hans Ruesch drew into the pits and complained that the gearbox of his car was so hot that it was burning his legs. After a lively discussion with his pit-staff he decided to retire from the race.
Just when the crowd were beginning to be impatient with the monotony of the race, and the position of the leaders appeared to be unassailable, there occurred one of those incidents which give motorracing its own peculiar uncertainty. Etancelin suddenly appeared in front of Trossi and all heads turned to see what had happened to the third Ferrari car. There it was, 200 yards from the pits, the driver cursing himself for having a bonedry petrol tank ! He pushed the Alfa to the pits, filled up and hurriedly departed, but the slip had cost him second place to Etancelin, and he could not recover the lost ground. Varzi finished an easy winner by a clear minute, with Count Trossi, 24 seconds behind Etancelin.
Both the leaders were cheered wildly at the finish and in spite of frantic efforts on the part of the authorities and the gendarmerie the huge crowd swarmed all over the road to welcome the drivers. Varzi had driven a beautiful race, calm, well judged and convincing in his superiority. Although sympathising with Trossi for his unfortunate delay, everyone congratulated Philippe Etancelin on at last getting the better of his deadly rival of Montreux and Vichy.