THREE RACES AT BERNE
EXPECTED VICTORY OF MERCEDES IN SWISS GRAND PRIX. UNEXPECTED VICTORY OF MASERATI IN PRIX DE BERNE. TRAGEDY IN THE PRIX DE BREMGARTEN
THE annual motor-racing meeting at Berne is always worth attending. In addition to the practising on the days before the Grand Prix of Switzerland, there is a race for Swiss national drivers on. the Saturday and the Prix de Berne for 1,500 c.c. cars as a curtainraiser to the big car event ; quite an orgy of speed.
The Prix de Bremgarten, as the Swiss race is called, is run in classes for touring, sports and racing-cars, and naturally attracts a very mixed entry. However, it is a great day for the local lads, and they turn out in force on a wide variety of vehicles on four wheels. This year the fastest car of all was Baron de Graffenreid.’s 1,100 c.c. Maserati, and this machine led until the very last lap, when its engine seized solid a short distance from the finishing line. It was the failure of this car to appear which upset the officials at the finish, and caused them to forget to flag the next man, Gubelin, on a 2-litre B.M.W. This driver passed two others just before the line, got into a horrible skid, struck the barriers with a terrific crash, and was instantly killed. He had crossed the line, but did not live to enjoy his triumph. Hams Gubelin was a well known racing driver in Switzerland, gaining the national championship for sports-cars in 1933. In partnership with Zwimpfer he ran the Chrysler agency in Zurich, and it was on roadsters of this make that he scored most of his successes in small hill-climbs and speed trials.,
The Prix de Berne
At 10 o’clock the next morning came the Prix de Berne race for 1,500 c.c. racing-cars. There was great disappointment that the new Alfa-Romeos did not arrive, for everyone had, looked forward to an exciting clash between them and the E.R.A.s. However, the presence of some of the latest Maseratis made it certain that the race would not be lacking in interest, and this was borne out in the practising. Mays on his” works “E.R.A. had it all his own way on the first two of the three sessions, but on the third outing Luigi Villoresi beat all previous times to Make the outlook for the race an open one. The English contingent comforted themselves with the fact that the somewhat unreliable official team of E.R.A.s had the support of numerous independents, including such stalwarts as ” Bira,” Wakefield and Rolt. These hopes were quickly shattered when three Maseratis, driven by Villoresi, Pietsch and. Berg, came round in the lead at the end of the first lap of the first heat, having soundly beaten the three E.R.A.s on acceleration at the start. What was worse, the star driver of the three British cars, ” Bira,” developed severe carburation trouble on the first lap, and did not complete the course. However, things improved as time went on, and the retirement of Berg and, then Villoresi allowed Wakefield and Wilson to move up into second and third places. But there was no catching Pietsch on his ” works ” Maserati, which romped home a fine winner in 48 mins. 56.6 secs. for the
14 laps of 4.55 miles each. Wilson and Wakefield were second and third on their E.R.A.s, and the fourth finisher was Ghersi (Maserati).
The rainy weather was not too good for racing, but it did not keep the spectators away, and a big crowd had gathered by the time the second heat was run. The ” works ” E.R.A.s only had the f ourcylinder Maseratis of Hug and Bianco against them, but they could expect some fair competition from Rolt (E.R.A.). As was expected, Mays and Lord Howe led from the start, with the two Maseratis trailing them, with Rolt still further back. Then the young Englishman put on speed and took third place, which he held to the end. It was an unexciting race, and the leaders were very much faster than all the others. Maya’s time was 46 mins. 30 secs., quite a bit quicker than Pietsch’s in the first heat.
The final was really a battle of tactics, with victory going to the wise. Mays did not get into the lead immediately, but he was not long in doing so, closely chased by Pietsch, Howe, Bianco, and Hug. Behind them came De Teffe (Maserati) and Wakefield (E.R.A.). Rolt had the misfortune to stall his engine at the start, and it would not restart. Eventually he got away two laps to the bad, and proceeded to drive like a tornado to make up the lost ground. His cornering in the wet was awe-inspiring, and only masterly driving saved him from coming to grief, so high was his speed on the fast curves.
Pietsch was the first of the leaders to fall out, just beyond the pits, and then Mays stopped with supercharger trouble. This was the opportunity that Armand Hug, the Swiss driver, had been waiting for, and he quickly passed Lord Howe, whose engine was misfiring, to take the lead. Bianco clung to his tail, and Wakefield also passed Howe, and so they finished with Maseratis first and second, and E.R.A.s third and fourth.
RESULT Prix de Berne
1. Hug (Maserati), lh. 10m. 0.58. 81.88 m.p.h.
2. Bianco (Maserati), lb. 40.8s.
3. Wakefield (E.R.A.), lb. urn. 41.8s.
4. Lord Howe (E.R.A.), lb. 12m. 0.8s.
The Swiss Grand Prix
The Swiss Grand Prix for formula cars was particularly gratifying from the British point of view, for it established (or should I say confirmed ?) beyond all doubt the greatness of Richard Seaman as one of the world’s finest racing drivers. It all began at the last training session. Caracciola was out first and recorded his fastest lap in 2 mins. 43.6 secs., followed by Stuck (Auto-Union) who clocked 2 mins. 42.6 secs. Then Lang went out, with a determined expression on his face, and managed to clip a fraction off Stuck’s time to get round in 2 mins. 42 secs. dead. Finally it was Seaman’s turn, and the Englishman drove round in his usual calm, phlegmatic manner. His time was announced, and immediately there was a babel of excited talk. 2 mins. 38.9 sees., over a second better than the fastest of the Germans! As for the others, Nuvolari had done 2 mins. 43.9
secs., Farina 2 mins. 46.4 secs., Wimille 2 mins. 47.4 secs., and Dreyfus 2 mins. 51 secs.
Twenty-one cars were ranged on the starting line : four Mercedes (Caracciola, Lang, Von Brauchitsch and Seaman), four Auto-Unions (Nuvolari, Muller, Stuck and Kautz), two Delahayes (Dreyfus and Raph), four Maseratis (De Graffenreid, Mandirolo, Christin and. Teagno), and seven Alfa-Romeos (Farina, Wimille, Taruffi, Sztrikild, Minozzi and Fahrer).
It was good to see Seaman leaping to., the fore at the start, and he maintained this position at the end of the first lap.
Instead of the remaining ‘Mercedes, however, it was Stuck’s Auto-Union which appeared in second place, ahead of Caracciola and two more Auto-Unions. driven by Muller and Kautz, and then Von Brauchitsch. It will be seen that neither Nuvolari nor Lang was in the.
picture. The former was experiencing engine trouble, and stopped at the pits, while poor Lang had been hit by a flying stone and wounded over the eye, having to hand his car over to Baumer. Stuck was doing his best to pass Seaman,. and Caracciola was doing his utmost to pass Stuck, so that the crowd were on their toes all through the opening laps. Caracciola succeeded in his purpose on_ the fourth lap, and went after his British team-mate. The rain then came on more heavily than ever, conditions in which ” Carratsch ” excels, Muller was driving the race of his life,, being only 40 secs. behind Seaman, but soon he began to be menaced. by Von Brauchitsch, who ultimately passed him,. and made the order “Mercedes one, two, three.” Caracciola stopped for refuelling,. letting Seaman into the lead, but the original order was restored when the British driver had to pull up for the same purpose. Von Brauchitsch did likewise, and also did his best to catch Seaman, but neither of them could make any real impression on Caracciola, who ran out a winner of the Swiss Grand Prix for the third year in succession, 24 secs. ahead
of Richard Seaman. Von Brauchitsch. was third, and the gallant Stuck fourth on his Auto-Union, with Farina the first Alfa-Romeo driver to finish in fifth. position.
Seaman had the satisfaction of making, the fastest lap of the race at 95.9 m.p.h., a really splendid performance on a wet road. Stuck was lucky to get out of a. terrific backwards slide with nothing more serious than a dent in the tail of his AutoUnion. ” Bira ” drove Teagno’s Maserati for a few laps, thereby having one of his rare tastes of real formula racing.
RESULT Of The Swiss Grand Prix
1. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz), 227.5 miles in. 2h. 32in. 7.8s. Speed 89.44 m.p.h.
2. Seaman (Mercedes-Benz), 2h. 32m, 33.8s.
3. Von Brauchitseh (Mercedes-Benz), 21i. 33m. 11.0s.
4. Stuck (Auto-Union). 2h. 34m. 12.5s.
5. Farina (Alfa-Romeo), 211. 34m. 34.8s. 0. Taruffi (Alfa-Romeo), 3 laps behind.
7. Wimille (Alfa-Romeo).
8. Dreyfus (Delahaye).
9. Nuvolari (Auto-Union).
10. Lang-Baumer (Mercedes-Benz).
11. Raph (Delahaye).