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FOREWORD

The information within these pages was derived primarily from contemporary magazines and newspapers. I am indebted to all those outstanding journalists and reporters for their diligent reporting. Without their stories, we would not have learned about what happened at these events. Secondary sources have also been helpful but to a much lesser extent. Several others have given valuable advice and corrected errors. I extend my appreciation to all those helpful specialists and enthusiasts. I give special thanks to Tony Kaye for patiently editing the text and catching my occasional blunder. Lastly I am immensely grateful to Leif Snellman for providing a site where these factual and elaborate accounts can enable us to relive these long ago races and also for his incredible lifelike drawings.
Hans Etzrodt




INTRODUCTION

The Bugatti team from Molsheim with Meo Costantini ruled the 1926 season, winning three Grand Prix races, including the European Grande Epreuve in Spain and the 1926 World Championship, which Alfa Romeo had won the year before. The other contenders were Delage, Talbot and Peugeot from France, Maserati and to a lesser extent OM from Italy, Duesenberg and Miller from the USA and Alvis, Aston Martin, Halford and Thomas Special from Great Britain. Alfa Romeo had already pulled out of racing at the end of the 2-liter formula in 1925. However Bugatti and Maserati still had factory race teams and both companies also sold grand prix race cars to private entrants. The major racing scene was dominated by Italian and French drivers and the British racer Malcolm Campbell.

The 1926 Formula
The CSI (International Sporting Committee) of the A.I.A.C.R. had decided on a formula with 1.5-liter maximum engine capacity (with or without s/c) while the minimum weight limit was 600 kg - 1322 lb. The riding mechanic was barred but two seats remained mandatory in two seater cars with a minimum width of 80 cm - 31.5 inches. A cover over the empty seat was permitted. A mirror of at least 80 square cm had to be fitted. Repair and replenishing of the car was restricted to the driver and one mechanic.
      Indianapolis remained part of the World Championship, where the engine size was reduced from 122 to 91.5 cubic inches, to match the 1.5-liter Grand Prix formula.
      Formula Libre without the 1.5 liter formula restrictions worked well and produced good racing, allowing the 2.0 and 2.3 liter Bugattis to contest non-championship Grand Prix races.
      Targa Florio regulations were for racing cars divided into four categories: up to 1100 cc, 1500 cc, 2000 cc and over 2000 cc. Each car had to have two adjacent seats and a minimum weight of driver and mechanic together of 120 kg. If the mechanic's seat remained unoccupied, a ballast of 80 kg had to be added. The driver and mechanic could exchange each other's role but only at the end of each lap. The entry fee was 1000 lire per car. To be classified all cars had to complete the 5-lap race within 10 hours except 1100cc cars, which could not exceed 8 hours with a racing distance of only 3 laps.

The Races
Only the national clubs of France, Spain, Great Britain and Italy held races to the Grand Prix formula. The Indianapolis 500 was run to a different formula, although the engine size was the same. Other major events like the Targa Florio, formula libre Spanish Grand Prix at San Sebastian and the Grand Prix of Milan were held to formula libre, bringing the total to seven major races.
      There were an additional 21 minor events for Grand Prix cars, comprising Pozzo Circuit at Verona, Rome Grand Prix at Valle Guila, Provence Grand Prix at Miramas, Tripoli Grand Prix at Tagiura, Coppa Vinci at Messina, Alessandria Circuit at Alessandria, Coppa Etna at Catana, Savio Circuit at Ravenna, Coppa della Perugina at Perugia, Eifel-Rennen at Nideggen, Coppa del Marchese Ginori at Cascine Circuit in Florence, German Grand Prix at Avus in Berlin, Marne Grand Prix at Reims, Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, Coppa Montenero at Livorno, Boulogne Grand Prix at Boulogne-sur-Mer, Solitude-Rennen at Stuttgart, Ligure-Piemontese Circuit at Novi-Ligure, JCC 200 Miles at Brooklands, Grand Prix du Salon and Garda Circuit at Salo. The remaining races were less important, minor national events of a club type nature.

The 1926 World Championship
for constructors was organized by the CSI of the AIACR, comprising five international races in five different countries and was won by Bugatti with Jules Goux winning two events. More about it here.

The Swiss Automobile Championship was held for the first time in 1926, consisting of six Mountain Climbs and one Kilometer Speed Trial.
     - Grafenort-Engelberg Mountain Climb on May 30.
     - Eaux-Mortes (near Geneva)1-km speed trial on June13
     - Rheineck-Walzenhausen Mountain Climb on June 27.
     - Biaufond-La Chaux-de-Fonds Mountain Climb on July 4.
     - Monte Ceneri Mountain Climb on July 11.
     - Klausen Mountain Climb on August 7.
     - Dornach-Gempen Mountain Climb on September 12.

Cancelled events
None recorded so far.

The 1926 Spanish races have always caused confusion, even during the twenties. What was different for 1926 was that Spain was finally included in the World Championship and their event received the title 'European Grand Prix', meaning an obligatory race in the championship. Looking back one year, the Spaniards had been boxed out of the 1925 World Championship for reasons that are still unknown. Allegaddly, the Italian delegation at the CSI had enough clout, as organizer of the championship, to keep the Spaniards from having a Grande Épreuve that year. Whether this is true or not, remains a matter of conjecture. The reason for Spanish GP cancellations was usually of financial nature while their enthusiasm was always there. Therefore, it is quite possible that the Spaniards withdrew from the 1925 World Championship because of financial reasons. So it was one or the other.
      Returning to the 1926 Championship, we must remember that the formula had just changed. Up to the end of 1925 the 2-liter grand prix formula was in place. This changed as of 1926, when the formula required cars with 1.5-liter engine capacity. Several manufacturers were not too excited about this change, but not so Bugatti. However, Alfa Romeo quit racing at the end of 1925. So, there existed some uncertainly about receiving good entries for the new 1.5-liter races and possibly for that reason the Spanish promoter decided to have a second race in addition to the European Grand Prix. Instead of naming this the 'San Sebastian Grand Prix', the promoter decided to call this the 'Spanish Grand Prix' but allowed cars with no engine restrictions, thereby accommodating the previous year's grand prix cars.
      In conclusion, the 1926 European Grand Prix on the Lasarte Circuit counted for the European Championship and was restricted to 1.5-liter cars, while the 1926 Spanish Grand Prix, held one week later, was a race for formula libre racing cars. Both races took place on the Lasarte Circuit near San Sebastian and Bugatti cars won both of them.

The German Grand Prix after four prior attempts was finally staged in 1926. The race was run at Avus, because the Nürburgring did not yet exist as a completed circuit. By 1926, Germany had also become a full member of the AIACR and the CSI and this race was open to international drivers. But this first German Grand Prix was not for race cars but for sports cars. This decision was made because the AvD (Automobil-Club von Deutschland) calculated that there were greater chances of winning for sports cars of German makes, while there were hardly any 1500cc racing cars in Germany. The foreign companies and drivers did not appreciate the arrangement and therefore among the 38 drivers at the start, there were only 4 foreigners. Special arrangements were made to allow the modification of two Mercedes race cars to be equipped with two primitive seats in the tail of the 2-liter 8-cylinder race cars; they even allowed Rosenberger and Caracciola to drive without fenders and other cars as well. Surprisingly, a 1500 cc OM grand prix car was allowed to race.



1926 SEASON LINEUP

Factory Racing Teams

Alvis Car & Engineering Co. Ltd. (Coventry, Warwickshire, Great Britain)
Cars: the 1926 type 8-cyl. 1500 cc Grand Prix car.
Drivers: Maurice Harvey (GB) - Earl of Cottenham (GB).
Races entered: JCC 200 Mile Race.

Aston Martin Motors Ltd. (Feltham, Middlesex, Great Britain)
Cars: one 1926 type 8-cyl. 1500 cc Grand Prix car.
Drivers: George Eyston (GB) - Basil Eyston.
Races entered: British Grand Prix - JCC 200 Mile Race.

Automobiles Ettore Bugatti (Molsheim, France)
Bugatti had to adopt their cars to the new 1500 cc formula. They carried on with the chassis of the 1925 type 35, but with a 1500cc 8-cylinder engine installed it became the T39 and in supercharged version it became the T39A.
Cars: T35A, T35T and T37, existing cars all without supercharger.
Drivers: Meo Costantino (I) - Jules Goux (F) - Ferdinando Minoia (I) - "Sabipa" Jean Charavel (F).
Races entered: Targa Florio - French Grand Prix - European Grand Prix (San Sebastian) - Spanish Grand Prix - British Grand Prix - Italian Grand Prix.

Automobiles Delage (Courbevoie, Paris, France)
Cars: 15-S-8 the 1926 model, three cars were built.
Drivers: Albert Divo (F) - Count Giulio Masetti (I) - René Thomas (F) - Edmond Bourlier (F) - Robert Benoist (F) - André Morel (F) - Louis Wagner (F) - Robert Sénéchal (F).
Races entered: Targa Florio - European Grand Prix - Spanish Grand Prix - British Grand Prix.

Automobiles Peugeot (Sochaux, France)
Cars: the type 174 S was a 1925 model (six cars were built), with minor improvements two cars were raced in 1926.
Drivers: Louis Wagner (F), André Boillot (F).
Races entered: Targa Florio.

Automobiles Talbot (Suresnes in Paris, France)
Cars: Type GPLB (1926 type designation by Automobiles Talbot), 1925 and 1926 models.
Drivers: Henry Segrave (GB) - Albert Divo (F) - Jules Moriceau (F) - Hugo Urban-Emmerich (CZ).
Races entered: Provence Grand Prix - British Grand Prix - Boulogne Grand Prix - JCC 200 Mile Race - Grand Prix du Salon.

Duesenberg Inc. (Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
Cars: Type 91
Drivers: Peter dePaolo (USA) finished 5th in the 1926 Indy 500 race. There was one other Duesenberg in the Indianapolis 500, but neither driver took part in any of the European races.
Races entered: Indianapolis 500, possibly others.

Miller Motors Inc. (Los Angeles, California, USA)
Cars: Type 91
Drivers: Frank Lockhart (USA) won the Indy 500. Another 17 Millers raced in the Indianapolis 500, but none of the American drivers took part in any of the European races.
Races entered: Indianapolis 500 - did not enter races in Europe.

Officine Alfieri Maserati (Bologna, Italy)
Cars: 1500 cc type 26, 3 cars were built. The company was founded in 1926, their first year of racing.
Drivers: Alfieri Maserati (I) - Emilio Materassi (I) - Ernesto Maserati (I) - Guido Merigalli (I) reserve but did not race Maserati.
Races entered: Targa Florio - Coppa Vinci (Messina) - Savio Circuit (Ravenna) - Coppa della Perugina - Bologna Speed trial - Rimini Speed trial - Italian Grand Prix - Milan Grand Prix - Coppa d. Collina Pistolese - Bologna Loiano - Perugina - Garda Circuit.

SA Officine Meccaniche (O.M.) (Brescia, Italy)
Cars: two 1926 8-cyl. 1500 Grand Prix cars
Several 665 "Superba" types of straight 6- cylinder 1990 cc sports cars, stripped for racing.
Drivers were mostly independent, some with factory support: Renato Balestreo, Andrea Nicoli, Lettorio Piccolo Cucinotta (I) - Giuseppe Morandi (I) - Nando Minoia (I) -
Races entered: Targa Florio, Coppa Messina, Coppa Etna, German Grand Prix (a sports car race).

Independent Racing Teams

Halford Special: F. Halford designed by Major Frank Halford (Great Britain)
Cars: 1926 type 6-cyl. 1500 Grand Prix car Halford Special
Drivers: Frank Halford (GB).
Races entered: British Grand Prix, JCC 200 Mile Race.


VICTORIOUS DRIVERS

Meo Costantini was the most successful driver in 1926, after winning three major races, also finishing third in the European Grand Prix and second in the Italian GP. Bartolomeo "Meo" Costantini was born in 1889 in Italy. His first race was with the Aquila-Italiana works team in the 1914 Targa Florio including a few other races. After the war in 1920 he raced a 1500 Bugatti T13, also the following year with the same car he finished second at the Garda circuit. In 1922 he raced a Bianchi 18, in 1923 with an 1100 Amilcar he finished first in class in the Coppa delle Alpi.
      In 1923 Costantini joined Bugatti in a role that would change while he remained in Molsheim. The official standing of Costantini in the Bugatti factory was not known. He undoubtedly was very close to the Bugatti family inner circle. He prepared racing cars and he won races with them in a manner which no other has equaled. Costantini started as a test driver and sports director in 1924 and became the team leader. At the September 1924 San Sebstian GP in Spain, he finished second in a T35, to Segrave's winning Sunbeam. During May 1925 Costantini won the Targa Florio with a T35. The Italian was again victorious at the 950 km French Touring Car Grand Prix at Montlhéry with a 1500 cc T39 Bugatti after over 11 hours behind the wheel. At the 800 km Italian GP he finished third overall with the T39 and also won the 1500 cc category.
      In 1926 still as team leader, Costantini once more won the Targa Florio and the Coppa Florio, driving a 2300 cc T35T at a new record speed. At the European Grand Prix, held at San Sebastian, he finished third with the T39, and he won the following week's Spanish GP in a T35. In September at the Italian Grand Prix he came second with a T39 but won his last race, the Milan Grand Prix in a T35C. The 1926 season had been Costantini's most successful year, with more victories than Goux, Wagner or Sénéchal. After 1926 Costantini stopped racing and became the Bugatti team manager.

Jules Goux, born in 1885, had worked for Peugeot since he was a boy. He was Robert Peugeot's personal chauffeur and was held in very high regard by his employers. Goux raced from 1909 to 1926 and had his racing career interrupted twice, first by WW I and then by a crash in the 1922 French Grand Prix. For nine years Goux participated in 13 Grandes Épreuves and won three of them. From 1912 to 1914 Georges Boillot at Peugeot was his great adversary. Goux also competed at the Indy 500 and won there in 1913 on the first of five attempts. He only raced French cars, Peugeot, Ballot, Schmidt and Bugatti. He joined the Bugatti race team in 1925. During 1926 he won two Grandes Épreuves and was considered by some to be the best driver that year.

Louis Wagner, born in 1882, at age 21 he drove for Darracq in the 1903 Paris-Madrid race finishing third in the voiturette class and at the Circuit des Ardennes he won the voiturette class. In 1905 he again won the voiturette class at the Circuit des Ardennes. In 1906 he won the Vanderbilt Cup race with a Darracq ahead of Vincenzo Lancia's Fiat. In 1907 he finished seventh in a Fiat at the Kaiserpreis. In 1908 he was third in the St. Petersburg-Moscow race and won the American Grand Prize in Savannah driving a Fiat. In 1912 he finished second in the French Grand Prix in a Fiat and in the 1914 at the French Grand Prix he finished second in a Mercedes. In 1921 he finished third with Fiat in the Italian GP. He drove for Ballot, then Rolland- Pilain and in 1924 for Alfa Romeo. In 1925 he finished second with a Peugeot at the Targa Florio and second in a Delage with Torchy at the French Grand Prix. In 1926 with Peugeot he was sixth in the Targa Florio, and with Delage he shared fourth place in the European GP and shared third place in the Spanish GP. He won the 1926 British Grand Prix in a 1.5-Liter Delage with Robert Sénéchal.

Robert Sénéchal, 34, started racing in 1921 with his 994 cc Sénéchal cycle car, which he built himself. He had a manufacturing agreement with Chenard & Walcker who built his little cars from 1922 to 1925 with the name Sénéchal on the radiator. Sénéchal also drove cars from Chenard & Walcker on occasions. The Frenchman helped as relief driver in the second placed Delage at the 1926 European Grand Prix. Together with Louis Wagner he won the 1926 British Grand Prix in a 1.5-Liter Delage.

Jean Charavel "Sabipa" was born 1890 in Southern France. He started racing in 1920 in a Weler cycle car. In 1921 he bought a Bugatti T22 Brescia which he raced for the next four years in minor events. In 1925 he won the 1500 class in the 12-hour touring car GP at San Sebastian. In 1926 he became a works driver for Bugatti. Charavel acquired his pseudonym of Sabipa when in response to a journalist's question he answered in provincial dialect 'Sabe pas' (I don't know).


IN MEMORIAM

March 25, 1926 --- Felix Castellan (F) from Marseille, was killed at the Miramas track practicing for the Provence Grand Prix, France. Alfred Ducreux and Gaétan Ducreux were practicing together in their Panhards, when they almost collided at the entrance of the loop. During heavy braking, the car of Gaétan Ducreux swerved, spun and struck the embankment on the slope. Gaétan Ducreux, and his mechanic, the young Felix Castellan of the Panhard-Levassor works, were thrown from the car. Ducreux escaped with heavy bruises, but the driverless car continued its trajectory, hit Castellan, lying on the track. Castellan was transported to hospital with a caved in chest, where he soon died. The sad accident happened by mistake and caused great dismay for the organizer and others. Felix Castellan was to drive the second Panhard Levassor but the cars did not start.

April 25, 1926 --- Count Giulio Masetti (I) crashed a 2000 cc 12-cylinder Delage grand prix car on the first lap of the Targa Florio. The cause of the accident remains unknown. The accident happened in an S-bend at Solafani at km 27, the dangerous double turn before Caltavuturo. When Masetti left the first part of this bend at high speed, he pushed the accelerator. As a result at the entrance to the second bend of the S the car received a sudden jolt which the brakes were unable to slow. The Delage now charged up the steep stone-faced banking, at the edge of the road, then rolled over and slipped back to the road upside down. Masetti was buried underneath his car and his injuries were so severe, that he died shortly afterwards. This at least is the explanation of the crash given by Costantini, Morawitz, Croce and Boillot. A rumor had it that he had fallen on his face. Giulio Masetti was born 1895 in Florence, Italy. After winning the Targa Florio in 1921 and 1922, he was called 'The Lion of Madonie'. With him disappeared not only one of the best Italian Gentleman Drivers but also an outstanding international driver.

May 16, 1926 --- A. V. "Archie" Turner (AUS) crashed his Bugatti T30 at Brookvale, NSW (AUS) on May 15, 1926 and died the following night.

July 9, 1926 --- Carlo Cattaneo (I), a sportsman from Milan and a friend of Luigi Platè, was not a professional riding mechanic. He died on Friday evening as passenger in Platè's Chiribiri type Monza race car during free practice, after official practice had closed for the German Grand Prix at the Avus in Berlin. Driving at 120 to 150 km/h, Platè braked too late to avoid a collision. He probably had not seen the signal given by the mechanic of W. Heine (D) driving a 2.6-Liter NAG, who had joined the race track at the South Curve from a parallel street. The right front tire of the Chiribiri collided with the left front wheel of the NAG, causing the Chiribiri to overturn. Immediately a few people who had watched the accident with terror, headed to the car and rescued the two men trapped underneath. Cattaneo died shortly thereafter without having regained consciousness. Platè was also unconscious, suffering a severe concussion, broken ribs and internal injuries. An ambulance transported the driver to a hospital while the driver of the NAG, W. Heine, suffered serious injuries and his passenger, Rolf Richard Kunze escaped with slight contusions.

July 11, 1926 --- Wilhelm Klose (D) a time keeper died immediately in the crash of the German Grand Prix at Avus, Berlin described below and a second time keeper Bruno Kleinsorge (D) was seriously injured. The board painter Gustav Rosenow (D) who took care of the timing display had both legs crushed and died 12 hours later after amputation. The accident happened when the leader Adolf Rosenberger (D) crashed on his seventh lap. Karl Ludvigsen wrote that the tank of ether sprang a leak, releasing fumes into the cockpit that caused Adolf to lean out for more air. This threw him off his line on the wet track when leaving the North Curve at high speed onto the straight stretch of the glass-like slippery track at about 150 km/h skidded sideways onto the bordering strip of wet grass to the right. The car spun once completely around before it crashed at full momentum sideways into the scoring board, broke its steel support beams and demolished part of the adjoining time keeper's hut with the two young student timekeepers and the painter inside. Rosenberger escaped with slight head injuries while his riding mechanic Cocquelline escaped with fractures.

August 26, 1926 --- Captain R.B. Howey (GB) driving a 4.5-liter Ballot, died at Boulogne-sur-Mer (F) when he lost control of his car in the 1609 meters Baincthum hill climb with a succession of four curves. After four or five fishtails, Howey skidded off the road, lightly hit a car parked at the beginning of a side road and crashed right into a tree. During the incident he mowed down a policeman and some spectators. The policeman and one spectator Mr. Louis Pieters, who was standing nearby were killed immediately. A second spectator, Mr. Duboille-Périn, had a severed leg, and his condition caused grave concern. A young man, M. Dubuisson, was assisted with an open double fracture of the leg. The service constable at this location, Mr. Guillet, had a broken leg. A few seconds before the accident, the constable had sent back a dozen imprudent spectators, who otherwise would also have been mowed down. When the car appeared threatening, Constable Guillet turned to the public without thinking of himself and ordered back a few spectators, which certainly saved two of them. The race was stopped, and the sports commission cancelled the afternoon race. The accident occurred through the driver's fault, causing the deaths of two spectators imprudently placed outside a turn and ending his own life.

September 12, 1926 --- Erwin Ruckle (D) a young driver from Stuttgart died at the Solitude-Rennen (D) on lap 6 of the morning's sports car race when his 1100 Salmson left the track at Lake Steinbach, fell down an embankment and turned over twice. Ruckle suffered a double fractured skull and died at the crash site and his seriously injured co-driver was transported to hospital.

September 20, 1926 --- Mario Fogazzi (I) the riding mechanic of Arturo Farinotti (I) with a Bugatti T35 died on the first lap of the Ligure-Piemontese race (I) just a few hundred meters after the start at the very wide Pozzolo Formigaro curve. As a result of the dust raised by the cars ahead, visibility was poor and the former motorcyclist crashed into a roadside post, overturning the car. The two men, driver and mechanic, were thrown onto the wide road and were immediately hit by two cars that followed. While Farinotti received severe injuries to his left arm and head, his riding mechanic died minutes later from a serious head injury. Mario Fogazzi aged 30 came from Brescia but lived in Milan a father with two children. His body was transported to the mortuary of the Pozzolo Formigaro Municipality. The condition of Farinotti was serious but not life threatening. The Green Cross ambulance transported him to the Alexandria hospital.

October 12, 1926 --- Marius Breton (F), died at Montlhéry (F) attempting to beat Eldridge's 50 kilometer speed record. He was driving a 4-cylinder 5,517 cc Panhard-Levassor when a tire burst in a turn at 230 km/h. The Panhard hit the balustrade, rolled over and was smashed to pieces. The unfortunate driver was literally crushed. Breton worked as an engineer and race driver at the Panhard-Levassor factory, was married and the father of a family.


Consonno (Bugatti)Serboli (Chiribiri)Saccomani (Chiribiri)

CIRCUITO DEL POZZO

Circuito del Pozzo - Verona (I), 21 March 1926.
20 laps x 12.722 km (7.82 mi) = 254.44 km (158.1 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

Category 5, 2001 to 3000 cc
2Giuseppe PizzolottoGiuseppe PizzolottoAlfa RomeoRL3.0S-6
..XXCeirano3.0S-6DNA - did not appear
 
Category 4, 1501 to 2000 cc
..Filippo TassaraF. TassaraBugattiT352.0S-8
..Silvio PelàS. PelàDiatto20S2.0S-8
..Alessandro ConsonnoA. ConsonnoBugattiT352.0S-8
..XXLanda2.0DNA - did not appear
 
Category 3, 1101 to 1500 cc
..Celio BrajanigoC. BrajanigoBugattiBrescia1.5S-4
..Nino CacciatoriN. CacciatoriBugattiBrescia1.5S-4
..Alberto AncillottoA. AncillottoBugattiT221.5S-4
..Tomaso SaccomaniT. SaccomaniChiribiri12/161.5S-4
11Umberto SerboliU. SerboliChiribiri12/161.5S-4
..Edoardo MillaE. MillaChiribiri1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
..Gigi PlatèG. PlatèChiribiri1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
..Andrea SanchiA. SanchiChiribiri1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
 
Category 2, 751 to 1100 cc
..Alberto MarinoA. MarinoMarinoGS1.1S-4
..Aldo ZirondaA. ZirondaMarinoGS1.1S-4
17Luigi MattioliL. MattioliMarinoGS1.1S-4
..XXMarinoGS 1.1S-4DNA - did not appear
19Luigi Del ReL. Del ReHarley-Davidson1.0V-2
20Leopoldo VenturiL. VenturiSalmsonVAL1.1S-4
..Umberto CappellaU. CappellaFiat509 S1.0S-4
 
Category 1, up to 750 cc
..Evasio CornaraE. CornaraFod565cc0.6S-4
..Emilio PanicucciE. PanicucciFod565cc0.6S-4
..XXFod565cc0.6S-4DNA - did not appear


Consonno with Bugatti victorious at the Pozzo Circuit

by Hans Etzrodt
The 1926 Pozzo Circuit was the season opener when 17 drivers raced for 20 laps around the fast triangular course south of Verona. The early battle between Tassara and Consonno in Bugattis provided excitement until lap five when Tassara stopped for new tires, handing the lead to Consonno ahead of Serboli and Saccomani in Chiribiris. Pizzolotto (Alfa Romeo) crashed on lap 5 and Pelà (2000 Diatto) retired on lap 6. By lap 10 Tassara (2000 Bugatti) had made up the time lost in the pits and was leading the race until he crashed on lap 14. Consonno (2000 Bugatti) then regained the lead which he held until the finish ahead of Serboli and Saccomani in 1500 Chiribiris followed by Cacciatori and Ancillotto in 1500 Bugattis and Mattioli (1100 Marino) in sixth place. There were five more finishers and six cars retired.
The organizer l'Automobile Club di Verona held the first Circuito del Pozzo race on the fast triangular 12.722 km dirt road course, south off Verona which contained two magnificent straights connected by three well elevated banked curves. The start was near Verona at Fort Tomba. The circuit made an immediate wide right turn at a specially constructed elliptical curve, the Parabolica near Trombetta, which was also called just Trombetta or Casette Nuove or Borga Roma. From here the course headed south for about 5 km along the Via Palezzina straight to San Giovanni Lupatoto where the course made a right turn, which was cemented and banked, leading towards Pozzo. But before Pozzo the course turned north along the straight stretch of Via Cesare Battisti, about 5 km, which became Via Legnano further on towards Verona. This led to the tip of the triangular course, and to the start and finish, the pits and grandstand just ahead of the Parabolica. The drivers had to complete 20 laps, a distance of 254.440 km. The Pozzo Circuit demanded courage and ability to drive for two hours on the two narrow straights, where the cars reached their top speed.
Entries:
The Verona AC received 24 entries, but only 17 cars appeared at the start. The four Veronese drivers were Nino Cacciatori and Celio Brajanigo both with 1500 Bugattis, Saccomani (Chiribiri) and Leopoldo Venturi with an 1100 Salmson. There were four drivers from Milan, Filippo Tassara (2000 Bugatti), Sandro Consonno (2000 Bugatti) and Edoardo Milla and Gigi Platè both in 1500 Chiribiris. The three drivers from Padua were Luigi Mattioli and Aldo Zironda in 1100 Marinos and Silvio Pelà (2000 Diatto). Giuseppe Pizzolotto (3000 Alfa Romeo) came from Valdobbiadene, Umberto Serboli (1500 Chiribiri) was from Lonato and Carlo Alberto Ancillotto (1500 Bugatti) came from Treviso. Luigi De Re (1000 Harley-Davidson) arrived from Spezia, Emilio Panicucci (600 Fod) was from Conegliano and Evasio Tornara (600 Fod) was from Turin.
      The entry of Filippo Tassara is confusing. In all reports he is listed as starter in the 1500 category (with his 1500 Bugatti T22) but instead he raced in the 2000 category with his other car, a 2000 Bugatti T35. This change was not reported in any of our sources.
      Scrutineering of the cars took place on Saturday from 12:00 to 3:00 PM.
Race:
The inaugural Pozzo Circuit race was held on a cold and rainy day, but that did not prevent a large crowd from attending to watch the 17 drivers who started. The circuit was closed at 11:00 AM when barriers to the access roads were erected all around the circuit in order to keep the circuit clear for the race.
      The start was only reported in L'Adige newspaper but did not explain the order of the start. Most likely the cars were started in pairs with 10 seconds interval, which is not a fact but only speculation.
 
Grid not available

Cavaliere Enrico Grassi gave the start at 14.45 to Tassara in the Bugatti 2000 and Pizzolotto in the Alfa Romeo 3000. Tassara was very fast and immediately took the lead. After an interval of 10 seconds Pelà in his 2000 Diatto and Consonno (2000 Bugatti) were given the signal to start. Consonno took off very fast after Pizzolotto while Pelà's Diatto hesitated on the line and lost a few seconds.
      The 1500 category started next, Cacciatori (Bugatti) who left Braijanigo (Bugatti) behind while Serboli (Chiribiri) came to join him, preceding Saccomani (Chiribiri), Ancillotto (Bugatti) preceded Zironda (Marino 1000) at the curve.
      Mattioli (Marino) and Del Re (Harley-Davidson) followed next. Venturi (Salmson) went ahead at the start with Marino (Marino). Panicucci (Fod) of the 800 category initially went ahead of Capello (Fiat 509) and Cornara (Fod), who started together.
      The crowd waited in suspense for the end of the first lap. Tassara was in the lead after 6m30s when the cars passed in the following order:
1.Tassara (Bugatti 2000)
2.Pizzolotto (Alfa Romeo 3000)
3.Consonno (Bugatti 2000)
4.Pelà (Diatto 2000)
5.Cacciatori (Bugatti 1500)
6.Serboli (Chiribiri 1500)
7.Saccomani (Chiribiri 1500)
8.Ancillotto (Bugatti 1500)
9.Zironda (Marino 1100)
10.Del Re (Harley-Davidson 1000)
11.Mattioli (Marino 1100)
12.Venturi (Salmson 1100)
13.Marino (Marino 1100)
14.Braianigo (Bugatti 1500)
15.Cappello (Fiat 1000)
16.Cornara (Fod 600)
17.Panicucci (Fod 600)

On the second lap Tassara was still ahead of the field but on lap 4 he stopped to change tires on his Bugatti, passing the lead to Consonno in the 2000 Bugatti. The 1500 category was now led by Serboli followed by Saccomani in the Chiribiris. The 1100 category was led by Venturi's Salmson ahead of Mattioli's Marino, Del Re's Harley-Davidson, Zironda's Marino and Capello's Fiat.
      On the sixth lap Pizzolotto retired his Alfa Romeo. While driving at top speed on the straight towards San Giovanni, the radiator cap flew off, spraying boiling water into his face, causing him to lose control. He ended up in the ditch, breaking a wheel and twisting the chassis but luckily without personal injury. Pelà, who had looked rather threatening, was also forced to retire shortly afterwards due to brake failure on his 2000 Diatto.
      After lap 10, mid-race, Tassara had resumed the lead and controlled the pace ahead of Consonno and Serboli with Saccomani right behind but unable to overtake. Venturi led the 1100 category by a few minutes ahead of Marino and Del Re. In the small category Panicucci still led Cornara.
      The cars continued the race with some stops at the pits. On lap 14 Cornara retired his little Fod due to a broken valve retainer. On this lap another lead-change occurred. On the finish straight about 200 meters before the pit area, Tassara's Bugatti was about to overtake Saccomani when mud sprayed by the Chiribiri in Tassara's face, caused him to lose control. Instantly the Bugatti crashed with its rear against the wall in which it created a wide hole, then the car spun around several times, and finally scraped along the wall for some distance. Tassara and his mechanic Peter jumped from the damaged car, miraculously unharmed, but the condition of the car did not permit them to continue in the race. On the 14th lap Consonno regained the lead with his 2000 Bugatti and kept first place until the end, ahead of Serboli, Saccomani, Cacciatori, Ancillotto and Brajanigo. Mattioli followed in the lead of the 1100 category ahead of Venturi, Zironda, Del Re and Marino. Capello in his little Fiat drove consistently but relatively slowly. Panicucci was the only survivor in the minor category.

At the end of lap 20, the young Consonno crossed the finish line to the applause of the spectators. The unfortunate Tassara joined the winner and was also cheered. Consonno's win was deserved for his wise conduct in the race during which he had demonstrated both caution and daring.
      The remaining drivers, most of which had fallen several laps behind, carried on to complete the full distance. The 1500 category ended with a win for Serboli in a Chiribiri, who appeared very fast and consistent, so much so that he was presented with the Verona Regularity Cup. Serboli said, "With a similar track how can you not be regular? It is a very excellent route that allows faster speeds with dry roads. My race was waiting in the first laps. Then I began to pass one by one all the competitors until I arrived in the lead of my category. I'm very happy for the double win."
      Saccomani, a citizen of Verona, finished third. He took a serious risk with his Chiribiri and almost finished in the wall at the Parabolica. He braked his car abruptly, spinning across the road, while Brajanigo's Bugatti came up at great speed, but he was able to stop in time, avoiding a collision.
      Panicucci was the only survivor of the smallest category with a low average speed due to the bad road surface for a light car like the Fod. The rainy weather made it quite difficult to race causing several incidents on the muddy roads and the speed averages reached by the finishers were therefore lower than expected.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1...Alessandro ConsonnoA. ConsonnoBugattiT352.0S-8202h14m49.8s 
2.11Umberto SerboliU. SerboliChiribiri12/161.5S-4202h20m40.0s+ 5m50.2s
3...Tomaso SaccomaniT. SaccomaniChiribiri12/161.5S-4202h21m48.2s+ 6m58.4s
4...Nino CacciatoriN. CacciatoriBugattiBrescia1.5S-4202h26m30.4s+ 11m40.6s
5...Alberto AncillottoA. AncillottoBugattiT221.5S-4202h46m35.2s+ 31m45.4s
6.17Luigi MattioliL. MattioliMarinoGS1.1S-4202h49m31.2s+ 34m41.4s
7.20Leopoldo VenturiL. VenturiSalmsonVAL1.1S-4202h51m12.6s+ 36m22.8s
8...Celio BrajanigoC. BrajanigoBugattiBrescia1.5S-4202h57m33.2s+ 42m43.4s
9...Aldo ZirondaA. ZirondaMarinoGS1.1S-4203h18m09.0s+ 1h03m19.2s
10.19Luigi Del ReL. del ReHarley-Davidson1.0V-2203h41m08.6s+ 1h26m18.8s
11...Emilio PanicucciE. PanicucciFod0.6S-4204h17m49.8s+ 2h03m
DNF..Umberto CappelloU. CappelloFiat509 S1.0S-414+DNF after 14 laps 
DNF..Alberto MarinoA. MarinoMarinoGS1.1S-414+DNF after 14 laps 
DNF..Filippo TassaraF. TassaraBugattiT352.0S-814crash 
DNF..Evasio CornaraE. CornaraFod0.6S-413valve 
DNF..Silvio PelàS. PelàDiatto20S2.0S-87brakes 
DNF.2Giuseppe PizzolottoG. PizzolottoAlfa RomeoRL3.0S-65crash
Fastest lap in category up to 2000 cc: F.Tassara (Bugatti) in 6m03s = 121.2 km/h (78.4 mph).
Average speed of category 2000 cc: A. Consonno (Bugatti): 113.2 km/h (70.4 mph).
Average speed of category 1500 cc: U. Serboli (Chiribiri): 108.5 km/h (67.4 mph).
Average speed of category 1100 cc: L. Mattioli (Marino): 90.1 km/h (56.0 mph).
Average speed of category up to 750 cc: E. Panicucci (Fod) in 4h17m49.8s at 59.2 km/h (36.8 mph).
Weather: Cloudy, rainy, mud on roads.
In retrospect:
The organizer did not supply an up to date entry list to the press, and the timekeepers did not produce intermediate times. L'Adige newspaper provided the best information.

Primary sources researched for this article:
ACI-revista, Torino
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE, Bern
La Gazetta dello Sport, Milano
L'Adige, Verona
L'Arena, Verona
LA STAMPA, Torino
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
Special thanks to:
Alessandro Silva
Ms. Andrea Campalto
Ms. Paola Masetta


Maggi (Bugatti)Brilli-Peri (Alfa Romeo)Bonmartini/Marinoni (Alfa Romeo)

REALE PREMIO DI ROMA

Circuito Valle Giulia - Rome (I), 28 March 1926.
40 laps x 7.5 km (4.66 mi) = 300.0 km (186.4 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

1Emilio MaterassiE. MaterassiItala Special5.8S-4
2Cesare PapariniC. PapariniAustro-DaimlerADM3.0S-6
3Gino BertocciG. BertocciAlfa RomeoRLTF 233.0S-6
4Giovanni BonmartiniCount G. BonmartiniAlfa RomeoP22.0S-8
5Giulio MasettiCount G. MasettiSunbeamGP2.0S-8
6Aymo MaggiCount A. MaggiBugattiT352.0S-8
7Filippo TassaraF. TassaraBugattiT35A2.0S-8
8Gastone Brilli PeriCount G. Brilli PeriAlfa RomeoP22.0S-8
9Luigi SpinozziAlfredo BornigiaBugattiT352.0S-8
10Mario LeporiM. LeporiBugattiT352.0S-8
11Albert Divo Sunbeam Motor Car Co.SunbeamGP2.0S-8DNS - did not start
12Franco MazzottiF. MazzottiBugattiT352.0S-8
13Domenico AntonelliCount D. AntonelliBugattiT352.0S-8
14Carlo MasettiCount C. MasettiBugattiT352.0S-8
15Ettore SantoleriE. SantoleriChiribiriMonza1.5S-4DNA - did not start
16Luigi PlatèL. PlatèChiribiriMonza1.5S-4DNS - practice crash
17DNA - did not appear
18Pasquale CroceP. CroceBugattiT371.5S-4
19Mario MazzacuratiM. MazzacuratiChiribiriMonza1.5S-4DNS - did not start
20Dino GaragnaniD. GaragnaniBugattiT231.5S-4
21Edgar MorawitzE. MorawitzBugattiT391.5S-8
22Giovanni CutelliG. CutelliBugattiT131.5S-4


Maggi wins the Royal Rome Grand Prix with Bugatti

by Hans Etzrodt
The Royal Rome Grand Prix was the first international race of the season. Only six of the 17 starters completed the 300 km race. Materassi (Itala Special) held the lead for the first 5 laps, followed by Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo), Giulio Masetti (Sunbeam) and Bonmartini (Alfa Romeo). When Materassi retired, Brilli Peri took the lead and held it until the penultimate lap. In the meantime many contenders retired, including Carlo Masetti (Bugatti), Giulio Masetti, Paparini (Austro-Daimler) and the Bugattis of Antonelli, Tassara, Spinozzi and Cutelli. Maggi in his new Bugatti drove the first part of the race without forcing his speed holding third place, before progressively improving his pace to overhaul second placed Bonmartini. Brilli Peri, who had a big lead after Masetti's Sunbeam retired before mid-race, made three stops to change plugs, another to refuel and a third with a punctured tire. As a result he lost most of his lead, while Maggi's blue Bugatti made no stops. Maggi attacked Brilli Peri at a fast pace and passed the red Alfa Romeo on the last lap to win by 8 seconds.
The Reale Premio Roma, which was held for the first time in 1925, was again organized by the Automobile Club di Roma and the Commissione Sportiva del R.A.C.I. (Reale Automobile Club d'Italia). For the 1926 edition they decided to change the location to Circuito di Valle Giulia, located close to the Tiber River, in the northern part of Rome. Running clockwise, the start was between the grandstand and the Palazzo delle Belle Arti, then along Viale delle Belle Arti, Lungo Tevere Flaminio, Viale Tiziano and Lungotevere Acqua Acetosa, following into the winding Viale dei Parioli, Viale G. Rossini, Via Aldovrandi and back to Valle Giulia. The narrow course measured 7.500 km and with 40 laps the total distance was 300 km on a good surface.
      The entries were divided into four categories by capacity, 1. 1100 to1500 cc, 2. 1501 to 2000 cc, 3. 2001 to 3000 cc, 4. over 3000 cc. Cars with an engine of less than 1101 cc had to start in the 1500 cc category, which eliminated a cycle car class. The cars could be occupied by two people, the driver and the mechanic, or just the driver, in which case the vehicle had to carry 70 kg of ballast. The maximum allowable time was not published but only six finishers were classified, excluding three stragglers who were flagged down 45 minutes after the winner, Maggi, had crossed the finish line.
      The Automobile Club of Rome had a total prize fund of 180,000 lire. The overall winner, who completed the race in the shortest time, received 100,000 lire. In each of the four categories the winner received 10,000 lire, second 6,000 and third 4,000. A reproduction of the Roman she-wolf was awarded to the manufacturer of the overall winning car. A gold medal souvenir was awarded to all drivers who entered the race.
Entries:
The first Rome Grand Prix in 1925 was won by Carlo Masetti in a Bugatti despite all attempts by the Italians to win their own race. For the 1926 event the Italians once again arrived with some strong entries, but from a total of 22 cars, 12 were Bugattis in various configurations. The over 3000cc class had only one entry, the 5.8-Liter Itala Special of Materassi from Florence. It only had a few Itala parts (clutch, gearbox, transmission) so to call it an Itala 55 Special, as it is often done, is misleading. It had a makeshift chassis and suspension. It was called an Itala for publicity reasons as Materassi owned the Itala agency in Florence. The engine was half of a V8 Hispano-Suiza aircraft engine so the capacity was about 5.8 liters. The figure of precisely 4722cc, which is to be found in prevailing motor sport literature, is a mystery. This is well explained in an Alessandro Silva's article about Italian aero-engined specials published in The Automobile magazine.
      The class up to 3000 cc comprised one of the 1923 Alfa Romeo 6-cylinder RL works cars with a home-made radiator cowl in 1924 style driven by Bertocci and the 6-cylinder Austro-Daimler of Paparini from Rome.
      The 2000 cc class comprised 12 cars, all independent entries, but the two supercharged 8-cylinder P2 Alfa Romeos of Brilli Peri from Florence and Bonmartini from Rome raced with works support. The cars were possibly on loan from Alfa Romeo with test driver Marinoni as reserve driver and Ramponi, a long standing Alfa Romeo factory mechanic in the pits. Half a year earlier both cars had raced at Monza to win the 1925 World Championship for Alfa Romeo, after which the factory race team was dissolved. Besides the two 2000 Sunbeams, which are described in the practice and race paragraphs, there were nine 2000 Bugattis, the independent entries of Maggi with works support, Mazzotti and Tassara from Milan, Carlo Masetti and Antonelli from Rome, Mazzacurati from Grosseto, Lepori from Castagnola near Lugano and Spinozzi from Teramo who shared his car with car dealer Alfredo Bornigia who instructed the young driver. The entry of Luigi del Re from Spezia is uncertain because it is believed that he did not start since his participation could not be substantiated, no race number was assigned to him and he was only briefly mentioned in two reports. Rumor had it that a 1924 supercharged 2-Liter straight-8 Mercedes driven by the German Christian Werner would take part, the same car he had raced here in 1925, when he had retired while in second place. But it was merely wishful thinking.
      The 1500 class comprised four Bugattis and the Chiribiris of Santoleri ,Mazzacurati and Platè who was from Milan. After practice crashes the Chiribiris did not start which meant that the Bugattis had a free field in the lower category. A complete list of entries is at the beginning of this report.
Practice:
On Saturday practice a small crowd of enthusiasts witnessed the last rehearsals for the Roma Grand Prix with almost all competitors present. Even the two Sunbeams driven by Divo and Giulio Masetti practiced for the first time officially. The cars were not in perfect condition, forcing Divo to stop after a few laps due to a gearbox failure. Giulio Masetti in the other Sunbeam drove a few laps and on his 3rd lap made a good time in 4m47.8s. The fastest lap was done by Bonmartini with an Alfa Romeo P2 in 4m28s. Materassi (Itala Special) lapped in 4m44s, Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo) 4m46s and Garagnani (Bugatti) 4m37s. Platè in a Chiribiri lost a wheel and careened off the road at the curve of the Parco della Rimembranza. The accident had no immediate consequences as the driver returned to the pits after ten minutes. Damage to the car or possible injuries to the driver were not explained in the report.
Race:
Although it had rained during the days before the race, Sunday arrived as a sunny warm spring day. At 8.30 AM the grandstand was already crowded including numerous ladies in elegant spring dresses. Both Sunbeams should not have started in the race because a mechanic had assembled their gearboxes incorrectly. For that reason Divo, a former Sunbeam works driver, decided not to race shortly before the start. However Giulio Masetti did start, because he had given his word. He had tried to rectify the gearbox fault but since he had no mechanic with him, he was unsuccessful. The two Chiribiris of Santoleri and Platè did not appear at the start due to accidents during practice. Mazzacurati also did not start with his Chiribiri but his situation remained unclear.
      Finally the 18 cars were pushed to the wide starting grid for the 9:00 AM start with the finish line between the grandstand and the Palazzo delle Belle Arti (Palace of Fine Arts). The cars over 3000 cc and 3000 cc were placed ahead of the 2000 class and the 1500 cars were last. The grid was arranged in six rows of three, in order of the official race numbers with the lowest number at left front.
Pole Position
1
Materassi

Itala

2
Paparini

Bugatti

3
Bertocci

Alfa Romeo

4
Bonmartini

Alfa Romeo

5
G. Masetti

Sunbeam

6
Maggi

Bugatti

7
Tassara

Bugatti

8
Brilli Peri

Alfa Romeo

9
Spinozzi

Bugatti

10
Lepori

Bugatti

12
Mazzotti

Bugatti

13
Antonelli

Bugatti

14
C. Masetti

Bugatti

18
Croce

Bugatti

19
Mazzacurati

Chiribiri

20
Garagnani

Bugatti

21
Morawitz

Bugatti

22
Cutelli

Bugatti

After the engines were started, the governor of Rome, Senator Cremonesi, gave the starting signal at 9:00 AM. But 4/5 of a second, before the flag was lowered, Bertocci and Paparini jumped the start. To intense applause the loud race cars sprinted away at Valla Giulia and immediately entered a double curve in front of the grandstand from which the cars were launched on to the short straight before they went out of sight for more than four minutes.
      The loud roar of an engine announced the arrival of the first car, the red Itala Special of Materassi, which passed with the spectators' applause. Materassi had overhauled Brilli Peri's Alfa Romeo just before they reached the grandstand and completed the first lap in 4m30.4s at 99.085 km/h average speed. He led Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo), Giulio Masetti (Sunbeam) and Bonmartini (Alfa Romeo) who had lost considerable ground. Maggi (Bugatti) was in fifth place, followed by Spinozzi (Bugatti), Lepori (Bugatti), Mazzotti (Bugatti), C. Masetti (Bugatti), Bertocci (Alfa Romeo), Tassara (Bugatti), Antonelli Bugatti) and Paparini (Austro-Daimler). The 1500 Bugattis of Croce, Cutelli, Garagnani and Morawitz followed at the tail end of the 17 car field. Croce and Morawitz stopped right at the beginning with ignition problems and changed plugs on their 1500 Bugattis. Carlo Masetti was put out of the race on the first lap due to engine failure of his 2000 Bugatti. Antonelli also stopped at his pit and retired his 2000 Bugatti with an engine problem. It was also reported that he punctured a tire in the first kilometers and refused to go on. The field was already down to 15 cars.
      On the second lap, Materassi still held first place with a lap in 4m28s and continued to force the car at the average speed to 101 km/h. Paparini (Austro-Daimler) overhauled Bertocci (Alfa Romeo) and moved from 13th to 11th Place. In the following laps he advanced to 7th place which he maintained after lap seven until lap 11, when Paparini retired. Bertocci fell to the rear of the field with his Alfa Romeo and finished the race in last place outside the maximum allowable time.
      After leading for five laps, Materassi slowed his Itala Special and stopped at his pit with the left front spring broken. He was forced to retire his car which still had full power. From lap six onwards Brilli Peri took command ahead of Giulio Masetti's green Sunbeam, Bonmartini's red Alfa P2 and Maggi's blue Bugatti which was further back with the field down to 14 cars.
      After the first quarter of the race Brilli Peri led Giulio Masetti by half a minute while Bonmartini was further behind. Brilli Peri's average speed was 101,500 km/h, with the field in the following order after ten laps:
1.Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo)44m18s
2.G. Masetti (Sunbeam)44m47s
3.Bonmartini (Alfa Romeo)45m32s
4.Maggi (Bugatti)?
5.Mazzotti (Bugatti)?
6.Lepori (Bugatti)?
7.Paparini (Bugatti)50m19s
8.Cutelli Bugatti)52m32s
9.Garagnani (Bugatti)52m35s
10.Tassara (Bugatti)?
11.Spinozzi (Bugatti)?
12.Marawitz (Bugatti)?
13.Croce (Bugatti)?
14.Bertocci (Alfa Romeo)?

After lap 10 Paparini retired his Austro-Daimler with a broken connecting rod, possibly due to its age. After lap 12 Tassara retired his 2000 Bugatti with a broken valve spring but earlier he had damaged one tire and its wheel rim on a street car rail. Spinozzi retired at the same time with gearbox trouble and had driven the entire time in only third and fourth gear. On lap 12 Giulio Masetti's Sunbeam was 34 seconds behind Brilli Peri. After lap 13 the gap was 36 seconds and after lap 17 it had increased to 52 seconds. Brilli Peri completed the 16th lap in 4m17.8s at an average speed of 104,732 km/h, which stood as the fastest lap of the race. On lap 18 the Sunbeam of Giulio Masetti, which was still in 2nd place and 54 seconds behind Brilli Peri, came to a stop at the Acqua Acetosa turn. The speaker announced that the car had stopped due to engine failure and was forced to retire. Others blamed the retirement on the faulty gearbox, which had prevented Divo from starting with his Sunbeam. After Masetti had left the race, Brilli Peri had a huge lead over Bonmartini and Maggi.
      After 20 laps, the field was down to 10 cars in the following order: First Brilli Peri with an average speed of 102.220 km/h, followed by Bonmartini, Maggi, Mazzotti, Lepori, Garagnani, Cutelli, Croce, Morawitz and Bertocci.
      After lap 21 while in eighth place, Cutelli in his 1500 Bugatti accelerated along Lungotevere where the road runs along the top of a high dam along the Tiber River. As he reached the fast right-hand curve of Acqua Acetosa, he was going too fast and the car skidded to the left. Cutelli tried to regain the road, but he heard a front tire burst and the car overturned. The mechanic saved himself by jumping clear, but the driver plunged down the slope in the car to the banks of the Tiber River. Cutelli was immediately rescued and transported in a Red Cross car-ambulance to the hospital in San Giacomo. He escaped without life threatening injuries, but had cuts on his left side, contusion of the frontal region and mild concussion.
      On lap 25 Brilli Peri Brilli stopped at his pit to change spark plugs, the Alfa Romeo rejoining the race after just 49 seconds. At the same time Croce took the lead in the 1500 class after passing Garagnani. The fight between Bonmartini and Maggi was ongoing. Bonmartini was 2m49s behind Brilli Peri, Maggi 3m04s.
      At three quarters distance only nine cars were left in the race. Brilli Peri was still in the lead with the following times after 30 laps:
1.Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo)2h13m27s
2.Bonmartini (Alfa Romeo)2h16m20s
3.Maggi (Bugatti)2h16m53s

From lap 30 onwards, Maggi started his attack and continuously made up time. In the first part of the race he had driven without forcing his speed, then he progressively increased his pace and overtook Bonmartini on lap 34 at the hairpin at Viale Parioli. At the beginning of lap 35 Bonmartini stopped at his pit to be relieved by Marinoni the Alfa Romeo test driver. Bonmartini had burned his hands on the steering wheel which was wrapped with insulation tape. However the relief driver was unable to drive the car any faster, even though it was fully intact. He finished in third place. Mazzotti and Lepori remained in their fourth and fifth places until the end, with Croce in sixth place, while Maggi kept on pushing to close the gap on the leader.
      On lap 34 Brilli Peri stopped for the second time to refuel and top up with oil. He rejoined the race after 52 seconds and completed 35 laps in 2h36m48.6s at 100.440 km/h average speed. His lead over Maggi was now down to 1m49s, and Maggi kept pushing.
      During the last laps Brilli's Alfa Romeo no longer had its full power and slowed his lap times which were around 20 seconds longer than in the earlier part of the race, which explained how Maggi was able to reduce the Alfa's advantage. The exciting battle between Brilli Peri and Maggi began actually on lap 38 when Brilli Peri stopped at his pit for the third time with a punctured left rear tire, losing 52 seconds while Ramponi replaced the wheel. Regulations restricted repairs to the driver and only one mechanic. When Brilli rejoined the race he was still 30 seconds ahead of Maggi. The puncture was caused by an unbroken nail, which proved to be the cause of Brilli Peri's defeat.
      Maggi was now on Brilli's heels and able to cut down the Alfa's advantage which had shrunk to 10 seconds. At the end of the 39th lap the two rivals passed in front of the grandstand with a gap of no more than 50 meters. The two cars disappeared behind the Valle Giulia curve, and there was great silence in the crowd; it was the last lap. The minutes seemed like hours. Who would appear first at the finish, the red Alfa Romeo or the blue Bugatti? Two kilometers from the finish, at the hairpin the Alfa Romeo was still a few car lengths ahead but Maggi attacked the Alfa, passed the surprised Brilli Peri and pressed on as fast as he could. Maggi crossed the finish line 8.6 seconds and 250 meter ahead of the Alfa Romeo. The crowd could not completely control their disappointment. Nevertheless, there was applause which the winner and the defeated took with different emotions.
      The first three finishers were on the same lap but the six remaining drivers had been lapped and carried on driving to finish the full distance of 40 laps. Mazzotti and Lepori had been lapped only twice. Lepori had stopped to replace plugs and tires. Croce's 1500 Bugatti was eight laps down but he just qualified as the last finisher, slightly less than 45 minutes after the victor. The three remaining stragglers, Morawitz, Garagnani and Bertocci were even further behind and exceeded the time limit of 45 minutes. They were flagged down and did not classify. Garagnani broke the accelerator linkage on his Bugatti, which caused a great loss of time. For the second time a Bugatti had won the Royal Grand Prix of Rome.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.6Aymo MaggiA. MaggiBugattiT352.0S-8403h01m25.6s 
2.8Gastone Brilli-PeriG. Brilli PeriAlfa RomeoP22.0S-8403h01m34.2s+ 8.6s
3.4Bonmartini/MarinoniG. BonmartiniAlfa RomeoP22.0S-8403h03m48.2s+ 2m22.6s
4.12Franco MazzottiF. MazzottiBugattiT352.0S-8403h13m13.8s+ 11m48.2s
5.10Mario LeporiM. LeporiBugattiT352.0S-8403h13m51.0s+ 12m25.4s
6.18Pasquale CroceP. CroceBugattiT371.5S-4403h37m30.0s+ 36m04.4s
DNC21Edgar MorawitzE. MorawitzBugattiT391.5S-8393h48m37.0s 
DNC20Dino GaragnaniD. GaragnaniBugattiT231.5S-4383h47m35.4s 
DNC3Gino BertocciG. BertocciAlfa RomeoRLTF 233.0S-6373h49m51.4s
DNF22Giovanni CutelliG. CutelliBugattiT131.5S-420crash 
DNF5Giulio MasettiG. MasettiSunbeamGP2.0S-817engine or gearbox 
DNF7Filippo TassaraF. TassaraBugattiT35A2.0S-812valve spring  
DNF9Luigi SpinozziAlfredo BornigiaBugattiT352.0S-812gearbox 
DNF2Cesare PapariniC. PapariniAustro-DaimlerADM3.0S-610connecting rod
DNF1Emilio MaterassiE. MaterassiItala Special5.8S-45left front spring
DNF14Carlo MasettiC. MasettiBugattiT352.0S-81engine 
DNF13Domenico AntonelliD. AntonelliBugatti2.0S-81puncture or engine 
Fastest lap in category 2000cc: G. Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo) on lap 16 in 4m17.8s = 104.7 km/h (65.1 mph).
Winner's average speed, 2000 cc A. Maggi (Bugatti): 99.2 km/h (61.4 mph).
Winner's average speed, 3000 cc Did not classify! G. Bertocci (Alfa Romeo): 72.4 km/h (45.0 mph).
Winner's average speed, 1500 cc: P. Croce (Bugatti): 82.8 km/h (51.4 mph).
Weather: sunshine, warm.
In retrospect:
Individual lap times when published in newspapers or magazines were mostly absent, incomplete or false. The various sources sometimes reported different accounts of drivers' progress and retirements. The organizer had problems supplying timely information to the press. The timekeepers failed to pass sufficient information to the press, which resulted in confusion amongst the various reports.

We were not able to correct the contradictions about the start, where either 17 or 18 or 19 cars had started according to the various sources. An official entry list was not reported in those sources however La Stampa published the drivers' names at the start with matching race numbers. The description suggested a 4 - 3 - 4 - 3 starting grid of six rows with empty spaces for non-starters in between. But a photograph of the start in AAZ(D) showed the line-up of the cars from the front left side, showing six rows, one car behind the other, so it was not a staggered grid.

Primary sources researched for this article:
ACI - rivista, Torino
ADAC-Motorwelt, München
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE, Bern
Automobil-Welt, Berlin
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
L'Impero, Roma
Special thanks to:
Alessandro Silva
Ms. Paola Masetta


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© 2019 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 18.02.2019