GRAND PRIX DE PROVENCE
Circuit de Miramas - Marseille (F), 27 March 1927.
60 laps x 5 km (3.1 mi) = 300 km (186.4 mi)
|1||André Morel||SNA Amilcar||Amilcar I||CO||1.1||S-6|
|2||Charles Martin||SNA Amilcar||Amilcar II||6C||1.1||S-6||DNS - driver injured|
|3||Arthur Duray||SNA Amilcar||Amilcar III||CO||1.1||S-6|
|4||Alfred Ducreux||A. Ducreux||BNC I||527 Scap||1.1||S-4|
|5||Gaétan Ducreux||G. Ducreux||BNC II||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|6||Gubernatis||Gubernatis||BNC III||527 Scap||1.1||S-4|
|7||Henri Billiet||H. Billiet||BNC IV||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|8||Henny de Joncy||H. de Joncy||BNC V||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|9||Albert Perrot||A. Perrot||BNC VI||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|10||X||X||X||DNA - did not appear|
|11||Pierre Goutte||SM Salmson||Salmson I||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|12||Georges Casse||SM Salmson||Salmson II||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|13||Roger Olivier||SM Salmson||Salmson III||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|15||Chatain||Chatain||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|16||Albert Divo||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot I||GPLB||1.5||S-8|
|17||Jules Moriceau||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot III||GPLB||1.5||S-8|
|18||"Williams"||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot II||GPLB||1.5||S-8|
|19||Paul Bucciali||Bucciali Frères||Buc I||AB-6||1.5||S-6||DNA - did not appear|
|20||Jean de Maleplane||Bucciali Frères||Buc II||AB-6||1.5||S-6|
|22||de Praudières||de Praudières||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4|
|23||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8|
|24||"Williams"||W. Williams||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||DNA - drove car #18|
|26||Dufour||Dufour||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||DNA - did not appear|
|27||Maurice Rost||M. Rost||Georges-Irat||3.0||S-6||DNA - did not appear|
|28||Louis Chiron||Société Nerka||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8|
|29||"Old Nick"||Old Nick||Lorraine-Diétrich||B3-6||3.5||S-6||DNA - did not appear|
|30||Robert Benoist||Automobiles Delage||Delage ||15 S 8 1926||1.5||S-8|
|31||Antoine Massias||A. Massias||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4|
|32||Henry Imbert||H. Imbert||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4|
Chiron compromised as unofficial winner at Miramas
by Hans Etzrodt
A race without a finish
The 1927 Grand Prix de Provence over 300 km hardly took place. It was stopped after five laps by an angry crowd who invaded the race track. It was a total failure by the organizer. Some reports published results
but in fact the promoter aborted the race and no official results were produced.
Racing was delayed due to constant heavy rain all morning. Around noon the weather improved and three qualification runs, each of 25 km, were held with all 17 cars qualified for the final. When cars lined up for
the final, Robert Benoist (1500 Delage) drove two warm up laps. On his return he came around the last corner and could not stop in time, crashing into two cars which were lining up on the grid. Benoist was
injured and his damaged Delage could not start in the final. This triggered the withdrawal of three 1500 Talbots, resulting in the elimination of the four main contenders. There was no loudspeaker system and
spectators were not informed about these changes and proceedings. The already unhappy spectators became impatient and felt cheated watching a race without the Talbots. The order to start the final, which was
now down to 12 cars, was eventually given, but the anger of the spectators did not subside. Scarcely had the drivers covered a few laps than the screaming and howling crowd broke through the barriers, invaded
the track and stopped the race. They sought out the organizers but were unable to find them. The unruly crowd broke into the Talbot depot, damaged cars, assaulted drivers and set fire. It was a sad end to a
race that had promised so much.
The AC de Marseille used the Miramas circuit as its venue. Situated north-west of the large seaport of Marseille, it was located just a few kilometers north of the town of Miramas. The race track had been
built at great expense for the 1924 Provence Grand Prix. The flat 5.0 km oval track easily allowed speeds of up to 200 km/h, the wide corners were slightly banked and the rough concrete surface was hard on tires.
The 1927 Grand Prix de Provence was the third running of the race. It comprised five races, consisting of four qualifying events and a final for the Hartford Cup. It was due to begin at 9:30 AM with the qualifying
race for the 2 categories of above 3-liters and up to 3-liters. The next race at 10:15 was for the 2-liter category, followed at 11 am by the 1.5-liter category and at 11:45 by the 1.1-liter category. The four
qualifying races of 50 and 100 km distance were later reduced to 25 km due to heavy rains. The final at 2:00 PM brought together the winners of each category for 60 laps around the 5 km circuit or 300 km.
There were about two hours for lunch, between the last category race and the start of the final. For the final, the cars would be placed on the grid in the order of their average speed in the category race.
The event was to be held regardless of the weather.
In addition to the prizes awarded to each category, depending on the number of starters, the following prizes would be awarded to the winners of the final race: first place received 5,000 francs plus 5,000
francs offered by the Hartford Company, second 4,000 francs, third 3,000, fourth 2,000 and fifth 1,000. The winner would receive the Hartford Trophy and the Trophy of the Casino d'Aix-en-Provence.
The trophy offered by the Hartford Company (the well-known manufacturer of friction shock absorbers) was the first prize in the overall standings and became the permanent property of the manufacturer which
won it twice (whether consecutively or not). The trophy was entrusted during the year to the manufacturer which had last won it and had to be returned to the Society of the Autodrome in the first days of
the following year. In the event that this trophy was won by an amateur, it was the builder of the car which would be the holder. The trophy was first won by the Talbot Company.
The AC de Marseille received a splendid list of 31 entries, which is shown at the beginning of this report. But the list is misleading due to the large number of cancellations. Eventually only 17 cars appeared
for the start.
Alfred Ducreux in the #4 BNC was relieved for the race by Bellivier. The #32 car of Henry Imbert was not an Amilcar as is often stated but a 1500 Bugatti, since he started in the 1500 category and did not start
with his T35 Lyon type Bugatti. But who was Couc with a 2000 Bugatti? It was very likely the nickname or pseudonym of Henri de Courcelles, the 1925 winner of the Le Mans 24-Hours race. Marcel Sée, the Amilcar
team manager, confirmed the entry of two cars for André Morel and Arthur Duray, but the third had to be withdrawn as for Charles Martin had a foot injury. Despite their formal entry, the entire Salmson team did
Most spectators came primarily to witness the first clash between the new 1927 Grand Prix cars from Talbot and Delage. The single Delage entered was the same car that Benoist had driven two weeks earlier at the
Grand Prix d'Overture. It was a 1926 Delage grand prix car which had been heavily modified during the winter with a new engine and the exhaust on the left side but retaining a 1926 radiator. It was destined
for the 1927 season and the Miramas race promised to be a good test ahead of the upcoming World Championship events. At the Grand Prix d'Overture in Montlhéry the planned Delage-Talbot confrontation did not
take place because the new 1500 Talbot which Divo was to drive was withdrawn, supposedly due to Divo's finger injury. Now two weeks later at Miramas the public would be able to see how these two grand prix
cars would match up against each other and many enthusiasts went to Miramas with high expectations.
Le Figaro wrote: The rain hampered the race; the crowd stopped it, a race without results.
On Saturday, the last day of practice, the sun was shining as it usually does in the Provence. On Sunday in spite of strong showers during the night and morning, a large crowd descended upon Miramas. But the heavy
rain changed to forceful showers and did not stop. Hoping that the rain would subside, the officials delayed the start of the qualification races, which were set for 9:30. They decided that a start could be made
before noon, and that the qualification runs would be held over only 25 km. Admission to the final would be for those who averaged at least 80 km/h.
With rain for 11 hours the huge number of spectators from all parts of the region exceeded all expectations. Despite the pounding rain the grandstands were overcrowded. Charles Faroux wrote that there was no
loudspeaker system and the large crowd was confused because they were not informed about the proceedings and changes that were made. Throughout the night the rain deluged upon the Miramas autodrome and at 11 o'clock
in the morning a start was not yet possible.
Heat 1 & 2:
Finally at midday with a fight against the clock, the first two qualification races were held for the 3-liter and 2-liter classes combined with just three cars, Chiron
with a Bugatti of 2300 cc, and Lehoux and Couc, both with 2-liter Bugattis. The cars were not able to attain their normal speed; nevertheless, Chiron was fastest, without pushing at 116 km/h average speed.
Results - 3-liter and 2-liter categories qualification
|1.||28||Louis Chiron||Société Nerka||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||5||12m56s|
|2.||23||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||5||13m21s|| + 25s|
|3.||25||Couc's||Couc's||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||5||13m46s|| + 50s|
Fastest lap: N/A.|
Average speed of the 3 litre class winner Chiron: 116.0 km/h (72.1 mph).
Average speed of the 2 litre class winner Lehoux: 112.4 km/h (69.8 mph).
The third Qualification race was held for the 1500 cars over 25 km or 5 laps. The numerous spectators, massed in the immense grandstand, began to grow impatient and agitated since they were not kept informed about
the proceedings. This single qualification race with the participation of the Delage and the three Talbots was already a Grand Prix all by itself.
Successively, Robert Benoist with the Delage and Albert Divo with a Talbot made trial laps of the track with gusts of rain and reported back to their team managers Louis Delage and Owen Clegg, the Talbot manager.
The elimination race was the first confrontation between Delage and Talbot but it was not a real battle because the two team managers, after a short consultation, had decided, considering the wet slippery circuit,
not to compete for position but just to drive to qualify. It was understood before the start that Divo and Benoist would be content to qualify without trying to fight one against the other. Divo and Benoist
finished in a dead heat, while Moriceau won in the Talbot.
Results - 1.5-liter category qualification
|1.||17||Jules Moriceau||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot||GPLB||1.5||S-8||5||12m37.6s|| |
|2.||18||"Williams"||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot||GPLB||1.5||S-8||5||12m37.8s|| + 0.2s|
|3.||21||"Foc"||"Foc"||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||5||13m38.2s|| + 0.6s|
|4.||22||de Praudières||de Praudières||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||5||13m57.2s|| + 19.6s|
|5.||32||Henry Imbert||H. Imbert||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||5||13m57.6s|| + 20.0s|
|6.||16||Albert Divo||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot||GPLB||1.5||S-8||5||14m14.0s|| + 1m36.4s|
|7.||30||Robert Benoist||Automobiles Delage||Delage ||15 S 8 1926||1.5||S-8||5||14m14.0s|| + 1m36.4s|
|8.||20||Jean de Maleplane||Bucciali Frères||Buc||AB-6||1.5||S-6||5||16m53.2s|| + 4m15.6s|
Fastest lap : N/A.|
Average speed of the winner: 118.8 km/h (73.8 mph).
The fourth qualification race for 1100cc cars included two Amilcars, three BNCs and a Giraud Spéciale, a beautiful car which had competed the previous year. It qualified easily for the final behind the two Amilcars,
as did the three BNCs. Ducreux, one of the BNC drivers was relieved by Belliver.
Results - 1.1 -liter category qualification
|1.||1||André Morel||SNA Amilcar||Amilcar||CO||1.1||S-6||5||12m36.8s|| |
|2.||3||Arthur Duray||SNA Amilcar||Amilcar||CO||1.1||S-6||5||12m37.0s|| + 0.2s|
|3.||14||Jourdan||Jourdan||Giraud||Spéciale||1.1||S-4||5||12m57.6s|| + 20.6s|
|4.||31||Antoine Massias||A. Massias||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||5||14m21.6s|| + 1m45.2s|
|5.||6||"Gubernatis"||"Gubernatis"||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||5||14m45.0s|| + 2m08.8s|
|6.||4||Belliver||A. Ducreux||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4||5||14m54.4s|| + 2m18.2s|
Fastest lap: N/A.|
Average speed of the winner: 118.9 km/h (73.9 mph).
Comment by Tony Kaye: The cars in the fourth heat may also have been 'sandbagging' as the two Amilcars, just like Divo and Benoist in the previous qualifier, crossed the line in a virtual dead heat. I wonder if the crowd
was beginning to realize that they weren't watching real races at all, merely cars being driving round so that they would be eligible for the final. Morel, Moriceau, "Williams" and Duray all averaged virtually the same speed.
Any good commentator could have whipped up the enthusiasm of the spectators with the promise of an exciting race to come."|
For the final, which was scheduled for 60 laps over 300 km, the following 17 drivers had qualified: 3-Liter - Chiron (Bugatti); 2-Liter - Lehoux (Bugatti), Couc's (Bugatti); 1.5-Liter - Divo, Moriceau, Williams (Talbot);
Benoist (Delage); Foc, de Prandières, Imbert (Bugatti); de Maleplane (Buc); 1.1-Liter - Morel, Duray (Amilcar); Jourdan (Giraud); Massias, Gubernatis, Bellivier (BNC).
Louis Delage asked his driver Benoist to do two laps and judge the exact condition of the track. Without race management either authorizing or preventing this, Benoist began his test with the Delage. At the same time race
officials began positioning the drivers for the start of the final, near the exit of the south turn. None of the race officials took any notice of Benoist, who emerged on his second lap at high speed from the south turn when
he saw that the track was blocked by cars already lined up on the grid. Benoist could not stop in time on the slippery track and spun, crashing sideways into two cars, damaging the Buc of de Maleplane and Duray's Amilcar,
and also seriously damaging his own Delage. Benoist, who was severely bruised and had injured his right knee, was unable to compete. The fact that Benoist, who was beloved in France and the most successful French driver,
could not start, influenced Owen Clegg, the British Talbot Manager, to withdraw the entire Talbot team because he regarded this as a point of honor and did not want to win without competition. The race had now been deprived
of its four main contenders. Only 12 cars were now left for the final, because the three Talbots, the Delage and the Buc failed to start while Duray's damaged Amilcar could be made race ready.
Since they had arrived at the track in the morning the immense crowd in the grandstand had not been informed about the delays and changes, or about the start of the final. They were soaked and embittered about the long wait,
before the main race was started. And their irritation did not subside. The absence of the two main teams, Delage and Talbot, during the first three laps in the final naturally disappointed the spectators, who were tired of
waiting since the morning during pouring rain. They then exhibited their discontent with screams and whistles. At that time the rain stopped and timid rays of sun filtered from the sky. The spectators then began leaving
the shelter of the grandstand and came first to the edge of the race track, then invaded the track, dozens of excited people, despite the desperate efforts of Berretrot, the announcer, and five or six heavily outnumbered
policemen to stop them. At the risk of causing serious accidents, the ignorant crowd blocked the track at the end of the fifth lap. The leaders Chiron, Morel and Foc and the other nine cars came to a stop, unable to proceed,
surrounded by the dense, out of control crowd. Most drivers stopped, others, like Chiron, tried to continue through groups of spectators, but the danger was too great. Unprecedented in the annals of motorsport, the race had
to be stopped and very wisely the race officials decided to abort the race and issue no results. That is how the third Provence Grand Prix ended, spoiled by the lack of sportsmanship of the spectators and the incompetence
of the organizers. It was a race that did not take place.
The crowd damaged some cars, stole radiator caps and irritated some drivers. The crowd sought out the organizers but did not find them and then took revenge on the Talbot pit. AAZ reported that the infuriated crowd ravaged
the Talbot pit after which they demanded in threatening pose that the drivers of the Talbots must take part in the race. Divo and Moriceau succeeded in slipping away through a rear door and took off in a private car. One
of the drivers, "Tarabesi" -?- acceded to the demand and when climbing in the car he was manhandled and assaulted. His car was turned over and set on fire. Understandably the six policemen were unable to accomplish
anything. Charles Faroux wrote the Talbots were said to have been victims but no Talbot was burnt.
Unofficial Results - Final
|1.||28||Louis Chiron||Société Nerka||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||5||12m28.0s|
|2.||1||André Morel||SNA Amilcar||Amilcar||CO||1.1||S-6||5||12m42.0s||+ 14s|
|3.||21||"Foc"||"Foc"||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||5||13m04.0s|| + 36s|
|5.||3||Arthur Duray||SNA Amilcar||Amilcar||CO||1.1||S-6||4|| || |
|6.||22||de Praudières||de Praudières||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||4|| || |
|7.||14||Jourdan||Jourdan||Giraud||Spéciale||1.1||S-4||4|| || |
|8.||32||Henry Imbert||H. Imbert||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||4|| || |
|9.||23||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||4|
|10.||31||Antoine Massias||A. Massias||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4|| || || |
|11.||6||"Gubernatis"||"Gubernatis"||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4|| || || |
|12.||4||Bellivier||A. Ducreux||BNC||527 Scap||1.1||S-4|| || || |
|DNS||16||Albert Divo||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot||GPLB||1.5||S-8||0||withdrawn|| |
|DNS||17||Jules Moriceau||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot||GPLB||1.5||S-8||0||withdrawn|| |
|DNS||18||"Williams"||Automobiles Talbot||Talbot||GPLB||1.5||S-8||0||withdrawn|| |
|DNS||20||Jean de Maleplane||Bucciali Frères||Buc||AB-6||1.5||S-6||0||crash damage|| |
|DNS||30||Robert Benoist||Automobiles Delage||Delage||15 S 8 1926||1.5||S-8||0||crash damage|| |
Fastest lap: N/A.|
Average speed of Louis Chiron: 120.3 km/h (74.8 mph)
Weather: drying circuit after rain.
Note: The organizer issued no official results.
Charles Faroux emphasized that no driver so far adhered to the helmet regulation and Count R. de Vogué, President of the A.C.F., attended the Miramas race - no further comments.
The Hartford Cup 1927 promised to be the most appealing French event of the year in pure speed and the AC Marseille had to be pitied as should also its initiator Paul Bablot.
Robert Benoist , the popular Delage driver, was examined by Professor Roger, who diagnosed a fracture of the leg. Benoist was however able to take the fast train Monday night for Paris, where he arrived in the morning.
The Miramas races took place annually until the devastating 1927 fiasco, after which the course remained dormant because the promoting company had collapsed. The venue never advanced to the prominence that it deserved.
There was no mention made of the 1923 Armangue circuit near Barcelona, a race which had to be stopped, where the imprudence of some spectators led to the serious accident which was not forgotten and which cost the life
of Honel, as well as some spectators.
Decent loudspeakers experienced organizers, a sufficient number of policemen were not present and consequently such a chaos evolved that officials and drivers simply packed up.
Comment by Tony Kaye: "I have a completely different take on this. The spectators sat through the rain without complaint - it was something over which no-one had any control. They must have been disappointed when
they saw that the Salmson team was not present. They quietly accepted the lack of track information for several hours. They put up with all those things patiently and without any overt complaint. They continued to
remain in their seats when the cars finally lined up for the final. Then they saw Benoist in the Delage crash on his warming up lap. But it was only when they saw the Talbots being pushed off the grid and back to
their pits that they began to show anger. If the three Talbots had competed, it is extremely likely that the race would have taken place as planned. Don't blame the weather. Don't blame the organizers. Don't
blame Salmson. Don't blame the six hapless policemen. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Owen Clegg. He had entered his cars to race and the crowd had paid good money and braved horrible weather to
see them. Withdrawing them when they were already on the grid and ready to race was a breach of faith and I have complete sympathy with the spectators. Small wonder that they aimed their wrath upon the Talbot pit."
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
L'Éclaireur de Nice, Nice
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Petit Niçois, Nice
Le Petit Parisien, Paris
Motor Sport, London
Special thanks to:
27 March 1927: Ferdiando Minoia / Giuseppe Morandi (OM Tipo 665 Sport) wins the Mille Miglia sports car race with a time of 21h04m48s
Medio Circuito Madonie - Palermo (I), 24 April 1927.
1500 cc & over 1500cc: 5 laps x 108 km (67.1 mi) = 540 km (335.6 mi)
1100 cc: 3 laps x 108 km (67.1 mi) = 324 km (201.3 mi)
|Category II, 1500 cc & Category III, over 1500 cc|
|2||Innocenzo Ciri||I. Ciri||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||DNS - did not start|
|6||Count Caberto Conelli||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
|8||Salvatore Marano||S. Marano||Fiat||501 S||1.5||S-4|
|10||Ernesto Maserati||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8|
|12||Antonio Caliri||A. Caliri||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4|
|14||Heinrich Eckert||H. Eckert||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4|
|16||Count Aymo Maggi||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8|
|18||Saverio Candrilli||S. Candrilli||Steyr||VI||4.4||S-6|
|20||Renato Balestrero||R. Balestrero||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
|22||Joaquín Palacio||J. Palacio||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8|
|24||Emilio Materassi||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
|26||Alfieri Maserati||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26B||2.0||S-8|
|28||Nicolò Valdes||N. Valdes||Diatto||20||2.0||S-8|
|30||Mario Lepori||M. Lepori||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
|32||Ferdinando Minoia||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
|34||Elizabeth Junek||E. Junek||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8|
|36||André Boillot||Automobiles Peugeot||Peugeot||174 S||3.9||S-4|
|38||André Dubonnet||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||
|Category I, 1100 cc|
|40||Ignacio Zubiaga||I. Zubiaga||BNC||1.1||S-4|
|42||Luigi Fagioli||L. Fagioli||Salmson||1.1||S-4|
|44||Baconin Borzacchini||B. Borzacchini||Salmson||1.1||S-4|
|46||Francesco Starrabba||F. Starrabba||Amilcar||1.1||S-4|
|48||Ezio Rallo||E. Rallo||Salmson||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not arrive|
Materassi victorious in the Targa Florio, Borzacchini wins the small category
by Hans Etzrodt
At the 18th Targa Florio 22 race cars started of which half were Bugattis of various types. There were also three works Maseratis, one works Peugeot, one Diatto, one Steyr and one Fiat. In the 1100cc
class there were two Salmsons, a BNC and an Amilcar. The largest capacity cars and those in the 1500 category had to complete 5 laps or 540 km. The official Bugattis of Minoia, Dubonnet and Materassi
dominated the race with the official Maserati driven by its designer Alfieri Maserati, racing amongst the first three. The Peugeot of Boillot did not lack speed but suffered from too many breakdowns.
Materassi and Conelli in official Bugattis finished one, two with A. Maserati third ahead of Boillot's Peugeot followed by the Bugattis of Palacio and Dubonnet. The 1100 category, which had to complete
only 3 laps, was won by the Salmson of Borzacchini with his team mate Fagioli second and the BNC of Zubiaga third. The Fiat and Alfa Romeo teams were expected to enter but were regrettably absent. As
a result French cars again dominated this great Italian race and Bugatti won for the third time in a row.
The Targa Florio was named after its founder, Conte Vincenzo Florio. The 1927 race was one of the classic events of the year, although it was staged as a formula libre event, splitting the entries into
category I for cars up to 1100 cc, which had to do only three laps or 324 km, while category II up to 1500 cc and category III over 1500 cc had to complete five laps of the 108 km circuit. The maximum
time allowed was 9 hours for cars over 1100 cc and 7 hours for the cycle cars. The regulations regarding the occupant weight were defined as follows with two options: A) Driver and riding mechanic had
to have a combined weight of no less than 120 kg. B) A driver racing solo had to carry 70 kg ballast. Refueling and wheel changes could be done anywhere around the circuit, while driver changes had to
be done with a nominated reserve driver but only at the end of a lap and in the presence of a race official. The race was the first event counting towards the newly introduced 1927 Italian Automobile
Championship. Also new in this year's Targa Florio was the use of even race numbers to eliminate the unlucky numbers 13 and 17.
The Reale Automobile Club d'Italia and the Auto Club di Sicilia offered prize money totaling 300,000 lire. The winner collected 100,000 lire, the Targa Florio trophy 1927, a gold medal donated by the
King and the large gold medal of the A.C. di Sicilia; the driver in second place collected 20,000 lire and a small gold medal and the third placed driver received 10,000 lire and a silver medal. The
leading independent driver collected 30,000 lire and a gold medal; second place collected 20,000 lire and a small gold medal and third place 10,000 lire and a silver medal. In categories 2 and 3 the
first two finishers respectively received 20,000 lire and a bronze reproduction of the Targa Florio trophy and 10,000 lire and a gold medal. The winner of the 1100 cc category collected 25,000 lire
and a bronze reproduction of the Targa Florio trophy, second received 10,000 lire and a gold medal, and third 5,000 lire and a gold medal. The driver who was in first place on the first lap collected
10,000 lire and a small gold medal. Besides the monetary awards there were also a variety of trophies.
Five laps around the Medium Madonie Circuit totaled 540 km. Having been in use since 1919, it included approximately 1400 corners per lap through the mountainous Madonie region, making the Targa Florio
a race of over 7000 corners. The narrow circuit with its steep gradients was a true measure of both driver and machine. The start and finish took place near the Cerda train station just a few meters
above sea level. The road led several miles up to Cerda village at 273 meters altitude. From here the course twisted uphill to Caltavuturo at 640 meters. From this village the tight, twisting circuit
wound along the Madonie Mountains and turned back past a depot in the town of Polizzi, 917 meters above sea level. Tortuous hairpin bends followed next, snaking downhill through the mountain village of
Collesano at 500 meters and then on to Campofelice, just 50 meters above sea level. From there it was downhill to the seven km fast coastal straight where it was possible to use top gear and pass other
cars. Finally the circuit turned inland going back to the finish near the Cerda train station.
At the end of March Pastore had successfully practiced with a Fiat 509 M race car on the Madonie circuit and it appeared that the Fiat team would take part in the race. Pastore complained about the poor
road conditions between Polizzi and Collesano, which he felt should be repaired in time for the race, expecting support from the government. But the Fiat teams with 1000 cc cars and the Spanish make Ricart
with 1500 cc cars failed to appear. Likewise, Alfa Romeo, who after a three year absence from the Targa Florio had been expected to enter five of their new 6-cylinder 1500 cars and the Amilcar team which
was viewed as a certain entry, also failed to appear.
Since Bugatti had won in 1925 and 1926, they were generally regarded as favorites for this year but also because their cars were truly nimble and pure racecars. The team was now managed by Meo Costantini,
the winner of the 1925 and 1926 Targa Florio. Bugatti officially entered four cars for Materassi, Minoia and Dubonnet in 2000 cc supercharged cars while Count Conelli's 1500 car was also supercharged.
Maserati officially entered three supercharged 8-cylinder cars, one of the new 2000 cc type for the designer Alfieri Maserati and 1500 types for his younger brother Ernesto and their wealthy friend Count
Maggi. Peugeot entered only one official car to be driven by the experienced Targa Florio expert Boillot who knew the course like the back of his hands.
An independent entry was made by Elizabeth Junek, who was known as Eliska Junková in her own country, from Prague in Czechoslovakia with a supercharged 2300 Bugatti. The determined lady learned the circuit
extremely well after numerous training laps around the small Madonie circuit. From Switzerland came Lepori with a 2000 Bugatti who would hopefully have more luck than the prior year. Eckert arrived from
Germany in a white 1500 Bugatti which was not supercharged. Charavel aka "Sabipa" and Caliri also had 1500 Bugattis but they were supercharged. A complete list of the 22 entries is shown above.
In the first hours of Sunday morning an enormous pilgrimage of local enthusiasts arrived by train, car and on foot. They came to take possession of the best viewpoints around the entire circuit before these
places were overcrowded. The morning sky was cloudy and it was cool. The race was well organized, and the spectators were informed of the latest developments through loudspeakers. From 24 entries, only 22
cars appeared at the Cerda start because Ciri in a 1500 Bugatti had crashed during practice and Rallo in an 1100 Salmson did not appear.
The individual start began at 8:00 AM in order of the race numbers. The 1500 cc category, comprising seven cars, started first, followed by the eleven cars of the over 1500 cc category at intervals of four
minutes because of the dust from the dirt roads. Finally, the 1100 cc category consisting of only four cars started at intervals of only two minutes. The starting times had been determined beforehand
according to the race numbers and if cars did not appear at the start (e.g. #2), then car #4 was held to its predetermined time of departure.
|8:00||2||Ciri||Bugatti||DNS - did not start|
|8:32||18||Candrilli||Steyr||over 1500 cc|
Because Ciri did not appear for his 8:00 AM start, the timekeeper waited until 8:04 to release the first car, the #4 Bugatti of Charaval, followed four minutes later by Conelli. The individual starts happened regularly
but some were less than perfect. Eckert with his Bugatti made a wonderful start and took the first turn past the grandstand at 90 km/h. Maggi stopped his Maserati a few meters after the start and as a result lost
valuable time. Candrilli, the Targa Florio veteran with the Steyr, received great applause. Balestero, with his lucky fez, which was used by the Fascist Militia, had the best start. After Materassi, Valdes followed
with a supercharged Diatto which he had rebuilt himself. Minoia, the winner of the Mille Miglia, took the first turn at incredible speed to the horror of the spectators. Mrs. Junek started elegantly, followed by the
Frenchmen Boillot with the Peugeot and Dubonnet in the Bugatti, the last of the big cars. The small category started last with Zubiaga's BNC, followed by Fagioli and Borzacchini in Salmsons and Staraba's Amilcar last.
The main battle was amongst the Bugattis. At Caltavuturo after 32 km, Dubonnet's time was 29m27s, Materassi 29m29s, Lepori 30m06s, Boillot 30m09s, Alfieri Maserati 30m28s, Maggi 30m59s, Junek 34m31s but Minoia beat
all of them with 28m06s. The positions had changed by the time they reached Polizzi. Dubonnet and Mrs. Junek had gained time while Minoia, Materassi and Lepori had fallen behind. Minoia was still in front with 45m15s
ahead of Dubonnet in 45m43s, Junek in 45m56s, Materassi in 46m52s, Boillot in 47m13s, Lepori in 47m16s and A. Maserati in 47m51s.
Conelli was the first to complete the first lap in 1h30m39.4s. Maggi had only a six seconds gap to Conelli. Palacio stopped to change tires and left 34 seconds later. The great surprise was Mrs. Junek who cut
through the turn before the finish to the terror of the spectators and finished the lap in 1h27m4.4s. Boillot stopped at the pits while Valdes ended the lap after 3h12m and retired his Diatto with an overheated engine
and he also had an injured eye. Charavel left the road near Polizzi when his Bugatti fell 15 meters down a ravine tumbling over. Luckily he suffered no injuries. Caliri retired in Polizzi with a broken oil pump.
Only 19 cars proceeded on to the second lap. Minoia had finished the first lap at 74.900 km/h average speed with the order after lap one as follows:
|5.||Maserati A. (Maserati)||1h29m38.0s|
|10.||Maserati, E. (Maserati)||1h34m18.2s|
At the end of lap two, the order had changed dramatically. Materassi was in the lead and had driven the fastest lap of the race in 1h25m48.8s at an average speed of 75.524 km/h. With this record lap he beat Costantini's
record from the previous year which was1h26m00s at an average of 75.348 km/h. Alfieri Maserati now held second place but stopped at the pits with a flat tire. Boillot followed but he arrived on wheel rims and changed
wheels, losing valuable minutes. He had damaged his exhaust from which the rear part was cut off. But it was removed incorrectly so that the hot exhaust gases were directed towards the right rear tire which caused
Boillot to change tires twice on the second lap, losing a lot of time. The Spaniard Palacio stopped at the pits and changed tires.
The loudspeaker reported that Eckert had left the road at a turn. But after a few minutes he rejoined the race. Candrilli arrived with Mrs. Junek on board. She had to retire at km 37 after Caltavuturo when the
steering rod broke and the car crashed without any injury to herself. Minoia had to retire near kilometer 41 after Caltavuturo with a broken differential. Now, two of the principle competitors had been eliminated.
Dubonnet fell behind with engine problems and Starabba retired his Amilcar at Caltavuturo with a broken connecting rod. Following these retirements, only 16 cars started lap three when the order after two laps was as follows:
|2.||Maserati A. (Maserati)||2h58m04.0s|
|6.||Maserati, E. (Maserati)||3h08m04.8s|
The battle on lap three was between the Bugattis of Materassi, Conelli and Lepori against the Maseratis of A. Maserati, E. Maserati and Maggi. Alfieri Maserati was able to close the gap to Materassi driving rather fast but
the true reason was that Materassi had lost a lot of time at his pit stop. Balestrero retired with a faulty carburetor in Polizzi. Candrilli stopped his Steyr in Collesano with a broken rear wheel, which he replaced, but
at Campofelice he stopped again with another broken wheel and had to retire because he had used up all his spare wheels. Eckert had left the road again at a turn and damaged the steering of his 1500 Bugatti but rejoined
the race after 18 minutes. Ernesto Maserati retired with a broken front axle; he probably had left the road first before the damage. The race had become more interesting because just a few good drivers were left.
Only 11 cars carried on for the fourth lap with the order after lap three as follows:
|3.||Maserati A. (Maserati)||4h32m45.0s|
On lap four the sky began to be full of dark clouds which brought rain. Borzacchini had finished his three laps in 4h59m03s, winning the first prize in the 1100 cc category. He stopped at his pit to quickly fill
up with fuel in order to drive another lap in an attempt to place himself in a higher category. Fagioli finished in second place but he had to stop before he reached the finish when his fuel pipe broke and he had to push his car to
the finish line. Zubiago in the BNC finished third in the small category. Lepori lost control of his Bugatti when he went into a skid from the rain slippery road just before reaching the grandstand where he hit one of the boundary
stones that bordered the outer edge of the road, resulting in a broken wheel which was changed in short time. But now the front axle was bent and he could only complete the lap to reach the pits where he retired in fourth
place. Due to the rain which left the road slippery, Maggi ended up in a meadow with the chassis and springs broken on his Maserati. Despite this and losing very much time, Maggi managed to complete the
lap by driving back to the pits where his team received him with great astonishment. At the end of lap four the order was as follows:
|3.||Maserati A. (Maserati)||6h08m13.4s|
As the drivers started their fifth lap it began to rain very hard and even hail in the higher parts like Polizzi forcing the drivers to reduce their speed. But soon the sun appeared again and the circuit dried. Borzacchini
who had completed the fourth lap, wanted to drive the fifth lap with his little car but was unable to do so because shortly after passing the grandstand a valve burned out. Borzacchini's driving skill and performance were
outstanding, unparalleled and unique.
Conelli was the first to complete the race distance reaching the finish in 7h39m06s where he received great applause from the spectators. But he had not yet won because behind him was the feared Materassi who had started 36
minutes after him. Eventually the alarm shot was heard announcing the arrival of a car. It was Materassi who appeared like a lightning, finishing the five laps in 7h35m55.4s at an average speed of 71.193 km/h. He stopped
at the pits where he was congratulated by Conelli. But Materassi was not fast enough to beat last year's race record of Costantini in 7h20m45s at 73.511 km/h average speed. With Materassi's victory, Bugatti had won
for the third time in a row.
Maserati lost some time on the last lap but finished third followed by Boillot and Palacio who had passed Dubonnet on the last lap and claimed fifth place. Eckert (Bugatti) and Marano (Fiat) exceeded the maximum allowable time of nine
hours and were not classified. Materassi as the victor won 100,000 lire, the gold medal of the King and the large Gold Medal of the AC di Sicilia. He also won the Coppa 'Citta di Termini' for the fastest lap and other prizes.
|1.||24||Emilio Materassi||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||5||7h35m55.4s|
|2.||6||Count Caberto Conelli||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||5||7h39m06.0s||+ 3m10.6s|
|3.||26||Alfieri Maserati||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26B||2.0||S-8||5||8h01m36.0s||+ 25m40.6s|
|4.||36||André Boillot||A. Boillot||Peugeot||174 S||3.9||S-4||5||8h27m35.0s||+ 51m39.6s|
|5.||22||Joaquín Palacio||J. Palacio||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||5||8h33m52.2s||+ 57m56.8s|
|6.||38||André Dubonnet||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||5||8h37m59.6s||+ 1h02m04.2s|
|DNC||14||Heinrich Eckert||H. Eckert||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||5||9h15m00.0s||+ 1h39m04.6s|
|DNC||8||Salvatore Marano||S. Marano||Fiat||501 S||1.5||S-4||5||9h27m41.0s||+ 1h51m45.6s|
|DNF||30||Mario Lepori||M. Lepori||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||4||front axle|
|DNF||16||Count Aymo Maggi||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||4||chassis|| |
|DNF||18||Saverio Candrilli||S. Candrilli||Steyr||VI||4.4||S-6||2||wheel|
|DNF||10||Ernesto Maserati||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||2||front axle|
|DNF||20||Renato Balestrero||R. Balestrero||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||2||carburetor|
|DNF||34||Elizabeth Junek||E. Junek||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||1||steering rod|
|DNF||32||Ferdinando Minoia||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||1||differential|
|DNF||28||Nivolò Valdes||N. Valdes||Diatto||20||2.0||S-8||1||eye injury and overheated engine|
|DNF||4||"Sabipa"||Louis Charavel||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||0||left road, damaged wheel|
|DNF||12||Antonio Caliri||A. Caliri||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||0||oil pump|| |
Fastest lap: E. Materassi (Bugatti) on lap 2 in 1h25m48.8s = 75.5 km/h (46.9 mph).|
Winner's medium speed: 71.1 km/h (44.2 mph).
Winner's medium speed 1500 cc (Conelli): 70.6 km/h (43.9 mph).
Weather: cloudy and cool with rain on the last lap.
Results of 1100 cc class
|1.||44||Baconin Borzacchini||B. Borzacchini||Salmson||1.1||S-4||3||4h59m03.0s||(he drove 1 more lap)|
|2.||42||Luigi Fagioli||Luigi Fagioli||Salmson||1.1||S-4||3||5h10m36.6s||+ 11m33.6s|
|3.||40||Ignacio Zubiaga||I. Zubiaga||BNC||1.1||S-4||3||6h12m58.0s||+ 1h13m55.0s|
|DNF||46||Francesco Starrabba||F. Starrabba||Amilcar||1.1||S-4||1||connecting rod|| |
Winner's medium speed: 65.0 km/h (40.4 mph).
While researching for this report we encountered numerous minor differences in the individual lap times and final classification times. We believe that we have selected the correct ones for this report.
The Coppa Florio was held separately on 17 July in France on the 13.406 km Saint Brieuc Circuit in the Bretagne over 30 laps, a total of 402.204 km. The winner was Laly in a 3-liter Ariès in 4h11m29s
at 96.144 km/h average speed.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
LA STAMPA, Torino
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Special thanks to: