CIRCUITO DI CREMONA
Circuito di Cremona (I), 24 June 1928.
5 laps x 62.98 km (39.13 mi) plus 6.964 km (4.327 mi) = 321.9 km (200.0 mi)
Arcangeli wins the superb battle of Cremona. Campari sets new 10 km record
by Hans Etzrodt
Of the 19 cars that participated at the Cremona 200 miles race, only 4 finished the race. A 10 km speed trial was part of this event, which Campari won in his Alfa Romeo P2 at 217.654 km/h, a new record. But during the
race his fast works supported car fell behind with tire problems before he decided to retire. Instead Arcangeli (Tabot) looked after his tires and never stopped during the two-hour race. He ended up as the winner,
ahead of Nuvolari (Bugatti) and Materassi (1500 Talbot), who won his class. Saccomani (Bugatti) was the last finisher while all other cars retired because of the fast start, the desire to beat the intermediate 10 km
record and the tropical heat which contributed to tire problems plus the lack of preparation.
One week after the Rome Grand Prix a smaller event for grand prix cars was held at Cremona. In the middle of the Italian lowland Lombardy region, south of Brescia, on completely flat terrain, there is the town of Cremona,
famous for Antonio Stradivari, the world's greatest crafter of violins. In 1928 the Circuito del Cremona took place for the third time. Previous races had been held in 1923 and 1924 on a 62.980 km dirt road circuit which
ran anti-clockwise. The finish with grandstand was in Cremona. Five laps of the circuit added up to 314.900 km distance, still slightly short of 321.864 km or 200 miles. To reach the 200 miles distance, the first lap
was extended for 6.964 km from Gadesco village to the Cremona finish line. So, the start was in Gadesco village, heading west towards Cremona where the road turned east at a hairpin leading past Cingia de Botti village to
San Giovanni in Croce where the course headed north through the town of Piadena to Sant'Antonio Negri. From here the road continued west, stretching monotonously straight for 18 kilometers, along the timed 10 km section,
past Gadesco towards Cremona. On this section the timed Flying 10 Kilometer speed trial took place.
The drivers had to be unaccompanied. The start was set for 3:00 PM on Sunday. The l'Automobile Club di Cremona divided the cars into two categories over 1500 cc and up to 1500 cc.
To be classified, cars had to finish within 25 minutes of their class winner.
The driver with the fastest time belonging of any class received Lire 50,000, the Coppa Mussolini and a Gold Medal of the C.S.R.A.C.I. Commissione Sportiva del Reale Automobile Club d'Italia. In each class the winner
received 20,000 Lire, second L. 10,000 and third L. 5,000. The driver who could beat the 1924 lap record of Antonio Ascari with the Alfa Romeo P2 grand prix car of 162.296 km/h
received L. 20,000, the Coppa Roberto Farinacci and a Gold Medal of C.S.R.A.C.I. The driver who could beat Ascari's 10 km record from 1924 of 3m03.6s at 195.916 km/h would receive L. 20,000, the trophy of the A.C. di Cremona
and a Gold Medal of C.S.R.A.C.I.
There were 29 known entries but only 19 drivers arrived at the start, eight in the category over 1500 cc engine capacity, Nuvolari, Arcangeli, Varzi, Bona, Saccomani, Campari, Alverà and Serboli and eleven
in the category up to 1500 cc displacement: Materassi, Facchetti, Fagioli, Giovanardi, Sartorio, Fisauli, Nenzioni, Rossi, Platè, Tonini and Ghersi.
Most of Italy's top drivers were present. Campari entered his eight-cylinder Alfa Romeo 2-liter P2 which undoubtedly was the fastest car present. During practice Campari found that when he pushed his Alfa Romeo to more than 210 km/h,
the tires did not stand up to that speed because of the great heat buildup. Campari tried different types of tires and various measures, but the problem continued to persist with tire temperatures over 100 degrees
Celsius (212 F). The casing under the rubber layer heated up to over 120 degrees (248 F), causing separation of the rubber tread from the casing and ending with a dangerous
tire blow-out. The India rubber could not withstand these temperatures and in 1928 synthetic rubber for race tires did not yet exist.
Scuderia Materassi arrived with three of their 1927 grand prix Talbots, two 8 cylinders of original 1500 cc, for Emilio Materassi and Carlo Rosti, while the car for Luigi Arcangeli had its engine bored out slightly, increasing its
capacity to 1503 cc, which allowed to race in the 2 liter category. The Talbots finally had the opportunity to race on an appropriate track, giving them the deserved opportunity to prove themselves.
The new 1700 Maserati entry did not take part. The car was entered as the 1928 grand prix type, the 26R ("R" in reference to the new style roller bearing crankshaft). It was first raced on June 10 at Rome and now two weeks
later was again entered for Maggi but neither car nor diver appeared. The remaining Maserati entries comprised Luigi Fagioli and Carlo Tonini in their own 1500 cc cars while Federico Fisauli's similar car was loaned from the
There was the usual large number of independent Bugatti entries from which the most noteworthy were the supercharged 2-liter cars of Nuvolari, Varzi, Saccomani, Bona and Alvera. Additionally four 1500 cc Bugattis were entered
of which Cleto Nenzioni's car was supercharged while Ghersi's was not. A complete list of entries is shown at the beginning of this report including those cars that did not make it to the starting line.
A large crowd arrived for Sunday's 200 mile race to watch the fight between their heroes. The wait for the new battle had been agonizing up to the day before. Campari with his 1925 Alfa Romeo appeared to be the one most likely
to dominate the race. Only 19 cars showed up at the start, eight in the category over 1500 cc, eleven in the 1500 category. After the cars were fueled up at the Cremona pits, at 2:45 PM they drove back seven kilometers to the start
in Gadesco, where they turned around and lined up on a grid. A slight accident caused a delay when an official's car bumped slightly against the Talbot of Arcangeli, producing a cut in the right rear tire. Arcangeli asked
for permission and was allowed to return to the pits in Cremona where he made the change, then drove back quickly to the Gadesco finish line to take his place on the grid.
Roberto Farinacci and Count Romeo Gallenga (Note 1) finally gave the start at 15:28 for the cars over 1500 cc. All went well, except that Arcangeli lost a few seconds because he failed
to engage a gear. Some minutes later the loud thundering group drove fast past the Cremona grandstands. At the front was the red Alfa of Campari, 50 meters ahead of Varzi, Nuvolari
and Bona, after another 100 meters there followed a close group of Arcangeli, Saccomanni and Alverà. The loud pack of cars was impressive.
Serboli in the Delage was already missing. In the meantime the 1500 cc cars lined up in Gadesco.
Ten minutes after the large cars had started, the 1500 cc cars were sent away. Materassi took the lead and held that position as he reached the Cremona grandstands. His blue car had a distinct advantage over Fagioli and
Rosti at the Cremona hairpin, followed by Tonini, Nenzioni, Fisauli, Platè, Ghersi, Facchetti and Giovanardi, the latter was far behind. Sartorio in the GAR passed at reduced speed and his retirement appeared to be inevitable.
At the end of the first lap, Campari passed the finish after 21m35s at 175.079 km/h average speed, having beaten the 1924 record of Ascari who drove the previous fastest lap in 23m17s at an average of 162.296 km/h. The recorded
first lap time was for the lap of 62.980 km, which started at the finish line in Cremona, not at Gadesco. Campari thought that the front left tire of his car had no tread left, so he stopped at the pits to change both front
tires and lost 3m30s before he started again. Arcangeli passed in 22m46.2s, passing Campari in the pits and taking the lead, followed by Nuvolari and Materassi.
The times over the flying 10 kilometer were recorded every lap. The existing 1924 record by Antonio Ascari in the Alfa Romeo P2 stood at 3m04.6s equal to 195.016 km/h. Materassi in the 1500 Talbot on his first lap covered
the stretch in 2m53.6s at 207.600 km/h and hence was the first to bring down Ascari's record, while Nuvolari took 3m01.6s km equal to 198,237 km/h and Arcangeli's best time was 3m06s at 193,548 km/h. After his first lap
Nuvolari followed Campari into the pits for tires. With Serboli and Sartorio retired the field was down
to 17 cars in the following order:
|1.||Campari (Alfa Romeo)||23m55.4s|
Arcangeli was leading the second lap, one minute ahead of Materassi, more than two minutes ahead of Nuvolari and over three minutes to Saccomani in fourth place. Despite the huge advantage gained by his opponents, Campari pursued
Arcangeli again on his second lap when he establish the new record over the Flying 10 km, which he covered in 2m 45.4s at an average speed of 217.654 km/h. The tires on Campari's Alfa were causing trouble once more and at the
end of this lap he changed tires again, losing more time, increasing his deficit to Arcangeli to over 15 minutes. But Campari wanted to satisfy the crowd's enthusiasm for him in his fast red car and so he restarted but without
any hope of winning. Varzi and Bona had retired at the beginning of the second lap, while Rosti, Platè and Ghersi did not return to the pits, the latter when stranded with a puncture. Alverà, Tonini and Faccetti also
retired. After all those retirements only nine cars carried on to lap three in this order:
|7.||Campari (Alfa Romeo)||1h04m36.4s|
During the third lap, Arcangeli remained in first position. Materassi followed one minute behind and Nuvolari attempted to catch up with the drivers ahead. Fagioli and Fisauli retired their Maseratis and the order after
three laps was the following:
|5.||Campari (Alfa Romeo)||1h31m07.6s|
Only seven cars started the fourth lap. Who would survive the 200 mile battle? Arcangeli carried on in first place, heading Nuvolari who had fallen 2m33.2s behind but had passed Materassi who lost time with pit stops and
was third overall and first in his class. Saccomani was third in his class and fourth overall. Nenzioni had fallen further behind while Giovanardi stopped for good at the end of lap four. Campari also ended his race at his pit
after completing the fourth lap when he was over half an hour behind. But the 10 km speed trial record results made Alfa Romeo and its bold driver very proud. Italo Luraschi wrote in L'Auto Italiana, "The speed that Campari was able
to reach was superhuman and its records won't be easily beaten. It was with regret that the crowd couldn't see Campari and Alfa Romeo as the absolute champion of the day and for that reason the crowd didn't follow the rest of
the race with the same interest that the survivors fighting for the victory deserved, which were the Talbots of Arcangeli and Materassi, and the Bugattis of Nuvolari and Saccomani, who had driven a fantastic race. The order
after four laps was as follows:
|6.||Campari (Alfa Romeo)||2h07m12s|
The Nuvolari-Arcangeli duel kept the interest alive until the end because the two champions ended the brilliant race less than three minutes apart from each other. Nenzioni retired on the fifth lap. Materassi had to change
tires twice while Arcangeli arrived victorious with four tires in good condition because he was maintaining an average speed just below the strength of the resistance of existing tires. Giovanni Canestrini in Gazzetta dello
Sport wrote: "Had he driven even slightly above this limit he would have suffered the same fate as the fastest drivers. He had beaten Ascari's 1924 record at the 321.804 km race in a time of 2h2m03.8s at 158.211 km/h average
speed and the Mussolini Trophy was awarded to Arcangeli in the Talbot. He had driven his car in style like a true champion. This was his first real success in motor racing in a car which debuted only a year ago at Tripoli."
Italo Luraschi wrote in L'Auto Italiana that Materassi was aiming at the absolute record and Nuvolari also drove very hard but they both pushed their tires to the limit and had to stop as did Campari to change tires. Arcangeli
instead had a clear plan, meaning he was not worried about the 10 km record, so he avoided any stop and obtained the absolute victory which explained the value of this driver and confirmed the Talbot's speed capabilities.
This confirmation was reassured by the record time of Materassi over the Flying 10 km.
|1.||6||Luigi Arcangeli||Scuderia Materassi||Talbot||700/1503||1.6||S-8||5||1h58m27s|
|2.||4||Tazio Nuvolari||Scuderia Nuvolari||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||5||2h01m01.8s||+ 2m34.8s|
|3.||24||Emilio Materassi||Scuderia Materassi||Talbot||700||1.5||S-8||5||2h01m54.4s||+ 3m27.4s|
|4.||16||Tommaso Saccomani||T. Saccomani||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||5||2h07m12s||+ 8m45s|
|DNF||?||Cleto Nenzioni||C. Nenzioni||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||4|| || |
|DNF||18||Giuseppe Campari||G. Campari||Alfa Romeo||P2||2.0||S-8||4|
|DNF||?||Giuseppe Giovanardi||G. Giovanardi||Giovanardi||Guzzi||0.5||V-2||3|| || |
|DNF||?||Luigi Fagioli||L. Fagioli||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||2|| || |
|DNF||?||Federico Fisauli||F. Fisauli||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||2|| || |
|DNF||10||Achille Varzi||A. Varzi||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||1|
|DNF||14||Gaspare Bona||G. Bona||Bugatti||T35T||2.3||S-8||1|
|DNF||20||Ogniben Alverà||O. Alverà||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||1|
|DNF||?||Carlo Rosti||Scuderia Materassi||Talbot||700||1.5||S-8||1|| || |
|DNF||?||Carlo Tonini||C. Tonini||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||1|| || |
|DNF||?||Luigi Platè||G. Platè "Gigi"||ASP||Chiribiri||1.5||S-4||1|| || |
|DNF||26||Angelo Facchetti||Facchetti||Chiribiri||Monza||1.5||S-4||1|| || |
|DNF||?||Pietro Ghersi||P. Ghersi||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||1|| || |
|DNF||22||Roberto Serboli||R. Serboli||Delage ||2LCV||2.0||V-12||0|
|DNF||?||Filippo Sartorio||F. Sartorio||G. A. R.||SCAP||1.1||S-2||0|| || |
Fastest lap (over 1500 cc): Giuseppe Campari (Alfa Romeo) on lap 1 in 21m35s = 175.1 km/h (108.8 mph).|
Fastest lap (1500 cc): Emilio Materassi (Talbot) on lap 5 in 22m34s = 167.5 km/h (104.0 mph).
Winner's medium speed (over 1500 cc - Arcangeli): 163.0 km/h (101.3 mph).
Winner's speed (1500 cc- Materassi) 158.4 km/h (98.4 mph).
Weather: sunshine, very hot
As already mentioned, concurrently with the 200 Mile race, the 10 km speed trial with flying start, held for the first time in 1924, along the 18 kilometer straight that led towards the west, beginning at San Antonio near
Piadena, passed Gadesco and ended at Cremona. At each end of the 10 km timed section there were 4 km stretches, an approach run to accelerate up to speed and the other 4 km for slowing down. The 18 km straight was part of the
circuit and for the 1928 contest all cars were timed every lap as they passed the timed 10 km section. The existing 1924 record by Antonio Ascari in the Alfa Romeo P2 stood at 3m04.6s equal to 195.016 km/h average speed.
Although Materassi drove his fastest time on his first lap, Campari in his faster Alfa Romeo P2 improved that record on his second lap with a time of 2m45.4s at an average speed of 217.654 km/h. Below are the highest speeds
reached by drivers, published in L'Auto Italiana and IL Regime Fascista, fastest times and speeds established on which lap.
|1.||Campari (Alfa Romeo 2000)||2m45.4s||217.654 km/h||2nd lap|| (Note 2)|
|2.||Materassi (Talbot 1500)||2m53.2s||207.852 km/h||1st lap|
|3.||Nuvolari (Bugatti 2000)||3m01.6s||198.237 km/h||3rd lap|
|4.||Saccomani (Bugatti 2000)||3m04.4s||195.227 km/h||5th lap|
|5.||Arcangeli (Talbot 1600)||3m06.0s||193.548 km/h||2nd lap|
|6.||Bona (Bugatti 2000)||3m13.4s||186.142 km/h||1st lap|
|7.||Fisauli (Maserati 1500)||3m40.4s||163.339 km/h||2nd lap|
|8.||Rosti (Talbot 1500)||3m41.2s||162.748 km/h||1st lap|
|9.||Fagioli (Maserati 1500)||3m44.0s||160.714 km/h||1st lap|
|10.||Tonini (Maserati 1500)||3m47.0s||158.590 km/h||1st lap|
|11.||Nenzioni (Bugatti 1500)||4m02.7s?||148.314 km/h||2nd lap|
|12.||Platè (Chiribiri 1500)||4m07.8s?||145.285 km/h||1st lap|
|13.||Facchetti (Chiribiri 1500)||5m19.2s||112.782 km/h||2nd lap|
|14.||Giovanardi (Giovanardi 1500)||5m53.0s||101.983 km/h||3rd lap|
Race Numbers - in this case also Starting Numbers were not published in the available primary sources. Seven of the numbers were matched with drivers from photographs while the starting order by driver's names was published in
three of the sources shown below. By deduction we could then match the six unknown drivers with numbers. In the 1500 cc category only the first two cars were known by race number and driver, while the numbers of the following
nine cars were not known because some of those drivers did not appear at the start. The 1500 cc category race numbers have been published in magazines and books but cannot be correct.
1. Roberto Farinacci was the Secretary of the Fascist National Party during part of the 1920s and served the regime during most of his life. A violent man, he assumed a filo-Nazi stance during WWII and was executed by partisans
in April 1945. Romeo Gallenga was the chairman of the AC Rome and was always present at the motoring events around Italy during the 1920s, even to those very far from Rome, which seems to have been his main occupation.
2. Not published times in Italics. Corrections when calculating with three decimals: Nuvolari's speed should be 198.238 km/h, Saccomani 195.228 km/h,
Bona 186.143 km/h, Rosti 162,749 km/h. Nenzioni's and Platè's speeds were wrongly calculated or published as they don't correpond to any 1/10s time. Closest would be 4m02.7s =>148,331 km/h and 4m07.8s => 145,378 km/h.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
IL Regime Fascista, Cremona
La Gazetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
Lo Sport Fascista, Milano
Tutti gli Sports, Napoli
Special thanks to:
GRAND PRIX BUGATTI
Circuit de la Sarthe - Le Mans (F), 24 June 1928.
Two elimination heats of 6 laps x 17.262 km (10.726 mi) = 103.6 km (64.4 mi)
Final: 16 laps x 17.262 km (10.726 mi) = 276.2 km (171.6 mi)
André Dubonnet wins the Bugatti Grand Prix
by Hans Etzrodt
The first Grand Prix Bugatti was initiated by Ettore Bugatti for private owners of his cars. 29 Bugatti entries were received in four categories. Elimination races over 103 km determined the fastest four of each category
to qualify for the 276 km final. In this race there were handicaps of between 15 and 34 minutes to equalize the four categories. Dubonnet won ahead of Philippi, Zehender who was driving for Delzaert, Williams, Benjafield
and Valcourt, all with 1500 cc cars. The first two cars had no supercharger while the following four cars were supercharged. Blancas, Mme Jennky and Etancelin, did not classify. The first prize was a 2-liter 8-cylinder
Bugatti T35C racecar.
Eight days after the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race on the Sarthe circuit, the course was the scene of an interesting event held to a completely new formula confined to cars of a single manufacturer, Bugatti, who specialized
in racing cars. The number of entries was not limited and over 100 entries were expected. However this number was not achieved and only 29 responded to the call and at the last moment two of them withdrew their entries. The regulations for the race were hardly simple since the Molsheim factory produced several models: 1500 cc 4-cylinder with and without compressor; 1500 cc 8-cylinder, 2-liter and 2.3-liter with and without compressor, seven different models that it would be difficult to equalize with a handicap. The Grand Prix Bugatti was not really unprecedented in the annals of motor sport because a few years earlier Peugeot organized a Carburetor Grand Prix at La Ferte-Bernard, where all the competitors were in the small Peugeot quadrilettes.
- The L'Automobile Club de l'Ouest organized the Grand Prix Bugatti on the Sarthe Circuit at Le Mans on 24. June 1928. The race director was Charles Faroux, the well-known editor of l'Auto.
- The event was only open to private Bugatti owners without official works participation or aid.
- Each entrant was allowed to drive his car or appoint a driver as long as the latter was not connected with the Bugatti works. All car owners and drivers, whether amateurs or professionals, who had a contractual
relationship with the Bugatti works, were not allowed to participate in the Grand Prix Bugatti.
- Entrants could not have their cars tuned by the Bugatti factory. At the close of entries on 30. April 1928 the Bugatti works will decline any work for a registered car.
- Four categories were established by Meo Costantini who also drew up the handicap details in an attempt to give an equal chance to the different categories.
- 1st category: from 2000 cc to 3000 cc with supercharger.
- 2nd category: 1500 cc 8-cyl. with supercharger and 2000 cc to 3000 cc without supercharger.
- 3rd category: 1500 cc 4-cyl. with supercharger.
- 4th category: 1500 cc 4-cyl. without supercharger.
- There were elimination heats for each category over 6 laps or 103.572 km.
- The first four in each category qualified for the final over 16 laps, covering 276.192 km.
- The start will be a standing start with engines running.
- Only the driver will be allowed in the car.
- Qualified competitors of category 4 will start the final at 3:00 PM.
- Qualified competitors of category 3 will start the final at 3:15 PM.
- Qualified competitors of category 2 will start the final at 3:25 PM.
- Qualified competitors of category 1 will start the final at 3:34 PM.
- Under these conditions, the order of finishers after 16 laps will be the order of the general classification.
The Grand Prix Bugatti was endowed with impressive prizes the total value of which amounted to 261,000 francs and consisted of three cars: a 2-liter supercharged Grand Prix racecar worth 165,000 francs for the winner; a polished
3-liters chassis worth 60,000 francs for second and a 4-cylinder 1500 cc chassis worth 36,000 francs as third prize. The car and chassis arrived at Le Mans shortly before the race and were displayed in the showroom of Mr.
Maurice Bigot, the regional Bugatti agent.
A list of the 29 entries is shown at the beginning of this report but only 27 drivers started because Pierre Curral and Raymond Apparuit had withdrawn beforehand. Not all drivers were amateurs since Benjafield, Zehender,
"Sabipa" and Rigal had driven the week before on the same circuit, in the 24 hours of Le Mans. They all had years of experience but all retired. André Dubonnet, a very wealthy liqueur producer who owned several Bugattis,
was also experienced, having raced in several major events. Like Dubonnet, the immensely wealthy Philippe de Rothschild was not an amateur.
According to the regulations, the type 37 without a supercharger had the most favorable handicap. This explains why wealthy drivers, who usually drove the large 8-cylinder supercharged cars, appeared here with the little
4-cylinder T37 without a supercharger. And the result validated their decision.
Some owners drove their cars, others nominated a driver, which was permissible according to the regulations. Of specific interest here is that some of the category 4 and 3 car owners seemed to realize that their cars had
the most favorable handicap. So, by nominating a more skilled driver they hoped to improve their chance of winning. Ferand Delzaert of Brussels settled on Goffredo Zehender to drive his T37A, P. Matussiere nominated "Foc"
to handle his T37, Aubert of Paris appointed Lally to race his T37, René Bacon of Sabres opted for the experienced Louis Rigal to operate his T37, Delbos of Dieppe decided on the distinguished professional Louis Wagner to
steer his T37 and Mme Lucy Schell of Paris selected Michel Doré to drive her T37.
First Elimination Race:|
This race was for categories 1, 2 and 3 and was over 6 laps of the 17.262 km circuit, a total of 103.572 km. Preparations began at 10:00 AM when the rumbling noise of engines filled the air with loud misfires and thunder.
The drivers wearing racing caps and goggles were ready to race. They numbered only 13 because Pierre Curral had withdrawn beforehand. The first row of the starting grid consisted of two supercharged category 1 cars.
They were followed by the five category 2 cars of 2000 cc without superchargers ahead of the six category 3 supercharged 1500 cc cars.
da Silva Ramos
At 11:00 AM the first three categories were started with the time limit until 12:15 PM. Their noisy departure was really impressive. When Blancas completed the first lap in 6m54s at 150.104 km/h, he had beaten the existing lap
record by 49 seconds, which Jimmy Murphy had established with a Duesenberg in 7m43s at 134 km/h average speed in the 1921 Grand Prix de l'ACF. On the 2nd lap Blancas was still leading in 13m51s, followed after one minute by
Ms. Jennky who took the lead on the 3rd lap with total time of 21m55s. She kept the lead on lap 4 in 29m08s when Blancas spun his car at the Mulsanne corner, falling behind. On the 5th lap in 36m20s the positions of the
first two drivers remained the same. But bad luck happened to Ms. Jennky when an unfortunate skid delayed her at Mulsanne corner. To restart she accepted outside help which violated the regulations and would cause her
disqualification. However, she retained first place very easily because Blancas lost time in an accident at Arnage corner and did not finish within the time-limit. Ms. Jennky was disqualified and Blancas was eliminated
for exceeding the time limit. So there were no finishers in category 1. Etancelin took the lead and kept it until the end. He was followed by Drouet, Zehender, Benjafield, Zigrand and Barriere. The 2nd category qualifications
for the finals were Etancelin, Drouet, Zigrand and Barrière while in the 3rd category Zehender, Benjafield, Valcourt and Bret were the first four finishers. Ms Jennky beat the lap record in 6m50s at 151.568 km/h. However,
that record did not count.
Results (First Elimination Race)
|1st Category: 2L and 2.3L with supercharger|
|DNC||14||Manuel Blancas||M.Blancas||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||6||exceed time|
|DSQ||12||Mme Janine Jennky||J. Jennky||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||6||disqualified|
|2nd Category: 1500cc 8-cyl., 2L and 2.3L without supercharger|
|1.||21||Philippe Etancelin||P. Etancelin||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||6||43m02.0s|
|2.||22||Roger Drouet||R. Drouet||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||6||45m39.8s||+ 2m37.8s|
|3.||23||Joseph Zigrand||J. Zigrand||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||6||48m49.0s||+ 5m47.0s|
|4.||24||Silvain Barrière||S. Barrière||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||6||50m22.0s||+ 7m20.0s|
|5.||25||Mme Albertine Dernaucourt||A. Dernaucourt||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||6|
|3rd Category: 1500cc with supercharger|
|1.||52||Goffredo Zehender||Ferand Delzaert||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||6||46m47.0s||+ 3m45.0s|
|2.||32||Joseph Dudley Benjafield||Dr. J.D. Benjafield||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||6||47m05.4s||+ 4m03.4s|
|4.||36||René Bret||R. Bret||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||6||52m34.8s||+ 9m32.8s|
|5.||31||Jean Claude d'Ahetze||J. C. d'Ahetze||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||6|| || |
|6.||37||da Silva Ramos||da Silva Ramos||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||6|| || |
Fastest lap: Manuel Blancas (Bugatti T35B) in 6m54s = 150.1 km/h (93.3 mph).|
Winner's speed: Philippe Etancelin (Bugatti T35) at 144.4 km/h (89.7 mph).
Second Elimination Race:|
Only 14 of the 15 entries appeared because Raymond Apparuit with a T13 had withdrawn. The cars lined up in rows of two to start at 1:00 PM with the time limit set until 2:30 PM. Williams started in a supercharged 1500,
but had the supercharger disabled to comply with category 4 regulations.
T37A w/o s/c
Williams was leading at the end of the first lap in 8m15s and held his lead to the end of the race. His lap times were in the order of 8 minutes or so which compares with Jennky's best lap in the first race of less than 7
minutes. Dubonnet and Philippi were next, ending the race only 14 seconds behind Williams in a dead heat, with identical times after almost 50 minutes of racing. Since the first four were to progress into the main race, it
is quite possible that having secured themselves in the first three places Williams, Dubonnet and Philippi were not extending their cars and not really racing each other. Rigal was fourth, classifying for the final,
followed by "Foc", de Marcellus and Blacque-Bélair in 7th place. The remaining six of the thirteen cars were eliminated including Gaupillat who overturned 300 meters from the village of Arnage and the driver was pulled
free from the accident.
It was announced after the first race that all the competitors met with the stewards to permit Mrs. Jennky to take part in the final. She was eliminated in the circumstances already described. This permission was granted
but the gracious sportswoman, visibly moved by the expressions of sympathy, declared that she intended to comply with regulation and would not start. The public were annoyed, and encouraged her to reconsider the decision,
but it was in vain.
Results (Second Elimination Race)
The Prefect of the Sarthe Circuit and Mr. Verlomme the Deputy Prefect attended the final, with officials of the Automobile-Club de l'Ouest and Ettore Bugatti, who acted as starter. The Final was run in the form of a handicap
and comprised the four best placed cars from the heat races for categories 2, 3 and 4. The two scratch cars, #12 and #14 of the first category, had not qualified for the final, so the number of starts was reduced to three.
Category 4 cars, 1500 cc without supercharger, were started first by Le Patron at 3:00 PM, comprising Williams, Philippi, Dubonnet and Rigal, though the latter failed to complete his first lap. At 3:15 PM category 3, 1500 cc
cars with supercharger, were started, namely Zehender, Benjafield, Valcourt and Bret. Ten minutes later at 3:25 PM it was the turn for the category 2 cars, all 2000 cc without supercharger, Etancelin, Drouet, Zigrand and Barrière.
At the end of lap eight, at mid-race, Dubonnet was leading at 138.095 km/h average speed in the following order:
|3.||Williams (T37A w/o s/c)||1h14m23s|
After 8 laps Dubonnet lost much time during a stop in front of the grandstands and it looked as if victory might mathematically escape him. At the end of the 9th lap Dubonnet had 40s advantage over Philippi, who was his closest
competitor. After the tenth lap that had not changed but after the twelfth lap Dubonnet's advantage had increased to 1m04s. The fact that Dubonnet was almost three minutes ahead of Williams supports the thesis that he was
conserving his car during the preliminary race. Zehender and Benjafield of the 3rd category had massively reduced their 15 minutes handicap and came close to the first three of the 4th category. They were now only about four
minutes behind Dubonnet, but with only three laps left Zehender failed to catch him by a scant two minutes. At the end of lap13 the competitors were classified as follows:
|3.||Williams (T37A w/o s/c)||1h52m32s|
Dubonnet won the race followed by Philippi, Zehender and Williams. Immediately after the race, great applause was given by the crowd of 15,000 spectators in the grandstands. The racing was fierce and tight. Zehender caught
Williams at the end of the last lap and crossed the finish line a mere fifth of a second ahead, after making up the 15 minutes handicap. The race had shown that there were a number of amateurs as good as the best professionals.
Etancelin lost almost 3 minutes because of a spark plug problem and finally retired. A particularly interesting detail was that the first four competitors were the only ones driving on Dunlop tires. Another feature of the event
was that the handicapping had worked extremely well between categories 4 and 3, though not so well for category 2. Ettore Bugatti, who was delighted about the success of the event, announced that in 1929 the second Grand Prix
Bugatti would take place on the same circuit.
H. G. Conway wrote, "...no less than 29 cars were entered. Cars were assumed to be standard production models in the handicapping and this enabled Dubonnet and Philippe de Rothschild to enter a pair of highly tuned Type 37 cars,
handled with restraint in the heat and then driven to win in the final, thoroughly beating the handicappers in the process. Dubonnet won, followed by de Rothschild, a T37A driven by Zehender being third." Thoroughly beating the
handicappers is an overstatement. The leading group 4 car was only two and a half minutes ahead of the leading group 3 car after 133 minutes of racing. That was excellent handicapping.
Zehender and Williams, the 3rd and 4th place finishers, had an exciting handicap, which caused disappointment for the 1500 cc without supercharger despite its advantage of 15 minutes. Actually, it was Zehender who drove the
fastest time. If his 15 minutes handicap were removed, his average speed for the 276 km distance would be 137.5 km/h in 2h00m33.2s, which would break all records set on the Sarthe circuit.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
La Vie Automobile, Paris
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Petit Dauphinois, Grenoble
l'Ouest Éclair, Rennes
Motor Sport, London
Special thanks to:
GRAND PRIX DE LA MARNE
Reims-Gueux (F), 8 July 1928.
50 laps x 8 km (4.97 mi) = 400 km (248.5 mi)
Chiron wins the Marne Grand Prix
by Hans Etzrodt
A total of 33 drivers started at the Marne Grand Prix on the Reims-Gueux Circuit. Chiron (Bugatti) led the 400 km race from start to finish ahead of Gauthier (Bugatti). Simson and Etancelin both in Bugattis held early
second places before they retired. In the 1500 category Auber (Bugatti) led throughout the race ahead of Tersen (Bugatti). In the 1100 category the supercharged Amilcars of Scaron and Valette engaged in a close battle
but d'Havrincourt (Salmson) could not match their speed. Chiron won ahead of Gauthier, Auber, Scaron, Valette, Tersen, Delaroche and d'Havrincourt, who all completed the 400 km distance. D'Ahetze (Bugatti),
Goudouin (Caban), Cadet (Bugatti) and Wargnier (Rally) finished but were flagged.
For the fourth time l'Automobile-Club Ardennes-Champagne-Argonne (Section Marne) together with the journal l'Eclaireur del'Est and the patronage of the journal l'Auto organized the Grand Prix de la Marne.
The entries were divided into three categories, 750 cc to 1100 cc, 1500cc and 2000 cc. All cars had to start at the same time and complete 50 laps of the 8 km circuit or 400 km. The category up to 1100 cc raced for
the Prix du C. O. F. A. C. A. (Prix du Comité des Fêtes de l'Automobile Club Argonne (Section Marne), the 1500 cc category raced for the Prix de la Ville de Reims and the 2000 cc category raced for the Prix de
l'Eclaireur de l'Est. The race was run over the triangular permanent Circuit de Reims-Gueux, which had been used for the Marne Grand Prix annually since 1925. The course featured two long straights, one curved back
leg and three sharp right hand turns at the village of Gueux, La Garenne on Route 31 and Thillois before the finish straight. The fasted lap of the 1927 race was driven by Etancelin (Bugatti) in 3m43s whilst winning
the race in 3h36m20s at 116.316 km/h.
The prize money was the same for each of the three categories: the victor received 6,000 francs, the second 3,000 frs. and the third 2,000 frs. The first regional driver received the Pierre Bouchez prize, an art object
worth 1,000 francs. The competitor driving the fastest lap, regardless of which category, received a special price of 1,000 francs cash. The overall winner was rewarded with the challenge award of the ANCIEN AUTOMOBILE
CLUB DE LA MARNE, art object worth 10,000 francs, taken into custody for a year by the owner of the winning car, definitely assigned after three consecutive victories (current holder was Etancelin, 2-liter Bugatti).
Scrutineering of the cars took place on Saturday from 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM at "Eclaireur de l'Est" at Place d'Erlon in Reims in the presence of a large audience. The officials convened at 3:00 PM. Almost all competitors
introduced themselves and those delayed for various reasons and who had not completed the formalities, did so on Sunday morning from 9 to 10 am at the office of A.C.A. The circuit was closed to traffic on Saturday for
practice from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM and from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Only competitors in the Marne Grand Prix were allowed on the circuit at those times. Spectators were admitted free of charge.
On the same day that the Marne Grand Prix was held, a Voiturette Grand Prix took place at Bordeaux, nevertheless a large field entered at Reims. A total of 58 race numbers was assigned, of which the uneven numbers were
allocated to the 1100 cc category. Twelve numbers were not used and 8 cars did not appear. This left 38 cars for the start and of those the 2000 cc category comprised 7 cars. Chiron appeared with a T35C Bugatti, as
did Simson while Gauthier and Etancelin had 8-cylinder Bugattis which were not supercharged. The race winner would likely be one of those four drivers with the fastest cars in the race. Caile and Drouet with T35
Bugattis without superchargers and Bouchez with an older Georges-Irat had much less chance of victory.
The 1500 cc category comprised 11 cars of which eight were small Bugattis, 1500 cc 4-cylinder cars with and without a supercharger, entered by Aubert, d'Ahetze, Mme Schell, Lemoine, Tersen, Cadet, Negri and Delaroche.
One of them would be the likely category winner. The 1100 cc category comprised 20 cars of which the fastest were the supercharged 6-cylinder Amilcars of Scaron and Valette. All of the 1100 cc category cars are shown
in the list of entries at the beginning of this report.
The cars assembled at 1:15 PM, opposite the grandstand. The start had been planned for 1:30 PM but was delayed. Velitchkovitch, Mme Jennky, Doré, Clause, Treunet, Bassaud, Goire and Lenart did not appear.
The first five rows of the 38-car grid were as follows:
At 2:15 PM when Mr. Pailette gave the starting signal to the excited shouts of the crowd. Chiron and Simson made the best start and roared away. Delaplace in the T.A.M. had a problem and left after a one
After the first lap Chiron held the lead with a time of 3m43s at 129.147 km/h average speed, which beat Etancelin's 1927 lap record. He had opened a gap of 16 seconds to Simson who was chased by
Etancelin immediately behind him. After this first lap, Bouchez in the Georges Irat was impeded by Guy's Lombard and collided with the Bugatti pits causing severe damage to his car's front axle which ended
his race. Fortunately the brave driver was not injured in this collision that could have been a catastrophe.
On the second lap Chiron drove an even faster time in 3m31s at 136.492 km/h average speed, still ahead of Simson, Etancelin and Gauthier, all in Bugattis. Mme Schell, Giraud-Cabantous and Devos,
made long pit stops and lost valuable time. D'Havrincourt in a Salmson 1100 was only seven seconds behind Scaron. Tersen and Negri had a close battle for ninth position. Chiron held a solid lead while
Auber headed the 1500 category after lap 5:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||18m36s||2000 cc|
|8.||d'Havrincourt (Salmson) ?||22m50s||1100 *|
After eight laps, Simson had a puncture and stopped his Bugatti at the pits for a new wheel. Soon afterwards Nadillon in the 1500 Vernandi also stopped at his pit with a puncture. Doublet stopped his 1500
Sima-Violet for a long time at la Garenne corner and retired, while Communier in his 1100 Grazide spun out of Thillois turn but the driver proceeded after a brief stop. Chiron led the race and Auber headed
the 1500 category while D'Ahetze (Bugatti), D'Havrincourt (Salmson) and Lemoine (Bugatti) had fallen behind and were no longer shown with the leading group which was in the following order after lap 10:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||37m22s||2000 cc|
After lap 12, Chiron stopped for a few seconds at the pits and rejoined the race just 50 meters ahead of Etancelin. Mme Schell stopped at her pit again where she remained for several minutes. Devos, Cadet and
others also made pit stops. On lap 15, the fight was still going on between all competitors but the positions remained substantially the same in all categories. De Rovin (1100 De Rovin) and Communier (1100 Grazide)
had breakdowns at Thillois and both retired. Guy in the 1100 Lombard arrived too fast at the Thillois curve, crashed and retired. It was astonishing to see the fastest of the 1100 cc cars driven by Scaron and
Valette racing amongst the top 1500 category cars in a battle with each other. Negri (1500 Bugatti), Tetaldi (1100 Amilcar) and Fourny (1100 BNC) were no longer shown in the leading group and had probably
retired. Chiron led Etancelin by five seconds while Auber headed the 1500 category after 15 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||56m16s||2000 cc|
On lap 18, Chiron finished the lap in 3m24s at an average speed of 114.176 km/h, which was another new record. Scaron and Valette in their fast little Amilcars still battled for fifth place. Devos retired his
1100 Salmson. Tersen (1500 Bugatti) and d'Havrincourt (1100 Salmson) had fallen behind and were no longer shown in the leading group. Chiron and Auber dominated their categories after 20 laps, but Scaron was
only five seconds ahead of Valette:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||1h13m47s||2000 cc|
On lap 23 Chiron stopped at the pits to refuel which was done in record time. Etancelin was anxiously expected to arrive and passed 59 seconds after Chiron had left but was preceded by Gauthier. Etancelin retired
after breaking two connecting rods. Vallette had been behind Scaron since the start of the race, but the time gap had increased to almost three minutes. At mid race, Chiron was leading at an average speed of
131.671 km/h while Auber headed the 1500 category after 25 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||1h31m50s||2000 cc|
When Scaron refueled after 25 laps, the timekeepers scrambled for a moment with their numbers and changed the order showing Gauthier as the leader. This probably happened when Chiron followed not far behind
Gauthier and shortly before Chiron lapped him. In actual fact, Chiron retained his lead ahead of Gauthier while Auber was first in the 1500 category after 30 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||1h50m28s||2000 cc|
The order did not change after 25 laps and Valette seriously worried Scaron by following closely behind him. Tersen in the 1500 cc Bugatti held second place in his category ahead of his teammate Delaroche. Chiron
continued to lead the race and lapped Gauthier for the first time shortly before lap 35 while Auber still headed the 1500 category after 35 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||2h08m11s||2000 cc|
|2.||Gauthier (Bugatti)||1 lap down||2000|
|4.||Tersen (Bugatti)||2 laps down||1500|
|7.||Delaroche (Bugatti)||2 laps down||1500|
|8.||d'Havrincourt (Salmson)||4 laps down||1100|
fight was still undecided in the 1100 category where Vallette kept shadowing Scaron, but did not have the power to pass him. Chiron held the first place while Auber was leading the 1500 category after 40 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||2h25m45s||2000 cc|
|2.||Gauthier (Bugatti)||3 laps down||2000|
|3.||Simson (Bugatti) ||5 laps down||2000|
|5.||Tersen (Bugatti)||2 laps down||1500|
|8.||Delaroche (Bugatti)||3 laps down||1500|
|9.||d'Havrincourt (Salmson)||5 laps down||1100|
Wargnier had a breakdown with his 1100 Rally at Garenne corner and retired. Tersen had a distinct advantage over Delaroche, his immediate follower. Chiron lapped Gauthier for the second time before lap 45 and
maintained the lead while Auber led the 1500 category after 45 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Bugatti)||2h43m39s||2000 cc|
|2.||Gauthier (Bugatti)||5 laps down||2000|
|4.||Tersen (Bugatti)||3 laps down||1500|
|5.||Simson (Bugatti) ||8 laps down||2000|
|8.||Delaroche (Bugatti)||3 laps down||1500|
|9.||d'Havrincourt (Salmson)||5 laps down||1100|
On lap 48 Chiron established a new record lap in 3m16s at 146.938 km/h average speed, which was the fastest lap of the race. The announcement of this over the loudspeakers was greeted with tremendous applause and so was the triumphal finish of Chiron. The crowd roared with enthusiasm, a bouquet of flowers was presented to Chiron, who made a lap of honor, while the other competitors still carried on with their race to complete the 40 laps to be classified. Bouchard had an accident with his Rally at Thillois causing his retirement and Simson also retired from the race.
In retrospect by Tony Kaye:|
An examination of timesheets can sometimes reveal aspects of a race which were not mentioned by contemporary journalists. The progress of the two Amilcar drivers, Scaron and Valette, is a good example of
this. It is obvious from the elapsed times that Valette made a pit stop sometime between laps 21 and 25 and that Scaron followed suit between laps 26 and 30. Apart from that, from lap 10 onwards they
were never more than a few seconds apart with Scaron always ahead. Whether they were having a battle royal or merely driving to 'team' orders is a moot point.
Another aspect is the astonishing consistency of their times. Ignoring the 5 laps during which Valette made his pit stop, he completed four consecutive 5-lap segments in 21m 15s, 21m 15s, 21m 16s and
21m 12s a range of only 4 seconds in more than 20 minutes. Absolutely uncanny! And Scaron's times were only slightly less consistent.
An analysis of lap times can also bring to light apparent errors by the timekeepers or journalists. After the completion of 5 laps Valette was not recorded among the first 13 cars, however by lap 10
he had apparently climbed to 6th and he eventually finished 5th. What had happened to Valette during those first five laps? According to the timesheets he had taken 24m 16s or more to complete them
and then 19m 11s or less for laps 6-10. Not only would that latter time have been almost 2 minutes faster than any subsequent 5-lap segment by Valette, but it would have been only two or three seconds
per lap slower than Etancelin in his 2-litre Bugatti which was currently in second place. And save for Chiron, it would have been faster than all the other cars in the race. For an 1100 cc Amilcar that
was clearly impossible. So what really happened?
Almost 90 years after the event it is impossible to be certain, but it would appear that d'Havrincourt's name appeared on the timesheets instead of Valette's. On lap 5, d'Havrincourt was recorded in
8th place - a mere 7 seconds behind Scaron - yet five laps later he was seen to be at least seven places behind Scaron. If it was actually Valette, not d'Havrincourt, who had been just behind Scaron
on lap 5, it all falls into place. His gap to Scaron at the end of the first four 5-lap segments would have been a consistent 7, 1, 5 and 2 seconds. And that ridiculously fast 19m 11s for laps 6-10 would
now be calculated as a far more reasonable 20m 37s, which was within seconds of Scaron's time in a similar car.
All three drivers have long since passed away, but it would do no harm to credit Valette with his 8th place on lap 5, which he was denied during his lifetime.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
L'Eclaireur de l'Est, Reims
Le Matin, Paris
Special thanks to:
GRAN PREMIO DE SAN SEBASTIÁN
Circuito de Lasarte - San Sebastián (E), 25 July 1928 (Wednesday).
40 laps x 17.315 km (10.759 mi) = 692.6 km (430.4 mi)
Chiron wins the San Sebastian Grand Prix with the best of nine Bugattis
by Hans Etzrodt
The Grand Prix of San Sebastian over 40 laps on the Lasarte circuit was contested by nine Bugatti drivers after eight other drivers did not make the start. Divo was the initial leader until lap 12 when he dropped out
with a brake problem. Zehender was then first for two laps to be passed by Lehoux and as of lap 15 Benoist became the dominant leader. Chiron, who lost a lot of time with carburation trouble at the beginning, was able
to recover and finally catch the leader near the end on lap 33. Chiron stopped once more, which handed Benoist first place again before Chiron passed him on the following lap going on to win the over five hour race.
Benoist finished second ahead of Lehoux, Zehender, Blancas and Torres. Williams retired early when his car caught fire and Lepori/Bourlier dropped out with ignition problem.
The 1928 Meeting at San Sebastian on the Circuito de Lasarte consisted of two events, the Gran Premio de San Sebastian on July 25 for formula libre racecars and the Gran Premio de España on July 29 a
handicap race for sports cars. Participation in the San Sebastian Grand Prix was by invitation-only from the A.C. of Guipúzcoa, allowing only those race drivers. This event also carried the special title Criterium de los Ases,
"Criterium of the Aces".
The 17.315 km Lasarte circuit, a few miles south of the Atlantic seaside resort San Sebastian, had to be lapped 40 times, a total of 692.600 km. A genuine natural road course, the winding hilly road went counterclockwise
through the foothills of the Pyrenees and some parts were in poor condition with stones and potholes. At the start and finish, between the villages of Lasarte and Oria, there were tram lines. The circuit then led through
Andoain after 5 km, Urnieta at half distance, Hernani after 11 km, and Lasarte only 1.3 km before the start and finish. The Automobile-Club of Guipuzcoa organized the event and had improved the banking of many corners,
resulting in faster lap times. On the straights from km 5 up to km 10.7, there were several opportunities to go full throttle.
Mr. Zappino and Balanzategui of the Automobile-Club of Guipúzcoa traveled to Paris, Strasburg, Milan and Bologna in order to promote the races and attract entries to come to the Grand Prix. The trip supposedly was a
complete success, although there was not a single Italian entry at the San Sebastian Grand Prix or the Spanish Grand Prix. So the trip to Milan was a complete failure.
The victor would be proclaimed winner of the VI Grand Prix of San Sebastian, receive the del Rey Trophy and 5,000 pesetas in cash. The car classified as second would be awarded a prize of 3,000 pesetas and the third
1,500 pesetas. A prize of 500 pesetas would be awarded to the driver who drove the fastest lap and 2,000 pesetas would go to the car that completed more than two laps. On each lap that a car was among the first ten,
it would receive 100 pesetas. Mr. Bugatti offered the race winner a 1500cc sports car, which was going to be displayed to the public in the capital of the province.
Race numbers were issued for 17 drivers, number 13 and 17 were not used. The Automobile Club received confirmation of Chiron's participation for the race. He was considered the most famous racer at that time, with recent
victories at the Rome and Marne Grands Prix. Chiron had his blue car's hood painted in in the colors of Monte Carlo, his hometown. He added two white stripes separated by a red one around the hood just behind the radiator. Lehoux was the winner of the Tunis Grand Prix, and Williams had won the French Grand Prix for sports cars at the beginning of July. Benoist, the 1927 World Champion, was going to
race with a 2-liter Bugatti, having raced the year with Delage. Argentinian racer, Manual Blancas crossed the Atlantic to take part. There was also Mme. Janine Jennky, who had won the Burgundy GP in May.
Eight cars did not make the start: Doré (1500 cc Licorne), Caracciola with 2000 cc Mercedes-Benz renounced his start due to insufficient time for practice, Rost (3000 cc Georges Irat), Minoia (Bugatti), Brilli Peri (Bugatti),
Mme Jennky (Bugatti), who raced in the Spanish Grand Prix instead, and Palet (Ricart). Bourlier had to withdraw right before the start due to a defective engine. If he could have repaired his car he would have been one of
the drivers with the best chance of winning the race.
After the withdrawal of 8 cars from 17 entries, there were only 9 cars left to start, and all of them were Bugattis. The starting grid below was constructed from three photos. Three rows were used for a flying start with a pace
car pulling towards the pits.
Members of the Royal family were not present at this race. When the pace car for the flying start pulled aside, Divo sprinted from the last row into first place, followed by Chiron and Williams. In Urnieta, eight kilometers after
the start, Lehoux went past Williams but stayed there for only four kilometers before he lost second place. During the opening lap Chiron developed carburetion trouble.
When the cars passed the pits at the end of the first lap, it was Divo in front followed by Lehoux and Williams, the two close together, next Chiron, Benoist, Zehender and Lepori, with Blancas and Torres forming the tail. Blancas
was having some difficulties with his car and headed for his pit. Chiron with a carburetion problem on his car also stopped at his pit and lost five minutes before he continued.
After lap two Divo was still in the lead, with a lap of 7m53s at 132 km/h average while Lehoux and Benoist passed the grandstands at the same time followed by Williams in fourth place.
After the third lap Divo still retained top spot and had increased his race average speed to 133 km/h. Chiron, who had lost a lot of time already, had to stop again, before performing a race recovery when he drove his third lap at
Divo increased his lead over the other drivers, lapping at an average time of 7m50s and finished the fifth lap with 135.200 km/h average speed but Chiron was better with a new record lap at 138 km/h.
The order after five laps was as follows:
|8.||Blancas (Bugatti)||49m50s||1 lap behind|
|9.||Torres (Bugatti)||51m53s||1 lap behind|
Divo was in first place and Chiron was catching up little by little. The battle between Benoist and Lehoux for second place attracted the public's attention. Benoist always succeeded in passing Lehoux in the middle of the lap
but after Teresategui, 2.3 km before the finish line, Lehoux went past him in the downhill section. Chiron reduced the distance to the leader lap after lap. Divo kept an average speed of 129 km/h while Chiron lapped at 138 km/h
while holding sixth place, leaving behind him Blancas, Williams and Torres, the latter having problems with his car.
Until lap 10 no notable changes took place besides the extremely interesting fight for second place between Lehoux and Benoist. After 10 laps, the first quarter of the race, Divo was in first place, two minutes ahead of Lehoux
and Benoist, three minutes ahead of Zehender and nine minutes ahead of Chiron. Chiron came into the pits to refill. Divo's average lap time over the last five laps was 7m51.5s while his race average was 134.109 km/h after
10 laps when the order was as follows:
|4.||Zehender (Bugatti)||1h28m17s||1 lap behind|
|5.||Chiron (Bugatti)||1h33m29s||2 laps behind|
|6.||Lepori (Bugatti)||1h35m11s||2 laps behind|
|7.||Blancas (Bugatti)||1h36m24s||2 laps behind|
|8.||Williams (Bugatti)||1h44m37s||3 laps behind|
|9.||Torres (Bugatti)||1h50m22s||4 laps behind|
On lap 11 Williams' car caught fire near Hernani. Torres stopped to help extinguish the flames and gave him a ride back to the pits, which put him even further behind in
last place. Torres' action was applauded by the grandstand crowd.
Divo, who until lap 12 had been leading without interruptions, stopped at his pit to fix his brakes, which had seized. When he saw that his pit did not have extra brake shoes he began looking for them in Lehoux's, Chiron's and
Bouriat's pits but none of them wanted to give him their brake shoes. This ended Divo's race and he had to withdraw. The problem of racing without official support had its inconveniences, like not having enough spare parts and
the impossibility to rely on your peers, so he was forced to leave when he looked set to be the likely race winner.
When Lehoux and Benoist stopped at the pits, Zehender inherited the lead for two laps until lap 14 when he was passed by the Lehoux-Benoist duo.
Bourlier was in the pits because he could not start in the race due to an engine failure during the last practice. He was so anxious to get into the race that he went to Lepori's pit to beg to let him substitute. At last, Lepori
accepted. So, on lap 12 Bourlier replaced Lepori, who left the wheel of his car due to "indisposition". Bourlier drove the car to the top of its performance, establishing a lap record in 7m2.4s before his later retirement due
to ignition problems. Chiron continued his erratic race, pressing firmly when driving, but often stopping at his pit to solve small problems. He continued his uneven race covering lap 13 at 139.200 km/h. His good pace earned
him some advance in the rankings. At the end of lap 15 after Divo and Williams had retired, the lead went to Lehoux whose average lap time over the last five laps was 8m11.6s with the order as follows after 15 laps:
|5.||Lepori/ Bourlier (Bugatti)||2h11m54s||1 lap behind|
|6.||Blancas (Bugatti)||2h23m20s||2 laps behind|
Benoist passed Lehoux for the lead on lap 17. After twenty laps, half distance, Benoist was still in the lead ahead of Lehoux. Chiron had made up a lot of time and now held third place and was chasing down Lehoux. After 20 laps
Torres was over one hour behind. Benoist maintained first place with his race average speed at 128.962 km/h. His average lap time over the last five laps was 7m49s when the order after 20 laps was as follows:
|5.||Lepori/Bourlier (Bugatti)||2h51m11s||1 lap behind|
|6.||Blancas (Bugatti)||2h57m32s||2 laps behind|
|7.||Torres (Bugatti)||3h48m10s||8 laps behind|
When Benoist stopped at his pit on lap 21, Chiron drove a fast lap at an average of 139.200 km/h. Bourlier kept pressing and made up much time. On lap 24 he drove at an average of 141,300 km/h, thus beating the old record for
the fastest lap belonging to Materassi, who had established it at 139.762 km/h. Lehoux stopped on lap 25 to change plugs in three minutes. Benoist was still in the lead with an average lap time now lowered to 7m5.4s when the
order after 25 laps was as follows:
|3.||Zehender (Bugatti)||3h28m22s||1 lap behind|
|4.||Lepori/Bourlier (Bugatti)||3h28m36s||1 lap behind|
|5.||Lehoux (Bugatti)||3h31m23s||1 lap behind|
|6.||Blancas (Bugatti)||3h48m33s||4 laps behind|
Chiron continued to press on, taking advantage of the smooth running of his car since lap 25 and constituted a serious threat to Benoist. After lap 26, Benoist was leading Chiron by 2m27s, a few laps later the gap was down to
two minutes. On lap 30, Chiron was less than one minute behind Benoist. One reason why Chiron was catching up so fast was that Benoist had slowed his pace by 15 seconds per lap to an average lap time of 7m18.6s.
After thirty laps Benoist held the lead with 128.709 km/h average speed in the following order:
|4.||Lehoux (Bugatti)||4h11m12s||1 lap behind|
|5.||Zehender (Bugatti)||4h15m39s||1 lap behind|
|6.||Blancas (Bugatti)||4h36m01s||4 laps behind|
|7.||Torres (Bugatti)||way behind|
Chiron passed Benoist at Urbaneta, six kilometers after the Start and Finish. Chiron continued raising his pace and on lap 32 he drove a lap in 7m19s at an average of 141,990 km/h, a new fastest lap, beating the circuit record
that Bourlier had set on lap 24. On lap 33, Chiron stopped once more at the pits and dropped back to second place. He again chased down Benoist and passed him the following lap. The Lepori/Bourlier Bugatti drove an excellent
race in third place but was forced to retire on lap 33 with ignition problems. Chiron's average lap time over the last five laps was 7m39.6s with the order after 35 laps as follows:
|3.||Lehoux (Bugatti)||4h51m20s||1 lap behind|
|4.||Zehender (Bugatti)||4h59m12s||2 laps behind|
|5.||Blancas (Bugatti)||5h19m41s||3 laps behind|
|6.||Torres (Bugatti)||way behind|
Chiron continued his triumphal drive until the end of the race, winning by 2m25.5s ahead of Benoist and receiving a deserved ovation. Chiron won because of his audacity and Benoist's serene outlook and excessive confidence made
him lose the race. As an example, there was the moment when Benoist stopped for 55 seconds in order to drink a glass of water.
|1.||7||Louis Chiron||L. Chiron||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||40||5h20m30.0s|
|2.||9||Robert Benoist||R. Benoist||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||40||5h22m55.5s||+ 2m25.5s|
|3.||16||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||40||5h33m34.8s||+ 13m04.8s|
|4.||8||Goffredo Zehender||G. Zehender||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||40||5h42m23.7s||+ 21m53.7s|
|5.||3||Manuel Blancas||M. Blancas||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||40||6h04m40.8s||+ 44m10.8s|
|6.||18||Francisco Torres||F. Torres||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||29||flagged off|
|DNF||2||M. Lepori/E. Bourlier||M. Lepori||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||32||ignition|
|DNF||10||Albert Divo||A. Divo||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||12||brakes|
|DNF||4||"Williams"||W. Williams||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||10||car caught fire|
Fastest lap : Louis Chiron (Bugatti) on lap 32 in 7m19s at 142.0 km/h (88.2 mph).|
Winner's medium speed: 129.7 km/h (80.6 mph)
Weather: Sunny and warm
The Gran Premio de España on July 29, a handicap race for sports cars with 72 entries received - 44 drivers started the race. After four elimination handicap races, the final 259.715 km race was won by Louis Chiron (Bugatti) in
2h2m44.8s ahead of Bouriano (Bugatti) in 2h7m15.6s and Delemer (E.H.D.) in 2h30m39.4s followed by 11 other finishers. The driver Charaval ("Sabipa") crashed his Bugatti early in the race, but was not as seriously injured as it
The times and speeds published by the various sources researched for this report, showed great diversity from one to another. This could be a sad reflection on the performance of the timekeepers or possibly carelessness on the
part of the journalists. It was therefore decided to use the most credible times in this report and ignore the others.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
Automobil Motorsport, Budapest
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
Madrid Automovil, Madrid
The Autocar, London
The Motor, London
Special thanks to:
Angel Elberdin, Circuito de Lasarte, Kutxa fundación, Bilbao, 1998