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FOREWORD:

The 1931 season is a joint effort with Hans Etzrodt writing the account of almost all the major races and also making suggestions to the appearence of the pages while I have concentrated on the minor races. The format of the 1931 is the same as for the 1932-33 seasons. The original 1934-39 pages were planned for the limited Net resources available to me back in 1998 when every bit and byte had to be counted but now over fifteen years later I'm glad I don't have to worry about that any more but can give Hans free hands to get the reports correct and complete. Some work is still to be done on the minor races, but apart from that, the year should now be in more or less its final form.
Leif Snellman
The information within these pages was derived primarily from contemporary magazines and newspapers. Great guidance was received from the Swiss AUTOMOBIL-REVUE. I am indebted to all those outstanding reporters and journalists for their diligent reporting. Without their stories, we would not have learned about what happened at these events. Secondary sources have also been helpful occasionally but to a much lesser extent. I appreciate the valuable advice of several helpful specialists and enthusiasts who have corrected errors. My gratitude extends to Tony Kaye for patiently editing the text and catching my occasional blunder. Last but not least, I am especially grateful to Leif Snellman, not only for his wonderfully vivacious drawings but also for providing the foundation in the attempt to have another look at these long ago races, bringing them back to remembrance as elaborate accounts.
Hans Etzrodt

INTRODUCTION:

Bugatti dominated the 1931 season with their new 2.3-liter twin cam T51 by winning six major races and the thirty-one year old Monegasque, Louis Chiron, was the most successful driver.

The formula
The formula for 1931 required a race duration of at least 10 hours for the Grandes Épreuves and two drivers had to be assigned per car. Three Grandes Épreuves, the Italian, French and Belgian Grands Prix, were organized to this formula, applied by the CSI and counted towards the restored 1931 European Championship for drivers. Their classification resulted from the points gained at the three International Grands Prix. Additional rules: Formula Libre, meaning no restriction on engine size, weight, fuel consumption and its composition; two-seat body with 100 cm minimum width. Only the driver was allowed on board, no mechanic was permitted to be carried; driver changes could only be at the pits; only two mechanics in addition to the driver(s) were allowed to assist at pit stops.

The Grandes Epreuves:
On September 17, 1930, the CSI (Commission Sportive Internationale) held their fall meeting at the premises of the AC de France in Paris. Representatives of the following countries were present: Fritsch (Germany), Koechert (Austria), Baron Nothomb, Langlois (Belgium), Pérouse (France); O'Gorman, Lindsay Lloyd, Baillie (England); Vincenzo Florio (Italy) and Decrauzat (Switzerland). They established the 1931 racing calendar consisting of the following Grandes Epreuves: May 30, Grand Prix of Indianapolis [the CSI meant the Indianapolis 500]; June 21, Grand Prix of France; July 5, Grand Prix of Belgium; July 18, Grand Prix of Germany; August 2, Grand Prix of Spain; August 22, Grand Prix of Great Britain [the CSI meant the British Grand Prix]; September 6, Grand Prix of Italy [later changed to May 24].

The races:
The1931 season comprised 13 major races, four of which were Grandes Epreuves, while the other three had been planned but did not take place. The remaining nine races were popular international events for grand prix cars where the main contenders competed and as a result these contests gained in significance. An additional 16 regional events - including some of international character - were of less importance, mostly national or club races where the fields of grand prix cars were often mixed with those from minor formulae. Bugatti won the first race at Tunis with their brand new 2300 cc Type 51. They were also victorious at the following two races, Monaco and Alessandria. Alfa Romeo finished first in the next major events, the Targa Florio and the Italian Grand Prix. The June race at Rome saw a Maserati victorious, while Bugatti prevailed at the French and Belgian Grands Prix, followed by a Mercedes-Benz victory at the German Grand Prix. The Italian races in August for the Coppa Ciano and Coppa Acerbo were won by Alfa Romeo, while the Monza Grand Prix was a Maserati success. The last major event of the year on the Masaryk Circuit was won by Bugatti. The Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung reported an unprecedented incident that happened during the Monaco Grand Prix. Due to an error by race officials it was run over just 99 laps instead of the 100 quoted in every race report.

The European Championship
The European Championship, also called the International Grand Prix, was decided on the outcome of the Grand Prix of Italy at Monza on May 24, the Grand Prix of France at Linas-Montlhéry on June 21 and the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa on July 12; all three events were 10-Hour races. Two drivers had to be assigned to each car and total freedom was guaranteed on the technical side. Therefore you had driver pairs with the same points, an unusual and confusing solution. Since Minoia and Campari were tied with 9 points each according to the low point system, Minoia won because he covered 3935 km against Campari's 3368. 1 point was given for the winner, 2 for the second, 3 for third, 4 for fourth, etc. with more complications up to 8 points for non-starters. The Divo/Bouriat (Bugatti) pairing came third with 12 points and 3410 km. One of the main confusions affected Borzacchini who finished in each of the 3 races in second place and therefore should have received a total of 6 points and have won the championship. But Borzacchini received no points at all. He was excluded from scoring due to the odd rules, which were rather complicated and appeared to be unfair. More details can be found at the 1931 Championship.

Cancelled events:
The Grand Prix of Spain, planned for the fall, was cancelled in March 1931 for unknown reasons. It was again put on and finally cancelled on September 11and stricken from the International automobile calendar. The reason for the cancellation of this prominent race on the Lasarte circuit of San Sebastian was probably to be found in the obscure political situation in Spain. The Grand Prix of Hungary, to be held on April 6, 1931, was cancelled at the beginning of March. Organizers justified their decision due to practical reasons which were obstructing the organization of this event. The Grand Prix of Vienna to be held on June 14, 1931 had been cancelled in February. At the end of 1930 there was much advertising for the circuit race through the middle of the Austrian capital. The first contacts with the authorities were positive and the Austrian AC believed it would receive permission for the circuit on the Wiener Ring. The Chief of police had refused to provide a permit on grounds of safety. The police believed that despite all the planned precautions by the ÖAC for the safety of the spectators, who would attend the Ring in great numbers, their safety was not assured. The 5th Cremona Circuit Race in Italy for September 19, 1931, was cancelled on July 28 due to financial reasons. The British GP was not held on August 22 but the International Tourist Trophy for sports cars took place instead.




1931 SEASON LINEUP:

Factory Racing Teams:

SA Alfa Romeo (Portello, Italy)
Alfa Romeo entered their team at only five events under their 1931 company name Societá Anonima Alfa Romeo at the Targa Florio, the Italian, French, Belgian and Monza Grands Prix. Other races were entered by the Scuderia Ferrari, often using the same cars and drivers.
      The team manager was the outstanding Aldo Giovannini for the three main drivers Giuseppe Campari, Tazio Nuvolari and Baconin Borzacchini. Other drivers were Luigi Arcangeli, Guido D'Ippolito, Ferdinando Minoia (who became the 1931 European Champion), Giovanni Minozzi, Goffredo Zehender.
      Alfa Romeo was well prepared for the Targa Florio, entering two brand new 2300, 8-cylinder racecars equipped with bucket seats, a cylindrical exposed fuel tank and two spare wheels on the back, also several 6C 1750 cars. The designer Vittorio Jano with team manager Aldo Giovannini supervised the team. At the Italian Grand Prix they again had two of the new 8-cylinder 2300 cars, which had been further improved since their Targa Florio victory and one twin 6-cylinder 3.5-liter tipo A monoposto. The 8C-2300 won the race and became known as the Monza model in honor of this first Grand Prix victory at the 1931 Italian Grand Prix held at the Autodromo di Monza. For the French and Belgian Grands Prix Alfa Romeo sent three of their latest 2300 straight-8 Monzas, finishing second behind the Bugatti T-51 in both races. At the Monza Grand Prix the Alfa Romeo factory entered two of the twin 6-cylinder 3.5-liter tipo A monoposti and three 8C 2300 Monza models but without success.

Automobiles Ettore Bugatti (Molsheim, France)
The racing team was put together in the spring of 1931 with Louis Chiron, Achille Varzi, Albert Divo, Guy Bouriat and Conte Conelli as the drivers. Meo Costantini was managing the Bugatti équipe.
      The Type 51, was a new more powerful twin-cam design to replace the 2.3-liter Type 35B and was introduced early in 1931. The type 51 [#51122] was raced for the first time by Varzi at the March 29, 1931 Tunis GP where the car won its first race.
      The Type 54, another new car, with twin-cam cylinder heads to be fitted to the 5-liter engine as used in the Type 50 and Type 53. The T54 was raced for the first time by Varzi and Chiron at the 1931 Monza GP. The T54 won its first race in the hands of Varzi, who had done the same before with the T51 at Tunis.
      The first race entered by the factory in 1931 was the Monaco Grand Prix. The Alessandria Circuit and Targa Florio were left to private owners. The next factory participation occurred at the Italian Grand Prix. At the following Rome GP, Varzi raced independently. The factory then appeared at the GP de l'ACF, followed by the Belgian GP and German GP. The factory did not enter the Coppa Ciano, Coppa Acerbo, Monza Grand Prix and Masaryk Circuit.

Officine Alfieri Maserati (Bologna, Italy)
The company had built five type 26M's (8C-2500) but had at their disposal only three cars. These were raced very successfully in 1930 [chassis #42 and #43]. Additionally [chassis #44] went to Henry Birkin and [chassis #2510] was sold 1930 to Arcangeli.
      The 1931 production included Luigi Castelbarco, [chassis #2511], Umberto Klinger, [chassis #2512], Ernst Kotte, [chassis #2514], René Dreyfus, [chassis #2515]. Alfa Romeo and Bugatti introduced new cars for 1931, which were faster than the 1930 Maserati 26M. Consequently the factory re-bored the 2500 engine to its maximum limit, obtaining a capacity of 2800cc with a 20 hp gain. The 2800 engine experienced other modifications and was mounted into a normal 26M [chassis #43]. So, this was not an entirely new model (8C 2800) and received also minor body changes for its first appearance at the June 21 French Grand Prix in the hands of Fagioli. The second 8C 2800 [chassis #2515] was ready and entered on September 6 for Dreyfus at the Monza Grand Prix. At the Tunis GP, Rome GP, Coppa Acerbo and Monza GP the 16-cylinder tipo V4 (16C-4000) from 1929 [chassis #4001] was entered, winning the Rome event. After their main driver Achille Varzi had left Maserati for Bugatti at the end of 1930, René Dreyfus was contracted, receiving his first ever works drive with the Maserati Brothers. Luigi Arcangeli left Maserati for Alfa Romeo and was replaced for 1931 by Clemente Biondetti who had driven Talbots for Scuderia Materassi. Luigi Fagioli remained with the Bologna factory, and was now their main driver. René Dreyfus wrote that Ernesto Maserati, Fagioli, Maggi, Biondetti and Dreyfus were official members of the 1931 factory team. Umberto Klinger, Amedeo Ruggeri, Luigi Castelbarco, Whitney Straight, and Ernst Kotte were independent Maserati drivers with the type 26M (8C-2500).

Daimler-Benz A.G. (Stuttgart Untertürkheim, Germany)
They used the huge 7.1-liter Mercedes-Benz SSK sports car, dating back to 1928. A stripped down version of the SSK was entered as a racecar at selected events. A lightened version, the SSKL, was produced early in 1931. Rudolf Caracciola was the only driver contracted for 1931. The very first SSKL appeared at the Mille Miglia on April 12-13, where the German ace won with mechanic Wilhelm Sebastian, who was to join Auto Union in 1933. On April 19 the SSKL was entered at the Monaco GP, where Caracciola retired with clutch problems after 53 of 100 laps. He won the June 7 Eifelrennen and at the French GP on June 21 he retired the SSKL with a supercharger problem after 39 of 101 laps. Caracciola won the July 19 German GP and the August 2 Avusrennen. At the September 27 Masaryk Ring he had an accident and retired after 10 of 17 laps.

Independent Racing Teams and drivers:

Scuderia Ferrari (Modena, Italy)
They participated 1931 in only five major events, mostly finishing in the mid field: Monaco GP with one car for Zehender, Alessandria with five entries, German GP only with Nuvolari, Coppa Ciano with Nuvolari, Campari and Borzacchini, Coppa Acerbo with Campari and Nuvolari, and Masaryk Circuit with Nuvolari and Borzacchini.

German Bugatti Team
was formed in 1930 by Heinrich-Joachim von Morgen, Prinz Hermann zu Leiningen and Ernst-Günther Burgaller. During 1931 these drivers competed mainly at European hill climbs and small local races. But von Morgen raced at Tunis, Monaco, Alessandria, Eifelrennen, German Grand Prix, Avusrennen and Masaryk Circuit. Since 1930 he campaigned with a single-cam T35B (4948), winning his last race at Baden-Baden Climb, (Bühler Höhe) on Jun 28, 1931. As of his next race three weeks later on July 19, at the German Grand Prix, he appeared with a twin-cam Bugatti T51 (51139) [when, where and from whom he purchased the T51 had not yet been explained] and retired with mechanical problems after 21 of 22 laps. Burggaller and zu Leiningen also raced outside Germany at Monaco and Alessandria.

Hans Stuck
drove independently and acquired a Mercedes-Benz SSK at the beginning of 1931. He enjoyed factory support but was not a full works driver like Caracciola. His first circuit race was the June 7 Lwow GP, which he won. As of the July 19 German GP he started with an SSKL and finished sixth. At the August 2 Avusrennen he completed only 8 of 15 laps and at the September 27 Masaryk Circuit he finished second. Hans Stuck won the minor German Hohensyburg circuit race, where his SSKL came first in the sports car category. He also won the Ratisbona hill climb.

Manfred von Brauchitsch
was an independent driver and was sponsored by Baron von Zimmernann. At La Turbie on March 22, he won his sports car class with a Mercedes-Benz SSK. Similar to Hans Stuck he received factory support. For the June 7, 1931 Eifelrennen on the South Loop he had an SSKL and finished in third place. At the July 19 German GP he retired after 12 of 22 laps with broken differential. His last circuit race appearance was on August 2 at the Avusrennen, where he finished third.




IN MEMORIAM:

1931 was a sad year with 6 European drivers dead, not counting those who were injured and incidents with spectators. The Italian Luigi Arcangeli died on May 23 in a practice crash at Monza one day before the Italian Grand Prix in the new twin-engine Alfa Romeo Tipo A monoposto. On May 24 the French driver Robert Vidal crashed his Bugatti T35B at the Chimay Grand Prix des Frontières race. On June 6, Varzi's mechanic, the Italian Giovanni "Gianella" Tabacchi, crashed to his death during practice for the Rome Grand Prix when he launched his Bugatti over the edge of the high speed banked turn. "Gianella" was rushed to the nearby hospital where he died very soon afterwards without regaining consciousness. On June 7 Vittorio Zaninetti was sitting with his family on the veranda steps of their own house, watching the Geneve Grand Prix, when Count Stanislas Czaykowski crashed his Bugatti into the veranda, crushing both Zaninetti's legs. Zaninetti died at the hospital while his wife and son survived with minor injuries. The 25 year old Austrian Count, Maximilian Graf zu Hardegg von Settenberg, "Micky" to his friends, died on June 28 at the 10 km German hill climb of Baden-Baden-Geroldsau-Plättig-Bühler Höhe. In a turn his Bugatti T37A left the course, dived down a slope and turned over several times. "Micky" suffered severe head injuries and passed away a few hours later. On July 3, the French race driver André Emile Schlumberger crashed when his Salmson turned over near the time keepers stand in a practice crash two days before the Circuit de Vaucluse race near Avignon. He was brought to the hospital where he died. On September 13, Emile Cornil, crashed his Georges Irat touring car with another competitor at the Routes Pavées 6-Hour race. Cornil was rushed to the Lille hospital where he died the next morning from head and internal injuries. Later, at the same event the Alfa Romeo of Corsini went out of control and crashed into the crowd where 13 spectators were severely injured. Louis Rachez, a 6-year old boy was killed immediately and his elder brother died hours later in hospital. The parents were also seriously injured. After these accidents the organizers declared an end to racing at this circuit as the roads were dangerously narrow.




EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE





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I SVERIGES VINTER GRAND PRIX

Rämen (S), 22 Februari 1931.
8 laps x 47.7 km (29.6 mi) + 2.5 km (1.6 mi) start = 384.1 km (238.7 mi)
(Note 1)

No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

1Per NäsP. NäsChrysler-NäsSpecial4.4S-6
2Karl EbbK. EbbAuburnSpecial4.9S-8
3Werner SvenssonW. SvenssonHudson1.8S-8
4Edward BörjessonE. BörjessonBNSpecial1.9S-4DNS - did not start
5E. von Hillern-FlinschE. Von Hillern-FlinschPaige5.4S-6
6Knut Gustav SundstedtK. G. SundstedtOakland4.1S-8DNS - did not start
7Anders OlssonA- OlssonChrysler4.4S-6
8K. F. ThelanderK. F. ThelanderGraham-Paige4.8S-6
9Rudolf CaracciolaR. CaracciolaMercedes-BenzSSK7.1S-6
10John AnderssonJ. W. AnderssonChrysler3.9S-6
11Tore WistedtT. WistedtChevrolet303.2S-6
12G. W. NordenswahnG. OdencrantsTracta"D"1.6S-4
13Harry LarssonH. LarssonFordA3.3S-4
14Carl JonssonT WistedtChevrolet2.4S-4
15Per Wiktor WidengrenP. W. WidengrenMercedes-BenzSSK7.1S-6
16Folke HjelmHjelms Bil ABChevrolet2.9S-4
17Johan RamsayJ. RamsayChryslerImperial5.0S-6
18Clemens BergströmC. BergströmChryslercab4.4S-6
19H. StenfeltH. StenfeltFord3.3S-4
20Erik BakeE. BakeBuick4.5S-8
21Kaj HansenA. HansenBugatti37A1.5S-4
22Olle GrönkvistStrömberg/Westman/ThisellOtin-FiatSpecial1.5S-4
Juan ZanelliJ. ZanelliBugatti35B2.3S-8DNA - did not appear
Nikolai NenonenN. NenonenMercedes-BenzDNA - did not appear
F. RasmussenF. RasmussenFordDNA - did not appear


Ebb wins the first Winter Grand Prix

by Leif Snellman
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz) put an international character on the world's first winter Grand Prix. But it was the drivers who used studded tyres, Ebb (Auburn), Ramsay and Olsson (Chrysler), Widengren (Mercedes-Benz) and Larsson (Ford), who dominated the event. Ebb held an early lead until he got stuck in a snow wall. Then Widengren took command of the race until he had to retire with technical problems as did Caracciola. Ebb was then back in the lead followed by Olsson while Ramsay and Larsson, coming through from the back of the field, were third and fourth. When Olsson and then Larsson crashed and lost time nothing could stop a Finnish double victory, Ebb winning from Ramsay with Bergström (Chrysler) being third at the end as Olsson got technical problems. The demanding course took its toll and only seven drivers took the flag.
In 1906 the Swedish Royal Automobile Club (Kungliga Automobil Klubben or just K.A.K.) arranged the first winter race event, a reliability race between Stockholm and Göteborg (Gothenburg). The event was repeated each year until 1914, then in1920 and 1925-1930.
      When K.A.K. decided to replace the reliability race with a proper winter Grand Prix in 1931, they settled on a course that would put great demands on the reliability of the cars. K.A.K found what they believed to be a fitting location in the county of Dalarna in the woods between Lake Rämen and Lake Sällnäs near the town of Ludvika. The road was very narrow. The result was the world's first, longest and most demanding winter Grand Prix course. Pits and stands where built where the railroad made a bend near the lake. Most of the spectators could thus be transported by train.
      The race started on the lake with a 400m straight followed by a 1 ½ lap (1500m) on a circle with a 250m radius and 10m wide cleared of snow. That was to get some order and distance between the cars before they went under the viaduct and after a 90 degree left hand corner entered the narrow roads in the woods.
      The road on the ice was in some places 18 m wide. Because of the pressure upon the ice, water was often gathered on the surface making the track extra slippery.
      The course continued some 20 km in the woods up to Lake Sällnäs before returning back to Lake Rämen. At Lake Sällnäs the road on the ice was 18m wide and the cars also went over a road on a wooden viaduct.
      The narrow forest roads were full of nasty surprises like sudden altitude changes, snow walls, ditches filled with soft snow, bumpy sections, twisty turns and narrow bridges and put the same high demands on the competitors as Nürburgring with additional hazards because of the snow. In fact the road was far too narrow for a decent race as it was impossible to pass except at the two lake sections.
      All entries should have a riding mechanic. Winner was to receive 10,000 Skr and the "Winter Trophy", 3,000 Skr for second position and 2,000 Skr for third position. Additionally there were several bonus prizes.
      Such a long course demanded a lot of organization. 36 telephone posts and 8 radios were spread along the course. A new railroad track was built and on the icy lakes 25,000 m² parking places for cars were swept clean.
Entries:
There were the usual rumours about who were going to enter the race, with names like Bruno Fontanini and Philippe Etancelin mentioned. In the end there were 25 entries of which three later withdrew: Chilean Juan Zanelli, Finn Nikolai Nenonen and Dane F. Rasmussen.
      The most exciting entry was definitely Rudi Caracciola with his Mercedes-Benz SSK, pained yellow-brown.
      There were two Finnish drivers. Karl Ebb entered his silver-grey 4.87 litre Auburn Speedster and Baron Johan Ramsay made his race debut with a yellow 309.3 cu (5.06 litre) Chrysler Imperial in standard condition except that the headlights, fenders and silencers had been removed.
      Danish drivers were H. Stenfeldt, a wholesaler who raced a 201cu (3.28 litre) Ford, and Kaj Hansen with a 1.5 litre Bugatti T37A (#37318) he had bought from Molsheim in January. I had been built in 1927 and had been a works car at the 1928 Targa Florio.
      Olle Grönkvist had during the last 6 years been Sweden's most successful winter racer. He entered what was called Otin-Special, a rebuilt Fiat. The name "Otin" came from the first letters of the driver's and car owners' first names.
      Engineer and aeroplane pilot Edward Börjesson had built a totally Swedish car from scratch with his brother Sven Börjesson as manager and financier. Just called the "B-n special" it was a very low and quite good looking car with a 2.75 wheelbase and a supercharged 1.94 litre S-4 engine.
      A relatively new name in Swedish racing was Per-Wictor Widengren. After having studied clothes manufacturing in U.S.A. in 1928-29 he had continued his studies in 1930 in Germany, where he had bought a Mercedes-Benz SSK, claimed to be ex-Caracciola but probably rather ex-George Kimpel, and had tried to enter it at Eifel-Rennen, telling the organizers he had good experience in American racing. But the car broke down during practice and Widengren's race debut had taken place at the Solvalla trotting track in Sweden instead. He entered a white-blue Mercedes Benz SSK for Rämen and Daimler Benz had sent their works mechanic Hemminger from Würtenberg as support.
      Engineer and motor journalist "Gurra" Nordenswahn took part in the race with a French front-engined 1.62 litre Tracta "D" mostly for study purposes. With a top speed of 105 km/h the car was not fast but had good road holding and cornering speed.
      The entries were dominated by American cars. Details of the engine volumes, bore and stroke exist. The problem is that the numbers in several cases don't seem to fit with those from the manufacturers.
      Of the Swedish drivers "Mas-Harry" Larsson was the only real local driver and thus spectator favourite. He raced an A-Ford with a 201cu (3.28 litre) engine. Erik Bake entered a 4.47 litre Buick, K. G. Sundstedt a 4.09 litre light coloured Oakland with big headlights, E. von Hillern-Flinsch a 5.39 litre Paige and K. F. Thelander a 288 cu (4.76 litre) Graham-Paige. Tore Wistedt entered two Chevrolets, one for himself (3.18 litre) and one (2.88 litre) for Carl "Bograngen" Jonsson, who was Swedish champion in motorcycle hill climbing but who had not tried car racing before. Folke Hjelm entered another Chevrolet, a 2.94 litre S-4. Chrysler drivers were Clemens Bergström and Anders Olsson with 4.42 litre cars (obviously the 1930 type 269 cu S-6) and John W. Andersson from Gothenburg with a 3.86 litre car. Pär "Pelle" Näs raced a yellow-ochre "Näs special", a rebuilt Chrysler 4.42 litre S-6, and finally Werner Svensson entered a 1.78 litre Hudson S-8.
Practice:
Local driver Larsson knew the course best by far after having already done some 20-30 laps.
      One by one the drivers arrived at Rämen. Most of them stayed at the city hotel in Ludvika. Caracciola arrived in Sweden on Sunday 15th with his wife "Charly" (Charlotte) and two mechanics and reached Rämen on Tuesday afternoon.
      On Wednesday Caracciola, Widengren, Ebb, Ramsay, C. Jonsson, Wistedt, Börjesson, Hillern-Flinch, Thelander, Larsson and Stenfelt had arrived with Grönkvist and Näs expected. Erik Bake had a crash on his way to the race and had to return to Stockholm for repairs. On his second trip he destroyed a connecting rod.
      Practice started on Thursday in -6 degrees temperature. Interestingly the organizers had not received permission to close the roads before Sunday so the practice took place on an open road with lots of cars, snowploughs, horses and sleighs as hazards. Drivers were also not permitted to test the ice sections on the lakes.
      Drivers including Caracciola, Larsson, Widengren, Olsson, Bergström , Grönkvist, Jonsson and Widstedt made two to four laps of 38-45 minutes.
      The big question was, should one use chains, studs or just normal tyres. During first practice Olsson broke a front wheel chain, Sundstedt both rear wheel chains and Hillern-Flinsch three chains. Ebb, Ramsay, Widengren and Larsson used studded tyres. The Finns had had good experience of studded tyres in home events while such tyres were new to Widengren.
      Friday came with thaw that made no good to the roads but in the afternoon it became cold again. Bake practiced for the first time as did Nordenswahn and Näs. Apart from Börjesson, who had broken the cardan shaft on his way to the circuit, and Dane Hansen everyone had made at least one practice lap.
      Saturday weather was both snow and thaw, giving the organizers a lot of work to get the roads clean. Only 11 drivers including Börjesson and Hansen made practice laps. As Dagens Nyheter commented, not much practice for such a hard race.
      Only seven drivers proved to have both their cars and papers in full order at the scuteneering: Ebb, Caracciola, Nordenswahn, Jonsson, Ramsay, Bergström and Bake. The others had to make small corrections and repairs and some couldn't even find their driver licences!
Race:
Sunday morning came with thaw and fog but still over 30,000 spectators gathered in the woods and on the ice of lakes Rämen and Sällnäs. Seven extra trains had arrived as had thousands of cars, jamming the roads.
      Ebb, Ramsay, Widengren, Olsson and Larsson used studded tyres (long speedway-type) while the rest of the field used chains. Only Nordeswahn was using normal tyres and only Hillern-Flinsch and Nordeswahn planned to refuel.
      A poll among reporters and officials showed Bergström to be the favourite followed by Larsson and Ebb. The start was planned for 10 a.m. Börjesson and Sundstedt were non starters. Due to slush the start positions were changed so the 20 remaining cars were lined up in number order on the inside of the circle with the engines running and with the drivers and mechanics in their seats.
 
Cars lined up in number order on inside of of circular track going anticlockwise


The starter should raise a green and a chequered flag 30 seconds before the start, then drop the green flag five seconds before the start and finally the chequered flag at the start itself. But as the starter failed to hold the flags stable but waved them up and down there was a false start and five cars had to be called back to their positions.
      At 10:13 the second attempt went ok and in a cloud of smoke and snow the cars went away with Ebb leading from Thelander and Widengren and immediately turned left to execute one and a half laps on the ice track. When the cars left the ice and disappeared into the woods the order was Ebb, Olsson, Svensson, Caracciola, Widengren, Hillern-Flinsch, Andersson, Wistedt, Hansen, Ramsay, Bergström, Jonsson, Bake, Hjelm, Grönkvist and Nordenswahn.
      Dane Stenfelt had gone into a snow wall and overturned his Ford. Spectators run to the place despite the loudspeakers giving orders to stay away and after some 10 minutes the driver put his big cigar back in his mouth and continued the race. A clear-cut case of outside assistance.
      Local hero Larsson also had a bad start, and immediately blew a tyre on the ice. After a fast tyre change he came away among the last but to the joy of the local crowds their other driver, "Bil-Olle" Olsson, was in second position as the cars reached lake Sällnäs. Ebb was still leading, the huge Mercedes car of Widengren was now up to third and Caracciola was fourth, working hard to get the grip on the unfamiliar chains. On the way back south towards Rämen Widengren passed Olsson for second position. Situation after first lap:
1.Ebb (Auburn)39m35.5s
2.Widengren (Mercedes-Benz)39m50.6s
3.Olsson (Chrysler)40m10.0s
4.Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)
Behind them followed Svensson, Bergström, Bake, Ramsay, Larsson, Grönkvist, Andersson, Hjelm, Nordenswahn Hansen? Wistedt, Stenfelt and Thelander.

Halfway into the second lap Ebb, on a very narrow section of the road, went into a snow wall with a front wheel. The car turned sideways across the road and was stuck solid but with the engine running. Widengren and Olsson reached the place only to notice the fact that the road was totally blocked. After realizing that pushing the Auburn aside would still not give room for passing, the teams joined their forces, the car was pulled out from the snow and the top trio continued the race in formation. Coming out on the next lake section Ebb waved Widengren by and Widengren answered by giving Ebb a sign to follow him closely behind. Olsson got trapped in third position despite his mechanic sounding the car horn. Olsson made a protest after the race about the incident but the protest was turned down. At the end of the lap Caracciola came into the pit for a 4 minute stop as the right side rear chain had broken. Stenfelt had had a trip into a ditch but had been able to continue. Results after the second lap:
1.Widengren (Mercedes-Benz)1h21m09.4s
2.Ebb (Auburn)1h21m11.3s
3.Olsson (Chrysler)1h21m18.9s
4.Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)
Next up Svensson, Bergström, Bake, Ramsay, Larsson, Grönkvist, Andersson, Hjelm, Wistedt, Stenfelt and Hansen.

On the third lap Widengren pulled up a half a minute gap to Ebb. Stenfelt was among those who had to stop for a tyre change. Lap three finished in the order:
1.Widengren (Mercedes-Benz)1h58m34.2s
2.Ebb (Auburn)1h59m10.9s
3.Olsson (Chrysler)1h59m16.3s
4.Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Ramsay (Chrysler)2h10m42.9s
Followed by Larsson, Bergström, Grönkvist, Andersson, Hjelm, Wistedt, Stenfelt and Hansen.

In the beginning of the fourth lap Widengren, to the disappointment of the spectators, had to retire his big Mercedes with a missing third gear in the gear box and a broken gasket with water leaking into a cylinder. Caracciola in the other Mercedes also had to call it a day with a broken fuel pipe. He had by then already made three stops to correct his troublesome wheel chains. Ebb, now back in the lead but unaware of it, found some time to drink sugar water with a straw from a thermos while his mechanic, Theodor Lönnfors, fed him with pieces of banana. Olsson was still following closely. Ramsay was now up to third with Larsson closing in on him. When the cars reached Rämen again the order was:
1.Ebb (Auburn)2h37m02.4s
2.Olsson (Chrysler)2h37m08.1s
3.Ramsay (Chrysler)2h51m28.1s
4.Larsson (Ford)2h51m30.0s
5.Bergström (Chrysler)2h53m57.5s
They were followed by Andersson, Hjelm, Wistedt, Hansen, Stenfelt and Grönkvist.

During the later part of the race the weather turned sunny and fine. At lake Sällnäs the local drivers now held second and third positions to the cheers of the spectators as Larsson had passed Ramsay, but he was far behind the leading duo. Then on the way southwards second positioned Olsson went into a ditch and lost over 20 minutes while digging himself out, dropping to sixth. Stenfelt went into a snow wall and dropped to the back of the field. Ebb ended the fifth lap with a clear 15 minute lead and he was still pushing trying to catch Widengren.
1.Ebb (Auburn)3h17m08.0s
2.Larsson (Ford)3h32m03.4s
3.Ramsay (Chrysler)3h33m04.7s
4.Olsson (Chrysler)3h36m47.3s (sic)
5.Bergström (Chrysler)3h35m49.9s
Then Hjelm, Andersson, Grönkvist, Hansen, Wistedt and Stenfelt .

On the sixth lap it was Larsson's turn to crash. He went into a snow wall near lake Sällnäs, losing 10 minutes and dropping to fifth. By now the road was in really bad shape with deep scars in the road created by the wheels. Svensson had to retire when the axle on the distributor broke. Situation at the end of the sixth lap:
1.Ebb (Auburn)3h58m21.6s
2.Ramsay (Chrysler)4h16m26.0s
3.Bergström (Chrysler)4h18m58.8s
4.Olsson (Chrysler)4h21m48.0s
5.Larsson (Ford)4h23m01.1s
Followed by Hjelm, Grönkvist, Hansen, Wistedt, Andersson and Stenfelt.

Olsson passed Bergström on the lake Sellnäs ice and continued the chase on Ramsay. The organizers finally managed stop Stenfelt for his first lap outside assistance. Order after 7 laps:
1.Ebb (Auburn)4h44m53.6s
2.Ramsay (Chrysler)4h58m59.1s
3.Olsson (Chrysler)5h00m05.7s
4.Bergström (Chrysler)5h03m25.0s
5.Larsson (Ford)5h01m06.3s
Next after them came Grönkvist, then Hansen and Hjelm.

Next after them came Grönkvist, then Hansen and Hjelm. Having passed the pits to start his last lap Bergström noticed, 100m from the viaduct, a drunken spectator, who had staggered out on the track straight in front of him. By a daring manoeuvre Bergström managed by inches to avoid both running over the man and to hit the wooden viaduct pillar.
      Ramsay came down the hill at Halvarsgårdarna towards the Sellnäs lake with Olsson close behind. The latter was pushing the car, sliding sideways in 140km/h, and ready to pass Ramsay once out on the lake ice. But suddenly the engine on Olsson's Chrysler started to cut out and the driver slowed down and had to see Ramsay disappear into the right hand curve after circling the lake and into the woods while Olsson was still on the lake. The car had fuel feed problems and the question was now if he would be able to make it the 24 km back to Rämen.
      Ebb took the flag as the clear winner but he was still unaware of that he had won, having settled for second position. His mechanic had indeed seen Widengren parked at the side of the road but had failed to notify Ebb. Ebb had stopped twice because of the snow walls and once by an object on the road. Ramsay was second after a steady drive. He had visited the snow walls twice without getting trapped. Apart from him only Bergström and Grönkvist had avoided being trapped in a snow wall during the race.
      A struggling Olsson had to see both Bergström and Larsson sneak by but made it to take the flag in fifth place. Local hero Larsson, who had race car #13, finished fourth despite five punctures and two crashes into the snow walls. Olle Grönkvist took the Otin-Fiat to the finish in sixth position and the Dane Hansen, who during the race had had an incident as well and nearly run over three spectators as he went wide in the curve leaving lake Rämen, finished seventh and last.

      The race was the great breakthrough for studded tyres. Of the top five only Bergström had used chains.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.2Karl EbbK. EbbAuburnSpecial4.9S-885h28m52.9s(Note 2)
2.17Johan RamsayJ. RamsayChryslerImperial5.0S-685h41m52.8s+ 12m59.9s
3.18Clemens BergströmC. BergströmChryslercab4.4S-685h48m25.3s+ 19m32.4s
4.13Harry LarssonH. LarssonFordA3.3S-485h53m10.0s+ 24m17.1s
5.7Anders OlssonA- OlssonChrysler4.4S-686h01m53.8s+ 33m00.9s
6.22Olle GrönkvistStrömberg/Westman/ThisellOtin-FiatSpecial1.5S-486h26m57.6s+ 58m04.7s
7.21Kaj HansenA. HansenBugatti37A1.5S-486h33m30.0s+ 1h04m37.1s
8.16Folke HjelmHjelms Bil ABChevrolet2.9S-466h43m40.5s+ 1h14m47.6s
9.11Tore WistedtT. WistedtChevrolet303.2S-666h50m40.5s+ 1h21m47.6s
DNF10John AnderssonJ. W. AnderssonChrysler3.9S-66
DSQ19H. StenfeltH. StenfeltFord3.3S-46DSQ - outside assistance
DNF3Werner SvenssonW. SvenssonHudson1.8S-84distributor
DNF15Per Wiktor WidengrenP. W. WidengrenMercedes-BenzSSK7.1S-63gearbox
DNF9Rudolf CaracciolaR. CaracciolaMercedes-BenzSSK7.1S-63broken fuel pipe
DNF20Erik BakeE. BakeBuick4.5S-82
DNF12G. W. NordenswahnG. OdencrantsTracta "D"1.6S-41
DNF8K. F. ThelanderK. F. ThelanderGraham-Paige4.8S-61
DNF1Per NäsP. NäsChrysler-NäsSpecial4.4S-60
DNF5E. von Hillern-FlinschE. Von Hillern-FlinschPaige5.4S-60
DNF14Carl JonssonT WistedtChevrolet2.4S-40crash
Fastest lap: Per Wiktor Widengren (Mercedes-Benz) on lap 3 in 37m45s = 75.8 km/h (47.1 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 70.0 km/h (43.5 mph)
Weather: cloudy, turning into sunshine during the race.

Footnote:
1. As the start was moved the race was probably some 400m (?) shorter.

2. There are two results for the winner that appear approx. equally often in the contemporary newspapers: 5h28m52.9s and 5h28m59.9s. Folke Hjelm's and Tore Wistedt's results were not included in the original results list as the organizers were in a hurry to get the list ready for the extra-train to Stockholm.

Primary sources researched for this article:
Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm
Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki
Hufvudstadsbladet, Helsingfors
Suomen Urheilulehti, Helsinki
Uusi Suomi, Helsinki
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Automobil-Revue, Bern
Motor Sport, London
Special thanks to
Tomas Karlsson



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III GRAND PRIX DE TUNISIE

Carthage - Tunis (F), 29 March 1931
37 laps x 12.714 km (7.9 mi) = 470.4 km (292.3 mi)
(Note 1)


No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

Over 1500 cc:
2Stanislas CzaykowskiS. CzaykowskiBugattiT35C2.0S-8(Note 2)
?Philippe EtancelinP. EtancelinBugattiT35C2.0S-8
6Marcel LehouxM. LehouxBugattiT35B2.3S-8
8Umberto KlingerU. KlingerMaserati26M2.5S-8
10Achille VarziA. VarziBugattiT512.3S-8
12Luigi FagioliOfficine Alfieri MaseratiMaserati26M2.5S-8
14H.-J. von MorgenH.-J. v. MorgenBugattiT35B2.3S-8
?Raoul MiquelR. MiquelBugattiT352.0S-8
?Georges d'ArnouxComte G. d'ArnouxBugattiT35B2.3S-8
?Clemente BiondettiOfficine Alfieri MaseratiMaseratiV44.0V-16
?Pierre ReyP. ReyBugattiT352.0S-8 DNS - car broke down in 6-Hr race
24René DreyfusOfficine Alfieri MaseratiMaserati26M2.5S-8
-Max FournyM. FournyBugattiT35C2.0S-8 DNA - did not appear
-Frédéric ToselliF. ToselliBugattiT352.0S-8 DNA - did not appear
-László HartmannL. HartmannBugattiT352.0S-8 DNA - did not appear
-MinangoyMinangoyBugattiT35C2.0S-8 DNA - did not appear
 
1500 cc:
?Rudolf EberhardtR. EberhardtBugattiT37A1.5S-4
?Victor MarretV. MarretSalmson1.1S-4
?André VagniezA. VagniezBugattiT37A1.5S-4
?Roger BouclyR. BouclySalmson1.1S-4
?Mikael AngwerdM. AngwerdBugattiT371.5S-4
?José ScaronJ. ScaronAmilcarMCO1.1S-6
?Jean GaupillatJ. GaupillatBugattiT37A1.5S-4
?Aime MartinA. MartinBugattiT371.5S-4
42Anne-Cécile Rose-ItierMme Rose-ItierBugattiT37A1.5S-4
?Emile DourelE. DourelAmilcarC61.1S-6
46Ernesto MaseratiOfficine Alfieri MaseratiMaserati261.5S-8
48Pierre VeyronP. VeyronBugattiT37A1.5S-4
?JacquinJacquinAmilcarC61.1S-6
?Yves Giraud-CabantousY. Giraud-CabantousCabanSpecial1.1S-4
?Luigi CastelbarcoL. CastelbarcoTalbot7001.5S-8
?Fernande RouxF. RouxBugattiT37A1.5S-4
?Louis JolyL. JolyBugattiT371.5S-4 DNS - car broke down in 6-Hr race
-Jean-Pierre WimilleJ.-P. WimilleBugattiT371.5S-4 DNA - did not appear
-GuegauffGuegauffAmilcarC61.1S-6 DNA - did not appear


Varzi victorious in Tunis with the new twin-cam Bugatti

by Hans Etzrodt
The Tunis Grand Prix on the Carthage road circuit opened the international racing season of 1931. Maserati entered Fagioli, Dreyfus and Biondetti, while Bugatti was officially absent. But their new works driver, Varzi, raced the very latest 2.3-liter twin-cam Bugatti for the first time. From a mixed field of 27 starters, the 11 grand prix cars battled right from the beginning with Varzi dominating. Dreyfus, in his first race for Maserati, crashed early on while d'Arnoux and Etancelin retired their Bugattis, leaving the battle to Varzi and Fagioli. Varzi won his first race with Bugatti, an impressive victory, also for the new twin-cam T51 Bugatti, victorious at its very first start. Fagioli, still limping from a prior operation, finished second and independent Algerian Lehoux came third. In the 1500 cc class consisting of 16 starters, Ernesto Maserati in his 1.5-liter car won ahead of Veyron's Bugatti and Scaron's Amilcar.
The 1931 international automobile sport season got under way with slight delay after the March 15 Tripoli Grand Prix in Libya had been cancelled. The next race on the calendar was the long planned event in the North-African French protectorate of Tunisia. From March 22 to 29 a number of festivities were held in Tunisia and their meaning was especially emphasized through the presence of the President of the French Republic, M. Doumergue. France paid tribute to the 50-year anniversary of its protectorate and in the frame of the week of festivities the Grand Prix for motorcycles was held on March 22, followed on March 28 by the 6-Hour touring car race. The conclusion of the celebrations was formed by the Grand Prix of Tunis on March 29. This event had first been organized in 1928 and 1929 on the 8.023 km Bardo circuit. In 1931 the l'Automobile Club de Tunisia staged the race for the third time but changed the venue to the very flat triangular 12.714 km Carthage circuit, near the site of the ancient city of Carthage. The long straights were connected with high-speed corners, except for the sharp hairpin leading into the 3.5 km finish straight, which contained a chicane to slow the cars down just before the finish line. The race consisted of 37 laps, a total of 470.418 km. The cars were divided into two classes, up to 1500 cc and over 1500 cc engine capacity. A total of 125 000 French Fr. had been earmarked as prize money. The winner of the large class was to receive 30,000 French Fr., while the winner of the smaller class received 12,000.
Entries:
The importance of the Tunisian event was attested by an entry list that included 35 competitors, comprising 16 drivers with large cars, some of high international standing. The Bologna Maserati factory arrived with their two 26M type 8C 2500 biposto models for Fagioli and Dreyfus. A V4 type 16-cylinder 4-liter car was entered for Alfieri Maserati but in the race was driven by Biondetti. He in turn was originally entered with a 1500 cc tipo 26, which was driven in the race by Ernesto Maserati. Klinger, an independent driver, drove his own 26M Maserati 8C 2500, certainly receiving factory service.
      The five Italian cars were opposed by 12 Bugattis. Varzi had received one of the new Bugatti Type 51 twin-cam models for his own use and immediately had shipped his red painted car to Tunis. However, it was officially not a works entry. A true private Bugatti entry came from the Algerian Lehoux, who had an older 2.3-liter T35B Bugatti. The German driver von Morgen and French Comte d'Arnoux arrived in similar Type 35B Bugattis. Additionally, there were four independent 2-liter T35C Bugattis from Count Czaykowski, Etancelin, Fourny and Minangay. Miquel, Toselli, Hartmann and Rey drove the T35 Bugatti s without supercharger.
      The small car class up to 1500 cc comprised 19 entries. There was the single Maserati, already mentioned above, against a modified Talbot of Conte Luigi Castelbarco and then a group of ten 4-cylinder Bugattis with and without superchargers from Veyron, Eberhardt, Joly, Roux, Gaupillat, Wimille, Mme Rose-Itier, Vagniez, Martin and Angwerd. These Voiturettes were supported by a gaggle of seven cycle cars: two Salmsons, driven by Boucly and Marret, four Amilcars with Scaron, Dourel, Jacquin and Guegauff plus a Caban Special by Giraud-Cabantous.
Practice:
During practice on the fast macadam course Varzi in the new twin-cam Bugatti was very fast. René Dreyfus who started here in his first race for the Maserati factory recalled in his memoirs: "I practiced faster than did Varzi on his Bugatti, and I felt very good for the race."
      According to a story in Hamburger Fremdenblatt, Rolf Marben interviewed the German driver Heinrich-Joachim von Morgen who had a major problem on Wednesday, the first day of practice. Upon starting up his Bugatti, he went no further than 500 meters. When his mechanic climbed out to check the engine, everything appeared to be all right but the car would not move. It took von Morgen and his mechanic all day to figure out the problem but only after having removed each fuel line and cutting open the tank. Then they realized that they were the victim of an act of sabotage. While von Morgen's 2.3-liter Bugatti was shipped together with about 20 other racecars from Marseille to Tunis, someone on board the vessel had maliciously thrown a piece of sack fabric into his car's fuel tank. The potent racing fuel did the rest, totally dissolving the fabric into numerous tiny pieces of fiber, completely plugging up all lines and jets soon after the engine had been started.
      It was a monstrous job to clean and restore the entire fuel system of his racecar. Even a calm man like von Morgen, similar to Caracciola, would have become tense. The day of the race came closer and closer and the car was still not ready. There was no chance to think about practice, which was especially important on this circuit in the unusual African heat. Feverishly von Morgen's men and he himself worked constantly for 72 hours on the car while the competition drove one lap after another in practice. Eventually, von Morgen could only make a brief practice run on Saturday with the car restored to prime condition.
      On Saturday a 6-Hour touring car race was held on the same circuit. Several of the 25 cars did not comply with the strict touring car regulations. Castelbarco drove his 26M Maserati 2.5-liter 8-cylinder racecar fitted with cycle wings, helped with driving by Dreyfus, and easily won class I, covering 707.200 km, followed by Corsini and Bellinciono (Alfa Romeo) and Guy Moll (Lorraine-Dietrich) third. Class II (1500cc) was won by Pietrangeli (Alfa Romeo), completing 622.492 km and class III (1100 cc) saw Victor Marret (Salmson) victorious, accomplishing 584.720 km. Czaykowski (Bugatti) had to retire. The same fate befell Pierre Rey (Bugatti) early in the race and Louis Joly (Bugatti) who was forced to retire with a broken exhaust. Both of the latter drivers were not able to get their cars repaired for Sunday's grand prix race.
Race:
From the 35 cars entered, only 27 lined up at the start on Sunday afternoon in front of 40 000 enthusiastic spectators. Onlookers had come not only from Tunis but also from Algeria, Morocco and even Italy. The starting positions had been assigned by drawing of lots, forming a grid of nine rows, lined up in numerical order for the 11 cars of group I, over 1500 cc and the smaller 16 cars of group II.
      Please note: the starting grid was assembled with help of four photographs, providing race numbers for only six drivers. Ten other cars could also be identified by their numbers but not their drivers. The grid carries on in numerical order but without photographical evidence of the cars. It is possible that some of those numbers, marked X (X), were actually higher numbers if the eight non-starters had also been given race numbers.
Pole Position
6
Lehoux

Bugatti

4
X

Bugatti

2
Czaykowski

Bugatti

12
Fagioli

Maserati

10
Varzi

Bugatti

8
X

Maserati

18
X

Bugatti

16
X

Bugatti

14
von Morgen

Bugatti

24
Dreyfus

Maserati

20
X

X

30
X

X

28
X

X

26
X

Bugatti

36
X

X

34
X

Bugatti

32
X

X

42
Itier

Bugatti

40
X

Bugatti

38
X

Bugatti

48
Veyron

Bugatti

46
Maserati

Maserati

44
X

X

54
X

X

52
X

Bugatti

50
X

X

(Note 3)

Madame Manceron, wife of the Resident Superior of Tunesia, gave the starting signal at 1:00 PM. The field got away in a cloud of smoke and screaming engines. After the first lap, Fagioli had taken the lead, closely chased by Varzi's red Bugatti, then followed Lehoux, Etancelin, von Morgen, Dreyfus, Klinger and Biondetti. Ernesto Maserati passed in first position of his class with a noticeable advantage to Veyron. Several of the small cars encountered early retirements. Jacquin parked his Amilcar with a stripped magneto drive, while Marret's Slalmson threw a connecting rod through its crankcase. Martin broke one of his Bugatti's pistons. Gaupillat and Augwerd, both in Bugattis, retired early on. The order after the first lap was
1.Dreyfus (Maserati)5m13s
2.Varzi (Bugatti)5m14s
3.Fagioli (Maserati)5m16s
4.Biondetti (Maserati)5m16s
5.Lehoux (Bugatti)5m25s
6.von Morgen (Bugatti)5m29s
7.Klinger (Maserati)5m31s
8.Etancelin (Bugatti)5m35s
9.Miquel (Bugatti)5m40s
10.d'Arnoux (Bugatti)5m45s
11.Czaykowski (Bugatti)5m47s
The 1500cc class order was:
1.Eberhardt (Bugatti)5m38s
2.Maserati (Maserati)5m55s
3.Veyron (Bugatti)6m07s
4.Giraud-Cababtous (Caban)6m10s
5.Scaron (Amilcar)6m11s
6.Dourel (Amilcar)6m20s
7.Roux (Bugatti)6m21s
8.Castelbarco (Talbot)6m21s
9.Vagniez (Bugatti)6m28s
10.Angwerd (Bugatti)6m28s


      By the end of the second lap Fagioli lost his lead, when Varzi in the faster twin-cam Bugatti passed him. Lehoux and Dreyfus followed next with Biondetti in fifth place, pursued by Etancelin, von Morgen and Klinger.
      After three laps Dreyfus passed Lehoux for third place behind Varzi and Fagioli, while Ernesto Maserati gained more ground in his class.
      On the fourth lap Dreyfus stopped for 3m45s at his pit to repair an oil pipe leak and left again in fourth position, behind Varzi, Fagioli and Lehoux. Mme Itier's Bugatti seemed to have fuel problems when the engine spat back but she did not stop at her pit. After five laps of racing the order was as follows:
1.Varzi (Bugatti)26m33s
2.Fagioli (Maserati)26m52s
3.Lehoux (Bugatti)27m07s
4.Dreyfus (Maserati)?
5.Biondetti (Maserati)?
The 1500cc class order was:
1.Maserati (Maserati)30m19s
2.Veyron (Bugatti)31m08s
3.Scaron (Amilcar)31m32s

Up to the ninth lap the order remained the same with Varzi dominating, then Fagioli and Dreyfus now again in third place until he stopped at his pit with a leaking oil line. After a delay of 3m45s the car was repaired and Dreyfus joined the race to make up the lost time. He made up some ground but on the tenth lap his Maserati left the road at a corner and crashed into a tree, rendering the car useless. Luckily, the driver was not injured. René Dreyfus remembered this in his memoirs: "It was fixed and tightened and I went back out on the track - like a madman. Varzi had meantime lapped me a couple of times, but I was determined to catch him. Too determined as it turned out. At one particular spot on the circuit, a small cement curb had been built to protect the adjoining landscape, and on each lap I was taking that curve closer and closer, faster and faster, trying to make up time - until finally on the tenth lap, I came too close, grazed the cement, and my car was projected toward a tree which it hit straight on and in a split second came to resemble an accordion more than a Maserati. I was unhurt, only shaken - and less so by the accident than by the fact that I had wrecked the brothers' beautiful machine - and how was I going to tell them? Obviously they would find out soon enough. An ambulance brought me back to the pits. I thought an apology at the very least was necessary, and I offered one, profusely. I felt just awful, my first race with the factory team and I demolished the factory car. Alfieri couldn't have been kinder. Just one of those things, he said, you lost your head a little bit - but I'll have a new car for you for Monaco to try again, just don't try quite so hard next time." With Dreyfus out, Biondetti moved into fourth place. Ending the tenth lap the positions were:
1.Varzi (Bugatti)53m00s
2.Fagioli (Maserati)53m54s
3.Lehoux (Bugatti)54m45s
4.Biondetti (Maserati)55m20s
5.von Morgen (Bugatti)55m28s
6.Etancelin (Bugatti)56m51s
7.Klinger (Maserati)59m18s
8.d'Arnoux (Bugatti)1h02m01s
9.Czaykowski (Bugatti)1h02m21s
10.Miquel (Bugatti)1h07m55s
The 1500cc class order was:
1.Maserati (Maserati)1h00m02s
2.Veyron (Bugatti)1h00m59s
3.Scaron (Amilcar)1h02m58s
4.Giraud-Cababtous (Caban)1h03m09s
5.Eberhardt (Bugatti)1h04m16s
6.Dourel (Amilcar)1h05m42s
7.Vagniez (Bugatti)1h06m17s
8.Castelbarco (Talbot)1h13m20s
9.Roux (Bugatti)?
10.Angwerd (Bugatti)1h13m39s

On lap 12 Fagioli headed for the pits to change spark plugs without losing his position. On lap 14 Varzi burst a tire and stopped at his pit for new rubber, which enabled Fagioli to take the lead. But this was a short-lived position since Fagioli had to stop once more for plugs when he lost the lead to Varzi. At this time Lehoux took second place. Soon afterwards Biondetti burst a tire, which lost him so much time that von Morgen and Etancelin were able to get past him.
      In the small car class Castelbarco had fallen back with his Talbot encountering gearbox problems and had to withdraw. He was followed by Eberhardt (Bugatti) with a broken valve. After 20 laps the order had changed and was as follows:
1.Varzi (Bugatti)1h47m24s
2.Lehoux (Bugatti)1h49m29s
3.Fagioli (Maserati)1h50m29s
4.von Morgen (Bugatti)1h51m28s
5.Etancelin (Bugatti)1h54m53s
6.Biondetti (Maserati)1h55m47s
7.Klinger (Maserati)?
8.D'Arnoux2h00m01s
9.Czaykowski (Bugatti)2h00m14s
10.Miquel (Bugatti)2h11m41s
The 1500cc class order was:
1.Maserati (Maserati)2h01m23s
2.Veyron (Bugatti)2h04m49s
3.Scaron (Amilcar)2h05m14s
4.Giraud-Cababtous (Caban)2h07m52s
5.Dourel (Amilcar)2h10m10s
6.Roux (Bugatti)2h17m54s
7.Vagniez (Bugatti)2h32m22s
8.Angwerd (Bugatti)?

Between Lehoux and Fagioli, who continued to follow Varzi, there was a bitter battle for second place. This fight was interesting to watch, since the Frenchman desperately fought for victory, which he had already achieved once at the 1928 Tunis Grand Prix. Varzi had to stop again with a defective tire and Lehoux was able to reduce the Italian's advantage. Etancelin was soon to retire with gearbox trouble or overheating. On lap 27 Biondetti pressed his Maserati past von Morgen. According to von Morgen's interview by Rolf Marben in Hamburger Fremdenblatt, he described a 1931 Tunis racing incident. While passing a car, another one was meters ahead and a shower of stones hit his windshield, shattering the glass. At the same moment a stone smashed the glass in his goggles. The German had to brake, losing quite a bit of time. Realizing his bad luck, von Morgen stated that his chances in the race were over. After 30 laps the order was the following:
1.Varzi (Bugatti)2h45m32s
2.Lehoux (Bugatti)2h46m23s
3.Fagioli (Maserati)2h46m58s
4.Biondetti (Maserati)2h49m52s
5.von Morgen (Bugatti)2h50m32s
6.Klinger (Maserati)2h57m17s
7.Czaykowski (Bugatti)?
The 1500cc class order was:
1.Maserati (Maserati)2h59m58s
2.Veyron (Bugatti)3h08m09s
3.Scaron (Amilcar)3h09m19s

Fagioli overtook Lehoux but was unable to catch Varzi, who maintained his first place. The race appeared to be decided now: in fact Varzi arrived first to be cheered by the crowd. After a brief stop on lap 34 Fagioli secured second place when he again passed Lehoux on lap 36. Fagioli, who still suffered from the aftermath of a recent knee operation, held on to second place with enormous effort and finished the race visibly exhausted. Lehoux had to be content with third place, followed by Biondetti, von Morgen, Czaykowski and Klinger. Ernesto Maserati easily won the 1500 cc class ahead of Veyron and Scaron.
      L'Auto reported about the pit stops that Varzi spent a total of 3m23s for one re-fueling and two tire changes. Fagioli made two stops for changing plugs and re-fueling in 4m50s. Lehoux made one refueling stop in 1m52s and Biondetti changed one tire and refueling in 2m25s. Klinger has some trouble and spent 5m16s in the pits while d'Arnoux spent 6m55s to refuel and replace spark plugs. Czaykowski stopped for 6m45s with brake problems and refueling. Etancelin spent 18m34s in the pits with magneto and clutch problems. Ernesto Maserati refueled in 1m32s, von Morgen spent 3m40s at his pit stop and Roux took 4m35s changing spark plugs while Castelbarco took 9m16s to change plugs.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.10Achille VarziA. VarziBugattiT512.3S-8373h23m39.2s
2.12Luigi FagioliOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati26M2.5S-8373h25m26.2s+ 1m47s
3.6Marcel LehouxM. LehouxBugattiT35B2.3S-8373h25m41s+ 2m02s
4.?Clemente BiondettiC. BiondettiMaseratiV44.0V-16373h28m29s+ 4m50s
5.24H.-J. von MorgenH.-J. v. MorgenBugattiT35B2.3S-8373h30m21s+ 6m42s
6.2Stanislas CzaykowskiS. CzaykowskiBugattiT35C2.0S-8373h38m18s+ 14m39s
7.8Umberto KlingerU. KlingerMaserati26M2.5S-8373h38m27s+ 14m48s
8.46Ernesto MaseratiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati261.5S-8373h40m02s+16m23s
9.48Pierre VeyronP. VeyronBugattiT37A1.5S-4373h51m20s+ 27m41s
10.?José ScaronJ. ScaronAmilcarMCO1.1S-6373h53m38s+ 29m59s
11.?Raoul MiquelR. MiquelBugattiT352.0S-8373h55m43s+ 32m04s
12.?Yves Giraud-CabantousY. Giraud-CabantousCabanSpecial1.1374h01m20s+ 37m41s
13.?Fernande RouxF. RouxBugattiT37A1.5S-4374h02m38s+ 38m59s
DNC?André VagniezA. VagniezBugattiT37A1.5S-4?  
DNC42Anne-Cecile Rose-ItierMme A-C Rose-ItierBugattiT37A1.5S-4?  
DNC?Emile DourelE. DourelAmilcarC61.1S-6?  
DNF?Philippe EtancelinP. EtancelinBugattiT35C2.0S-826?gearbox or overheating
DNF?Rudolf EberhardtR. EberhardtBugattiT37A1.5S-417valve 
DNF?Luigi CastelbarcoL. Castelbarco Talbot7001.515gearbox 
DNF?Georges d'ArnouxComte G. d'ArnouxBugattiT35B2.3S-812?
DNF24René DreyfusOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati26M2.5S-89crash
DNF?Jean GaupillatJ. GaupillatBugattiT37A1.5S-45  
DNF?Roger BouclyR. BouclySalmson1,1S-44 ?  
DNF?JacquinJacquinAmilcarC61.1S-61magneto 
DNF?Aime MartinA. MartinBugattiT371.5S-41piston 
DNF?Mikael AngwerdM. AngwerdBugattiT371.5S-41  
DNF?Victor MarretV. MarretSalmson1.1S-41connecting rod 
Fastest lap: René Dreyfus (Maserati) on lap 3 in 5m13s = 146.2 km/h (90.9 mph)
Fastest lap in class up to 1500 cc: Rudolf Eberhardt (Bugatti) in 5m38s = 135.42 km/h (84.1 mph)
Winner's medium speed (Varzi): 138.6 km/h (86.1 mph)
Winner's medium speed (Maserati): 128.3 km/h (79.7 mph)
Weather: warm, sunshine.

Footnote:
1. 12.714 km seems to be the official track length, published in contemporary news reports. However it corresponds to exactly 7.9 miles so the odds are that the length in miles is the initial value and that the km length has been calculated from it by the Tunis AC (in cases like this I don't believe in coincidence). But why they would start off with miles in a French colony remains a mystery.
2. Four photographs helped to identify race numbers and cars for only six drivers. Another ten cars could be identified by their race numbers but not their drivers. Therefore only the six drivers with race numbers are correctly placed in the list. The remaining drivers are placed randomly to fill in the gaps. Later Alessandro Silva added two more numbers and corrected Varzi from #38 to #10.
3. There seems to be a gap in on the grid where car #22 should have been. Assuming the GP cars had race numbers 2-24 that gap would correspond to Pierre Rey. Sadly on an existing picture of the start the air is full of dust, blocking the view of almost all the grid, except for the three top rows.

Primary sources researched for this article:
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE, Bern
Hamburger Fremdenblatt, Hamburg
IL Littoriale, Roma
L'Auto, Paris
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Special thanks to
Marc Ceulemans, Michael Müller, Robert van den Plasken.





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II CIRCUIT DÉSTEREL PLAGE
(Voiturette 1500cc)

Circuit d'Esterel Plage - St. Raphaël (F), 6 April 1931 (Monday).
20 laps x 3.33 km (2.07 mi) = 66.7 km (41.4 mi)


No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

750-1100cc:
31Yves Giraud-CabantousY. Giraud-CabantousCaban-Ruby1.1S-4
32José ScaronJ. ScaronAmilcarC61.1S-6
33François MartinattiF. MartinattiSalmson
34Benoit FalchettoB. FalchettoAmilcarC61.1S-6
35GégauffGégauffAmilcar
36Robert SchlumbergerR. SchlumbergerRally SCAP1.1S-4
37BaillyBaillyMartelSpeciale
 
Sports 750-1100cc:
71TarazziTarazziAmilcar
72Henri MorelH. MorelAmilcar
73??Rally SCAPDNA - did not appear
74Roger BouclyR. BouclySalmson
 
1100-1500cc:
15Frantz LefevreF. LefevreLa Perle1.5S-6
16Pierre VeyronP. VeyronBugattiT37A1.5S-4
17Frédéric ToselliF. ToselliBugattiT37A1.5S-4
18Henri-Aimé MartinH. Aimé-MartinBugattiT37A1.5S-4
19Edouard RouxE. RouxBugattiT37A1.5S-4
26Jean GaupillatJ. GaupillatBugattiT37A1.5S-4
 
Sports 1100-1500cc:
R.PezziR. PezziBugatti1.5


Giraud-Cabantous and Roux winners at St. Raphaël

by Leif Snellman
The event included three car races with a multiple of classes. In the first race for 1.1 litre cars Scaron (Amilcar) took the early lead from Falchetto (Amilcar) and Girard-Cabantous (Caban), but then Girard-Cabantous passed both Amilcar drivers to take the victory.
      In the 1500cc class Roux (Bugatti) led from start to finish.
Since 1927 l'Auto Motor club de Saint-Raphaël had organized an event, in 1931 supported by newspaper L'Eclaireur de Nice et de Sud-Est, on le Grand Circuit d'Estel Plage at St. Raphaël on the French south coast, some 20 km Southwest of Cannes. For 1931 Monday 6th April was selected as date.
      The event included motorcycle racing for 175, 250, 350cc 500cc and two sidecar classes and three races for race and sports cars in different classes. The race distance was 20 laps for all three car races.
      Scrutineering took place on quai Saint Tropez at 4 p.m. the day before the race.
Entries:
The 1100cc classes had a mixed field with José Scaron, Benoit Falchetto and Gégauff with Amilcar race cars and Henri Morel and Tarazzi with Amilcar sports cars. François Martinatti entered a Salmson in the racing class and Roger Boucly a Salmson in the sport car class. Yves Giraud-Cabantous raced his own Ruby engined Caban and Bailly entered a Martel Speciale. Finally there was Robert Schlumberger in a Rally with an S.C.A.P. OHV engine.

As could be expected Bugattis dominated the 1500 voiturette entry list with T37A cars entered by well known drivers Pierre Veyron, Frédéric Toselli, Edouard Roux and Jean Gaupillat and Henri-Aime Martin, who had taken part in the Tunis race, entered a T37A as well. Then there was Frantz Lefèvre in a La Perle. Interestingly the man behind the La Perle car (produced 1913-27) was Louis Lefèvre from Boulogne. (Le Petit Nicois instead gives Angever in a Bugatti in their entry list.)
      There seems to have been just one sports car entry, R. Pezzi in a Bugatti.
Category up to 1100 cc:
Motorcycle racing started off at 8 a.m. and continued until noon. The 750cc car class won by Labbay (Mathis), 56m59s, seems to have raced with the sidecars. At 1:30 p.m. started the first car event for 750cc and 1100cc race cars and 1100cc sports cars. Ten cars lined up on the grid, seven race cars and three sports cars.
 
Grid not available

Scaron took the lead of the race followed by Gégauff, Falchetto and Girard-Cabantous. Martinatti had problems and got away far behind the others.
      On the fourth lap someone was trying to pass Gégauff but crashed into him instead and Gégauff had to retire with a broken rear wheel. Girard-Cabantous passed Falchetto for second and on the seventh lap he passed Scaron as well to take a lead that he then held to the finish. Scaron finished second, almost half a minute behind, with Falchetto a further 53s behind him in third position. After his late start Martinatti made a strong race but was unable to reach more than 4th position. Boucly was the winner of the sports car class and 6th overall.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.31Yves Giraud-CabantousY. Giraud-CabantousCaban-Ruby 1.1S-42048m29s 
2.32José ScaronJ. ScaronAmilcarC61.1S-62048m57s+ 28s
3.34Benoit FalchettoB. FalchettoAmilcarC61.1S-62049m50s+ 1m21s
4.33François MartinattiMartinattiSalmson   2051m18s+ 2m49s
5.36Robert SchlumbergerR. SchlumbergerRally-SCAP 1.1S-42051m21s+ 2m52s
6.74Roger BouclyR. BouclySalmson   2056m00.2s+ 7m31s
7.71TarazziTarazziAmilcar   2056m34s+ 8m05s
DNF35GegauffGegauffAmilcar   3broken wheel 
DNF37BaillyBaillyMartelSpeciale     
DNF72Henri MorelH. MorelAmilcar      
Fastest lap: José Scaron (Amilcar) in 2m18s = 87.0 km/h (54.0 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 82.5 km/h (51.2 mph)
Winner's medium speed (sports): 71.4 km/h (44.4 mph)

Category up to 1500cc:
At 2.30 p.m. (at least officially) it was time for the 1500cc voiturette race for race and sports cars. There were just six starters according to race reports so possibly one of the race car entries did not appear.
 
Grid not available

Roux took the lead at the start and held it all the way to the chequered flag. Martin held second place for most of the race but was beaten to the line by Gaupillat, only 0.6 seconds separating them in the end. L'Eclaireur de Nice lists Pezi as winner of the sports car class, two laps behind.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.19Edouard RouxE. RouxBugattiT37A1.5S-42048m24.8s 
2.26Jean GaupillatJ. GaupillatBugattiT37A1.5S-42049m14.0s+ 49.2s
3.18Henri-Aimé MartinH. Aimé-MartinBugattiT37A1.5S-42049m14.6s+ 49.8s
4. R.PezziR. PezziBugatti 1.5 1851m26s 
DNF16Pierre VeyronP. VeyronBugattiT37A1.5S-4   
DNF17Frédéric ToselliF. ToselliBugattiT37A1.5S-4   
DNF15Frantz LefevreF. LefevreLa Perle 1.5S-6   
Fastest lap: Henri Aimé-Martin (Bugatti) in 2m19.6s = 86.0 km/h (53.4 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 82.6 km/h (51.3 mph)
Winner's medium speed (sports): 70.0 km/h (43.7 mph)
Weather:



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II CIRCUIT DÉSTEREL PLAGE

Circuit d'Esterel Plage - St. Raphaël (F), 6 April 1931 (Monday).
20 laps x 3.33 km (2.07 mi) = 66.7 km (41.4 mi)


No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

>2000cc:
1Georges d'ArnouxComte d'ArnouxBugattiT35B2.3S-8
 
1500-2000cc:
4Philippe EtancelinP. EtancelinBugattiT35C2.0S-8
7Henri DurandH. DurandBugattiT35C2.0S-8
8Jean LangöeleJ. LangöeleBugattiT35C2.0S-8
 
Sports >2000cc:
51Paul MorandP. MorandBugattiT35B2.3S-8
 
Sports 1500-2000cc:
56Goffredo ZehenderG. ZehenderAlfa Romeo6C-17501.8S-6
57CaillezCaillezBerliet
58CarrascoCarrascoBugattiT35C2.0S-8


Etancelin keeps Zehender behind him to the end

by Leif Snellman
Eight cars in four classes took part in the main race. Etancelin (Bugatti) led from the start and held off an attack from Zehender's sports Alfa Romeo to take the victory.
Entries:
In the main race there were eight entries but they were divided into four classes! Three 2 litre Bugattis were entered by "Phi-Phi" Etancelin, Henri Durand and Jean Langöele. In the class over 2 litre Comte d'Arnoux with his Bugatti was the single entry. In the corresponding sports car class the situation was the same, Paul Morand, Bugatti being the only competitor, while in the 2 litre sports car class there were three entries: Italian Goffredo Zehender with his Alfa Romeo, Carrasco in a Bugatti and Caillez in a Berliet, a French car manufactured near Lyon.
Race:
At 3:30 p.m. it was time for the main race.
 
Grid not available

Etancelin took the lead but he was challenged by Zehender, d'Arnoux and Morand. First Morand fell back, then d'Arnoux, but Zehender in his sports Alfa Romeo did not give up but pushed Etancelin through most of the race, closing in to within 50 m to the leader. Carrasco had to retire with a broken gear lever and Durand also had to give up for some reason. Near the end of the race Etancelin was able to open up a gap to win by 18.8 seconds. Zehender finished second and first in the sports car class. Count d'Arnoux finished third and Morand fourth, both naturally first in their own classes. Langöele was fifth and Caillez sixth.
     

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.4Philippe EtancelinP. EtancelinBugattiT35C2.0S-82047m34.4s 
2.56Goffredo ZehenderG. ZehenderAlfa Romeo6C-17501.8S-62047m53.2s+ 18.8s
3.1Georges d'ArnouxComte d'ArnouxBugattiT35B2.3S-82048m36.0s+ 1m01.6s
4.51Paul MorandP. MorandBugattiT35B2.3S-82049m41.0s+ 2m06.6s
5.8Jean LangöeleJ. LangöeleBugattiT35C2.0S-82050m44.0s+ 3m09.6s
6.57CaillezCaillezBerliet2051m28.0s+ 3m53.6s
DNF58CarrascoCarrascoBugattiT35C2.0S-8gear lever 
DNF7Henri DurandH. DurandBugattiT35C2.0S-8   
Fastest lap: Philippe Etancelin (Bugatti) in 2m17s = 87.5 km/h (54.4 mph)
Fastest lap (>2000cc): Georges d'Arnoux (Bugatti) in 2m21s = 85.0 km/h (52.8 mph)
Fastest lap (sports >2000cc): Paul Morand (Bugatti) in 2m24s = 83.3 km/h (51.8 mph)
Fastest lap: (sports 2000cc): Goffredo Zehender (Alfa Romeo) in 2m20s = 85.7 km/h (53.3 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 84.0 km/h (52.2 mph)
Winner's medium speed (>2000cc): 82.2 km/h (51.1 mph)
Winner's medium speed (sports >2000cc): 80.4 km/h (50.0 mph)
Winner's medium speed (sports 2000cc): 83.5 km/h (51.9 mph)
Weather: .


Primary sources researched for this article:
L'Éclaireur de Nice
Le Petit Nicois, Paris



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© 2017 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 23.03.2017