IIV GRAND PRIX DE LA MARNE
Reims-Gueux (F), 5 July 1931.
50 laps x 8.0 km (4.97 mi) = 400.0 km (248.5 mi)
Lehoux wins at Reims
by Leif Snellman
The race was run in three classes, all doing 50 laps. Favourite Chiron (Bugatti) retired almost immediately and after that the race developed into a duel between Dreyfus (Maserati) and
Lehoux (Bugatti), the drives swapping positions until Lehoux took command of the race and pulled away to win. Dreyfus finished second and Czaykowski third while Etancelin finished fourth
in his new "Monza". De Maleplane and Aubert, both in Bugatti, were the winners of the smaller classes.
Once again the l'Automobile-Club Ardennes-Champagne-Argonne (Section Marne) together with the newspaper L'Eclaireur de l'Est organized the Grand Prix de la Marne. The race was
run over the 8 km triangular Reims-Gueux road circuit, 6 km west of Reims, which had been used for the Marne Grand Prix since 1925. With its long straights Reims was to be considered one
of the fastest European circuits. Until 1932 the circuit length was claimed to be 8 km and that number was also used when counting speeds etc. After that 7.826 km was used for the official results.
The entries were in three classes, 1500cc, 2000cc, and over 2000cc. All classes were racing together and all classes had to do 50 laps or 400 km.
The race was run the same day as the minor Circuit de Valcluse race in Avignon but that hardly made much difference to the entry list. What might have been worse was that the race also clashed
with the Spa 24-hour touring car race.
Despite the clashes with other races the entry list proved to be quite nice with much of the French racing elite present in the biggest class including the winner of the French Grand Prix two
weeks earlier, Louis Chiron with his works Bugatti. And as in the French Grand Prix René Dreyfus was works driver for Maserati. The new Bugatti T51s were also to be raced by privateers Marcel
Lehoux and Count Czaykowski, the latter fit again after his Geneve crash. There were four older Bugatti T35Bs as well in the class entered by Georges d'Arnoux, Michael Doré, Giovanni Lumachi
and Belgian Willy Longueville, the last mentioned with a yellow car.
Philippe Etancelin had abandoned his Bugatti and instead entered a brand new 2.3 litre Alfa Romeo, known as the "Monza" since its victory at the Italian GP six weeks earlier. Painted in French
blue, this was the first "Monza" delivered to a private driver. René Ferrand entered his ancient 3950 cc sleeve-valve Peugeot 174S.
All entries in the 2 litre class were with Bugatti T35C. Five drivers came to the start: Max Fourny, Jean Gaupillat, "Ivernel", Jean de Maleplane and Hélène Delange, racing under the pseudonym
"Mlle. Hellé-Nice", who after having done some rally and American dirt track racing, now turned to Grand Prix racing.
Bugatti dominated the voiturette class as well with 9 cars out of 11 being of type T37A. The only exceptions were Devaud racing an Amilcar and Yves Giraud-Cabantous racing his own car, the "Caban",
with a Ruby engine. Having started racing back in 1925 Giraud-Cabantous had won the 1930 Bol d'Or with an 1100cc Caban. In the end of his 32 year long race career Giraud-Cabantous would gain
five Formula 1 championship points and thus forever get a place in all racing statistics books.
There are some well known names among the voiturette Bugatti drivers as well, Jean Delorme, Anne-Cecilie Itier, Emile Tetaldi, Pierre Veyron, André Vagniez, and Austrian Emil Frankl, and less
known Mikael Angwerd, Henry Aubert, and Francois Givaudan.
Some 50,000 spectators turned up hoping to see a good fight between Chiron, Lehoux, and Czaykowski in their Bugattis against Etancelin and Dreyfus in their Italian cars. The start signal
was given a little bit after 2 o'clock in the afternoon by Monsieur Paillette, Secretary of l'Automobile-Club de Champagne.
Rest of grid unknown
The whole field of 26 cars (Note 1) got away well together with Dreyfus taking the lead with his Maserati. It was also Dreyfus who first appeared
at the end of the first lap but Chiron was right behind him and they passed the grand stand side by side with Chiron taking over the lead. Behind them came Czaykowski, Lehoux, d'Arnoux,
Etancelin, Lumanchi and Gaupillat.
At the end of the second lap Chiron arrived well in the lead but approaching the finish line he put his hand in the air as a warning and pulled the Bugatti into the pit and retired with a
broken drive shaft. It's quite possible it was the same car that had won the French Grand Prix two weeks earlier. Some of the spectators felt cheated and made their feelings known, of
course unfair to Chiron.
Dreyfus was now back in the lead but on the next lap he was passed by Lehoux. Czaykowski was third and according to Motor Sport amateur Francois Givaudan in a voiturette fourth, a thing that
is hard to believe. Sheldon suggests that Givaudan in fact might already have been lapped, but my guess is that someone had confused #15 d'Arnoux with #16 Givaudan.
Lehoux finished the sixth lap in 20m15s corresponding to a speed of 142.2 km/h. But he had not been able to shake off Dreyfus, who on the seventh lap was back in the lead for a third time.
But the T51 Bugatti was superior to the Maserati and on lap 9 or 10 Lehoux retook the lead. During the following laps Mouche? (Note 1) , Gaupillat and
Hellé-Nice made pit stops. In the 2 litre class Gaupillat led before de Maleplane.
At 15 laps Dreyfus gave up the hope of keeping up with Lehoux, who started to pull away with some 4 seconds a lap.
d'Arnoux retired to the pit with technical problems. There were other retirements as well, especially in the voiturette class, among them Frankl.
Situation at half point (25 laps):
|4.||Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)||- 1 lap|
|5.||Lumanchi (Bugatti)||- 1 lap|
|6.||de Maleplane (Bugatti)||- 2 laps|
On 26th lap Lehoux made the fastest lap of the race and a new lap record in 3m14s corresponding to 148.5 km/h.
Hellé-Nice stopped again and Itier made a pit stop as well. Lehoux still held up the high speed and Dreyfus was falling further back as was Czaykowski in third position. Etancelin, still unfamiliar
with his Monza, had already lost a lap before halfway through the race and he would lose another lap before the end.
Lehoux continued at high pace and the medium speed went up continuously. So Lehoux took the flag almost 2 ½ minutes before Dreyfus, who was the only other driver not to be lapped. The tired winner
received the traditional wreath from Paul Marchandeau, mayor of Reims.
Czaykowski finished third and Etancelin fourth. The others were far behind with de Maleplane finishing fifth overall and winning the 2 litre class but being over 16 minutes behind Lehoux. "Ivernel"
was second in the 2 litre class and Gaupillat third. With most of the better known drivers retired Aubert was the winner of the voiturette class, taking the flag over 36 minutes after Lehoux, with
Delorme second in the class and Mme. Itier third.
The newspaper L'Eclaireur de l'Est held a champagne party in the pits at the end of the race, the drivers joining in one by one as they arrived.
After the race there was the usual traffic chaos. Newspaper Le Matin, while praising the race organization itself, don't hesitate to call the traffic arrangements a complete fiasco. Well, it
was not the first race event to have that problem, nor would it be the last.
1. Automobile Revue gives 26 starters (10+5+11) as do Express du Midi, La Croix and Paul Sheldon. The book "Reims, Vitesse Champagne et Passion" claims 28 starters including Mouche.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
La Croix, Paris
L'Eclaireur de Nice, Nice
L'Express du Midi, Toulouse
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
Le Petit Nicois, Paris
Motor Sport, London
Domenique Dameron-Derauw, Cyrille Melin, Jean-Pierre Melin: "Reims, Vitesse Champagne et Passion".
Special thanks to:
Robert van den Plasken
I GRAND PRIX DU VAUCLUSE
Circuit de Réalpanier - Avignon (F), 5 July 1931.
Cat A: 15 laps x 4.973 km (3.09 mi) = 74.6 km (46.4 mi)
Cat B: 18 laps x 4.973 km (3.09 mi) = 89.5 km (55.6 mi)
Cat C: 20 laps x 4.973 km (3.09 mi) = 99.5 km (61.8 mi)
Cat D: 22 laps x 4.973 km (3.09 mi) = 109.4 km (68.0 mi)
|Category A||Class up to 1100 cc unsupercharged, 750 cc supercharged|
|Marceau Bernard||M. Bernard||Rosengart-Austin||0.7||S-4|
|Raymond Chambost||A. Chambost||Salmson||1.1||S-4|
|Henri Durand||H. Durand||Rally-SCAP||1.1||S-4|
|Aurelio Gerard||A. Gerard||Amilcar||1.1||S-6|
|F. de Perignon||F. de Perignon||BNC-SCAP||527||1.1||S-4|
|Category B||Class up to 1500 cc unsupercharged, 1100 cc supercharged|
|Benoît Falchetto||B. Falchetto||Amilcar||1.1||S-6|
|Emile Dourel||E. Dourel||Amilcar||C6||1.1||S-6|
|Victor Marret||V. Marret||Salmson|
|Robert Schlumberger||R. Schlumberger||Salmson||DNS - fatal crash|
|Category C||Class up to 3000 cc unsupercharged, 1500 cc supercharged|
|Frédéric Toselli||F. Toselli||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
|Jean Langöele||J. Langöele||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
|L. Abit||L. Abit||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
|Maurice Lamy||M. Lamy||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
|Edoard Roux||E. Roux||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|Edmond Nebout||E. Nebout||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|Henri Durand||H. Durand||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|de Grassin||de Grassin||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|Category D||Class up to 3000 cc supercharged|
|François Miquel||F. Miquel||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
|Pierre Rey||P. Rey||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
Toselli stars in minor French race
by Leif Snellman
Very little is known about this minor event. It was raced in four classes, class winners being Chambost (Salmson), Falchetto (Amilcar), Toselli (Bugatti) and Miquel (Bugatti).
Robert Schlumberger had a fatal accident during practice.
Vaucluse is the department in southeast France where Avignon is situated. The event was arranged by the Moto Club d'Avignon and took place on a circuit in Réalpanier, some 3 km
east of the downtown Avignon, in front of 30,000 spectators. The event clashed with the Marne Grand Prix and the Spa 24-hour touring car race.
Apart from 125cc, 175cc, 250cc, 350cc, 500cc and sidecar motorcycle races there were car racing in four classes as well, all classes probably starting together but then flagged off
at different laps.
Hardly anything apart from start lists and results are known about this race. Robert Schlumberger had a fatal accident during practice. He died when his car tumbled over.
There were nine starters and four finishers in the smallest class for unsupercharged cars up to 1.1 litre and supercharged cars up to 750cc. Albert Chambost in his Salmson was the
winner by over a lap over Henri Durand in a Rally.
Benoit Falchetto with an Amilcar was the winner of the 1500cc unsupercharged or 1100cc supercharged class. He took the flag, just 0.2 seconds in front of Reveiller, also in an Amilcar.
Frédéric Toselli with his voiturette Bugatti made an impression during the race, making the fastest lap several times and taking the flag 5 seconds in front of Miquel in his 2 litre
Bugatti. Of course Miquel, racing in the highest class, then had to race for two more laps before taking the chequered flag some six minutes later while Langöele, the man Toselli
really was competing against, took second position in the class 16 seconds behind Toselli.
Obviously Miquel was the only driver to finish in the largest class with cars up to 3 litres as Pierre Ray had to retire his Bugatti.
|1.||Raymond Chambost||A. Chambost||Salmson||1.1||S-4||15||52m37s|
|2.||Henri Durand||H. Durand||Rally||-SCAP||1.1||S-4||14||52m29s|
|4.||Marceau Bernard||M. Bernard||Rosengart||-Austin||0.7||S-4||13||54m35s|
Fastest lap: Albert Chambost (Salmson) in 3m25s = 87.3 km/h (54.3 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 85.1 km/h (52.8 mph)
|1.||Benoît Falchetto||B. Falchetto||Amilcar||1.1||S-6||18||55m25.2s|
Fastest lap: Reveiller (Amilcar) in 2m57s = 101.1 km/h (62.8 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 96.9 km/h (60.2 mph)
|1.||Frédéric Toselli||F. Toselli||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||20||57m55.2s|
|2.||Jean Langöele||J. Langöele||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||20||58m11.0s|
|3.||L. Abit||L. Abit||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||20||58m46.0s|
|4.||M. Lamy||M. Lamy||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||20||1h00m54.0s|
Fastest lap: F. Toselli in 2m49.0s = 105.9 km/h (65.8 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 103.0 km/h (64.0 mph)
|1.||François Miquel||F. Miquel||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||22||1h03m36.2s|
|DNF||Pierre Rey||P. Rey||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
Fastest lap: F. Miquel (Bugatti) in 2m49.0s = 105.9 km/h (65.8 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 103.2 km/h (64.1 mph)
Apart from Paul Sheldon's A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing Volume II the only sources I could find was a short article without car results in the magazine
Petit Nicois and a results list of class winners with speeds in L'Eclaireur de Nice.