I SUOMEN SUURAJO / FINLANDS STORLOPP
Eläintarharata - Helsinki (FIN), 8 May 1932.
50 laps x 2.035 km (1.26 mi) = 101.75 km (63.2 mi)
Swede Widengren dominates the first Finnish Grand Prix
by Leif Snellman
The first Finnish Grand Prix was a race between five Finnish drivers and five Swedes. Widengren in his Mercedes SSK took the lead early in the race and then dominated it totally. Ebb in another
SSK was unable to keep up with Widengren's speed and also lost his second position to Sundstedt's Bugatti but when the latter struck problems late in the race Ebb was able to retake his position.
Keinänen did a bad start but then worked his way up through all the field and was finally able to catch and pass both Sundstedt and Ebb to finish second.
Even a lack of score boards and a mostly non functional public information system did not hinder the race from becoming a success for the spectators.
The idea of a Finnish GP race started in 1931 among some drivers on a ship returning to Finland from the Solvalla trotting track car race in Sweden. The drivers contacted Suomen Automobiili
Klubi (SAK) but found no interest there. They then turned to Helsingin Moottori Kerho (HMK), a club that mostly had experience in motor cycle races and received a much more positive response.
To secure a echonomic base for the project race drivers Ebb, Keinänen and Ramsay decided to invest the considerable sum of 150,000 FIM each.
A fitting track was found that circled the city greenhouses in the Eläintarha park (Djurgården in Swedish) between the old legendary wooden athletics stadium and the hippodrome.
However, it remained to convince city mayor Erik von Frenckell and the city council to accept the idea.
After long hesitation the city finally gave the race a go for one test year after guarantees from the organizers that they would assure complete spectator safety.
The city kept the right to stop the race in case of any accidents involving spectators. Even a successful race would not guarantee that the event should be permanent.
The main problem was that the track was located near three hospitals, the Epidemic and the Tuberculosis Hospitals on the Nordenskiöld street and the Deaconess Institute on the other side of the railroad.
The noise of the race cars was regarded as a highly disturbing factor.
The track that probably was planned by Ebb, was in its initial form a little bit over 2 km long and followed along the roads through the park.
The main straight with pits, start and finish went parallel to the railway embankment, making a unique arrangement possible. A series of special open train coaches were built as a grandstand and moved with spectators
on race day by locomotive from the main railway station to its place near the track. From the main straight the race track turned right and went slightly downhill through the kiosk section before coming down to the
street in a sharp right hander. Circling the city greenhouses, the track made another right turn that for some curious reason later would be called the death curve. The track continued uphill back into the park,
passing close to the place where the Olympic stadium would be built a few years later, before turning left and going sharply downhill in a blind S-bend known as moukaripörssi (the hammer ring), named after a practice
ring under the hill. This proved to be a bend with no room for mistakes. If a car would go wide to the left it would go over a slope and end up on top of the hammer ring itself. Passing the Eläintarha sports field,
which also functioned as a paddock, the cars came to the Nordenskiöld Street where a last right hander returned the cars to the main straight.
Sand bag barriers and rows of hay bales were built on the Nordenskiöld Street to keep the race track separated from the trams and other traffic. Eight rescue stations with equipment were spread out along the route.
There were to be races for motorcycles in class B and C and for race cars.
The entry fee for the car drivers was 1000 FIM. The prizes for the top three finishers in the car class were 25,000 FIM, 12,000 FIM and 7,500 FIM. There were also special awards for the driver who kept the highest
speed during either laps 30-40 or 40-50.
The number of entries for the car race was restricted to ten. It consisted of the Finnish and Swedish racing elite, five from each country. Ebb entered his recently obtained Mercedes-Benz SSK (#35998, plate A-4005).
It is believed that the person originally ordering the car from the factory had cancelled his order. Then a Finn named Rolf Parviainen, a son of a millionaire, saw the car in Berlin in June 1929 and bought it. In 1931
Ebb borrowed the car for a race at Solvalla, Sweden, and then later bought the car from Parviainen.
There were two Finnish Chrysler entries, S.P.J. Keinänen and Baron Ramsay. Keinänen had improved his car with the help of the prize money from the Rämen race but had the disadvantage of a three-speed gear box
while Ramsay's yellow car had four speeds. Asser Wallenius entered a more or less standard looking four door Ford V8, tuned into race form by Valdemar Lahtinen, while Nikolai Nenonen arrived with a Delage.
Among the Swedish entries, Per Victor Widengren had a grey Mercedes-Benz SSK. There were two Swedish Bugattis, Einar Lindberg in a T43 and Knut Gustav Sundstedt with his ex-Chiron T35B. "Mas-Harry" Larsson, a Ford dealer
from Mora, appeared with a brick red Ford, claimed to deliver 137 bhp, and Börje Dahlin entered a little Amilcar.
Ebb and Keinänen were considered the favorites. The rather unknown Per Viktor Widengren was a bit of an outsider while his brother Henken was considered as a bigger name back then.
The Swedish entries arrived one by one. Widengren and Larsson were travelling via Turku on Tuesday and Dahlin on Wednesday. On Ascension Thursday Lindberg and Sundstedt drove their Bugattis from Turku to Helsinki in pouring
rain, while Keinänen drove from Kuopio the same night in his Chrysler, having to confront the same weather conditions.
Some Swedish race fans arrived as well, 300 of them, coming on the old steamer Kastelholm.
Ramsay was the first one to check out the track on Wednesday and was soon followed by Ebb and Widengren, who claimed he had put in a 1m12s lap (unofficially).
The two Mercedes drivers also took the opportunity to test each other's cars. The interest in the event was high and on Friday over 4000 spectators turned up watching the Swedes practice. There were no safety arrangements for
that kind of crowd. The drivers and police had a difference of opinion about what speed the cars should be allowed to have. The police insisted on the city maximum 40 km/h rule. It all ended with arguments, an interrupted
practice and a closed down track.
The clutch on Dahlin's Amilcar broke during practice and as Dahlin was unable to repair it he became a non-starter.
It rained cats and dogs during the night before the race but on Sunday morning the sun started slowly to break through the clouds and fog.
Officially there were 21 000 paying spectators but numbers of 30 000 and even 40 000 were mentioned in the local papers and the 500 area guards and ticket sellers had a full time job. When the 30 coach grandstand train had
arrived from central station the motorcycle race could begin at 2:00 p.m. Immediately there were some serious problems. The public information system (and its users) proved not to be up to the demands set upon it, and as
there were no score boards either it became very hard for the spectators to follow the race proceedings. The media reporters received hardly any press releases or results information throughout the event and the flag
marshalling failed miserably. After the motorcycles had completed the planned distance, the race went on for an additional six laps before someone finally made the decision to flag it off. When the public information
system finally woke up, announcing the wrong winner!
After a 40 minute break the car race finally started about 4:00 p.m. when the weather had turned beautiful.
The cars were arranged according to their drawn race numbers, with a gap left in the grid where Dahlin's car should have been. When the flag was dropped Larsson in the Ford was first off, followed by Wallenius,
Lindberg, Ramsay, Widengren, Ebb and Sundstedt. Ebb and Widengren were able to use the gap in the grid left by Dahlin to gain positions. Keinänen found himself out of room and went wide while Nenonen immediately seemed
to struggle with the Delage.
After having led for one and a half lap Larsson found that the water in the radiator was boiling and he came to a halt at the Nordenskiöld street while Widengren took over the lead. He was followed by Wallenius, Ebb,
Lindberg, Sundstedt Ramsay, Keinänen, and last after a considerable gap, Nenonen.
On the next lap Widengren had opened up a gap to Ebb in second position with Sundstedt, Wallenius, Lindberg, Ramsay and Keinänen following and Nenonen already half a lap behind the leader.
During the next few laps the winner of the race became apparent as Widengren totally dominated the event. Sundstedt in third place was gaining on Ebb who had started the race well but now seemed to struggle. A few late
decision changes by Ebb had proved to be more of harm than benefit.
After five laps Widengren was already lapping Nenonen for the first, but definitely not for the last time.
On the seventh lap Larsson managed to get his Ford going again, but after one more lap he decided to retire for good.
After nine laps Widengren lapped Nenonen for the second time. and his lead over Ebb had opened up to half a lap.
Keinänen had reached sixth placed Ramsay and the two Chryslers swapped positions on lap 11. On the next lap Ramsay came to a halt in front of the main stand.
At the beginning of lap 16 Keinänen found himself lapped by Widengren, who continued unchallenged in the lead. The Mercedes went past at the end of the main straight and then Widengren went on to pass also Wallenius in the
Ford, who had lost his fourth position to Lindberg.
On the next lap Sundstedt caught and passed Ebb for second position and started to pull away immediately.
At around 19 laps it was Lindberg's turn to retire when his Bugatti developed gearbox problems.
Keinänen, who had increased his pace with the Chrysler, was now challenging Wallenius for fourth and it did not take long before Keinänen had found a way past.
Ebb was unable to keep up with Sundstedt and on lap 22 his Mercedes was lapped by the other SSK. Wallenius was falling back while Keinänen was closing in on Ebb.
After 33 laps Nenonen, who during the race had made several excursions among the trees, called it a day with brake failure after having been lapped seven times. On the same lap Widengren put himself a lap ahead of second
positioned Sundstedt, who held a seemingly secured second place.
But then, a few laps later, Sundstedt's Bugatti started to smoke and he fell back fast. At 39 laps that created a wild struggle between Sundstedt, Ebb and Keinänen for second position. That exciting battle went on for a
few laps but on the 42nd lap Sundstedt's smoking Bugatti could not take it anymore and he was passed by the two Finns to fall further back.
On the 43rd lap Ebb went wide in the death curve, the big Mercedes careening dangerously in the grass, and Keinänen went by to take second position.
Sundstedt, still going slowly, was lapped for the second time by the race leader and with two laps to go Wallenius caught up with Sundstedt but was unable to get by.
After fifty laps Widengren passed the line but did not take the chequered flag as the flag marshalling was still scandalously imperfect. Widengren therefore decided to push on. He drove another lap. No flag! Yet another
lap and lapping Ebb for the second time. Still no flag! On the third extra lap Widengren finally was convinced by the spectators' gesticulations that the race indeed was over and that he could slow down. That came as a
great relief as he had injured his hand while selecting gears and it was bleeding. Keinänen finished second, Ebb third and Sundstedt managed to keep his fourth position with a 0.3 s margin over Wallenius, as the Bugatti
had a speed advantage on the main straight.
But the day belonged to Widengren who had been totally in his own class.
|1.||10||Per Viktor Widengren||P V. Widengren||Mercedes-Benz||SSK||7.1||S-6||50||1h08m41.6s|
|2.||3||S.P.J. Keinänen||S.P.J. Keinänen||Chrysler||Special||5.1||S-6||50||1h11m04.6s|
|3.||8||Karl Ebb||K. Ebb||Mercedes-Benz||SSK||7.1||S-6||50||1h11m34.6s|
|4.||9||Knut Gustav Sundstedt||K-G. Sundstedt||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||50||1h12m04.2s|
|5.||1||Asser Wallenius||A. Wallenius||Ford||Special||3.6||S-4||50||1h12m04.7s|
|DNF||7||Nikolai Nenonen||N. Nenonen||Delage||22||brakes|
|DNF||4||Ejnar Lindberg||E. Lindberg||Bugatti||T43||2.3||S-8||17||axle/gearbox?|
|DNF||6||Johan Ramsay||J. Ramsay||Chrysler||Special||10||fuel blockage|
|DNF||2||Harry Larsson||H. Larsson||Ford||Special||3.6||S-4||1||piston/overheating?|
Fastest lap: ?|
Winner's medium speed: 88.9 km/h (55.2 mph)
Weather: overcast to sunny, clearing up after rain.
Some of the race arrangements failed badly that day. As far as I know there has never been any lap time charts or fastest laps published for the simple fact that the reporters never received any data. Therefore all lap
numbers in this text are approximate as the reports differ quite a lot between the newspapers.
But apart from the problems the race had been a great financial success and had been enthusiastically received by drivers and spectators alike. The drivers had found the order and track security to be very good. So the
decision was made to continue in 1933. In fact the event continued regularly until 1963.
Sources used for this article:|
Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki
Suomen Urheilulehti, Helsinki
Uusi Suomi, Helsinki
Geitel, Juurikkala, Talvitie: Kuolemankurvasta Moukkaripörssiin, Espoo 1993
Sheldon: A record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Vol III, London 1992
GRAND PRIX DES FRONTIÈRES
Chimay (B), 15 May 1932.
15 laps x 10.87 km = 163.05 km
1100cc: 10 laps x 10.87 km = 108.7 km
Legat wins as Bouriano retires
by Leif Snellman
The 12 cars were divided into several classes but the main competitors were the two 2.3 litre Bugattis of Bouriano and Longueville . With the latter being an early retirement,
nothing seemed to stop Bouriano from taking an overwhelming victory. But Bouriano overdid it and crashed leaving the field open for voiturette driver and Chimay veteran
Legat (Bugatti) to repeat his 1931 victory.
Created by Jules Buisseret the little Frontières Grand Prix was a rather unique Belgian event that was organized from 1926 all the way to the 1970s. It was run on the 10.87 km
long road circuit over the fields west of the city of Chimay. The roads are mostly bordered by cow pastures enclosed by barbed wire.
In 1932 the race was divided into no less than five classes, all starting together with the cycle cars flagged off after 10 laps and the other classes doing 15 laps.
The entry list consisted mostly of Belgian drivers but one of two drivers in the largest class was a French amateur driver Flipo from Roubaix, just across the French-Belgian border. He had entered a 9 year old
Lorraine-Dietrich. He was to race against "Freddy" Théllusson in a big 4.1 litre Chrysler.
Georges Bouriano was returning to Belgium after having unsuccessfully tried to make a professional racing career in Europe. He was to run his red Bugatti T35B in the 3-litre class. Willy Longueville entered another T35B.
The third starter in the class was someone called Beugnies, who had entered a Mathis "Emysix" Sedan with a 2288 cc (?) engine.
There were two entries in the 2 litre class: Herbert-Élie "Emile" Cornet with a Bugatti T35 and Georges Puissant from Louviére in a T35A "Tecla".
In the 1.5 litre voiturette class last year's winner Arthur Legat in his supercharged T37A, raced against the un-supercharged cars of Constant Lauvaux and French driver Herbeaux. Legat had taken part in all Frontières GPs
since the 1926 apart from the 1928 race.
Finally, in the cycle car class Georges Bultot in an Amilcar CGS met Jules Bury in a Rosengart.
Race day came with sunny and hot weather. The race cars were lined up on the grid two and two for the 2:30 p.m. start:
Bouriano from the first row immediately took the lead, followed by Longueville, Legat, Cornet, Lauvaux, Herbeaux, Théllusson, Flipo, Beugnies, Puissant and the cycle cars of Bultot and Bury.
But much of the excitement in the race was lost almost immediately as Longueville had to retire on the second lap with a broken magneto. Beugnies had an incident at Virage de Beauchamps, bending the front axle of his
Mathis, so he became another retirement.
With Longueville gone no one else was able to do anything against Bouriano, who started to pull away at an almost ridiculous rate, increasing the gap by some 40s a lap even to second positioned Legat and making a new
lap record of 5m13s on the way. After only eight laps he had lapped all his opponents. Legat and Cornet were still holding second and third positions while Lauvaux and Herbeaux in their voiturette Bugattis had a good
duel for fourth position.
But at all came to an end at lap 12. Bouriano went off road and collected a barbed fence with his Bugatti. The driver was lucky to escape from that accident with just a torn shirt. But the carburettor on the car had
caught fire and despite Bouriano's efforts the fire spread and the Bugatti went up in flames.
Now, having already lost one and a half lap to Bouriano, Legat, with the luck on his side, suddenly found himself in the lead and keeping it to the end of the race he repeated his 1931 victory with his voiturette Bugatti.
Cornet finished second and Herbeaux won the duel with Lauvaux to finish third.
In the cycle car class, flagged off at 10 laps, Bultot defeated Bury.
Results (1100 cc)
|1.||6||Arthur Legat||A. Legat||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||15||1h23m18s|| |
|2.||4||Emile Cornet||E. Cornet||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||15||1h29m38s||+ 6m20s|
|3.||8||Français Herbeaux||F. Herbeaux||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||15||1h31m57s||+ 8m39s|
|4.|| ||Constant Lauvaux||C. Lauvaux||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||15||1h34m31s||+ 11m13s|
|5.||Frederick Théllusson||F. Théllusson||Chrysler||75||4.1||S-6||15||1h40m33s||+ 17m15s|
|6.||Georges Puissant||G. Puissant||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||15||1h48m14s||+ 24m56s|
|7.||Jules Flipo||J. Flipo||Lorraine-Dietrich||B.3.6||3.5||S-6||15||1h49m55s||+ 26m37s|
|DNF||Georges Bouriano||G. Bouriano||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||11|
|DNF||Beugnies||Beugnies||Mathis||Emysix||2.4||S-6||2||bent front axle|
|DNF||Willy Longueville||W. Longueville||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||1||magneto|
Fastest lap: Georges Bouriano (Bugatti) in 5m13s = 125.0 km/h (77.7 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 117.4 km/h (73.0 mph)
|1.|| ||Georges Bultot||G. Bultot||Amilcar||CGS||1.1||S-4||10||1h14m40.8s|
|2.|| ||Jules Bury||J. Bury||Rosengart||LR2||0.75||S-4|| || |
Fastest lap: ?|
Winner's medium speed: 87.3 km/h (54.3 mph)
My main source has been André Biaumet's Le Grand Prix des Frontières a Chimay, as I have been unable to find any articles in contemporary newspapers.
CHALLENGE ANÍS DEL MONO
Autódromo di Terramar (E), 15 May 1932.
2 x Heats of: 15 laps x 2.0 km (1.24 mi) = 30.0 km (18.6 mi)
A race with a curious ending
by Leif Snellman
The car race was run as two heats with the overall winner decided by a points system. Six Bugattis started in the first heat and it was won by Oscar Stahel after race leader
Oliveras had had a spectacular crash, surviving it without injuries. When all the competitors retired in the second heat, Stahel became the overall victor of the event as well.
The Racing Club de Terramar organized an event called Reunió del día 15 de maig at the 2km long kidney formed Autodromo di Terramar. Apart from car racing the very mixed
program included races for bicycles, motor bikes (250cc, 350cc & 500cc), sidecars, and balloon bursting with aeroplanes. The event was a rather short one planned to start 9:45 and
completed at 12:45. A special train delivered spectators from the França railway station in Barcelona in the morning and back in the afternoon.
The car race was known as the Challenge Anís del Mono after a brand of liquor made in Barcelona. It was to be run in two heats of 15 laps each, with the four top finishers in each heat
receiving 4, 3, 2 &1 points and with the aggregate points score deciding the overall winner. In case of a points tie a ten lap run off was to take place.
Apart from the Amilcar entered by Sagristá, who did not start, it was an all Bugatti affair. The following is known about those Bugattis:
Edgar de Morawitz, who owned the Terramar circuit and whose sister was married to Czech racing driver Hugo Urban-Emmrich, entered a 2.3 litre car.
Guillermo Oliveras de la Riva, José Sabata and Swiss driver Oscar Stahel entered 2.0 liter cars while J. Bertrand was to race a 2.0 liter supercharged car.
Juan Bigorra and Luis Angli entered 1.5 litre supercharged cars. Angli had travelled all the night to the race, arriving without having had any sleep.
The day started off with a bicycle race followed by the side car race and the third event on the programme was the first Anís del Mono heat.
The six Bugatti cars lined up on the autodrome and were sent away.
Guillermo Oliveras immediately took the lead. He was closely followed by Sabata and Stahel and behind them came Morawitz and Bigorre while Angli fell back, his car obviously don't running
on all four cylinders.
There were no changes in the order until the 14th lap. Oliveras had by then been able to open up a few seconds gap to Sabata, when he in the south turn, doing 160 km/h, lost the left wheel.
To the horror of the spectators the car went totally out of control. The other wheels were flying off as well and the car ended up wheel-less at the side of the track. By luck Oliveras
had escaped uninjured and was able to walk back to the pits on his own legs while receiving applause from the spectators.
Sabata was now leading but on the last lap Stahel found a way by to win the race by 3 seconds and receive four points, which would prove very important at the end of the day. Sabata
finished second, Morawitz third and Bigorre fourth.
At the Pascua GP earlier that year race winner de Vizcaya, had done the final at a medium speed of 153 km/h. This race had been much faster with the top three all exceeding that speed
and Oliveras had been up to a medium speed of 158.6 km /h before his crash.
Results, heat 1
Now followed the motorcycle race and after J. Carreras had destroyed 5 balloons with his Farman Hispanio-Suiza aeroplane in 2m01.2s, winning the air competition, it was time for the
second car racing heat. With Oliveras de la Riva's wrecked Bugatti a non starter the heat was down to 5 cars.
Possibly the drivers had pushed their cars a bit too much during the first heat for one by one they retired from the second one. First it was Bigotta, then de Morawitz and then Sabata.
Race leader Stahel suffered a spectacular tyre blowout and was lucky to get the car to a stop without crashing. For four laps Angli, the only remaining competitor in the race, circled
alone on the track. If he should have taken the chequered flag it would have been a tie between him and Stahel and a possible run off! But when he on lap 13 also had to retire his troublesome Bugatti it created the quite ridiculous situation that the race was over without anyone being classified.
The total results were therefore decided by the first race with Oscar Stahel being the overall winner.
Results, heat 2
1. For some reason the published speeds for the top two finishers were computed from results times 11m27s & 11m30s instead of 11m28s & 11m31s!
Primary sources researched for this article:|
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
Special thanks to:
I TROPHÉE DE PROVENCE
(Cycle Car 750cc & 1100cc, Voiturette 1500cc)
Nîmes (F), 16 May 1932 (Monday).
750 cc: 15 laps x 2.9 km (1.8 mi) = 43.5 km (27.0 mi)
1100cc: 25 laps x 2.9 km (1.8 mi) = 72.5 km (45.0 mi)
1500cc: 30 laps x 2.9 km (1.8 mi) = 87.0 km (54.1 mi)
|750 cc s/s & 1100cc u/s|
|2||Ludger||Ludger||Rosengart||0.75||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|6||Cadenet||Cadenet||Salmson||DNA - did not appear|
|8||Georges Aubas||G. Aubas||Salmson||DNA - did not appear|
|10||Marcel de la Rochette||M. de la Rochette||Rosengart||0.75||S-4|
|12||Raymond Chambost||A. Chambost||Salmson||1.1||S-4|
|14||Iches||Iches||Salmson||DNA - did not appear|
|1100 cc s/s (Note 1)|
|16||José Scaron||J. Scaron||Amilcar||MC0||1.1||S-6|
|18||Victor Marret||V. Marret||Salmson||1.1||S-4|
|20||François Martinatti||F. Martinatti||Salmson||GS||1.1||S-4|
|22||Armand Girod||A. Girod||Lombard||AL3||1.1||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|24||Lobre||Lobre||BNC||527||DNA - did not appear|
|28||Camille Porre||C. Porre||Amilcar||C6?||1.1||S-6|
|1500 s/s (& 3000 u/s?)|
|32||Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier||Mme Rose-Itier||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
|34||Pignan||Pignan||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|36||Mistral||Mistral||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|38||Constantinovitch||Constantinovitch||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|40||Gilbert Ralph||G. Ralph||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||
|42||Claude Ozannat||C. Ozannat||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||DNA - did not appear|
|44||Pierre Rey||P. Rey ||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
|56||Maurice Lamy||M. Lamy||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4|
|58||Laurens Cousinié||L. Cousinié||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4|
|60||Fernande Roux||F. Roux||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4|
First female voiturette victory
by Leif Snellman
In the smallest class of three races for cycle cars/voiturettes Chambost (Salmson) beat de la Rochette (Rosengart). In the next race Scaron (Amilcar) was in his own class while the third race was a unique straightforward
female voiturette victory as Ann-Cecilie Itier dominated the event.
In 1932 the Automobile Club du Gard organized a Grand Prix in the old Roman city of Nîmes, the capital of the Gard département, in southern France. It was one of the many "round the houses" city races in the 1930s that tried
to copy the success of the Monaco Grand Prix.
The circuit consisted of two parallel straights going up and down the Avenue Jean Jaurès in the city centre linked by a hairpin bend at each end. The north end hairpin was at Quai de la Fontaine opposite the Jardin de la
Fontaine. The result was a rather boring "mini AVUS" circuit.
Apart from the main race known as "Grand Prix de Nîmes" the event also included four motorcycle and four car races in the smaller classes under the name "Trophée de Provence".
There were only three competitors in the class for 750cc supercharged and 1100cc unsupercharged cars: Jean Labbay in a 1.1 litre unsupercharged Mathis, Albert "Raymond" Chambost in a high, dark colored Salmson and Marcel de
la Rochette in a much smaller, light colored 0.75 litre Rosengart. (The Salmson cars used to have a supercharged 1.1 litre engine but for some reason Chambost was entered in this class.)
In the 1110cc supercharged class clear favourite was Amilcar's head driver, French-Belgian José Scaron. Other Amilcars were to be raced by local driver Reveiller and by Camille Porre from Toulon. They met the two
Salmsons of Nice drivers Victor Marret and François Martinatti.
There were seven starters in the 1500cc class, obviously all racing with 4 cylinder Bugatti T37 or T37A. According to Sheldon's book supercharged cars were raced by Ann-Cécilie Itier, Gilbert Ralph, Pierre Rey and
Fernande Roux while unsupercharged cars were raced by Mourin, Maurice Lamy and Laurens Cousinié, but the book admits that the information is suspect in several cases.
The event was run on Whit Monday and with so many races it was more or less nonstop action from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. A huge crowd turned up for the event and it might have been even more spectators, had not the weather
been rainy during the morning.
After 175, 250 & 350cc motor cycle races it was time for the first car event, a 15 laps race for 750cc supercharged and 1100cc unsupercharged cars. By now the rain seems to have stopped and the conditions improved.
Despite only three entries it proved to be a decent race with de la Rochette taking the start only to be passed by Chambost on lap two. de la Rochette then fought back to retake the lead at lap 5 only to loose it again on lap 13.
At the end Chambost was able to win by 2.4 seconds over de la Rochette, while Labbay retired.
|1.||12||Raymond Chambost||A. Chambost||Salmson|| ||1.1||S-4||15||29m30.2s|| |
|2.||10||Marcel de la Rochette||M. de la Rochette||Rosengart|| ||0.75||S-4||15||29m32.6s||+ 2.4s|
|.||4||Jean Labbay||Labbay||Mathis|| ||1.1|| ||9|| || |
Fastest lap: Raymond Chambost (Salmson) in 1m50s = 94.9 km/h (59.0 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 88.5 km/h (55.0 mph)
Weather: drying up after rain
The next event on the programme was a 25 laps race for 1100cc supercharged cars. (Note 1))
The race was totally dominated by José Scaron in his Amilcar. Revellier and Porre were early retirements and later Martinatti also had to call it a day. Marret had to make a late pit stop near the end of the race, in
the end losing three laps to Scaron.
|1.||16||José Scaron||J. Scaron||Amilcar||MC0||1.1||S-6||25||38m28.8s|
|2.||18||Victor Marret||V. Marret||Salmson|| ||1.1||S-4||22|| |
|DNF||20||François Martinatti||F. Martinatti||Salmson||GS||1.1||S-4|| || |
|DNF||28||Camille Porre||C. Porre||Amilcar||C6?||1.1||S-6||2|| |
Fastest lap: José Scaron (Amilcar) in 1m29s = 117.3 km/h (72.9 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 113.0 km/h (70.2 mph)
The sixth event of the day was a 30 laps race for 1.5 liter supercharged voiturettes (and possibly also for cars up to 3 litres unsupercharged. (Note 1))
Itier took the start and then never looked back. Dominating the race she led from start to finish, pulling out the lead by an average of 2 seconds per lap to win by a minute from Cousinié, while the other competitors
either retired or were lapped. Lamy finished third and Moulin, who had fought for second position with Cousinié early in the race, eventually fell back to finish fourth.
It was an excellent performace of Itier. She had won the 1928 La Mothe-Saint-Héraye hill climb and would win it again on 5 June and she also won some other hill climbs later but this was something completely different;
one of few outright female victories in Grand Prix type racing ever. It doesn't matter that Itier had been slightly slower than Scaron with the 1.1 litre car (112.97 km/h vs. 113.05 km/h medium speeds if using two decimals).
|1.||32||Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier||Mme Rose-Itier||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||30||46m12.4s|| |
|2.||58||Laurens Cousinié||L. Cousinié||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||30||47m11.0s||+ 58.6s|
|3.||56||Maurice Lamy||M. Lamy||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||29|| || |
|4.||54||Moulin||Moulin||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||29|| || |
|5.||60||Fernande Roux||F. Roux||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||29|| || |
|DNF||44||Pierre Rey||P. Rey ||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||4|| || |
|DNF||40||Gilbert Ralph||G. Ralph||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||0|| ||
Fastest lap: Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier (Bugatti) in 1m30s = 116.0 km/h (72.1 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 113.0 km/h (70.2 mph)
Weather: sunny and fine.
I GRAND PRIX DE NÎMES
Nîmes (F), 16 May 1932 (Monday).
70 laps x 2.9 km (1.8 mi) = 203.0 km (126.1 mi)
Privateer Falchetto's surprise victory
by Leif Snellman
Chiron (Bugatti) held an early lead but had to retire, Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) was involved in an early crash and lost several laps and Dreyfus (Maseerati) failed to get his car up to speed. So in the end it
was new driver Falchetto (Bugatti) who took the victory.
The first Nimes Grand Prix was organized by the Automobile Club du Gard. It was run on the streets of the old Roman city of Nîmes, the capital of the Gard département, in southern France.
It was one of the many "round the houses" city races in the 1930s that tried to copy the success of the Monaco Grand Prix.
All major French independents had turned up for the race but the favourite vas naturally Monegascue Louis Chiron Bugattis were also entered by Antoine Canin from Marseille, Hélène Delangle racing under the pseudonym
"Mlle Hellé-Nice" and by Benoît Falchetto from Nice.
Five of the Bugatti participants had already taken part in the "Trophée de Provence". Charles Druck kept his T35C Bugatti from the 2 litre race, Laurens Cousinié, Maurice Lamy and Edouard Roux changed their 1.5 litre
Bugattis for larger volume cars, and possibly Count Czaykowski made the same with his 2 litre car.
The nine Bugattis were challenged by a single Alfa Romeo Monza, entered by Philippe Etancelin, and by a 2.8 litre Maserati, raced by René Dreyfus.
After the 500cc motorcycle race it was finally time for the main event of the day, the Nimes Grand Prix that started 3.50 p.m.
When the flag dropped Chiron took the lead followed by Dreyfus, Etancelin, Falchetto and Czaykowski. In the first hairpin Canin lost control as a brake sized on his Bugatti and he went straight on and collided with Etancelin.
The two cars got locked together and the officials tried for several minutes to separate them while the flag man hectically signalled to the other cars to slow down as they passed the accident place anew. Finally Etancelin's
car was free and he was able to return to the race but he had lost three laps to the other competitors . Canin was even less lucky and had to retire on the spot.
Meanwhile, there had been another incident on the first lap as Lamy's Bugatti had caught fire and even if the fire was soon extinguished he had to abandon the race. Soon afterwards both Hellé-Nice and Roux had to retire as
well, leaving just 7 competitors remaning in the race.
Chiron was dominating the early part of the event, leading Falchetto by 10 s after three laps and opening up the gap. But after 10 laps, if Motor Sport's numbers are correct, the situation had changed dramatically: Chiron
had slowed down and Falchetto was just behind him:
|7.||Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)|
On the next lap Chiron retired to the pits with a broken oil pipe. Falchetto now led by more than 30s over a surprisingly weak Dreyfus. Falchetto's speed dropped with his lap time going from 1m18s on lap 10 up to
1m21s on lap 15.
After 20 laps Falchetto lead Dreyfus by 14seconds with Czaykowski in third position a lap behind, followed by Druck, Etancelin and Cousinié. Etancelin was going at full speed doing his best to pull in the hopeless
3 laps gap to the leader. With Dreyfus closing in Falchetto speeded up again and made the 29th lap in 1m16s soon opening up the gap to Dreyfus once more.
After 30 laps the order at the top was:
After 40 laps Falchetto led by 42s seconds. Druck fell back with a tyre problem and stopped for a new wheel. He was then excluded from the race, for instead of taking the car to the pit he stopped the car on the track,
walked to the pit and brought a wheel back to the car. (Possibly he had stopped on the other line of the avenue opposite the pit, i.e. some half a lap away but only at a short walking distance.) That meant that Etancelin
was now up to 4th position. Situation after 50 laps:
|2.||Dreyfus (Maserati)||+ 31s|
|4.||Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)|
At 60 laps the gap was, acccording to Motor Sport, down again to 26s, but Falchetto went on to win with Dreyfus finishing second a lap behind. If the numbers are correct they would indicate that some serious trouble
struck Dreyfus as he would have lost over 50 seconds to Falchetto during the last ten laps. Czaykowski finished third and Etancelin fourth after an hard effort with Cousinié, who was fifth and last finisher.
By his victory Falchetto showed that his speed at Oran three weeks earlier had been no fluke and that he had to be considered a serious contender in the GP class.
At that time in the newspapers he was confusingly known as just "Benoit" making people believe that the famous Robert Benoist had made a comeback.
Dreyfus, with his 26M, had been unable to beat an amateur driver in a Bugatti T51, making Dreyfus seriously wondering if he should leave Maserati but then decided to race for them at AVUS as well.
While the race is mentioned in several contemporary magazines there are as mostly just short articles with results rather than usable race reports. So I have much leaned on Paul Sheldon's start lists and on Motor Sport's race
report of the event (according to Sheldon a straight translation of French magazine L'Auto's report). While some of the numbers in that report seem odd I have decided to consider them correct until proven wrong,
and written the race account accordingly.
1. There are conflicting information about the classes. Le Figaro & Le Matin says race 5 was for 1500cc unsupercharged cars, Sheldon calls it 1100cc supercharged and 1500cc unsupercharged. Both conflicts
with the fact that the unsupercharged 1500cc Bugattis were entered in race 6. Le Figaro & Le Matin also claim race 6 was for 3000cc unsupercharged cars. I have here tried to re-create the classes according
to cars taking part.
2. Antoine Raffaëlli: Memoirs of a Bugatti Hunter, page 199
3. The published lap time was 1m17s but the published time (137.36 km/h ) corresponds to a time of 1m16s.
16 May 1932: The B.A.R.C. Whit Monday Meeting was held at Brooklands.|
The handicap races were won by E. F. Phillips (Austin 0.7 litre), E. R. Hall (M.G. 0.7 litre),
Ginger Llewellyn (Riley 1.1 litre), "Buddy" Featherstonhaugh (Alfa Romeo 1.5 litre) - two races, R. T. Horton (M.G. 0.7 litre) - two races,
Earl Howe (Bugatti 2.3 litre) and J. R . Munday (Vauxhall 4.5 litre).