X° GRAN PREMIO DI TRIPOLI
Autodromo di Mellaha - Tripoli (I), 10 May 1936
40 laps x 13.1 km (8.14 mi) = 524.0 km (325.6 mi)
by Leif Snellman
The race was dominated by the Auto Union cars because Mercedes was in trouble with their short wheelbase car. The tank did not deliver fuel on von Brauchitsch's car and both Fagioli's and Caracciola's cars lost their front
brakes and the drivers could do nothing against the Auto Unions. Scuderia Ferrari introduced the 12 cylinder Alfa Romeo but it proved both inferior to the Germans and heavy on tyres. Nuvolari had a bad crash during practice
but still decided to race.
Stuck and Rosemeyer took turns to lead the first part of the race while Varzi made a bad start and had to work his way up the field. Rosemeyer retired when his car caught fire. With eight laps to go Stuck and Varzi were
driving in formation 2 ½ minutes before third positioned Fagioli. Then Varzi had to make an extra stop to change a tyre but Stuck got team orders to slow down and Varzi could easily pull in the half minute he had lost. Varzi
put a new lap record on the last lap taking a controversial victory.
The Tripoli Grand Prix, raced to a free Formula, was as usual held on the Mellaha circuit, the fastest road circuit in the world. Again the state lottery was included with the final winner decided by the race result.
Of the 30 entries 26 appeared at Tripoli.
The German teams entered the same driver combinations as in Monaco with Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck and Achille Varzi racing for Auto Union and Rudi Caracciola, Louis Chiron, Luigi Fagioli and Manfred von Brauchitsch
Continental had brought with them over 300 tyres for the German teams. Both Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz used 7" x 22" smooth rear tyres and 5.5" x 19" smooth front tyres.
Alfa Romeo introduced their new 4.1 litre 12C-36. Three of the new cars were to be raced by Tazio Nuvolari, Antonio Brivio and Mario Tadini while Carlo Pintacuda was to race last year's 8C-35 model. Apart from having two
exhausts the new 12 cylinder car was visually very much like the 8 cylinder one. Giuseppe Farina had had a bad crash in his 8C-35 during testing at Monza and was still not fit for driving so his entry was scratched.
The Scuderia Ferrari Alfas not having the engine power of the German teams used smooth Engelbert 6.75" x 19" rear tyres and 5.25" x 19" front tyres.
Scuderia Maremmana entered Francesco Severi in an Alfa Romeo Tipo B, Archimede Rosa in a "Monza" and Renato Balestrero in an offset one and a half-seater Tipo B (it was the car that with some extra equipment and driven
by Carlo Pintacuda had won the 1935 Mille Miglia).
Clemente Biondetti practiced in Severi's car but he could not race for lack of racing license. He had sat out the 1935 season and his international license had not been renewed. The reason was probably political, Biondetti
being an outspoken anti-fascist.
Three private P3s were entered by Franco Cortese, Gianni Battaglia and Raymond Sommer while Costantino Magistri was to race a "Monza".
Five Maseratis were probably entered under the Scuderia Torino name and six other Maseratis by privateers. Of these three did not come to Tripoli. Philippe Etancelin raced the only V8RI that took part in the race.
Eugenia Siena, Pietro Ghersi and Hans Rüesch raced 6 cylinder cars and Guglielmo Carraroli, Luigi Soffietti, Piero Taruffi and Ferdinando Barbieri filled up the field with now outdated Maserati 8CMs.
Excluding Monaco this was the first real test for the new short wheelbase Mercedes, which proved to behave badly with bad road holding and steering and being sensitive to the wind.
Caracciola complained about what postwar drivers would call understeer. To cure the pushing the team installed a ZF locking differential on Caracciola's car. One of the 255mm blowers failed during practice and the team
decided to change to 240mm blowers on all their cars.
Because of the lottery the entries were restricted and no reserves were allowed. That did not hinder Neubauer from sending out Lang on the track during practice until spotted by the officials and black flagged.
Rosemeyer, who was in Africa for the first time, was fastest during practice to take pole position. In a letter to Elly Beinhorn, who was doing a series of lectures in Latvia, he describes the beauty of the place, how the
Ghibli, blowing sand from the desert, sometimes restricted visibility down to 200m and also that one had to use one's head during the race as the tyres would last only 9 laps if the driver was pushing.
Practice started at 3 p.m. on Friday in 35 degrees heat. Half an hour into the practice Nuvolari had a serious high speed crash, as he run wide and a stone at the border at the track burst the right rear tyre on the Alfa Romeo.
The car overturned but fortunately Nuvolari was thrown out with no visible wounds. Nuvolari complained about a hurting back and he was x-rayed. It revealed a cracked transverse process on two vertebras. Nuvolari was wrapped
in plaster and by the doctors he was forbidden to enter the race.
Race day came with its usual hot desert weather. There was a strong wind blowing but fortunately it was westerly and did not bring sand upon the track.
The crowd filled the main stand to capacity. Apart from locals, Italian ships, including the 32650 ton Augustus liner, former on the South American route but now used for cruises, had brought spectators to the race.
As usual the 26 lucky persons who had made it to the final in the lottery were present, a free trip to Tripoli being part of the win.
NSKK Korpsführer Adolf Hühnlein was unable to come to Tripoli so the Nazi's were represented by Philipp Bouhler, Hitler's Head of Chancellery, and Martin Bormann and Auto Union team manager Karl Feuereissen was asked
to make arrangements for them. In his book "Hitler's Motor Racing Battles" Eberhard Reuss speculates if that had an influence on what happened near the end of the race.
Not totally unexpected Nuvolari defied the doctors and turned up at the track in plaster to start the race in Brivio's car. Brivio took Tadini's car and Tadini the now repaired car that Nuvolari had crashed on Friday.
The Governor of Libya, Marshal Balbo, dropped the flag at 3.06 p.m. Of the drivers in the first row Stuck made an excellent start, Chiron a good one, Rosemeyer a so-and-so start while Varzi struggled and dropped to the bottom of
the field. Nuvolari came like a rocket from third row to take third position behind Stuck and Chiron.
Stuck made the first lap from a standing start in 3m43s to lead the race followed 300m behind by his team mate Rosemeyer. Behind him came Nuvolari in third position, followed by Caracciola, Fagioli, Brivio, Chiron, von Brauchitsch,
Tadini, Pintacuda, Varzi, Ghersi, Siena, Etancelin, Sommer, who stopped in the pit after the first lap, Cortese, Battlaglia, who also stopped, Soffietti, Barbieri, Magistri and Rosa. Balestrero also made a pit stop.
On the second lap Varzi climbed to eighth and Caracciola passed Nuvolari, who was struggling with his plaster and had decided to look after his tyres rather than to try pushing. On the next lap Nuvolari had to see Fagioli and
Brivio pass as well.
The track took a heavy toll on the Maserati drivers during the early part of the race. Taruffi, Carraroli, Siena, Ghersi and Soffietti all had to retire during the first four laps. Balestrero and Severi in the Scuderia Maremmana
Alfa Romeos also retired early.
On the third lap Varzi had moved up to fifth doing the lap in 3m37.4s and Rosemeyer was putting pressure on Stuck. On the fourth lap Rosemeyer took over the lead and Varzi had moved to third making it an Auto Union 1-2-3.
Brivio, having passed Caracciola, was up to third for a while until passed by Chiron.
|1.||Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||18m34.4s|
|2.||Stuck (Auto Union)||18m39s|
|3.||Varzi (Auto Union)||19m00s|
|5.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||19m06s|
|8.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||19m24s|
|10.||Tadini (Alfa Romeo)||20m07s|
|11.||Pintacuda (Alfa Romeo)||20m08s|
|13.||Cortese (Alfa Romeo)||21m41s|
|15.||Sommer (Alfa Romeo)||21m59s|
The field was already divided into several groups with half a minute gaps between the groups.
On lap 8 the scheduled pit stops began. The new 12 cylinder Alfa proved to be a bit of a tyre eater and Brivio, who had been pushing hard, was the first one to make the stop, the team changing all four tyres in 54 seconds.
After 9 laps Tadini in the second 12 cylinder Alfa pitted as well. Varzi was chasing the leading duo hard, having done lap 9 in 3m36.2s. The Auto Union team struggled and the stop cost Varzi 1m24s. Up at the front Stuck retook
the lead from Rosemeyer on lap 10.
|1.||Stuck (Auto Union)||37m01.6s|
|2.||Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||37m04s|
|3.||Varzi (Auto Union)||37m18s|
|7.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||38m24s|
|9.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||39m51s|
|10.||Pintacuda (Alfa Romeo)||39m57s|
|11.||Tadini (Alfa Romeo)||40m52s|
|12.||Cortese (Alfa Romeo)||42m39s|
|15.||Battaglia (Alfa Romeo)||44m33s|
The next one in was not unexpectedly Varzi, who had used up his tyres during the clash through the field, and he pulled in for tyres and fuel. Then it was Nuvolari's turn with the third 12 cylinder Alfa and on lap 12 Stuck
and Rosemeyer pitted at the same time for new rear tyres, the old ones having been reduced to canvas.
So after 12 laps the Mercedes drivers had temporarily taken command of the race with Chiron leading Fagioli and Caracciola followed by the three Auto Unions of Stuck, Rosemeyer and Varzi. On the 13th lap Varzi bettered
the lap record to 3m33.8s.
It was already clear that tyre wear might be decisive for the race results. Fagioli was the first Mercedes driver to stop dropping to sixth and Pintacuda made his stop on the same lap dropping to 11th.
On lap 15 Varzi lowered the lap record again to 3m33.2s.
|3.||Stuck (Auto Union)||56m49s|
|4.||Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||56m57s|
|5.||Varzi (Auto Union)||57m07s|
|7.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||57m59s|
|9.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||58m43s|
|10.||Tadini (Alfa Romeo)||1h00m18s|
|11.||Pintacuda (Alfa Romeo)||1h00m20s|
|12.||Cortese (Alfa Romeo)||1h03m32s|
Caracciola and Chiron made their pit stops after lap 15 and the Auto Union trio was back in command followed by Fagioli, Chiron, Caracciola, Nuvolari and Brivio.
Battaglia, Rüesch and Magistri were next ones to make pit stops.
After 16 laps von Brauchitsch was out of the race when his fuel tank failed to deliver fuel. The problem had appeared already during the Monza tests but it had not been satisfactorily resolved.
Two laps later when Rosemeyer exited a corner and put down the throttle nothing happened. Looking back he noticed that the whole tail of the car was on fire. Rosemeyer stopped, jumped fast out and started to throw sand on the
car. A similar thing had happened to Stuck a year earlier.
That meant that Varzi now was second and Fagioli third closely followed by Chiron.
On lap 18 Brivio was in for new tyres for the second time.
On the 20th lap Chiron passed his team mate Fagioli for third. Both Fagioli and Caracciola lost their front brakes during the race due to a relocated master cylinder that led to pipe failure.
After 20 laps Varzi had caught Stuck
|1.||Stuck (Auto Union)||1h15m21s|
|2.||Varzi (Auto Union)||1h15m21.4s|
|6.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||1h18m42s|
|7.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||1h19m09s|
|8.||Tadini (Alfa Romeo)||1h19m09.6s|
|9.||Pintacuda (Alfa Romeo)||1h19m31s|
|10.||Cortese (Alfa Romeo)||1h24m26s|
By half distance 14 cars were out of the race only 12 remaining including all four Scuderia Ferrari entries.
On the 21st lap Varzi took the lead from Stuck but the German retook it two laps later. Chiron's good race effort came to nothing as he had to make a several minute minute stop due to a jammed throttle. Stuck held his
lead until lap 25 when he made his second pit stop as did Caracciola and Nuvolari. Varzi was now leading again followed by Fagioli and Caracciola.
|1.||Varzi (Auto Union)||1h33m39s|
|2.||Stuck (Auto Union)||1h33m40s|
|5.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||1h37m19s|
|6.||Pintacuda (Alfa Romeo)||1h38m37s|
|7.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||1h39m16s|
|8.||Tadini (Alfa Romeo)||1h40m18s|
Caracciola made his second pit stop. Pintacuda and Fagioli pitted on lap 27 and one lap later Varzi came in for his stop, giving back the lead to Stuck.
|1.||Stuck (Auto Union)||1h53m15.4s|
|2.||Varzi (Auto Union)||1h53m16s|
|5.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||1h57m57s|
|6.||Tadini (Alfa Romeo)||1h59m15s|
|7.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||1h59m20s|
|8.||Pintacuda (Alfa Romeo)||1h59m33s|
After thirty laps some odd things started to happen. Obviously Stuck and Varzi were given green flags by team manager Dr. Feuereissen to slow down and they started cruising with times around 3m50s. On lap 33 then Varzi
suddenly had to make a fast pit stop to change the left front tyre, losing some 30 seconds.
With Stuck still cruising very slowly it took Varzi just a few laps to close the gap to him. Meanwhile Tadini made a new pit stop on lap 35.
Varzi did the 36th lap in 3m35s and passed Stuck to take a 15s lead at the end of the lap. Fagioli and Caracciola without front brakes were still third and fourth.
On the 37th lap Varzi seemed to slow down and Stuck was getting closer. Nuvolari and Cortese made their last stops. When the last lap started Stuck was right behind Varzi. But the Italian took no chances and by putting in a new
lap record of 3m27.4s he took the flag with a 4.4 s margin from Stuck. Fagioli and Caracciola brought their Mercedes cars home next before the four Ferrari cars, of which the 8 cylinder car with Pintacuda proved to be superior
to the new 12 cylinder, probably because of less tyre wear. Tadini beat Brivio with a few seconds to finish sixth. Nuvolari, who finished eighth and last of the Ferrari drivers, took a month off and went home to rest his back.
According to Automobil-Revue the nine top finishers had changed 51 tyres (8 fronts and 43 rears), i.e. using 88 tyres in total. Scuderia Ferrari had changed 32 tyres (Brivio 8+2, Nuvolari 7+1, Tadini 6+2, Pintacuda 6+0).
Fastest laps during the race:
Varzi 3m27.4s, Stuck 3m31.4s, Chiron 3m34.8s, Caracciola 3m35.0s, Rosemeyer 3m35.4s, Brivio 3m37.4s, Fagioli 3m39.4s, Nuvolari, 3m41.0s, Tadini 3m41.2s, Pintacuda 3m43.4s, von Brauchitsch 3m48.0s, Sommer 4m00.2s,
Etancelin 4m05.4s, Ghersi 4m08.0s, Rüesch 4m11.4s, Siena 4m18.6s, Magistri 4m23.6s, Battaglia 4m23.6s, Soffietti 4m32.8s, Barbieri 4m53s, Rosa 5m08s, Carraroli 5m37s.
According to Neubauer's book what the drivers did not know, when they lined up for the start, was that the Tripoli GP once again was rigged. This time however it was not about money but politics. From "very high above" orders
had come to the German teams that if possible the winner of this race on "Italian soil" should be an Italian! Neubauer claims that Stuck was taken by surprise when Varzi suddenly went past and that Stuck after the race was
told by his mechanic that the team had shown red flags for Varzi meaning "faster" while Stuck had been shown green flags for "slower". The whole thing would then have ended with great bitterness and fury for both drivers when
they found out the truth. Varzi was humiliated in public at the victory party when the Governor of Libya, Marshal Balbo, proposed a toast for the real winner of the race, i.e. for Stuck. Neubauer also claims that Ilse
(Paul Pietsch's ex-wife and Varzi's mistress) probably at that time introduced a devastated Varzi morphia as a pain killer. (Ilse was herself an addict after a kidney disease.)
So much for Neubauer. In his memoirs Stuck says that he and his wife got the places of honour at the post race banquet and he also repeats the story about the toast.
Because of the distance there was a lack of journalists going to Tripoli, so much of the information we have both in contemporary papers and in later books are probably recapitulations of what Italian journalists and especially
Il Littorale's Corrado Filippi wrote. Even if Filippi's reports usually are of a very high quality, he had of course no reason to write anything that would put Varzi's victory in doubt. Sadly the intermediate results from lap 35
were as far as I know not released to the press but still with the existing information and some number chewing some conclusions can be drawn. (Note 1)
Stuck's fastest lap was 3m31.4s. After Varzi's extra pit stop Stuck seems to have done laps in the order 3m50s - 3m55s. There is no doubt whatsoever that he was going very slowly by order from the team. Why Varzi later slowed down
during the last laps while leading by 15 seconds remains a total mystery. According to Eberhard Reuss there exists an unfinished Auto Union report saying that Varzi lost 2nd and 3rd gears early in the race
(Note 2) and that he decided not to change between 4th and 5th gear but let the car stay in 4th gear throughout the race (excellent), so technical problems might be the answer.
Or then both cars were given orders to slow down with four laps to
go and Varzi had obeyed while Stuck did not. Anyway Varzi's last lap (where he probably took the chance using 5th gear) seems to indicate he did not take any risks with Stuck, team orders or not.
The fact remains that Tripoli was to be Varzi's last Grand Prix victory and that his career took a deep step down soon afterwards.
1. For interested readers I recommend using a spreadsheet to test possible lap times for laps 31-40. Hint: Delete (subtract) the 3 minutes from all the times to make things easier. Varzi's last lap would then be written as 27.4 and
Varzi's 10 lap sum should be 489.4. Stuck's sum is 494.4 and lap times may not be lower than 31.4.
2. Could that possibly explain Varzi's bad start? The extreme torque of the 6 litre Auto Union engine would make it theoretically possible to run a race without changing gears (it had been tested both at Nürburgring and Monaco)
but of course it would be hard for the driver. If indeed Varzi used just 4th gear during the whole race then he did an exceptional effort and any doubts about him earning his victory would have felt very bitter.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
Il Littoriale, Roma
La Stampa, Torino
Motor Sport, London
The Autocar, London
Eläintarharata - Helsinki (FIN), 10 May 1936
50 laps x 2.000 km (1.243 mi) = 100.0 km (62.1 mi)
Six wheels beat four once again
by Leif Snellman
This was another clash between Norwegian driver Bjørnstad, Swedish driver Widengren and Finnish driver Ebb. Bjørnstad led from start to finish closely followed by Widengren
, who never found a way by. Ebb had to retire leaving third position to Alexi Patama in a ford special sports car.
Regardless of a financial loss in the 1935 race, Helsingin Moottorikerho (HMK) decided to hold the Eläintarha race traditionally on Mother's Day. As the year before they were joined
by the Finnish racing driver association (Suomen Kilpa-autolijat ry) in the organization. The race was held in two classes, class A for race cars and class B for sports cars.
The top three of A-class got 10,000 Fmk, 7,500 Fmk and 5,000 Fmk. In the B-class the corresponding sums were 5,000 Fmk, 3,000 Fmk and 2,000 Fmk.
As usual the field was a mix of GP cars and American Fords and Chryslers. Of the 12 entries German driver Berg sent a telegram that he would not make it, Finnish driver Puranen had engine troubles with his Delage
and was a non starter while Estonian Citron practiced with his 6 cylinder Alfa Romeo (possibly a 1750 GS) but became a non starter after a conflict with the organizers regarding the racing license. Obviously he was a
victim in the conflict between two Finnish motor clubs but the odd thing was that he took the trouble to transport his Alfa over the Gulf of Finland (no ro-ro ferries in those days!) when he already a week earlier had been
forbidden by his Estonian club to take part in the event.
So the A class entries consisted of the well known Nordic trio, Eugen Bjørnstad and Per-Wiktor Widengren in Alfa Romeo, the latter still using double rear wheels as
during the ice races, and Karl Ebb in his now ancient Mercedes. The streamed line nose on the car used during the Swedish Grand Prix had obviously not been a success as the radiator appearance of the SSK was back to "normal".
Fourth entry in the class was Emil Elo with the ex-Isberg Bugatti.
In the B class Helge Hallman, bus driver and former motorcycle racer, was to race the same, now rebuilt, Ford V-8 that Gunnar Andersson had crashed early during the 1935 race. He was to meet Asser Wallenius in his
familiar Ford, Arvo Sorri and novice Per-Olof Schauman in a Chryslers and Alexi Patama's Ford engined special. Patama, had crashed the car badly in Karlstad, Sweden, on his way home from the Norwegan Grand Prix where had won the
sports car class. The car was now rebuilt and painted red.
Qualifying took place 6-7 a.m. on Saturday morning as an approx. 500m acceleration test on the main straight. Each driver got two attempts. The results were:
Ebb 14.3s/13.2s, Bjørnstad 13.5s/-, Widengren 15.5s/14.0s, Elo 14.4/14.1s, Patama 15,1/14.8s, Sorri 16.0/15.1s,
Schauman 16.0/15.3s, Hallman 15.3s/-, Wallenius 15.8/15.6s, Citron 17.8/17.7s.
After the qualifying there was a half an hour practice session so the drivers could make themselves familiar with the track,
Race day came with perfect weather and the Eläintarha park was filled with 26,000 spectators.
The special train with its grandstand coaches started from downtown at three quarter past twelve and arrived to the park soon afterwards, to stay on the railway bank for the rest of the event.
The motorcycle races started a few minutes past 1 p.m. and after an incident filled race where three drivers ended up in hospital, there was an interval when the track was cleaned from oil spill and wreckage.
Then it was time for the cars. They were lined up on the main straight under the railway bank like this:
Bjørnstad took the start to lead the field after the first lap. On local paper felt that the double rear wheels had a crucial part in the good start, another paper suspected a jumped start.
The Norwegan was followed by Ebb, Widengren, Patama, Elo, Wallenius, Hallman (Ford) and Schauman (Chrysler). Bjørnstad with his double rear wheels was in a class of his own. After 5 laps he
already had opened up a gap of 14 seconds to a struggling Ebb.
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||5m37s|
|2. Ebb (Mercedes-Benz)||5m51s|
|3. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||5m51.1s|
|4. Patama (Ford)||6m13s|
|5 Elo (Bugatti)||6m19s|
|6. Wallenius (Ford)||6m27s|
|7. Schauman (Chrysler)||6m45s|
|8. Sorri (Chrysler)||6m51s|
|9. Hallman (Ford)||6m52.5s|
Ebb was attacked by Widengren and soon without any major effort the Swede passed for second position on lap 10. Once by the Widengren started to close the gap to Bjørnstad that by now had grown to 21 seconds.
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||11m20s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||11m40.8s|
|3. Ebb (Mercedes-Benz)||11m42.6s|
|4. Patama (Ford)||12m23s|
|5. Elo (Bugatti)||12m34s|
|6. Wallenius (Ford)||12m43s|
|7. Schauman (Chrysler)||13m21s|
|8. Sorri (Chrysler)||13m32s|
|9. Hallman (Ford)||13m33s|
Hallman was in the pit on lap 12 with a wheel problem. He returned to the track but on the next lap the left rear wheel came loose on the main straight. The wheel rolled up the railway bank and became standing on the track,
forcing a passing freight train to stop! Hallman slide into the pit on three wheels where a fourth one was soon added.
After 15 laps Widengren had closed the gap to the leader to 11 seconds.
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||17m15s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||17m26.2s|
|3. Ebb (Mercedes-Benz)||17m29.8s|
|4. Patama (Ford)||18m56s|
|5 Elo (Bugatti)||18m57s|
|6. Wallenius (Ford)||18m59s|
|7. Schauman (Chrysler)||19m52s|
|8. Sorri (Chrysler)||20m10s|
After having done three further laps Hallman also decided to call it a day after 16 laps.
Sadly home favorite Ebb had to retire after the 15th lap due to a broken valve in the SSK engine.
But everyone was now watching the fight between Bjørnstad's and Widengren's Alfas. Widengren had caught the leader but was unable to pass.
There was also a tight fight for third position between Patama, Elo and Wallenius.
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||22m56s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||22m57.8s|
|3. Patama (Ford)||25m12s|
|4. Elo (Bugatti)||25m15s|
|5. Wallenius (Ford)||25m16s|
|6. Schauman (Chrysler)||26m17s|
|7. Sorri (Chrysler)||26m47.5s|
Lap after lap the duel at the front continued. The narrow track made passing very hard, especially as the cars were of equal strength.
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||28m40s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||28m40.8s|
|3. Patama (Ford)||31m25s|
|4. Elo (Bugatti)||31m27s|
|5. Wallenius (Ford)||31m31s|
|6. Schauman (Chrysler)||32m41s|
|7. Sorri (Chrysler)||33m17s|
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||34m11s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||34m15.7s|
|3. Patama (Ford)||37m34s|
|4. Elo (Bugatti)||37m38s|
|5. Wallenius (Ford)||37m44s|
|6. Schauman (Chrysler)||39m02s|
|7. Sorri (Chrysler)||39m41s|
Bjørnstad had managed to open up a small gap. Wallenius had finally found a way past Elo and was now challenging Patama for the B -class victory.
Order after 35 laps:
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||39m44s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||39m50.3s|
|3. Patama (Ford)||43m42s|
|4. Wallenius (Ford)||43m54s|
|5. Elo (Bugatti)||44m22s|
|6. Schauman (Chrysler)||45m17s|
|7. Sorri (Chrysler)||46m04s|
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||45m17s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||45m20s|
|3. Patama (Ford)||49m53s|
|4. Wallenius (Ford)||50m05s|
|5. Elo (Bugatti)||50m43s|
|6. Schauman (Chrysler)||51m30s|
|7. Sorri (Chrysler)||52m25s|
Near the end of the race Widengren closed in on Bjørnstad again. In the sports car class Wallenius was trying to find a way past Patama as a newspaper said
to the left, to the right or to the middle. With five laps to go the order was:
|1. Bjørnstad (Alfa Romeo)||50m55s|
|2. Widengren (Alfa Romeo)||50m55.2s|
|3. Patama (Ford)||56m10s|
|4. Wallenius (Ford)||56m12s|
|5 Elo (Bugatti)||57m10s|
|6. Schauman (Chrysler)||57m57s|
|7. Sorri (Chrysler)||58m51s|
Five laps from the finish the red and the blue/yellow Alfa passed the line almost side by side. But then, to the surprise of all,
Bjørnstad was able to put in some extra speed and opened up the gap while Widengren rounding the city greenhouses touched a sandbag at the "death curve" and lost momentum.
That meant that Bjørnstad won the Finnish GP for the second time. Widengren was second in his last visit in Finland before retiring from racing and Patama finished third to win the B class.
|1.||4||Eugen Bjørnstad||E. Bjørnstad||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||50||56m24.6s|
|2.||3||Per-Wiktor Widengren||P-W Widengren||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||50||56m29.1s||+ 4.5s|
|3.||11||Alexi Patama||A. Patama||Ford||Special|| || ||50||1h02m18.0s||+ 5m53.4s|
|4.||9||Asser Wallenius||A. Wallenius||Ford||Special|| || ||50||1h02m18.4s||+ 5m53.8s|
|5.||1||Emil Elo||E. Elo||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||50||1h03m19.2s||+ 6m54.6s|
|6.||10||Per-Olof Schauman||P-O. Schauman||Chrysler|| || || ||50||1h04m05.3s||+ 7m40.7s|
|7.||12||Arvo Sorri||A. Sorri||Chrysler|| || || ||50||1h05m09.8s||+ 8m45.2s|
|DNF||2||Karl Ebb||K. Ebb||Mercedes-Benz||SSK||S-6||19||valve|
|DNF||13||Helge Hallman||H. Hallman||Ford||V-8||16|| |
Fastest lap: ?|
Winner's medium speed: 106.4 km/h (66.1 mph)
Weather: sunny and beautiful.
16 May 1936: Reggie Tongue (ERA 1.5 litre) wins the Cork Grand Prix handicap race at the Carrigrohane track, Ireland.
16 May 1936: D. Campbell/M. A. Morris-Goodall/C. M. Anthony (Aston Martin 1.5 litre) wins the L.C.C. Relay at Brooklands.
GRAND PRIX DE TUNISIE
Carthage (F), 17 May 1936
30 laps x 12.714 km (7.9 mi) = 381.42 km (237.0 mi)
Caracciola gives Mercedes-Benz its last 1936 victory
by Leif Snellman
The race is perhaps best known for Varzi's horrifying high speed crash. Amazingly Varzi walked away from the wreck unhurt but was seriously shaken as it was the first major crash in his career.
Rosemeyer's Auto Union caught fire and Stuck also retired as did Chiron in his Mercedes and Brivio in his Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo. That all left the field open for Caracciola in his Mercedes and he won by
two laps from Pintacuda with Wimille third. Amazingly this was to be the last triumph in 1936 for Mercedes-Benz!
The Tunis Grand Prix at Carthage was once again arranged by l'AC de Tunisie. For 1936 three chicanes had been added to the course changing the length from 12.6 km to 12.714 km while the race itself was shortened from 40 laps
to 30 laps. The race was run to the 750 kg formula and entry was this year restricted to only 12 cars.
Prizes offered were as follows: 40,000 francs for the winner, 25,000 fr. for 2nd, 15,000 fr. for 3rd, 10,000 fr. for 4th and 8,000 fr. for 5th. There was also a 2,000 francs award to the driver who had made the fastest
lap of the race.
After the Tripoli race some of the teams remained a week in Africa to take part in the Tunis Grand Prix.
Auto Union had their usual driver trio of Hans Stuck, Achille Varzi and Bernd Rosemeyer. Unlike Tripoli the Auto Union cars were raced with open front suspension to save weight. After the Tripoli fire Rosemeyer's car was
rebuilt with the transmission and rear suspension from the practice car and with a new engine.
Mercedes-Benz sent only two cars to Tunis and they were driven by Rudolf Caracciola and Louis Chiron with Hermann Lang being reserve driver.
Of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers Antonio Brivio raced the only available 12-cylinder car and Carlo Pintacuda, replacing Nuvolari who was resting his back after his Tripoli crash, raced the same 8-cylinder car as in Tripoli.
Giuseppe Farina was still not fit after his bad crash during testing at Monza and there were rumours that René Dreyfus would replace him but in the end Scuderia Ferrari raced only two cars.
Raymond Sommer with his Alfa Romeo Tipo B (#50004) and Philippe Etancelin with the Maserati V8RI (#4503) came straight from Tripoli as well. Marcel Lehoux and the ERA did not come to Tunis and a late replacement for him was
Jean-Pierre Wimille with the works Bugatti T59. José de Villapadierna, another driver who had not raced at Tripoli, arrived with his yellow Alfa Romeo Tipo B (#50007).
As Scuderia Ferrari raced two cars the total number of cars was only 11.
Some of the ships transporting the cars from Tripoli to Tunis were late so only Caracciola, Chiron and Villapadierna were seen on the track on Thursday. A heavy wind was also blowing that had been called "Gibli" in Tripoli
but in Tunis it was known as the "Ch'hilli". The sea breeze blew from the north during day time because the sea warmed up more slowly than the desert. The hot temperatures there caused the warmer air to rise, which created a
pressure difference and thus the wind.
On Friday all drivers took part in the practice except Wimille, who had had a late invitation. Stuck was fastest with a time of 4m40s. Then followed Chiron 4m41.2s, Rosemeyer 4m44.8s, Caracciola 4m45.2s, Brivio 5 minutes flat,
Pintacuda 5m07.5s, Varzi 5m09.0s, Etancelin 5m15.6s and Villapadierna 5m47.8s. According to Automobil Revue the wind strength had declined substantially compared to Thursday. Bernd Rosemeyer was in a letter to Elly Beinhorn
of another opinion:
"The circuit is very fast and due to the wind, or one could rather call it hurricane, very hazardous. Behind every house you fly two meters to the side. At 280 km/h that's not fun..."
On Saturday Rosemeyer bettered Stuck's Friday time by two seconds, setting the pole position time to 4m38s. Varzi was marginally slower, 4m38.4s followed by Caracciola 4m39.0s. Jean-Pierre Wimille was still not present.
The beautiful spring day attracted a huge audience along the circuit of Carthage. Under the tunes of La Marseillaise the eleven cars were pushed to their places on the grid. Rosemeyer's mechanic Ludwig Sebastian fixed a minor
leak near the fuel tank refill cap with a bit of kneaded bread.
At 1.45 p.m. Resident-General Armand Guillon lowered the flag, entrusted to him by Directeur de la course Paul Ghez, and the race was on its way. Varzi made the best start to take the lead followed by Caracciola and Stuck but at
the end of the first lap Rosemeyer was in the lead having done the lap in 4m42s. Caracciola was in second position, 6 seconds behind. They were followed by Varzi, Stuck, Chiron, Brivio, Wimille, Pintacuda, Sommer, Etancelin and
Chiron soon passed Stuck for fourth position. Up front Rosemeyer was driving flat out doing the second lap with a time of 4m34.0s, the fastest of the race. Villapadierna was an early retirement due to a broken rear axle.
After four laps Rosemeyer's lead over Caracciola was already 25 seconds. On the next lap Rosemeyer increased his lead by another 5 seconds to make five laps in 23m03.4s (165.4 km/h). After five laps Stuck retired his Auto Union
to the pits because of a broken oil pump. Brivio thus moved up to fifth position behind Varzi and Chiron.
On the sixth lap Chiron started an attack and passed both Varzi and Caracciola to reach second position. He did the seventh lap with a time of 4m34.8s but was still 27 seconds behind Rosemeyer. After eight laps Rosemeyer led
Chiron by 26 seconds and Caracciola and Varzi by 31 seconds.
On the ninth lap Brivio had to abandon his Alfa Romeo when the carburettor started a fire. Brivio escaped from the car with minor burns. Etancelin retired with a split fuel tank just as in Monaco and Tripoli. According to L'Auto
it was because the chassis of the V8RI was bent and put pressure on the tank at the attachment points.
Rosemeyer made a pit stop on the tenth lap. The right rear tyre had lost its rubber and the white cord was visible. The tyre change was done in 37 seconds. Chiron was now leading followed by Caracciola 24 seconds behind and Varzi
30 seconds behind.
Varzi tried to challenge Caracciola. On the long straight where the cars were travelling at high speed the wind suddenly grabbed the Auto Union and pushed it out of the track. In one of the most horrifying accidents ever seen
in Grand Prix racing Varzi's Auto Union spun in some 250 km/h, turned over several times and disintegrated, the rests of the wreck ending up in a cactus wood. Amazingly Varzi, who had been thrown out of the car, walked away from
the site almost unhurt and arrived to the pits 20 minutes later with a cigarette in his mouth. He was however seriously shaken as it was his first crash in a career that had started in the mid 1920s. That probably meant that Varzi
used morphine again that night.
After 11 laps Chiron made a 45 seconds pit stop giving over the lead to Caracciola with Rosemeyer second 30 seconds behind closely followed by Chiron. Rosemeyer made another pit stop with a damaged tyre. To be on the safe side
the Auto Union crew changed both rear tyres. Halfway through the race the situation looked like this:
|1. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)||1h09m50s||(163.8 km/h)|
|2. Chiron (Mercedes-Benz)||1h11m28s|
|3. Rosemeyer (Auto-Union)||1h12m02s|
|4. Pintacuda (Alfa Romeo)||1h15m14s|
|5. Wimille (Bugatti)||1h18m20s|
|6. Sommer (Alfa Romeo)||1h28m10s|
Caracciola also made a pit stop without losing his lead.
At the 19th lap Chiron stopped his Mercedes-Benz in the pit because of a broken fuel pump. The mechanics spent more than five minutes trying to repair it before Chiron gave up.
Only five competitors remained in the race. Caracciola was leading by about a minute over Rosemeyer while Pintacuda, Wimille and Sommer were far behind.
On the 23rd lap Rosemeyer came driving slowly towards the chicane before the pits with flames coming out of the car. It was another carburettor fire. Rosemeyer jumped out and despite that a fire extinguisher was soon used on the
burning engine the car got badly damaged.
Caracciola was now two laps ahead of Pintacuda and Wimille and five laps ahead of Sommer so there was not much excitement left in the race. Caracciola made 25 laps in 1h57m19.6s (162.5 km/h).
From having done medium lap times of 4m39s during the first half of the race Caracciola slowed down to 5m05s lap times for the five last laps of the race. So Caracciola, as the sole survivor of the five German entries, took an
overwhelming victory. Surprisingly it was the last victory for Mercedes-Benz that year.
Pintacuda took the Alfa Romeo home in second position surely to somewhat mixed feelings for the Italians as he had lost more than two laps to the German car. Wimille had done a good job to finish third despite a late arrival
with only a chance to make a few practice laps. Sommer finished last but that was still worth 10,000 francs for him.
It was pointed out by the superstitious that car #10 had won both at Tripoli and at Tunis.
|1.||10||Rudolf Caracciola||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W25K||4.7||S-8||30||2h22m44.6s|
|2.||16||Carlo Pintacuda||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||8C-35||3.8||S-8||28||2h23m31.2s|
|3.||24||Jean-Pierre Wimille||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59||3.3||S-8||28||2h25m49.2s|
|4.||8||Raymond Sommer||R. Sommer||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||3.2||S-8||25||2h23m02.8s|
|DNF||6||Bernd Rosemeyer||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||23||fire|
|DNF||12||Louis Chiron||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W25K||4.7||S-8||18||fuel pump|
|DNF||2||Achille Varzi||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||9||crash|
|DNF||20||Philippe Etancelin||P. Etancelin||Maserati||V8RI||4.8||V-8||8||split fuel tank|
|DNF||14||Antonio Brivio||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||12C-36||4.1||V-12||8||fire|
|DNF||4||Hans Stuck||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||5||oil pump|
|DNF||22||José de Villapadierna||Scuderia Villapadierna||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||3.2||S-8||2||rear axle|
Fastest lap: Bernd Rosemeyer (Auto Union) in 4m34.0s = 167.0 km/h (103.8 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 160.3 km/h (99.6 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 164.6 km/h (102.3 mph)
Rosemeyer 4m34.0s, Chiron 4m34.2s, Caracciola 4'm36s, Varzi 4 m38s, Stuck 4m39s, Wimille 4m45s, Pintacuda 4m46s, Brivio 4m51s, Sommer 5m01s, Etancelin 5m14s and Villapadierna 5m30s.
L'Auto also listed times for a sector that included the chicane before the stands:
Rosemeyer 18.0s, Varzi 18.2s, Caracciola, Chiron and Stuck 18.6s, Wimille 19.6s, Sommer 19.8s, Brivio 19.8s, Pintacuda 20.0s and Etancelin 20.4s.
1. While some sources gives another grid order there exists photographic evidence that this is the correct grid.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Il Littoriale, Roma
La Stampa, Torino
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
L'Écho de Paris, Paris
L'Express du Midi
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
Motor Sport, London
24 May 1936: "Paris" (Delahaye 135S) wins the Les Trois Heures de Marseille
on the Miramas track in France:
|1. "Michel Paris"||Delahaye 135CS||375.440 km|
|2. Laury Schell||Delahaye 135CS||374.400 km|
|3. Robert Brunet||Delahaye 135CS||372.700 km|
|4. Albert Divo||Delahaye 135CS||367.724 km|
|5. René Le Bègue||Delahaye 135CS||367.360 km|
|6. Phillip Maillard-Bruné||Delahaye 135CS||366.318 km|