VII° COPPA CIANO JUNIOR
(Voiturette 1500cc + 1100cc)
Livorno (I), 2 August 1936
15 laps x 7.0 km (4.35 mi)= 105 km (65.2 mi) (Note 1)
Trossi wins as Seaman struggles
by Leif Snellman
The 1936 Coppa Ciano voiturette race was run to 1500cc formula. Seaman in his Delage led the first laps but then fell back due to fuel starvation and Trossi in his works Maserati
dominated the rest of the event with Embiricos (ERA) second and Luigi Villoresi (Maserati) third.
For the first time, the Coppa Ciano was held on the new Livorno circuit (see the GP report for more details). After having restricted the voiturette race to 1100cc
during the the earlier years the formula was now changed to 1500cc.
Richard Seaman's Delage had finally been repaired after the Picardie crash where the steering box had split. Giulio Ramponi had replaced the engine with a rebuilt one that gave 10 hp more than the old one.
Seaman was held up at customs and could only take part in the final practice session. Final adjustments could not be made.
There were two ERAs taking part, Nicolas Embiricos (R2A, grey) and Reggie Tongue (R11B, green with black and silver stripe).
Their main opponents were the three Maserati 6CM with independent front suspension: Trossi's works car (#1531), Hungarian Lázló Hartmann's car (#1532) and the one belonging to Australian born British playboy Frank McEvoy (#1535).
The rest of the field consisted of five 4 cylinder Maseratis, Platé's old Talbot and two Fiat-Balillas.
The weather was uncertain. It had rained all night and the rain continued to fall during the morning.
The start of the voiturette race was given at 3 p.m. by Mrs. Visconti, daughter of the Podestŕ of Livorno (Podestŕ was an official appointed by the fascist regime replacing the major).
|Rest of grid unknown.|
Seaman took the lead followed by Villoresi, Trossi, Bianco and Rovere. Embiricos had made a bad start from his position and had dropped to 8th. But soon the strongest cars were able to advance through the field and
soon the order was Seaman, Trossi, Villoresi, Embiricos, Hartmann and Rovere.
Seaman held the lead for the first laps but then the Delage started to suffer from fuel starvation due to a faulty air pressure pump. On the fourth lap Trossi took over the lead and held it to the end. A struggling
Seaman was soon down to fourth position. Embiricos passed Luigi Villoresi but was unable to do anything against Trossi even though the ERA theoretically was faster than the Maserati. Seaman was passed by Hartmann
and Rovere as well and ended up in 6th position.
Information differs about Embiricos' finish time. Automobile Revue and Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung (Berlin) say the time was 58m45.8s. La Stampa and L'Auto on the other hand say 59m03.8s and Paul Sheldon's black book
suggests 59m05.8s correcting two unnamed Italian sources that had claimed 58m05.8s. Published errors are often contagious to several papers. Could winner Trossi's 58m05.4s in this case somewhere have been copied in
part to Embiricos' result?
X° COPPA CIANO
Livorno (I), 2 August 1936
30 laps x 7.0 km (4.35 mi) = 210 km (130.5 mi) (Note 1)
Boy, did those Italians cheer?
by Leif Snellman
Three Auto Unions were challenged by four Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos at the Coppa Ciano, held on a new circuit. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) had to retire immediately but he took over Pintacuda's car and started a wild chase
on the field led by Varzi (Auto Union). Stuck (Auto Union) was also an early retirement and he took over Rosemeyer's car. The Auto Unions suffered from brake problems and Brivio (Alfa Romeo) and Nuvolari were able to
catch Varzi and pass him. Varzi eventually had to retire and the Scuderia Ferrari drivers Nuvolari, Brivio and Dreyfus went on to an unsuspected triple victory.
For the first time the Coppa Ciano was held on the new Livorno circuit, also known as the Circuito del Miramare. For safety reasons the whole Montenero mountain section of the course had been left out shortening the
circuit from 20 km to some 7 km. On this course variant, rather than circling the rotunda the cars went through a hairpin and returned back on the west side before moving left and into the Ardenza district. Instead of
climbing along Via di Montenero the route took the cars along the railroad before passing over it on the way through Antignano along the main street. South of Antignano after a sharp turn it joined the old race track
back towards Livorno.
Daimler-Benz had initially entered two cars for Luigi Fagioli and Manfred von Brauschitsch but after the disastrous results at the German Grand Prix the team decided to miss Coppa Ciano and instead make preparations
for extensive tests at Nürburgring, in an attempt to sort out the problems with their cars. Auto Union entered cars for their usual trio of Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck and Achille Varzi. The team was confident after
their double victory at the German Grand Prix a week earlier so the cars arrived to Livorno straight from Nürburgring after only routine maintenance.
Scuderia Ferrari entered four cars for the race, two V-12s for Tazio Nuvolari and Antonio Brivio and two 8-cylinder cars for René Dreyfus and Carlo Pintacuda, the latter now having returned from South America. It is
possible the areas round the radiators were colour coded and in that case Pintacuda's would probably have been white but this is pure speculation.
Clemente Biondetti was to race Ghiocomo di Rahm's Tipo B Alfa Romeo (#50010) under the Scuderia Maremmana banner and Pietro Ghersi a 6-cylinder Maserati for Scuderia Torino. The start list also included amateur driver
Giosuč Calamai from nearby Florence in an old Alfa Romeo 6C-1750.
Despite the uncertain weather, it had rained all night and the rain continued to fall at intervals during the morning, a record crowd turned up for the 16th Coppa Ciano.
Enzo Ferrari has said that a racing driver gets a second slower when he gets married. At Coppa Ciano Rosemeyer was more than a second slower. Having been married for less than three weeks his wife was flying from
Berlin to Istanbul with her Messerschmitt Bf108 "Taifun" preparing herself for a record flight that she had planned for months and Rosemeyer was visibly stressed and worried. Auto Union team manager told Rosemeyer
not to do anything foolish but rather retire if he did not feel well.
Once the voiturette race had finished the cars were lined up for the main event with Nuvolari's Alfa in the middle of the first row with the Auto Unions of Rosemeyer and Varzi on each side.
At the start Rosemeyer led the field into the first hairpin but soon Varzi took over the lead followed by Rosemeyer, Brivio, Stuck, Dreyfus, Pintacuda and Biondetti. To the terrible disappointment for the spectators
Nuvolari was out with a broken differential on his 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo only seconds after the start. Nuvolari run back to the pits and demanded a new car. The team was naturally hesitant to bring in Brivio but when
Nuvolari made it clear he wanted an 8-cylinder car instead of the V-12 Pintacuda was called in after two laps and Nuvolari took over, returning to the race some 40s behind the leader Varzi, who was followed by Stuck
and Rosemeyer with Brivio already 10s behind.
On the third lap Stuck, going through the narrow and twisty Antignao town section of Livorno, hit a curb stone and damaged his car so much he had to retire. After four laps the race order was Varzi, Brivio, Dreyfus,
Nuvolari, Biondetti and Rosemeyer. Rosemeyer had a much uninspired race and retired after 6 laps. Rosemeyer admitted that he was so nervous that he could not race so Stuck took over the car. Varzi was doing 3m27s
laps, Brivio 3m29s and Nuvolari 3m30s.
After seven laps Varzi had opened up a 17 seconds gap to Brivio with Dreyfus third. But now the Italian spectators were cheering and jumping for joy as Nuvolari was driving one of his greatest races. The narrow
twisty sections were fitting the Mantuan and the 8-cylinder Alfa perfectly. On the 12th lap Ghersi retired his Maserati with engine problems while Biondetti obstinately defended his fifth position against Stuck.
As Nuvolari on the same lap caught Dreyfus, the French driver turned over to the right waving by his team mate. On the 14th lap Varzi was leading Brivio by 23 seconds but the Auto Union driver was in trouble with
the brakes. At half distance he situation was:
|1.||Varzi (Auto Union)||52m33s|
|2.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||52m47s|
|3.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||52m58s|
|4.||Dreyfus (Alfa Romeo)||53m17s|
After 16 laps the gap from Varzi to Brivio was down to 12s and to Nuvolari 20s but by now Varzi's rear left wheel brake was locking up badly. The spectators were standing and cheering. On the 19th lap Varzi, Brivio
and Nuvolari appeared together. On the next lap Nuvolari passed both opponents to take the lead while Varzi came into the pit with brake failure. After a 1m10s stop Varzi returned to the race only to retire after
one or two more laps.
Brivio in the stronger V-12 car took the lead from Nuvolari on lap 21 opening up a 200m gap but on the next lap Nuvolari was back in the lead after having made 3m32.2s, the fastest lap of the race. Brivio got a sign
from the pit that the cars should remain in those positions. Nuvolari despite not having any more opposition kept on going very fast.
Scuderia Ferrari dominated the last third of the race. The "Flying Mantuan" led the Ferrari team home in 1-2-3 positions and took one of his greatest and most popular victories, once again humiliating the opposition.
Stuck finished fourth, 3 minutes behind the winner and Calamai finished fifth and last.
During the summer of 1936 Nuvolari probably raced better than ever in his career, beating the German teams four times within two months (Penya Rhin, Milan, Budapest and Coppa Ciano).
|1.||64||C. Pintacuda / T. Nuvolari||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||8C-35||3.8||S-8||30||1h44m40.0s|
|2.||50||Antonio Brivio||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||12C-36||4.1||V-12||30||1h44m57.8s||+ 17.8s|
|3.||60||René Dreyfus||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||8C-35||3.8||S-8||30||1h30m10.6s||+ 1m30.4s|
|4.||54||B. Rosemeyer /H. Stuck||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||30||1h47m44.2s||+ 3m04.2s|
|5.||52||Giosuč Calamai||G. Calamai||Alfa Romeo||6C-1750||1.8||S-6||27|
|DNF||48||Achille Varzi||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||22||brakes|
|DNF||46||Clemente Biondetti||Scuderia Maremmana||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||3.2||S-8||14||mechanical/engine?|
|DNF||44||Pietro Ghersi||Scuderia Torino||Maserati||6C-34||3.7||S-6||12||engine|
|DNF||66||Hans Stuck||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||4||mechanical|
|DNF||56||Tazio Nuvolari||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||12C-36||4.1||V-12||0||differential|
Fastest lap: Tazio Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) on lap 22 in 3m23.2s = 124.0 km/h (77.1 mph)|
Winner's medium speed 120.4 km/h (74.8 mph)
After this race Rosemeyer sent his famous telegram to his wife in Damascus:
"Nach der sechsten Runde aufgegeben. Komm bald. Du darfst mich nicht wieder allein lassen." (Gave up after six laps.
Come [home] soon. You must never leave me alone again.)
While Rosemeyer returned to Berlin with Lufthansa his mechanics did not have such comfort on their way to Auto Union factory in Zwickau via the Brenner Pass and Munich. Ludwig Sebastian:
"We took the ordinary train from Rome but were unable to find any seats and had to stand in the corridor."
Elly Beinhorn-Rosemeyer dedicated a whole 14 page chapter in her book Mein Mann der Rennfahrer on her flight clearly showing how important it was for her. Her idea was to fly over three continents starting from
Damascus and ending up back in Berlin in a single day. On 2-3 August she therefore flew from Berlin via Budapest and Istanbul to Damascus to get herself in the correct position. The 2 August flight had indeed
been an adventurous one as she had been forced to do instrument flying without radio in rain clouds over the Czech mountains. On Thursday 6 August she finally made the three continents flight starting at
Damascus in darkness and continuing to Cairo, Athens and Budapest to reach Berlin in the evening.
The headline "Boy, did those Italians cheer?" is a quote from Motor Sport September 1936.
1. The 1936 race course was very similar to the 1937 one that had a length of 7.218 km (4.485 mi) but it seems there exact length of the 1936 course is unknown. Results speeds were given using a course length of 7 km, giving a
race length of 105 km for the voiturette race and 210 km for the Grand Prix, but 7.2 km should probably be closer to the correct value.
2. Grid from photographic evidence (David Venables - First Among Champions, page 118)
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
La Stampa, Torino
Motor Sport, London
3 August 1936: The B.A.R.C. August Meeting was held at Brooklands.|
Handicap races were won by A. T. G. Gardner (M. G. 1.1 L) - two races, R. H. Eccles (Rapier 1.1 L),
Billy Cotton (M. G. 1.1 L),
R. King-Clark (M.G. 0.7 L), D. N. Letts (M. G. 1.3 L), A. C. Kelway (Bugatti 1.5L )
H. T. H. Clayton (Amilcar 1.1 L) and
J. P. Wakefield (Alta 1.5 L).
9 August 1936: Jean-Pierre Wimille (Bugatti T59/57) wins the controversial Grand Prix du Comminges 40 lap quasi-sports car race at St. Gaudens.|
|1.||Jean-Pierre Wimille||Bugatti T59||2h53m06s|
|4.||René Le Bčgue||Delahaye 135CS||- 2 laps|
|5.||Marcel Mongin||Delahaye 135CS||- 2 laps|
|6.||Robert Brunet||Delahaye 135CS||- 3 laps|
12-15 August 1936: The new Mercedes-Benz "Rennabteilung" makes extensive Mercedes tests at Nürburgring with
Rudolf Caracciola & Manfred von Brauchitsch as drivers.
VIII° COPPA ACERBO JUNIOR
(Voiturette 1500cc + 1100cc)
Pescara (I), 15 August 1936 (Saturday)
6 laps x 25.8 km (16.0 mi) = 154.8 km (96.2 mi)
Seaman beats the Maseratis
by Leif Snellman
Seaman (Delage) dominated both practice and race. Bira with his ERA held on to second position until the end of the fourth lap when he had to retire due to an engine problem that
put his car on fire. Trossi whose works Maserati was slower on the long straights struggled to follow the duo but finished second in the end due to Bira's retirement. The rest of
the field was outclassed.
The Coppa Acerbo Junior for 1500cc voiturettes was traditionally held on Ferragosto, August 15 (a public holiday in Italy introduced by the emperor Augustus 18 BC), that in 1936
fell on a Saturday. The cars had to complete 6 laps on the 25.8 km long triangular Pescara circuit for a total of 154.8 km.
This year the long straights were interrupted by two chicanes, mainly to assist the Alfa Romeos against the German cars in the main race but they probably also helped the Maseratis a bit
against the Delage and the ERAs in the voiturette race. (For more details about the circuit, see the Grand Prix race below.)
Last year's winner Richard Seaman entered his ten years old 8-cylinder Delage. Guilio Ramponi had worked hard to cure the problems the car had suffered during the earlier races.
The ERA works team was missing but the factory was represented by Prince Bira in "Romulus" (R2B) and Reggie Tongue with his green painted car (R11B).
The rest of the field consisted of Maseratis except for a Fiat Balilla driven by Umberto Mazzaferro, car dealer from nearby Porto San Giorgio. The works Maseratis were raced by Carlo
Felice Trossi and Gino Rovere, of whom Trossi was driving the 6-cylinder car with independent front suspension. Australian playboy Frederick McEvoy entered a 6-cylinder Maserati
as well. Swiss driver Hans Rüesch raced his modified and rebodied 4CS with a 6-cylinder engine. 4-cylinder Maseratis were entered by Luigi Villoresi, Moris Bergamini and Agostino Prosperi.
On Thursday practice started in hot weather after the morning session for motorcycles. The voiturettes and the Grand Prix cars practiced together from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Seaman was fastest with a time of 12m57.6s followed by Bira, who did the lap in 13m23.4s. Prosperi was fastest of the Maseratis as Trossi had problems.
The hot weather continued on Friday but a slight breeze bettered the conditions. (In 1934 some had blamed the Scirocco wind for Guy Moll's fatal crash but this year there were no indications
that the wind would have affected the driving.) The day started with motorcycle races immediately followed by the car practice session. Seaman made an incredible lap setting a time
of 12m19.8s. Second fastest was Trossi, whose car was now working properly. He lost 27 seconds to the Delage driver, setting a time of 12m47s. Bira was third with a time of 12m49.8s.
However, right after setting his time Bira's ERA lost the oil pressure and he immediately backed off and cruised back to the pit. It was feared that the engine might have received
serious damage but there was no time to do anything about it before the race. According to Prince Chula Bergamini crashed his Maserati during practice.
Saturday turned out to be very hot but as the voiturette race started as early as eight o'clock the conditions might have been a bit more bearable than during the Grand Prix race that
followed. Even at this early time there were a lot of spectators present all along the circuit including Prince Adalberto of Savoy, Duke of Bergamo.
Tongue was a non starter due to broken supercharger drive so only ten cars came to the start.
As luogotenente generale (lieutenant general) Russo of the Fascist paramilitary groups dropped the flag Trossi made the best start to take the lead but he was soon passed by Seaman and Bira.
Coming into the twisty sections of the circuit starting at Villa Montani Trossi was temporarily able to retake the lead but before Speltore Seaman went past again. Once coming out on the long
straights Bira passed Trossi as well.
Seaman made the first lap in 12m27s (124.3 km/h) with Bira seven seconds and Trossi fifteen seconds behind him. Fourth and fifth positioned Rüesch and McEvoy had already lost almost a minute
to the leading trio and they were followed by Bergamini and Rovere another minute behind.
Trossi tried his best to keep up with the leader. On the twisty mountain sections he gained ground only to lose it again on the straights. On the timed kilometer between km 15.5 and km 16.5
Bira was fastest making the section in 17.6 seconds (204.5 km/h) while Seaman did it in 18 seconds (200.0 km/h) and Trossi in 19.6 seconds (183.7 km/h). At the end of the second lap Seaman
had increased his lead over Bira to 12 seconds and was 19 seconds ahead of Trossi. Prosperi and Villoresi had been early retirements and after the first lap Mazzaferro as well called it a
day and retired his Fiat.
On the third lap Trossi closed in on Bira again on the Abruzzi Mountains sections but at the end of the lap Seaman led Bira by 16 seconds while Trossi had dropped back 15 seconds behind the
Seaman had improved his own lap time to 12m15.8s (126.2 km/h) and had also bettered his time on the timed kilometer.
On the fourth lap Trossi closed in once more. At Cappelle before the first long straight the gap to Bira was down to just two seconds, but at the end of the lap Seaman led Bira by 20 seconds
and Trossi was once more 15 seconds behind the ERA.
However, everything was not well with Bira's car and Bira pulled into the pit. When his mechanic tried to restart the car it caught fire. The fire was quickly extinguished but Bira was forced
to retire. Running without oil during Friday practice had cracked the cylinder head.
Seaman now had a comfortable lead and increased it further on the fifth lap and did the timed kilometer in 17.2 seconds (209.3 km/h). For Trossi, the hopes of a win were over for good.
On the last lap Seaman lifted off a bit but at the end of the race he took the flag 39.6 seconds in front of Trossi, the latter receiving great applauds for his effort from the spectators.
Rüesch finished a distant third with McEvoy fourth having lost half a lap to the winner. Bergamini and Rovere, far distanced, were the only other finishers.
|1.||8||Richard Seaman||R. Seaman||Delage||15S8||1.5||S-8||6||1h14m25.2s|| |
|2.||2||Carlo Felice Trossi||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||6||1h15m04.8s||+ 39.6s|
|3.||28||Hans Rüesch||H. Rüesch||Maserati||4CS||1.5||S-6||6||1h19m38.6s||+ 5m13.0s|
|4.||18||Frederick McEvoy||F. McEvoy||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||6||1h20m45.0s||+ 6m19.8s|
|5.||16||Moris Bergamini||M. Bergamini||Maserati||4CM||1.1||S-4||6||1h24m18.6s||+ 9m53.4s|
|6.||4||Gino Rovere||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||4CM||1.1?||S-4||6||1h25.54.6s||+ 11m29.4s|
|DNF||22||"B Bira"||"B Bira"||ERA||B||1.5||S-6||4||fire|| |
|DNF||26||Umberto Mazzaferro||U. Mazzaferro||Fiat||Balilla||1.1||S-4||1|| || |
|DNF||24||Agostino Prosperi||Scuderia Imperio||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||0||mechanical|| |
|DNF||14||Luigi Villoresi||L. Villoresi||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||0||engine|| |
Fastest lap: Richard Seaman (Delage) on lap 3 in 12m15.8s = 126.2 km/h (78.4 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 124.8 km/h (77.6 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 125.5 km/h (78.0 mph)
Weather: very hot.
There is conflicting information about the types and engine sizes of the Maseratis.
In "Road Racing 1936" Prince Chula writes "Bergamini had crashed his new six-cylinder Maserati". That is not supported by any other source. Paul Sheldon lists Bergamini's chassis number as #1127.
That correponds to a 1.1 litre 4CM bought by Bergamini on 9 Juli 1935. However Sheldon lists it as a 1.5 litre car.
Sheldon also lists the chassis number on Rovere's car as #1120 and the engine as 1.1 litre. That was an ex-Furmanik car bought by Rovene in 1935. In 1936 it was rebuilt to a 1.5 litre car but
I don't know exactly when.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
La Stampa, Torino
Motor Sport, London
Prince Chula "Road Racing 1936"
XII° COPPA ACERBO
Pescara (I), 15 August 1936 (Saturday)
16 laps x 25.80 km (16.0 mi) = 412.8 km (256.5 mi)
Rosemeyer wins the Coppa Acerbo with an Auto Union hat trick.
by Hans Etzrodt
In the absence of Mercedes-Benz, the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara was a two way battle between Auto Union and Alfa Romeo. It was one of the difficult Italian races and turned out to be one of the most impressive
victories for Auto Union. The three German cars at the start finished in the order Rosemeyer, von Delius and Varzi. The three Alfa Romeos of Nuvolari, Farina and Dreyfus retired with damaged engines, while
Brivio was the only one exempt and ended with his Alfa in fourth place. The independent Rüesch (Alfa Romeo) finished last, while the Maseratis of Ghersi, Biondetti and Seaman retired as did Dobson's old
Alfa Romeo. Hans Stuck left after the first practice session when he was injured in such a way in a crash with the Auto Union that he was unable to start in the race.
The Coppa Acerbo was first held in 1924 when Minister Giacomo Acerbo named the race in honor of his brother Capitano Tito Acerbo, a decorated war hero, who was killed during the last year of WW I. Now in its
12th running it had become one of the more important events of the international calendar. Practically the same 25.8 km Pescara circuit was in use for 1936; however road surface improvements had made it a
faster course over the years. The cars had to complete 16 laps, a total of 412.8 km.
It was triangular in shape consisting of regular roads with all the normal road hazards. The Start and Finish line was outside the Adriatic seaside resort of Pescara, where the road went straight for about one
kilometer along the shore. Before Pescara the circuit turned right heading inland for about 11 km along a winding road up into the Abruzzi Mountains, through forests and the hill villages of Villa Raspa,
Montani, Spoltore, Pornace and Villa S. Maria, rising to 190 meters above sea level. Then the circuit descended to Capelle sul Tavo where there was a slow righthand hairpin exiting under a bridge. From here,
the road led into the approximately 11 km long Monte Silvano downhill straight to the coast at blistering speed. This was the fastest stretch of the circuit and included a one kilometer timed section, which
was on a slightly downhill incline. The Monte Silvano straight was followed by a fast right turn at Monte Silvano railroad station, which led into the Lungo Mare straight along the coast back to the start.
To slow the cars on that sea-level straight, since 1934 a large artificial chicane had been introduced just before the Start-Finish area, to reduce the speed as cars passed the pits.
The race was held on August 15, Ferragosta, a public holiday in Italy. This year, the organizers once again introduced an artificial chicane on each of the two straights, breaking the two long straights into
four sections. It was no longer possible to 'fly' at maximum speed and stay at this rate for about a minute. The first chicane was at Villa Carmine at km 17.50, but after the Timed Kilometer between km 15.50
and km 16.55. The other chicane, slower than the first, was at Villa Verrocchio, at km 22.34. Officially, these chicanes reduced the risks of high speeds that could be reached on the straights but more
truthfully they tended to interrupt the long sprints which favored the more powerful German cars.
Mercedes-Benz decided not to take part in the Coppa Acerbo after they had failed to attend the Coppa Ciano race, concentrating instead on testing and improving their cars for the Swiss Grand Prix. Auto Union,
arrived with four 6.0-L V-16 cars, under team manager Dr. Karl Otto Feuereissen to be driven by Hans Stuck, Bernd Rosemeyer, Achille Varzi, Ernst von Delius and Rudolf Hasse as the reserve driver.
Scuderia Ferrari entered two 12-cylinder Alfa Romeos for Tazio Nuvolari and Antonio Brivio and two 3.8-liter straight-eights for René Dreyfus and Guiseppe Farina. This was to be Farina's first race after his
crash at Deauville four weeks earlier, from which he was now recovered. The Maserati works entered one of the latest 4.8-liter V-8 Maseratis for Richard Seaman. Scuderia Torino appeared with Pietro Ghersi
in a 3.7-liter 6-cylinder type 6C34 Maserati and Adolfo Mandirola had an older 3-liter 8CM Maserati. Scuderia Maremmana from Florenz arrived with an older 3-liter 8CM Maserati for Clemente Biondetti, because
their 2.9-liter Alfa Romeo Tipo B had suffered unrepairable engine damages two weeks before at Livorno.
Independent entries were made by de la Casas, "Raph" with a Maserati type V8RI and two Tipo B/P3 Alfa Romeo, 2.9-liter straight-eights by the British driver Arthur Dobson and the Swiss Hans Rüesch.
On Thursday, the first official day of practice, after the morning session for motorcycles, the race cars took to the track from 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Almost all competitors tried the circuit which had been
made more difficult with two chicanes on the straights of Capelle and Monte Silvano. The first to appear in front of the pits were the silver cars of Auto Union. Gradually the other competitors from
Alfa Romeo and Maserati joined in and were applauded. The fastest lap was made by Varzi in an Auto Union in 11m06s at an average of 139.459 km/h. Hans Stuck made a lap in 11m21.6s, Rosemeyer in 11m41.2s
and also 11m24s. Von Delius, the fourth driver of the German company, drove a lap in 12m55.4s and later 11m39s.
Among the red Alfa Romeos Brivio made the best time in 11m10.6s at an average of 138.302 km/h, Dreyfus made a lap in 11m50.2s and Farina in 12m25.8s. The best Maserati time was recorded by Ghersi in
12m36.4s with an average of 122.790 km/h.
During the last laps Stuck's Auto Union hit a barricade flanking the chicane near Capelle. Stuck was doing around 280 km/h approaching the chicane and slowed down to around 60 km/h for the chicane, but
brushed his left rear wheel against the concrete border wall. He spun; the car went sideways, left the road and slid down a slope. Stuck was able to aim for a tree to stop the car, which probably prevented
it from overturning. He had hit the right elbow with serious contusions and cut his right hand between the ring- and little finger which was later stitched. Since he was unable to continue with practice
or the race, Stuck left that evening for Switzerland to prepare for the upcoming Swiss Grand Prix. The chassis of the Auto Union was damaged by the impact and Auto Union decided to start with only three
cars, Rosemeyer, Varzi, the winner of last year's race at Pescara, and Delius, while Rudolf Hasse remained as the reserve driver.
Another version of the crash claimed that a wheel broke off the car at full speed; Stuck tried to brake, but crashed into the artificial barrier in the center of the road. Stuck removed the steering wheel
and was catapulted out of the cockpit, finishing in a cornfield. A miracle: apart from a violent blow when his elbow made contact with the chicane, Stuck was practically unharmed. When the reserve driver
Hasse stopped to help, Stuck wanted to continue making two more laps, but was unable to do so.
After Stuck's crash, the car was retrieved and supposedly repaired overnight to be ready for Delius. Varzi's engine suffered a serious defect during practice and was replaced with the spare engine.
Friday, the second and last practice day, started in the morning with the motorcycle races over 12 laps which lasted more than three hours. Serafini (Bianchi) won the 500 class at 115.677 km/h average
speed and Fumagalli (Bianchi) made the fastest lap in 13m 41.8s at 121.920 km/h average speed. Milano (Norton) won the 350 class and Cavacciuti (Benelli) the 250 class.
Nuvolari had arrived in Pescara on Thursday night. The Mantuan completed the circuit in 11m5.8s, at an average speed of 139,501 km/h. After practice he appeared very satisfied. Varzi and Delius in the
Auto Unions each drove six laps without interruption. Varzi made a lap in 11m6s at 139.459 km/h but was the fastest of all today when he completed a lap in 10m59s at an average of 140.940 km/h. Rosemeyer
also drove several laps in succession. The Maserati of Ghersi made a lap in 12m25s at an average of 125,006 km/h and later 12m23s. The Alfa Romeos spent a lot of time in the pits because the cars started
to overheat. Almost all drivers experienced brake problems. At the conclusion of practice a gloomy mood was felt in all pits. Nobody knew what the next day would bring.
However, the people from Auto Union had seen enough to know what had to be done. Nearly all night they were at work. The mechanic Ludwig Sebastian worked through the entire night to replace the brakes on
Rosemeyer's car and since there was no spare engine left, he fitted new pistons to Varzi's broken engine from the first practice and installed it into Rosemeyer's car.
When Delius and Hasse tested the cars in the early morning at around six o'clock, they hoped that everything would work to some degree. At the Alfa pits the situation was not much different. They had also
worked the entire night and were concerned about their cars.
On August 15, the Ferragosta, a public holiday in Italy, the blue morning sky was cloudless. At 8:00 in the morning the 1500 cc voiturette cars had their race over six laps, which Richard Seaman won in his
ten year old Delage after 1-1/4 hours.
The start for the grand prix cars was planned at 10:00 AM. Dietrich from Continental measured the ground temperature which was 45 degrees and a hard day was expected which was however not the worst problem.
In the mountains the circuit was covered with tar and on the long straights the macadam surface was also softened as a result of the August heat. This caused a problem when accelerating as the wheels tended
to spin even with the best profile. The drivers were aware that the course was difficult and also dangerous.
A crowd of 80,000 witnessed the race, which was attended by the Italian Agriculture Minister Professor Acerbo and other public figures. On a very hot morning the cars lined up at the start arranged in order
of their practice times. During the engine warm up on the grid and the change to racing spark plugs, Rosemeyer's mechanic Ludwig Sebastian told the driver to do the first two laps relatively slowly and take
care of the new brakes and especially the new pistons all of which needed to be driven in.
At 10:00 AM Dino Alfieri, the Press and Propaganda Minister, lowered the checkered flag when Nuvolari shot away at incredible speed followed by Brivio and Varzi and to the exciting applause of the grandstand
crowd. Nuvolari finished the first lap at an average speed of 136.669 km/h with the cars in the following order:
|1.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||11m20s|
|2.||Varzi (Auto Union)||11m28s|
|3.||Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||11m30s|
|4.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||11m31s|
|6.||Dreyfus (Alfa Romeo)||11m18s|
|7.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||11m18s|
|11.||Dobson (Alfa Romeo)||13m20s|
|12.||Rüesch (Alfa Romeo)||13m20s|
At the beginning of the second lap, Dreyfus and Farina in the 8-cylinder Alfa Romeos stopped at the pits to change spark plugs. Dreyfus stopped for 30 seconds but Farina was there much longer. Nuvolari
improved his pace and so did Varzi and Rosemeyer while Brivio slowly lost ground. At the end of the second lap the gap between the first cars remained unchanged. Nuvolari's race time was 22m33s, Varzi 22m41s,
Rosemeyer 22m46s, Brivio 23m11s and Delius 23m15s. The others were distant and already separated. Farina visited his pit again with an obvious fault in the circulation of oil and was now very far behind.
At the beginning of lap three, Varzi, still in second place behind Nuvolari, was signaled from the pits to attack, but an incident in the mountains delayed him. When a stone shattered Varzi's windscreen,
he had to brake so hard that it damaged a rear tire. Varzi stopped at the Capelle emergency depot to have the right rear tire replaced after which he rejoined in fourth place. Nuvolari continued to lead
with a lap in 11m10s, with Rosemeyer now second in 11m04s, now speeding up after the first two careful laps. It was announced that on the Timed Kilometer Rosemeyer passed in 13.2s or 272.727 km/h average
speed while Nuvolari's time was 14.8s at 243.242 km/h. Brivio was now third with a lap in 11m06s ahead of Delius in 11m38s. Varzi, in fourth place, had passed five seconds after Brivio and stopped at his
pit at the beginning of lap four to have a new windscreen fitted as he could not drive without it. Quickly Sebastian cut a piece of sheet metal which he wired to the frame of the windscreen and Varzi set
off again after the leading group.
On lap four the Nuvolari-Rosemeyer duel was in full swing. Nuvolari's time was 11m05s while Rosemeyer lapped in an even 11 minutes. The two champions passed in front of the grandstands just two seconds
apart. Brivio stopped for 43 seconds at his pit to tighten the radiator cap which had lost water. At the exit of the Timed Kilometer Varzi lost the tread of his right rear tire which he changed at his
pit, losing 1m16s. Now Delius had inherited third place after he passed the Timed Kilometer at 268.656 km/h equal to the time of 13.4s, followed by Brivio, Varzi, Ghersi, Dreyfus, Biondetti and Farina,
the last some distance behind.
During the fifth lap Rosemeyer's silver Auto Union overtook Nuvolari at Villa Montani with a lap in 10m55s while the Mantuan's was 11m06s. At the end of the fifth lap the German was leading the Mantuan
by ten seconds to the dismay of the grandstand crowd. Delius in third place was 2m24s behind Rosemeyer and Brivio was following while Varzi stopped again at the pits for a few seconds. Meanwhile
Biondetti disappeared from the race and Seaman had also retired. After 129 kilometers Rosemeyer's race average was 138.883 km/h with the times at the end of the fifth lap as follows:
|1.||Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||55m44s|
|2.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||55m54s|
|3.||Delius (Auto Union)||58m08s|
|4.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||58m17s|
|7.||Dreyfus (Alfa Romeo)||1h01m12s|
|8.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h02m51s|
|9.||Rüesch (Alfa Romeo)||1h04m02s|
|10.||Dobson (Alfa Romeo)||1h04m34s|
On lap six Rosemeyer kept the lead, increasing his pace with a lap in 10m52.6s, putting more distance between himself and Nuvolari who reacted in 11m00.4s. Brivio, in fourth place, pressed Delius with a
lap in 11m12s which closed him up to 1.4 seconds behind the German. Varzi was now seventh, behind Dreyfus and Ghersi, and was more than seven minutes behind the leader.
During the seventh lap Rosemeyer maintained his pace with a lap in 10m52.4s while Nuvolari lost more ground with a lap in 11m03s. Brivio who lapped in 11m15s took third place from Delius. Varzi did not
resign himself to seventh place. During this lap he gained a place by driving a spectacular new record lap in 10m47.2s equal to 143.288 km/h average speed.
On lap eight the race was halfway through and it was time for pit stops. Rosemeyer drove the lap in 10m57s. Varzi meanwhile beat his previous record with a lap in 10m43.8s at 144.268 km/h average speed,
reaching an average speed of 285.714 km/h on the Timed Kilometer, a speed which was equaled by Delius. Varzi was now fifth behind Delius. Ghersi pitted for fuel and tires, while Farina and Dobson retired
after this lap. The independent Rüesch (Alfa Romeo) was no longer mentioned but he was still driving albeit at the tail of the field. Rosemeyer's race average had increased to 140.184 km/h with the times
at the end of lap eight as follows:
|1.||Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||1h28m27s|
|2.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||1h29m05s|
|3.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||1h32m03s|
|4.||Delius (Auto Union)||1h32m11s|
|6.||Dreyfus (Alfa Romeo)||1h35m38s|
|8.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h38m30s|
|9.||Dobson (Alfa Romeo)||1h46m10s||one lap behind|
|10.||Rüesch (Alfa Romeo)||no time|
At the beginning of lap nine Nuvolari stopped at the pits to refuel and change his rear tires in 1m35s. Brivio who at the time was ahead of Delius also refueled and changed tires losing 1m47s. During his
pit stop Delius passed him to regain third place. When Nuvolari restarted, he was driving hard in order to catch Rosemeyer, who stopped after lap nine to refuel.
At the beginning of the tenth lap Rosemeyer stopped at his pit but since the tires were still in perfect condition, he only refueled taking 41 seconds. Nuvolari was now resigned to second place 1m50s
behind the leader. Delius, who also did not change tires, refueled in 43 seconds. After a quick lap of 10m53s Varzi stopped at the pits only to refuel and have the windscreen replacement checked. During
his fast lap Varzi was stopped at 12.8 seconds over the Timed Kilometer equal to an average of 281,250 km/h. As a result of his pit stop Rosemeyer's average race speed had dropped to 139.237 km/h
with the ranking as follows after 10 laps:
|1.||Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||1h51m10.6s|
|2.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||1h53m00.4s|
|3.||Delius (Auto Union)||1h56m07.4s|
|4.||Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||1h57m05.4s|
|5.||Varzi (Auto Union)||1h58m35.8s|
By lap eleven the crowd no longer hoped for an attack by Nuvolari, who was now too far behind the leader. But then the spectators suffered an even greater setback during the eleventh lap when the Mantuan
had to stop in the mountains at Campo Boario and retired with engine failure, a broken valve. The spectators were disappointed and the race had effectively ended for them although they remained to the end.
Rosemeyer could not be threatened by Brivio and was only left to defend the colors of Auto Union. Even Dreyfus retired due to engine trouble. The first four positions were now held by Rosemeyer, Delius,
Brivio and Varzi. The latter was forced to pit once more but despite his fate he showed great strength. Nuvolari had retired with engine damage, just as two weeks before in the Coppa Ciano. The engines
of the 12- and 8-cylinder Alfa Romeos started to overheat after a few laps, something that had not happened before. Dreyfus and Farina had lubrication problems with damaged pistons and rings. Brivio was
now the only one who could compete with the German cars.
On lap twelve, after Nuvolari's disappearance, Rosemeyer slowed his pace and lapped in 11m17s and it was expected that the German would win. Delius was signaled by his pit of the danger posed by Brivio and
he drove in 11m20s, while Brivio lapped in 11m24s. Varzi in fourth place drove a lap in 10m52.8s. After Ghersi retired, Rüesch who was at the very end of the field found himself in fifth place.
The question now was whether Varzi, who was 1m14s behind Brivio in third place, could catch the Alfa Romeo? Another question was whether Brivio could regain second place by catching Delius who led him by
51 seconds? The German lapped in 11m31s while Brivio's time was better with 11m25s, but he appeared to be in trouble, struck by a kind of sunstroke. So, behind Rosemeyer there was still a battle going on
for positions. Delius improved his pace and increased his lead by five seconds, but Brivio also increased his pace.
Varzi's performance was superb. Despite the fact that he had no hope of victory, he gained 29 seconds in just one lap on Brivio. Before the end of lap 15 he overtook Brivio but then stopped at his pit
because his left rear tire showed the white stripe of the canvas. Ludwig Sebastian made Varzi leave immediately without changing. As a result Varzi lost about ten seconds but he then took off on his last
lap in pursuit of Brivio who was again third. Varzi had lost around 25 seconds in total. Would he be able to hunt down Brivio and make up the lost time?
At the end of lap 16, Rosemeyer's triumphal arrival was greeted by great applause. The winner was carried joyfully by his mechanics and was highly praised by the authorities. The notes of the German anthem
were heard. Big cheers were also given to the young von Delius, the revelation of this race.
On this last lap, after Rosemeyer and Delius had already crossed the finish line, everyone in the stands began to stand up and craned their necks, waiting uneasily and breathless. Who would arrive in third
position? Finally, a dust cloud in the last turn before the finish straight, it was Varzi, followed five seconds later by Brivio in the Alfa Romeo. The Galliatese ended up third with the tire completely
worn down to the canvas.
It must have been a terrible fight, since Brivio reached the finish totally exhausted and had a bucket of water poured over his head. He was breathless and extremely fatigued. It was a heavy day for
Alfa Romeo but bearable after their victory in Livorno, two weeks earlier.
|1.||50||Bernd Rosemeyer||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||16||2h57m57.8s|
|2.||48||Ernst von Delius||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||16||3h04m18.0s||+ 6m20.2s|
|3.||62||Achille Varzi||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||16||3h05m01.6s||+ 7m03.8s|
|4.||42||Antonio Brivio||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||12C-36||4.1||V-12||16||3h05m06.8s||+ 7m09.0s|
|5.||60||Hans Rüesch||H. Rüesch||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||12|
|DNF||34||Pietro Ghersi||Scuderia Torino||Maserati||6C-34||3.7||S-6||12|
|DNF||56||Tazio Nuvolari||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||12C-36||4.1||V-12||10||broken valve|
|DNF||38||René Dreyfus||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||8C-35||3.8||S-8||8||piston, valve|
|DNF||44||Giuseppe Farina||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||8C-35||3.8||S-8||8||piston, lost exhaust|
|DNF||58||Austin Dobson||A. Dobson||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||8|
|DNF||32||Clemente Biondetti||Scuderia Maremmana||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||4||mechanical|
|DNF||40||Richard Seaman||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||V8RI||4.8||V-8||4||spark plugs|
Fastest lap: Achille Varzi (Auto Union) on lap 8 in 10m43.8s = 144.3 km/h (89.6 mph)|
Winner's average speed: 139.2 km/h (86.5 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 140.9 km/h (87.6 mph)
Weather: sunny and very hot
The Italian Motor Sports Commission decided to include a Timed Kilometer again this year, which was installed at the beginning of the great Cappello straight, between km 15.50 and 16.55 ahead of the first chicane.
The Montesilvano speed trap over one kilometer showed the shortest time in 12.6 seconds equal to 285.714 km/h average speed for Varzi and Delius (Auto Union), while the 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo was timed at a speed of 243.242 km/h.
The journalist Corrado Millanta explained that the difference of 42 km/h showed that the 12-cylinder Alfas could actually not exploit their entire engine performance, because with Coppa Acerbo transmission gearing, the difference between the Auto Union and Alfa Romeo would not have been more than 20 km/h.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
L'AUTO ITALIANA, Milano
Motor Post, Berlin
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
RACI settimanale, Roma
Special thanks to:
Ms. Paola Masetta
Ms. Rosella Lamperti