I VELKÁ CENA MĚSTA BRNA
BRNO (CS), 26 SEPTEMBER 1937 VOITURETTE
5 laps x 29.140 km = 145.7 km, 12 starters
Also known as GP de la Ville de Brno, the Voiturette race preceded the GP race. The top Maserati drivers were racing at Lake Lugano and the works ERA team
was not present. Several private ERA drivers showed up, however, and among them Bira with "Romulus" but the ballot put him far back on the grid. When the
flag dropped at 10:30 a.m. Martin took the lead followed by Villoresi, Hartmann, Fleischanderl and Pohl. When the cars had sorted themselves out after the first
lap Martin was still leading with Bira 2.2s behind, Villoresi 7.1s behind Bira, Hartmann 5.7s behind Villoresi and de Graffenried a further 4.4s behind. On lap
2 Sojka passed de Graffenried for fifth position. The gap between Martin and Bira was still just 3.2s but Villoresi had now lost 14s to Bira. On the next lap
Martin managed to open the gap to Bira to 11.1s while Villoresi was closing in fast, being just 4.4s behind the ERA. De Graffenried was back to fifth. During lap
four a fierce fight started between the top trio. Bira was able to take the lead in the middle of the lap, then it was Villoresi's turn and at the end of the lap Martin
was back in the lead, followed by Villoresi 3s behind and with Bira a further 4s behind in third. Pohl in sixth position lost control and overturned his car into a
spectator field. At least two spectators were injured, among them Herr Fritz Köhler from Wienna, who recieved a mild concussion. On the last lap Villoresi
retook the lead and held it to the flag followed by Martin whose ERA had a misfire with a defect plug. The pace
had been higher than Bira's engine could take. It lost a cylinder and Bira had to cruise back to the finish with a terribly sounding and oil spitting engine. He had to
see himself passed by Hartmann but he managed to keep Soojka behind to finish fourth.
No grid available. Race numbers:
2 "B Bira", 4 Martin, 6 L Villoresi, 8 Sojka, 10 Pohl, 14 de Graffenried,
18 Fleischanderl, 20 L Hartmann, 22 Vaniček, 24 Komár, 28 Hoštálek,
32 Poberecký, 34 Ruess
DNA/DNS: 12 Giraud-Cabantous (Caban), 16 du Puy (Maserati 6CM)
26 Karel Vlasín (Amilcar), 30 Hlaváč (Salmson),
36 Marcel Hofer (M.G.), ?? Pecka (Bugatti) , ?? Festetics (Maserati)
1 L Villoresi (Maserati 6CM *2) 1:10:19.8
2 Martin (ERA A) + 14.6
3 L Hartmann (Maserati 4CM) + 46.2
4 "B Bira" (ERA B)
5 Sojka (Bugatti T51A)
DNF Z Pohl (MG K3 Magnette 1.1L) 4 laps crash
6 de Graffenried (Maserati 4CM *) - 1 lap
7?Vaniček (Bugatti) - 1 lap
8?Hoštálek (Bugatti T37A) - 1 lap
DNF Poberecký (BMW) 3 laps
DNF Ruess (BMW) 3 laps
DNF R Fleischanderl (Amilcar) 3 laps
? Schmidt (Bugatti T51A)
? Komár (Bugatti T37A)
Fastest lap: L Villoresi (Maserati) on lap 5 in 13m47s = 126.8 km/h (78.8 mph)
VII VELKÁ CENA MASARYKOVA
BRNO (CS), 26 SEPTEMBER 1937
15 laps x 29.140 km = 437.1 km
This was the seventh and what would prove to be the last Masaryk GP. Six days earlier Thomas Garigue Masaryk, co-founder and first president of the
Czechoslovakian republic had passed away.
The Auto Union team had problems with their drivers as Hasse was ill and Varzi showed up with two bandaged fingers. During the first practice day Varzi was
very slow and during the second practice day he declared that he was unable to drive with his wounded fingers and asked for permission to leave at once as he
had a train to catch.
The Alfa Romeos arrived late for practice and Nuvolari hardly made any laps at all. Lang and Rosemeyer were fastest in practice followed by von Brauchitsch,
Caracciola, Seaman and Müller. Pietsch crashed during Friday practice and became a non-starter.
The times however did not count for a place on the grid, a thing not too popular as the Brno track was very narrow and passing was difficult. The teams draw
positions for the top eight positions and the privateers for the last four. Scuderia Ferrari picked positions #1 and #4, and Auto Union positions #3 and #6. The
Mercedes team picked positions #2, #5, #7 and #8 and after some internal arguments Lang got the front row position as he had been fastest in practice and
Caracciola already had secured his European Championship.
Grid, positions decided by ballot:
A giant crowd of estimated 310000 spectators turned up for the GP.After the Voiturette race, won by Luigi Villoresi, it was time for the Grand Prix
class. At 12:15 the flag was dropped and the twelve cars went away with Lang leading and with Soffietti last after having missed the start. At Pisárky the order
was Lang, Rosemeyer, Müller, von Brauchitsch and Caracciola. Caracciola had decided to hold back a little during the first laps. On the narrow track it was hard
to find a way past so the marshals were alert about anyone trying to block his opponents, and both Müller and Balestrero were warned. At Zebetin Müller had
been forced to let von Brauchitsch by and Müller was fast falling further down the field.
At Ostrovacicích Lang held the lead followed by Rosemeyer, von Brauchitsch, Caracciola, Nuvolari, Müller, Seaman and Brivio. A bulletin said that Lang had hit
a stone marker at the 15 km, a thing Lang would later deny. At end of first lap Lang was leading with Rosemeyer just 0.6 s behind. Then
there was already a 23.3 s gap to von Brauchitsch and a further 5.3 s gap to Caracciola. Behind them followed Nuvolari, Müller, Seaman, Brivio, Hartmann,
Balestrero, Festetics and Soffietti.
On the second lap Rosemeyer missed a turning and seemed for a second being on his way to the Brno city. A 180 degree turn and he was quickly back on the
right track without losing any position but he had lost half a kilometer to Lang. The order remained the same on the second lap as on the first except that
Seaman had passed Müller for sixth position. On lap three Rosemeyer took up he chase on Lang and at the end of the lap the gap was down to 3.9 s. Von
Brauchitsch, unable to keep the pace of the leading duo, now let Caracciola by so that the latter could try to take up the chase of Rosemeyer. Passing Kyvalka
on lap four, Rosemeyer had taken over the lead from Lang, who had a hard time trying to follow the Auto Union champion on the twisty and difficult Brno track.
Behind them Caracciola was even faster than Rosemeyer while von Brauchitsch tried to follow, but Caracciola's pace had proved to be too much for him and he
destroyed his tyres fast. Further behind in the fight for fifth to seventh place between Nuvolari, Seaman and Müller, Müller had been able to repass Seaman.
At end of lap four Soffietti pitted with a bent axle and retired.
On the next lap Lang had the worst accident of his career. In a right hand curve near the 13 km post the Mercedes started to slide on gravel on the road and
went into the ditch killing two people and injuring 12 others who were sitting in the ditch in a prohibited area. The organizers told Neubauer to get Lang out of
the country as quickly as possible before he got arrested.
After having done a pit stop Balestrero abandoned his Alfa on the 6 km mark on lap 5. Nuvolari had a bust left rear tyre and had to cruise to the reserve pit on the
rim, losing some three minutes and dropping to the back of the field. Caracciola was in great form, passing Rosemeyer for the lead on lap six and
doing the fastest lap of the race with a time of 11min 59.3s. Von Brauchitsch, having destroyed his tyres, had to make a stop at the reserve pit.
Nuvolari, who had passed the backmarkers, had to do a new pit stop and Hartmann also went into the pit . Order after six laps: Caracciola, Rosemeyer,
von Brauchitsch, Müller, Seaman, Nuvolari, Brivio, Hartmann, Festetics. At the end of lap seven Caracciola came into the pit for his routine stop followed
some 25 s later by Rosemeyer. Both where quickly away again, the Mercedes team doing a slightly faster job. Von Brauchitsch had to make a new stop as
there had been no fuel at the reserve pit and he fell back in the field. Brivio did his routine stop and Hartmann was back in the pits.
On the eighth lap Rosemeyer's brakes locked and the Auto Union left the track and damaged a wheel so badly that the driver had to retire on the spot.
Caracciola was now leading from Müller and Seaman with von Brauchitsch and Nuvolari fourth and fifth. At the end of the lap it was time for Müller and Seaman
to do their stops, and they returned to the track without losing positions. Caracciola, now having a huge lead and high fuel load, was cruising, putting in
four slow laps in a row each well over a minute slower than his fastest. On lap nine Nuvolari was in the reserve pit again with an empty right tyre and fell behind
Two hours into the race Rosemeyer had managed to return to the pits after a long walk and Müller was signalled to stop on the next lap. Seaman managed to
pass Müller for second place on lap ten and on the eleventh lap von Brauchitsch passed both Seaman and Müller to become second. The Mercedes cars now
held the top three positions.
At the end of lap 11 Müller came into the pit and jumped out and Rosemeyer took over. The Auto Union driver started to put in some fast laps and as it on the
30 km track took some time for the Mercedes pit crew to warn their drivers, Rosemeyer had closed the gap to Seaman in third place to 48 seconds as the
last lap started after having done lap 13 in 12m07.4s and lap 14 in 12m04.9s (Caracciola and Seaman doing 12m38s laps and von Brauchitsch 12m26s).
Incredibly Rosemeyer then caught and passed the surprised Seaman and was within five seconds to von Brauchitsch when the cars took the flag. But no one
could challenge Caracciola who took the flag in a 35 seconds lead from his team-mate. Nuvolari took his Alfa home in fifth place a lap behind the winner. It
would be the last time the "Flying Mantuan" finished a race in an Alfa Romeo.
Regarding the Lang catastrophe, the organizers had emptied the area of spectators, but after the organizers had left the place the spectators had
immediately returned, sitting with their legs hanging in the ditch. That did not hinder Lang from being charged on 14 points including having run too fast on the
A serious problem for Lang was the official press bulletin #4 that said: "Cislo 8 vyvrátilo v 15 km prvním kolo patník, jode dale" / "8 stürzte im 15 km in der erste
Runde einem Meilenstein, fährt aber weiter" (#8 crashed into a Mile stone at 15 km on the first lap but continued).
In his biography Lang said "For example they claimed that I before the fifth lap crash - already on lap one - had hit a stone and vital parts of the car had been so
damaged that they later broke. In the irresponsibility of continuing with a seriously damaged car they saw a rash nonchalant attitude to spectator safety
and believed in that way to have found a firm proof of my guilt. Several witnesses were needed to prove that the claimed crash with the stone never had occured."
The whole thing became a nightmare for Lang as the legal process continued year after year finally ending sometimes after the Second World War with Lang
being acquitted of all charges.
By the way, Lang's lap times had been 12m33.8s, 12m26.6s, 12m33.2s and
12m23.7s, times hardly achieved with a "seriously damaged" car.
In the book Lang also explains the accident by the fact that his lucky horseshoe had been left in a trunk and sent to Donington. I mention this just to show you
how much "mumbo jumbo" was going on in GP racing during those days. Another example is Rosemeyer's obsession with the number 13. The tradition still continues in our
days. For example John Watson has explained that entering a car from the "wrong side" is a catastrophe and just remember Ayrton Senna's worn glowes
and Alex Wurz's different colored shoes.
Finally, you can find one of Neubauer's better fairy tales in his book "Männer, Frauen und Motoren" claiming that a smiling Rosemeyer while waiting for Müller
to arrive had been locking Neubauer's arms in the pit while Caracciola passed to hinder Neubauer from signalling Caracciola to go faster. "Sorry, Herr Neubauer -
A great thanks to Michal Velebny for providing me with press bulletins, grid and lap chart for the race.
CIRCUIT OF CAMPIONE D'ITALIA
CIRCUIT OF CAMPIONE D'ITALIA (I), 26 SEPTEMBER 1937 VOITURETTE 1500cc
3x40 laps + 50 laps final, 14 starters
The race was run in 3 heats with the two best in each heat going to the final. Bianco won the first heat from Marazza,
now running a works Maserati 6CM. Rocco won the second heat from Lurani while Trossi and Severi were the finalists from the
third heat. In the final Trossi took the lead but at half race distance he spun. He then took over Marazza's car
but had engine problems and had to retire. It was instead Rocco who went on to score a fine victory.
Even though Bianco failed to finish the race he had points enough to become the 1937 Italian Voiturette champion ahead of Trossi (Note 2).
DNA: 4 Gessner (Maserati *5), 16 L Villoresi (Maserati *2), 34 Dreyfus (Maserati *),
36 Dusio (Maserati), 38 Cortese (Maserati *4)
1 Bianco (Maserati 6CM *) 31:55.4
2 Marazza (Maserati 6CM *) + 0.4
3 Minetti (Masearti 4CM *2) + 29.8
DNF Carnevalli (MB *3) 30 laps
DNF Barbieri (Maserati 4CM) 25 laps
Fastest lap: Minetti & Marazza (Maserati) 46.0
1 Rocco (Maserati 6CM) 31:36.4
2 Lurani (Maserati 4CM *2) + 15.0
3 Teagno (Maserati 4CM) + 19.0
4 Basadonna (Maserati 4CM) - 2 laps
DNF Caspani (Maserati ?) 28 laps
Fastest lap: Rocco & Lurani (Maserati) 46.2
1 Trossi (Maserati 4CM *) 31:18.4
2 Severi (Maserati 6CM) + 13.2
3 Righetti (Maserati 6CM *2) - 6 laps
DNF Uboldi (Maserati 4CM *3) 6 laps
Fastest lap: Trossi (Maserati) 44.4
1 Rocco (Maserati 6CM) 39:09.4
2 Severi (Maserati 6CM) + 20.8
3 Lurani (Maserati 4CM *2) + 33.6
DNF Bianco (Maserati 6CM *) 43 laps
DNF Marazza/Trossi (Maserati 6CM *) 42 laps
DNF Trossi (Maserati 4CM *) 26 laps
* Entered by Officine A Maserati
*2 Entered by Scuderia Ambrosiana
*3 Entered by Gruppo Volta
*4 Entered by Scuderia Torino
*5 Entered by Süddeutsche Renngemainschaft
Fastest lap: Trossi (Maserati) 43.8
28 SEPTEMBER 1937: Alfa Romeo chief engineer Vittorio Jano was sacked, unfairly according to most members of the team, because of the failure
of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 12C/37. The chassis of the car proved to be too weak.
III DONINGTON GP
DONINGTON PARK, 2 OCTOBER 1937 (Saturday)
80 laps x 5.029 km (3.125 mi) = 402.3 km (250.0 mi)
Ex. motorcycle racer Fred Craner had managed to attract the German teams to England to race in the Donington GP.
The GP teams had a very short time to move from Brno to Donington as practice started on Wednesday. The cars went by
train and ship to Dover while the crews flew over. Mercedes entered four cars and Auto Union three against the local
opposition consisting mostly of ERA Voiturettes.
Once there the German teams immediately made a great impression on the spectators as this was the first proper
international GP race ever held in England, the former Donington GPs having been mostly local events.
As could be expected Varzi never showed up and Hasse raced the third Auto Union. The track had been improved and lengthened,
with a lap record of 2:37. During Thursday
practice Rosemeyer immediately went down to 2.14.6 and on Friday von Brauchitsch took the pole with a time of 2:10.4
followed by Rosemeyer, Lang and Seaman.
Newcomer Hyde withdrew because he was afraid that he whould be in the way of the top drivers during lapping.
50,000 curious spectators turned up for the Donington Grand Prix.(Note 3)
They would not be disappointed as they were to see something entirely new to British eyes. The unfamiliarity was shown by
the bookmakers, who offered ridiculous odds such as 5:1 on Rosemeyer. The German mechanics saw their chance and put
most of their savings on their own drivers.
As the flag fell Lang's Mercedes took the lead followed by Caracciola, von Brauchitsch, Seaman, Rosemeyer, Müller and Hasse.
Rosemeyer passed Seaman and the latter dropped down in the field after a collision with Müller at Coppice Corner had
forced the Mercedes driver to enter the escape road. Caracciola on a one stop strategy started off calmly and
let both von Brauchitsch and Rosemeyer by..
Lang held the lead for 12 laps until his Mercedes started to handle badly and he had to let over the lead to von Brauchitsch.
Lang was able to hold off Rosemeyer until he on lap 23 had to enter the pit, where the
mechanics found that a front damper was broken. Lang went out again but soon he had to call it a day.
At the same time von Brauchtisch had to stop for new tyres and Rosemeyer was now leading by 30 seconds.
He was followed by Caracciola, von Brauchitsch, Müller, Seaman and Hasse. Seaman's rear damper had been damaged in the
collision with Müller and on lap 29 it broke forcing Britain's great hope to retire.
On lap 32 Rosemeyer made a 31 seconds stop for tyres leaving the lead over to Caracciola.
Von Brauchitsch drove brilliantly making the fastest lap and taking the lead from his teammate on lap 36. Four laps later Caracciola
made his only pitstop (27 seconds) and fell back to third. Von Brauchitsch now led by 24 seconds over Rosemeyer, who tried in vain to close the gap, taking the
Auto Union over the narrow Donington track in wild slides and equaling
the lap record during the attempt. But von Brauchitsch was also driving at the edge with the car all over the road and he had in
fact opened up the gap to 26 seconds when he made his second stop.
Rosemeyer continued flat out, trying to increase the gap
before his second stop, when suddenly a front tyre burst on von Brauchitsch's car. The Mercedes driver, racing at 175 km/h,
managed to handle the slide and enter the pits but Rosemeyer could do his second stop and return to the track with
a 30 seconds lead. From that on the race was over. Rosemeyer dominated the last laps of the race and took the flag as winner
in his 13th start of the year. It was also to be his last victory. Caracciola, whose one stop strategy had failed, finished
third behind von Brauchitsch. Hasse finished with a badly handling Auto Union
as fifth and last German, but still in front of Bira in the Maserati who led the "rest" of the drivers home.
The day ended with some bad showing from the Brits. First the British organizers "forgot" to play the German anthem and then the bookmakers
fled the field before the Auto Union mechanics could come to collect their wins. The Derby and District Motor Club had to
intervene to prevent a scandal and generously paid out the mechanics in full from their own means.
VII MOUNTAIN CHAMPIONSHIP
BROOKLANDS (GB), 16 OCTOBER 1937
10 laps x 1.883 km = 36.5 km, 7 starters
DNA/DNS: 1 Walker (ERA), 2 Connell (ERA), 3 Mays (ERA *),
7 Hanson (Maserati *2), 8 Arthur Dobson (ERA),
9 Fane (Frazer Nash), 15 Trossi (Maserati *3)
Grid in line across track. Race numbers:
4 Rüesch, 5 Wakefield, 6 Bartlett, 10 Dobson,
11 Cotton, 12 Maclure, 14 Evans
1 Rüesch (Alfa Romeo 8C-35 3.8L) 8:43.6
2 Evans (Alfa Romeo Tipo B 2.9L) + 22.8
3 Bartlett (Alta) + 35.0
4 Maclure (Riley 2000/6) + 41.4
5 Cotton (ERA-B) + 44.6
DNF Wakefield (Maserati 6CM) 8 laps brakes
DNF Austin Dobson (Maserati 6CM) 0 laps
* Entered by H W Cook
*2 Entered by Mrs M E Hall-Smith
*3 Entered by Gino Rovere
Fastest lap: Rüesch (Alfa Romeo) 0:51.4
KALASTAJATORPPA/FISKARTORPET - Helsinki (FIN), 31 OCTOBER 1937
50 laps x 1 km = 50 km, 8 starters
In late October a race was organized in a little park in western Helsinki. There were 15 lap races for standard A & B classes
and a 50 lap race for racing cars. Entries in the GP race constisted of Ebb's Mercedes
and three Swedish GP cars plus five Finnish cars racing in their own B class.
There was much controversity over the track that was considered too tight and too dangerous.
The papers expected 50000 spectators and the final number 6556 was a catastrophe but proved still to be too much for
the organizers. People were still trying to reach their places when the first race began and spectators
stormed an walkover bridge. Luckily some driver made a false start to be followed by the whole field, because just
as the field had passed the bridge it collapsed over the track, injuring 17 spectators.
In the GP class Ebb took an immediate lead and the only one able to follow was Carlsson in his ex-Widengren Alfa Romeo Monza.
Carlsson, who had been unable to practice as the plane from Sweden had been delayed by fog, had brake trouble and at lap 35 a
rod and piston came straight out through the block. Ebb had also engine problems but with a minute's lead over Rolander
it was enough for him to cruise home to a victory. The track was never used again.
DNS: 18 Walkama (Chrysler)
1 Ebb (Mercedes-Benz SSK) 37:52.2
2 Rolander (Bugatti T35C 2.0L) + 1:11.1
3 Sundstedt (Bugatti) + 1:14.7
4 Hallman (Ford) + 2:27.3 Class B
5 Patama (Ford) + 4:00.0 Class B
6 Sorri (BMW) + 3:34.5 Class B
? Alm (Ford) ? Class B
DNF Carlsson (Alfa Romeo) 35 laps Engine
Fastest lap: ?
1 Grid reconstructed from picture evidence.
2 Or was it? Another source says that Trossi was declared the overall winner because he had won the the longest race of the series!?
3 The British Grand Prix should have been a more proper name for the race but RAC refused to allow that name to be used.