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Lang (Mercedes-Benz)Hasse (Auto Union)von Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)

VIII GRAND PRIX DE BELGIQUE

Spa-Francorchamps (B), 25 June 1939
35 laps x 14.5 km (9.01 mi) = 507.5 km (315.3 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2Tazio NuvolariAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
4Rudolf HasseAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
6Hermann MüllerAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
8Georg MeierAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
10Giuseppe FarinaG. FarinaAlfa RomeoTipo 3163.0V-16de facto works drive
12Raymond SommerR. SommerAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8
14Robert MazaudR. MazaudDelahayeT135CS3.6S-6
16?Emmanuel de GraffenriedEcurie Autosport?Maserati6C-34?3.0S-6DNA
18Louis GerardL. GerardDelahayeT135CS3.6S-6
20Rudolf CaracciolaDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
22Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
24Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
26Richard SeamanDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
28Adolfo MandirolaA. MandirolaMaserati8CM3.0S-8



Richard Seaman's last race. A sad victory for Lang and Mercedes-Benz.
by Hans Etzrodt
This race will forever evoke sad memories because of Dick Seaman's fatal crash while leading on a rain soaked track. It was one of the most dreadful accidents remembered. After this tragedy, Hermann Lang inherited the lead and finished first. This win made it five in a row for Lang and Mercedes-Benz, if Tripolis and the Vienna Mountain Race are included. Up to the ninth lap all attention focused on the duel between the leader H.P. Müller and the pursuer Hermann Lang. When Müller was called into the pits for a fuel stop, Seaman went into the lead. He and Lang were both in tremendous form. The rain soaked road was very slippery and old masters like Caracciola and Nuvolari fell prey to the treacherous conditions. Meier and Seaman also spun off the slick circuit separately, with Seaman trapped unconsciously in his damaged car, when it caught fire. He died the same night from the severe burns. Hasse, winner of the 1937 event, came second with the Auto Union, and von Brauchitsch's Mercedes-Benz was third. The race saw the last appearance of the 3-liter factory Alfa Romeo.
The first Belgian Grand Prix for grand prix cars, won by Antonio Ascari, was held 1925 at Spa. After five years, grand prix cars raced again in 1930 and 1931. Following a one year interruption were consecutive grand prix races in 1933, 1934, and 1935, followed by the 1937 Grand Prix. 1939 was the eighth time for grand prix cars at the Spa circuit and it was the first race counting towards this year's European Championship.
      Spa was one of the fastest and most difficult road circuits with fast sweeping bends and trees bordering most parts of the narrow course. When it was wet, the surface became slippery and made the course dangerous. Since the 1937 race, the Spa circuit had been shortened to exactly 14.5 km or 9.01 mi. Now, after the start, instead of turning left after the Eau Rouge bridge a new wide right hand turn was leading up the hill. The old right-hand Frontier hairpin just past the left Eau Rouge bend was left out, shortening the course by 364 meters. This year, 35 laps had to be covered to make up the 500 km (Note 1) minimum distance required for a Grand Prix.
Entries:
Five different makes competed, with a total of only 14 cars. Alfa Corse entered an improved 316, unlike last year's model. It had a newer version of the V-16 440 hp engine, a less wind resistant exhaust system, and smother body work. This Alfa Romeo, assigned to Giuseppe Farina, was the only halfway serious competition the Germans had. There were in fact two 316's for Farina, a modified one with which he raced, and a 1938 type he used during practice for comparison. By the way, it was also the last time the Italian team entered a 3-liter grand prix car.
      Auto Union arrived with five type D cars for Tazio Nuvolari, Rudi Hasse, H.P. Müller, and Georg Meier. Hans Stuck was not present, instead he raced the same day in Bucharest, where he won an uneven contest against sports cars. Thus, team manager Dr. Feuereisen included again the new man, Georg Meier. This was the Bavarian's second try with a Grand Prix car, after the Auto Union's practice breakdown at the Eifelrennen. Meier was an experienced motorcycle champion and besides driving for Auto Union, he was also contracted for 1939 with BMW, winning the senior TT that year amongst other races.
      Daimler-Benz entered four W154's for Rudi Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Hermann Lang and Dick Seaman. The cars were equipped with M154 engines, the heavier M163's were not used for this race. For the first time all engines were outfitted with two-stage supercharging, delivering a peak power of 475 hp at 7500 rpm instead at a higher 8000 rpm, as had been the case with the old version.
      The rest of the drivers had no chance to win under normal circumstances. The fastest of them was the wealthy French private entrant, Raymond Sommer, with last years 295 hp Alfa Romeo 308. Adolfo Mandirola, a Swiss privateer, entered his very old and heavily modified 3-liter 8CM Maserati giving at best 240 hp. Another Swiss, young Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried (Note 2) , in an old 6C34 Maserati with 3-liter engine, did not show up. The week before, Frenchman Louis Gerard had just come second with a Delage in the tragic 24 hours of Le Mans. Now he brought his 3.5 liter six-cylinder 160 hp Delahaye 135 Competition and privateer René Mazaud showed up with the same model, both cars had no superchargers.
     
Practice:
During practice, Müller's racing engine got damaged. Was it possibly the persistent crankshaft problem? Team Manager Dr. Feuereisen had blamed Müller's hard driving style and him not being sensible enough towards his engine. Müller received a training engine for the race. New man, Meier, had good circuit experience from two previous motorcycle races on this circuit. His best time practicing the Auto Union was 10m16s. The more experienced Nuvolari lapped in 10m05s, also in the rain.
      When dry the German cars again showed their speed during practice with Lang making the fastest lap of 5m03.2s. But as you will see practice times did not count for anything.
Race:
On race day low hanging clouds covered the Ardennes forest with intermittent rain showers. It rained on one side of the circuit and not on the other. Track conditions changed continuously and were unpredictable. A corner which was dry one lap could be wet and slippery the next. This would make driving difficult. Müller's Auto Union had the oil cooler, placed in the lower third of the radiator grill, covered up because of the cooler weather. It was raining hard when the cars, protected by tarpaulins and umbrellas, were rolled to the grid. The Belgian King Leopold III, very much interested in the Grand Prix cars, greeted the drivers at the starting grid. The organization left a lot to be desired, since the line up for the starting grid was not in order of the achieved practice times, but instead by ballot. Lots were drawn by the teams and then the team managers usually assigned their best drivers to the front positions. This old-fashioned arrangement, customary for Spa, brought again slower cars to the front of the grid, this time farina's Alfa. The 13 drivers lined up as follows:
Pole Position
10
Farina

Alfa Romeo

22
Lang

Mercedes-Benz

6
Müller

Auto Union

26
Seaman

Mercedes-Benz

2
Nuvolari

Auto Union

4
Hasse

Auto Union

20
Caracciola

Mercedes-Benz

8
Meier

Auto Union

12
Sommer

Alfa Romeo

24
Brauchitsch

Mercedes-Benz

28
Mandirola

Maserati

18
Gérard

Delahaye

14
Mazaud

Delahaye



The 1:30 PM start was not carried out with the usual flag but an optical signal. The starting area, situated on a downhill slope, had in the past caused cars to roll on the grid in the last seconds before the flag fell. The Mercedes team had solved the problem by putting pieces of chalk in front of the wheels. No such thing had been done to Farina's 16-cylinder Alfa Romeo and it started to roll down towards Eau Rouge long before the start signal. At the green light, it was the Italian in the lead, followed by Müller, Lang, Nuvolari, Caracciola, Seaman, and Hasse. An advantage of 35 hp enabled Müller and Lang to get past Farina's Alfa on the long climb after the start. With an average of 145 km/h Müller finished the first lap in the lead, chased by Lang, Nuvolari, and Caracciola. Farina had fallen back to fifth place, followed by Seaman, Hasse, Brauchitsch, Sommer and Meier. One by one, the silver cars eventually went past the slower Alfa Romeo. Farina fell continuously back, not to play a role in the outcome of the race.
      Despite the slippery conditions, the average had risen to 150 km/h after the second lap. Müller in the lead had Lang glued to his tail. Regardless of the blue flag being shown, the Auto Union used the whole width of the rain slicked road and Lang could not get by. On the third lap Caracciola overtook Nuvolari for third place.
      Lang and Müller carried on their battle for first. The Mercedes was covered by the Auto Union's foggy spray. It was a terrible situation for Lang. He was waiting for a better opportunity to get by, then slowed down a bit but was never more than 50 to 100 yards away. When Caracciola and Nuvolari slowed down as well, Seaman went passed the Italian to take fourth place. Now Müller was chased by the Mercedes team in close formation, Lang, Caratsch, and Seaman. Mazaud's and Gerard's Delahayes, making up the rear, had already been lapped on lap four. Despite the rain, which had again become heavier at the start and finish, the average speed had gone up to 152.2 km/h mph after lap four.
      Lang, unable to pass Müller, was shaking his fist furiously. The blue flag had repeatedly been shown to Müller but Lang could not get passed him. The Auto Union stayed in the middle of the road and Müller seemed to be quite busy with his car. It was obviously not easy for two almost equally fast cars to pass one another at 240 km/h on a five and a half meter wide road and this on a tree lined wet circuit with fog like spray reducing vision. Müller, later had to confront the monstrous accusation of blocking Lang and Caracciola. He assured after the race that he had no such intentions and that he couldn't see anything in his dirty mirrors. It was interesting to notice, that even Nuvolari did not drive as fast as Müller, and that Müller's was indeed the fastest Auto Union at that time. He was however handicapped by having the training car's engine, which started to loose power early on.
      On lap nine, Lang, tired of following Müller's spray, waved Caracciola and Seaman by so that the two rain specialists could have a try on Müller. Caratsch tried to go inside the Auto Union at the La Source hairpin, but misjudged the slippery corner and spun off onto the inside grass. The car was undamaged but faced now back towards the hairpin. On top of it, the engine had stalled in the process. Unable to get the car back on the track, Caracciola was the first one to retire and walked the short distance to the pits. After nine laps, the Auto Union was still in the lead, now chased by Seaman and Lang.
      At the end of lap ten, under great applause from the crowd, Seaman crossed the line first. Müller, who had been called in to refuel, followed closely. Seaman was now pulling away from Lang. Müller, despite his fuel stop, had retained third place and was followed by Nuvolari and Hasse. Von Brauchitsch stopped on lap 12 to replace a flat rear tire and add a quick squirt of fuel. This enabled Meier to move into sixth place. At the end of the same lap, Seaman was already 30 seconds ahead of Lang and 41 of Müller, with Nuvolari, Hasse, Meier, and Brauchitsch trailing. On lap 13, Nuvolari passed Müller who was falling back with his sick engine.
      On lap 14, Meier's first grand prix race came to an end. While attempting to pass Mandirola's Maserati at Blanchimont, he spun off, sliding the Auto Union into the ditch. The car undamaged, he could not move it back onto the road and the Bavarian walked the few kilometers to start and finish. After 14 laps, Seaman was 17 seconds ahead of Lang, 27 of Nuvolari. He lapped Farina's Alfa Romeo for the first time. At the end of lap 15, Seaman was leading Lang by only 12 seconds and Nuvolari by 27. Müller, Hasse, and von Brauchitsch followed. All others were already lapped by the leading group.
      At half time, on lap 17, Seaman made a 30 second stop for gas and rear tires. Nuvolari was next to stop for fuel and a quick drink from the bottle. The lead went temporarily to Lang, until he also pitted the following lap. Lang's stop took only 25 seconds, but Dick had enough advantage to regain the lead on lap 18. Nuvolari was now 40 seconds behind Seaman. On lap 17, Müller stopped for the second time at the pits. This moved Hasse and Brauchitsch up to fourth and fifth place, respectively. After all pit stops, the rain had diminished. On lap 20 the order was Seaman, Lang, Nuvolari, Hasse, Brauchitsch, and Müller. Müller made a third pit stop to cure his engine problems. Seaman was pulling away and extending his advantage to 30 seconds, despite the slippery roads.
      On lap 21, Mandirola in the old Maserati, had given up with suspension problems. At that time, it also had stopped raining, Seaman was now leading Lang by only 23 seconds and Nuvolari by 52. Lang had established the fastest lap with 163.2 km/h (101.4 mph) on a drying circuit. At the end of lap 21, the order was Seaman, Lang, Nuvolari, Hasse, von Brauchitsch, and Müller. Farina, already twice lapped, struggled in seventh place. When he retired his red Alfa Romeo with supercharger problems, the fastest non German car had disappeared.
      On lap 22, Dick Seaman was going through Club corner, the fast left turn just before La Source hairpin. This time he had been too fast. When accelerating out of the turn, the Mercedes skidded off the wet road, striking a tree with the rear from where it bounced off into another. The car struck the second tree with full force sideways at the cockpit and consequently wrapped itself around it. The impact broke Dick's right arm, bruised a kidney, and he received a concussion. His head must have hit the tree at the impact, causing him to loose consciousness. The large connection from the forward saddle tank to the rear tank ruptured when the tree bent the chassis. He had just refueled six laps back and now this fuel was gushing over the hot exhaust pipe and ignited immediately. Lang followed about 20 seconds behind and reaching this fast turn, he was shown the yellow flag and slowed down. As he was approaching the exit of this blind curve he saw what had happened. The Englishman was sitting motion-less in the flaming cockpit of his car.
      It must have taken over half a minute before Dick was saved out of this inferno. The few spectators at the corner did not dare to go right away near the burning car from which emitted three cones of fire. The first on the scene was a Belgian soldier, who was not familiar with the mechanism and could not release the catch of the detachable steering wheel to free the trapped unconscious driver. Two marshals, running up from La Source hairpin to the burning car, helped the soldier to finally pull the driver out of the flames. By this time Dick had received third degree burns on legs, arms, hands, upper body and face. Georg Meier, who had retired eight laps earlier, on his walk back to the pits said, he saw the accident happening about 300 yards ahead of him. He ran and by the time he reached the scene, Seaman had already been placed on the grass with red cross people present.
      Lang came back from this 22nd lap, he stopped very briefly at his pits to inform the team about Seaman's accident. Thus, Dr. Gläser, the German racing doctor for Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, and some mechanics ran to the scene of the accident not far away from the pits. Lang pulled back into the race but was so shook up after having witnessed Dick's fateful crash that he would have rather not carried on. One after the other, drivers passed the pits with strained faces, pointing towards the scene of the accident. No official announcements were made. Lang was 45 seconds ahead of Nuvolari and 1m37s ahead of Hasse, followed by Brauchitsch, Müller, Sommer, Mazaud, and Gerard.
      In the meantime, Dr. Gläser had arrived in short time at the scene of the crash where he gave Seaman some injections but they were not effective in relieving the terrible pains. Richard Seaman was rushed to the Spa hospital where everything imaginable was done by the doctors to save his life.
      At the end of lap 26, Müller pulled in the pits and retired his backfiring Auto Union with a broken valve. On lap 28, Nuvolari, who had come steadily closer to Lang, spun off the course at slippery Stavelot, hitting a fence. Several laps later he arrived slowly at the pits and retired with a damaged steering knuckle. The field had shrunk now to six cars with Lang 2m17s ahead of Hasse, then Brauchitsch another two minutes behind, followed by Sommer, Mazaud and Gerard.
      On lap 34, Lang was two minutes ahead of Hasse, when all of a sudden his engine started to cut out. He realized that he had not received enough fuel at his stop and therefore the tank had to be empty. When racing on a wet circuit, it was preferred not to fill the tank to the top since a tail-heavy rear would slide around easier. Lang had about two miles to go to the pits and was very easy with the throttle. His car started to sputter. Then, at La Source hairpin the engine stalled. Fortunately, from there to the pits, the road went downhill. As the car rolled silently towards the pits, Lang was continuously hitting the fuel tank cap with his right hand. After the excitement about Seaman's crash, Lang's crew had not ordered him to the pits for fuel. They now realized that he had an empty tank with one lap to go. In a moment Lang took enough fuel for one last lap, but then the car wouldn't start again. Air was now in the fuel lines and carburetor. The mechanics had to push the car, it caught once and stalled again. Again, the mechanics pushed Lang further downhill to Eau Rouge trying to push start the car but the engine wouldn't fire. Then the second placed car, Hasse's Auto Union, roared past the pits, now just four seconds behind Lang. At the last moment, just before the car came to a stop at the beginning of the new right hand uphill corner, Lang's Mercedes finally fired up. Now, he chased in earnest after Hasse who had just passed him. Lang was able to not only get by the Auto Union but at the finish was 17 seconds ahead to a cheerless victory. Von Brauchitsch came third, almost two minutes behind his winning teammate, followed by the Frenchmen, Sommer, Mazaud, Gerard, three, five, and six laps back respectively.
In retrospect:
Because of the rain, the 3 hours and 20 minute race was not run at record speed. Lang's speed of 152 km/h was over 15 km/h below Hasse's time two years ago. After this hard, sorrowful race it had become evident that the circuit was not suitable for these speeds. It would be necessary to remove trees, widen the narrow circuit, and put a rougher surface down.
      Richard Seaman: This time after the race, there was no party for the Mercedes team. Instead they went to the hospital. Dick's head and whole upper body were completely wrapped up in white bandages. When Dick regained full consciousness, he was able to speak both German and English to his wife and friends. He was able to explain what had happened and told Neubauer that the crash had been his own fault. Dick lapsed into unconsciousness and died of his burns soon after midnight.
      This regrettable accident had everybody deeply moved. The loss of the 26-year old, popular Dick Seaman was a shock to all and hardened men were crying. Sportsmanlike persuasion was for him a natural form of life. A true gentleman, reserved, modest in appearance, displaying camaraderie, Dick was well liked everywhere. He was mourned in England as well as in Germany. England had lost their best driver.
     

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.22Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12353h20m21.0s
2.4Rudolf HasseAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12353h20m37.9s+ 16.9s
3.24Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12353h22m14.0s+ 1m53.0s
4.12Raymond SommerR. SommerAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8333h23m13.0s
5.14Robert MazaudR. MazaudDelahayeT135CS3.6S-6313h27m40.0s
6.18Louis GerardL. GerardDelahayeT135CS3.6S-6303h26m40.0s
DNF2Tazio NuvolariAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-1228spun off, damaged radius rod
DNF6Hermann MüllerAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-1226valve
DNF26Richard SeamanDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-1221fatal crash
DNF10Giuseppe FarinaG. FarinaAlfa RomeoTipo 3163.0V-1620supercharger
DNF28Adolfo MandirolaA. MandirolaMaserati8CM3.0S-819front suspension
DNF8Georg MeierAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-1213run into a ditch
DNF20Rudolf CaracciolaDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-127spun off, stalled
Fastest lap: Hermann Lang (Mercedes-Benz) in 5m19.9s = 163.2 km/h (101.4 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 152.0 km/h (94.4 mph)
Weather: intermittent local rain showers.


Footnote:
1. The AIACR had decided in October 1938 that grand prix races were to go only over 300 km distance. The French GP, however, was to go over 500 km distance. (Ref.: MOTOR UND SPORT 1938, No.45, p49.) This dicision did not influence the race distance of the Belgian GP.

2. De Graffenried's name is mentioned only in one report that he did not start. It would attach a name to the missing official race number 16. (Ref.: Kölnische Zeitung from June 26, 1939, in "Unter dem Mercedes Stern" from Bodo Herzog.)



Sommer (Alfa Romeo)Horvilleur (Maserati)Durand (Bugatti)

I CIRCUIT DE VITESSE AUTOMOBILE DES REMPARTS

Angoulême (F), 2 July 1939
2 heats of 40 laps x 1.279 km (.795 mi) = 51.16 km (31.79 mi)
Final of 70 laps x 1.279 km (.795 mi) = 89.53 km (55.63 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2Raymond SommerR. SommerAlfa Romeo308 3.0S-8
4Maurice MestivierM. MestivierAmilcar1.3
6Jean TrémouletJ. TrémouletSalmson1.5
8Roger LoyerR. LoyerMaserati1.5
10Maurice TrintignantM. TrintignantBugatti2.3
12Michel RoumaniM. RoumaniBugatti1.5
14Pierre LarrueP. LarrueDelahaye1353.5S-6
16"Toto" GuyardT. GuyardAmilcar1.1
18Jacques Du BruslesJ. Du BruslesBugatti1.9
20Henri DurandH. DurandBugatti1.5
22René BonnetR. BonnetD.B.-Citroen1.9
24Harry HerkuleynsH. HerkuleynsM.G.K3 Magnette1.1S-6
26Francis GuerinF. GuerinBugatti1.5
28Jean-Pierre WimilleJ-P. WimilleBugatti4.7
30Marc HorvilleurM. HorvilleurMaserati4CM1.5S-4
32MalivourMalivourBugatti1.5
34CatharyCatharyBugatti1.5
36Joseph PaulJ. PaulDelahaye135S3.6S-6
38Marcel ContetM. ContetDelahaye2.6S-6



Sommer victorious on a new spectacular street circuit
Entries:

     
Practice:
Heat 1:

Pole Position
36
Paul

Delahaye

28
Wimille

Bugatti

18
Du Brusles

Bugatti

4
Mestivier

Amilcar

34
Cathary

Bugatti

30
Horvilleur

Maserati

22
Bonnet

DB-Citroen

6
Tremoulet

Salmson

12
Roumani

Bugatti



The first Circuit des Remparts was run on a twisty beautiful and highly spectacular circuit on the streets in front of the Angoulême cathedral. This race has for some reason been more or less ignored by the history books. The quite big entry list consisted of French drivers and a mixed car material with Sommer's semi-works Alfa Romeo 308 being the only modern GP car. The entrants where divided in two heats with practice times determining the grid positions. Neither Malivoir nor Sommer managed to do a timed lap, the latter suffering from a broken supercharger shaft at the start of practice.
      The 10 best overall times of the two heats were selected for the final. The high rate of retirements plus Bonnet's slow speed meant that only the two top drivers from the first heat were selected, while the whole field in the second heat except Guerin and Malivour reached the final. Sommer dominated the final itself, the Alfa Romeo beating Horvilleur's and Durand's Voiturettes by three laps.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.36Joseph PaulJ. PaulDelahaye135S3.6S-64051m11s
2.30Marc HorvilleurM. HorvilleurMaserati4CM1.5S-439
3.22René BonnetR. BonnetD.B.-Citroen1.932
DNF18Jacques Du BruslesJ. Du BruslesBugatti1.928radiator
DNF28Jean-Pierre WimilleJ-P. WimilleBugatti4.719transmission
DNF12Michel RoumaniM. RoumaniBugatti1.511?
DNF6Jean TrémouletJ. TrémouletSalmson1.59engine
DNF34CatharyCatharyBugatti1.55?
DNF4Maurice MestivierM. MestivierAmilcar1.34valve
Fastest lap: ?
Winner's medium speed: 60.0 km/h (37.3 mph)
Weather:

Heat 2:

Pole Position
10
Trintignant

Bugatti

8
Loyer

Maserati

16
Guyard

Amilcar

20
Durand

Bugatti

24
Herkuleyns

MG

38
Contet

Delahaye

26
Guérin

Bugatti

14
Larrue

Delahaye

32
Malivoir

Bugatti
-

2
Sommer

Alfa Romeo
-




Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.8Roger LoyerR. LoyerMaserati1.54048m43s
2.2Raymond SommerR. SommerAlfa Romeo3083.0S-84049m02s+ 19s
3.10Maurice TrintignantM. TrintignantBugatti2.339
4.20Henri DurandH. DurandBugatti1.537(-2 laps?)
5.38Marcel ContetM. ContetDelahaye2.6S-635(-2 laps?)
6.14Pierre LarrueP. LarrueDelahaye1353.5S-635
7.24Harry HerkuleynsH. HerkuleynsM.G.S-61.133(-6 laps?)
8.16"Toto" GuyardT. GuyardAmilcar1.132(-6 laps?)
DNF26Francis GuerinF. GuerinBugatti1.531
DNF32MalivourMalivourBugatti1.517
Fastest lap: ?
Winner's medium speed: 63.0 km/h (39.2 mph)
Weather:

Final:

Pole Position
2
Sommer

Alfa Romeo

8
Loyer

Maserati

36
Paul

Delahaye

10
Trintignant

Bugatti

20
Durand

Bugatti

30
Horvilleur

Maserati

14
Larrue

Delahaye

38
Contet

Delahaye

24
Herculeyns

M.G.

16
Guyard

Amicar



In retrospect:

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.2Raymond SommerR. SommerAlfa Romeo3083.0S-8701h25m10s
2.30Marc HorvilleurM. HorvilleurMaserati4CM1.5S-467
3.20Henri DurandH. DurandBugatti1.567
4.38Marcel ContetM. ContetDelahaye2.666
5.10Maurice TrintignantM. TrintignantBugatti2.363(- 8 laps?)
6.24Harry HerkuleynsH. HerkuleynsM.G.1.1S-660
7.16"Toto" GuyardT. GuyardAmilcar1.159(-15 laps?)
DNF8Roger LoyerR. LoyerMaserati1.570fire
DNF36Joseph PaulJ. PaulDelahaye135S3.6S-670crash
DNF14Pierre LarrueP. LarrueDelahaye1353.5S-670?
Fastest lap: ?
Winner's medium speed: 63.1 km/h (39.2 mph)
Weather:


A great thanks to Jean-Maurice Gigleux for providing me with full results for this race.
Also a want to thank Simon Davis for pointing out this film: http://www.circuit-des-remparts.com/
Note that the film is messy with scenes put in much in random order, especially the starts of heat 2 and the final heve been mixed up. Also don't believe 100% in the grids shown in the film. The grid shown on this site for the final should be more or less correct but the one for heat 2 is definitely incorrect.



Hug (Maserati)Wakefield (Maserati)Dipper  (Maserati) - picture to be improved

COUPE DE LA COMMISSION SPORTIVE
(Voiturette 1500cc)

Reims-Gueux (F), 9 July 1939
38 laps x 7.816 km (4.86 mi) = 297.0 km (184.6 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2"B Bira""B Bira"ERAC1.5S-6DNS - crash
4Alfa CorseAlfa Romeo1581.5S-8DNA - Italian boycott
6Alfa CorseAlfa Romeo1581.5S-8DNA - Italian boycott
8Alfa CorseAlfa Romeo1581.5S-8DNA - Italian boycott
10Allen PollockA. PollockERAA1.5S-6
12Robin HansonMrs. M. E. Hall-SmithERAB1.5S-6
12Raymond MaysERA LtdERAE1.5S-6DNA - had left team
14Arthur DobsonERA LtdERAE1.5S-6DNS - engine
16Amédée GordiniEquipe GordiniSimcaT81.1S-4
18Marcel ContetEquipe GordiniSimcaT81.1S-4
20Leonhard JoaSüddeutsche RenngemeinshaftMaserati4CM1.5S-4
22Heinz DipperSüddeutsche RenngemeinshaftMaserati6CM1.5S-6
24Secondo CorsiS. CorsiMaserati4CM1.5S-4DNA - Italian boycott
26George AbecassisG. AbecassisAlta1.5S-4
28Roger LoyerR. LoyerMaserati6CM1.5S-6
30Raymond SommerEcurie BastonMaserati6CM1.5S-6
30Louis GerardBaron de GraffenriedMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNS - alternative driver
32Joseph PaulEquipe GordiniSimcaT81.1S-4
34Luigi PlatéL. PlatéTalbot7001.5S-8DNA - Italian boycott
34John WakefieldJ. WakefieldMaserati4CL1.5S-4Race number re-allocated
36Luigi SoffiettiL. SoffiettiMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA - Italian boycott
36Armand HugScuderia TorinoMaserati4CM1.5S-4Race number re-allocated



Work teams are withdrawn, Bira & Wakefield are out of luck but Hug scores
In 1939 Automobile Club de France was staging a voiturette race, to be known as the Coupe de la Commission Sportive, before the French Grand Prix. Unlike the Grand Prix the voiturette race was open to privateers as long as they had the approval from their car manufacturer.
Entries:
The event was expected to be the voiturette race of the year, surpassing even Tripoli. Already in February Peter Berthon had promised two, if not three E type ERAs to the organizers and they also expected works entries from Maserati, Alfa Corse and Mercedes.
      Alfa Corse initially entered three Alfettas but due to Mussolini's decision that Italians should not race in France, the Alfa entry was withdrawn and that should also have been the reason why Secondo Corsi's Maserati and Luigi Plate's Talbot never turned up. Maserati never entered any cars and Mercedes put all their efforts into the Grand Prix class instead.
      ERA Ltd. finally entered two cars for Mays and Dobson but at the time of the race Mays had already split with the team. So Dobson was the sole works driver, planning to give the new ERA E type its race debut. Mays was replaced in the entry list by privateer Hanson's R6B while Allen Conn Pollock entered the old ex -Embiricos' R2A. With the Italian teams missing the race, Bira, in his Zoller blown ERA R12C "Hanuman", had become one of the main favorites for the victory.
      Among the private Maseratis were Wakefield in his 4CL (#1569) and Hug with his 4CL 16 valve engined 1938 type 4CM (#1555). Germans Dipper and Joa entered their Maseratis and French driver Roger Loyer had another Maserati. Sommer tried to get Alfa Corse to lend one of the Alfettas but without success. Instead he hired a Maserati 6CM initially entered under the Ecurie Baston name for Louis Gérard. The entry name remained the same under the new driver.
      George Abecassis had entered his silver colored Alfa with independent suspension.
      Finally, Gordini had entered three light blue two seat Le Mans type Simca sports cars. They were in fact Fiat 508C's made in Italy with a 1.1 liter un-supercharged engine and heavy rebuilt with streamlined bodies and had really no chance against the race cars. It seems probable that the organizers used them just to fill up the field a bit.
      The Maseratis and the E type ERA had to do a pit stop while the old ERAs were just able to do the race non-stop if care was taken to save fuel.
Practice:
During Thursday practice Dobson in the new ERA was fastest with a time of 2m53.3s.
      Practice continued in Friday afternoon. The weather was cool and windy.
      Dobson was fastest, lowering his time to 2m52.1s, rumoured to do 150 mph on the straight from Garenne to Thillois. But the works ERA team was in trouble as inadequate louvres on the car made the pressure build up on the bonnet on the fast sections of the track, creating over-heating.
      Bira, who had not been present during Thursday practice, did a time of 2m52.3s and Wakefield did a 2m52.7s. No other driver managed to do a time under three minutes.
      Practice continued on Saturday at 8 a.m. Bira did a lap about 2m52s but then, trying to snatch the fastest time away from Dobson, he had a bad accident in the high speed left hander before Virage de la Garenne. Bira lost control and slide backwards into a sandbank, just missing a tree, but "Hanuman" rolled over and became a wreck. Luckily Bira, who had been thrown out of the car, walked away from the wreck with a cut in the hip and he was sent away for an anti-tetanus injection and x-raying.
      The ERA works team had to withdraw their car as the overheating had burnt out three exhaust valves and no fast repairs were possible, so suddenly the event had lost its two fastest entries. That left the field open for Maserati drivers Wakefield and Hug
Race:
Information is a bit messy but it seems Hanson had taken over a works spare car (R7B?) after a main bearing had disintegrated on his own car.(Note 1) But it seems that the spare car had an engine problem as well and Hanson started on 1/3 full tanks, just hoping to do a few laps to be able to get the starting money.
      The field was down to nine race cars and three sports cars, a far cry from the initial expectations.
      The grid was a bit odd, with the top trio obviously being the ones with the fastest times, but looking at the Grand Prix race itself, the pole position was to the right of the grid. In this race it seems to be on the left side for some unknown reason. As the rest of the field also seems to be in rather random order, practice times have not been included here.
Pole Position
34
Wakefield

Maserati

36
Hug

Maserati

10
Pollock

ERA

30
Sommer

Maserati

12
Hanson

ERA

32
J Paul

Simca

26
Abecassis

Alta

16
Gordini

Simca

20
Joa

Maserati

22
Dipper

Maserati

18
Contet

Simca

28
Loyer

Maserati



When the flag dropped Armand Hug was first off, followed by Wakefield, Hanson and Dipper. Pollock in fifth position was taking it easy, his only chance for a top score being to try to make the race non-stop. At the end of the first lap Wakefield had taken over the lead from Hug and he held it for the next laps.
      Abecassis and Loyer were early retirements and Sommer was in trouble with his Maserati.
      On the fifth lap Pollock's plans to cruise through the race failed as he had to retire with a broken gearbox. Wakefield was now leading by five seconds, but his brakes started to fail and on the sixth lap he went wide in the Thillois curve and then immediately entered the pit for fast repairs. He was soon back into the race but continued to struggle so that Hug easily could build up a huge lead. Joa and Sommer retired as did Hanson in third position as the car run out of fuel on lap 13!
      Hug was leading Wakefield by one and a half minute when the duo came in for their fuel stop on lap 19. Both did slow stops and Wakefield had problems with restarting the engine, making his stop to last another 25 seconds as the regulations forbade push starts. Still the two drivers were able to keep their first and second positions.
      Hug could cruise home to an easy win. Wakefield was second, distanced by almost two minutes, and Dipper was third in his silver Maserati, two laps down. The Gordini Simca/Fiats had been slow but reliable and cruised home in the next three positions, six and seven laps down.
In retrospect:
Reims would be winner Hug's last race as just a week later a bad crash at Albi would end his race career.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.36Armand HugScuderia TorinoMaserati4CM1.5S-4381h58m21.6s
2.34John WakefieldJ. WakefieldMaserati4CL1.5S-4382h00m18.4s+ 1m56.8s
3.22Heinz DipperSüddeutsche RenngemeinshaftMaserati6CM1.5S-636
4.16Amédée GordiniEquipe GordiniSimca508C32
5.18Marcel ContetEquipe GordiniSimca508C31
6.32Joseph PaulEquipe GordiniSimca508C31
DNF12Robin HansonMrs. M. E. Hall-SmithERAB1.5S-613out of fuel
DNF30Raymond SommerEcurie BastonMaserati6CM1.5S-610
DNF20Leonhard JoaSüddeutsche RenngemeinshaftMaserati4CM1.5S-438crash
DNF10Allen PollockA. PollockERAA1.5S-65gearbox
DNF28Roger LoyerR. LoyerMaserati6CM1.5S-61
DNF26George AbecassisG. AbecassisAlta1
Fastest lap: John Wakefield (Maserati) in 2m56.2s = 159.7 km/h (99.2 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 150.6 km/h (93.6 mph)
Pole position speed: (Wakefield) 162.9 km/h (101.2 mph)
Weather:


Footnotes:
1. Motor Sport Sep 1940, reprinted in ERA Gold Portfolio, p42

Main sources: Chula Chakrabongse's Blue and Yellow , ERA Gold Portfolio, Venables' Racing Five-Hundreds, Sheldon Vol 4.



Müller (Auto Union)Meier (Auto Union)Le Bègue (Talbot)

XXV GRAND PRIX DE L'AUTOMOBILE CLUB
DE FRANCE


Reims-Gueux (F), 9 July 1939
51 laps x 7.816 km (4.86 mi) = 398.6 km (247.7 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2Alfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8DNA - entry withdrawn
2Raymond SommerR. SommerAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8
4Alfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8DNA - entry withdrawn
4Luigi ChinettiChristian KautzAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8
4Christian KautzChristian KautzAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8DNS - alternative driver
6Alfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8DNA - entry withdrawn
6Yves MatraChristian KautzAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8
8Tazio NuvolariAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
10Hans StuckAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
12Hermann MüllerAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
14Georg MeierAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
14Rudolf HasseAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12DNS - alternative driver
16Rudolf CaracciolaDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
18Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
18Walter BäumerDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12DNS - alternative driver
18Hans Hugo HartmannDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12DNS - alternative driver
20Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
22Richard SeamanDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12DNA - fatal crash at Belgian GP
24Officine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-8DNA - entry withdrawn
26Officine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-8DNA - entry withdrawn
28Jean TrémouletSEFACSEFAC3.02x4DNA
30René DreyfusEcurie Lucy O'Reilly SchellDelahaye1454.5V-12
32"Raph"Ecurie Lucy O'Reilly SchellDelahaye1454.5V-12
34Philippe EtancelinAutomobiles Talbot-DarracqTalbotMD4.5S-6
36René Le BègueAutomobiles Talbot-DarracqTalbotMD4.5S-6
38Raymond MaysAutomobiles Talbot-DarracqTalbotMC4.5S-6



Mercedes disaster gives Hermann Müller his greatest moment
Entries:
The Spanish Civil War had ended but the French races were still to be boycotted by Italian drivers and teams.. Auto Union asked for Nuvolari to race and got permission. The Alfa Romeos were entered by Christian Kautz to avoid any future problems with the Italian authorities. Talbot introduced their new "Monoplace Centrale" for Mays to drive and also entered two "Monoplace Decalée" cars. Lucy Schell entered her Delahaye 145 cars for Dreyfus and "Raph".
      Mercedes-Benz entered three cars for their senior drivers and also had Baumer and Hartmann as reserves. All three cars had the new two stage supercharging.
      Auto Union also introduced two-stage supercharging for the French GP. Four cars were entered for their usual drivers with Hasse as reserve.
     
     
Practice:
On the bettered track the Mercedes cars dominated the practice. On the long straights the cars reached 300 km/h. Lang made a 2:27.7 lap during the first practice, a lap that no one could come near to during the other sessions, to take the pole position.
Race:

Pole Position
8
Nuvolari

Auto Union
2m29.9s

16
Caracciola

Mercedes
2m29.6s

20
Lang

Mercedes
2m27.7s

12
Müller

Auto Union
2m31.7s

18
Brauchitsch

Mercedes
2m30.4s

36
LeBegue

Talbot
2m46.3s

14
Meier

Auto Union
2m36.9s

10
Stuck

Auto Union
2m35.0s

38
Mays

Talbot
2m53.7s

34
Étancelin

Talbot
2m50.2s

2
Sommer

Alfa Romeo
2m58.7s

4
Chinetti

Alfa Romeo
2m58.4s

30
Dreyfus

Delahaye
2m54.4s

32
"Raph"

Delahaye
3m03.0s

6
Matra

Alfa Romeo
3m01.3s



The GP race was preceded by a Voiturette race won by Hug. A rain shower created a short delay before the race could be started. When Raymond Roche finally dropped the flag Nuvolari made an excellent start to lead the field followed by Caracciola, Lang and von Brauchitsch. All the top drivers were fighting for the lead and coming into the first corner at the Gueux village Caracciola, who clearly was out to beat Lang, overdid it and slid off the track and crashed into a house wall, splitting his fuel tank. After the first lap Nuvolari was leading Lang by 1.5 s. Behind them came Müller, Meier, von Brauchitsch and Stuck together with Étancelin leading the rest further behind.
      Lang and Nuvolari now had a tremendous duel for the lead. On lap 5 Lang finally managed to pass the "Flying Mantuan" just before the pits and started to pull away. Such was the speed that he already started to lap the Delahaye cars. Von Brauchitsch succeeded in passing Meier for the fourth place and started to challenge Müller. After seven laps Lang led Nuvolari by 5 seconds with the rest of the German cars half a minute behind. Nuvolari had not given up and both drivers were racing flat out. That was more than Nuvolari's gearbox could stand and the Auto Union entered the pits on lap 8 to retire. Lang now had a lead of 38 seconds over Müller and von Brauchitsch.
      After 10 laps Mays called it a day, The new "central" Talbot had never showed the speed of the offset sister cars. By lap 16 Lang's lead had increased to 1 minute but on the next lap there was trouble for the Mercedes team as von Brauchitsch suddenly retired with a broken piston. Lang bettered the lap record on lap 19 and 20 before Neubauer sent a signal for him to calm down as he was the sole Mercedes left against three Auto Unions.
      On lap 22 the pit stops began with Müller coming in first followed by Stuck, both making half a minute stops. The work of the Auto Union mechanics were sloppy that day, spilling fuel all over the place and during Meier's stop the car caught fire. The fire was soon extinguished and Meier was able to jump back into the car and continue, holding his badly burned arm up in the wind too cool it down.
      Lang made a 35 seconds stop without loosing his lead and managed to open up a 135 s gap but soon afterwards smoke began to come out of the exhaust. Lang tried to continue but on lap 36 a piston blew, making the race into a Mercedes disaster. Müller took over the lead and continued in a slow pace. There came a few showers that further slowed him down but the former motorcycle driver went on to take the flag for his first and only Grand Prix victory. Behind him Meier fought with one hand to steer his Auto Union home to a second place in only his second GP start. Le Bègue led the Talbots and Alfas home several laps behind the winners.
In retrospect:

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.12Hermann MüllerAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12512h21m11.8s
2.14Georg MeierAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-1250
3.36René Le BègueAutomobiles Talbot-DarracqTalbotMD4.5S-648
4.34Philippe EtancelinAutomobiles Talbot-DarracqTalbotMD4.5S-648
5.2Raymond SommerR. SommerAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-847
6.10Hans StuckAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-1247
7.30René DreyfusEcurie Lucy O'Reilly SchellDelahaye1454.5V-1245
8.4Luigi ChinettiChristian KautzAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-845
9.32"Raph"Ecurie Lucy O'Reilly SchellDelahaye1454.5V-1244
DNF20Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-1236engine
DNF18Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-1217engine
DNF6Yves MatraChristian KautzAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-817
DNF38Raymond MaysAutomobiles Talbot-DarracqTalbotMC4.5S-610split tank
DNF8Tazio NuvolariAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-128gearbox
DNF16Rudolf CaracciolaDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-121crash
Fastest lap: Hermann Lang (Mercedes-Benz) in 2m32.2s (2:32.9s?) = 184.9 km/h (114.9 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 169.4 km/h (105.3 mph)
Pole position speed: 190.5 km/h (118.4 mph)
Weather:




L. Villoresi (Maserati)Cortese (Maserati)Romano (Maserati)

I CIRCUITO DEL CARNARO
(Voiturette 1500cc)

Circuito del Carnaro - Abbazia (I), 9 July 1939
25 laps 6.0 km (3,7 mi) = 150.0 km (93.2 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2Paul PietschScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6
4Luigi VilloresiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati4CL1.5S-4
6Franco CorteseOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati4CL1.5S-4
8Pino BaruffiP. BaruffiMaserati6CM1.5S-6
10Giovanni RoccoOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6
12Emilio RomanoE. RomanoMaserati6CM1.5S-6
14Guido BarbieriG. BarbieriMaserati6CM1.5S-6
16Enrico PlatéE. PlatéMaserati6CM1.5S-6
18Catullo LamiC LamiMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA
20Vico PaglianoC LamiMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA
22Carlo BonomiScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNS



... while the Italian drivers get a consolation prize
Entries:

     
Practice:
Race:

Pole Position
4
L Villoresi

Maserati

6
Cortese

Maserati

10
Rocco

Maserati

2
Pietsch

Maserati

14
Barbieri

Maserati

12
Romano

Maserati

8
Baruffi

Maserati

16
E Platé

Maserati



The Italians organized a race in Abbazia the same day as the French GP as Mussolini had denied the Italian works teams to start in France. In an all-Maserati field the works cars of Rocco (6CM with a 4CL engine), Luigi Villoresi and Cortese dominated the race. Rocco got problems leaving Luigi Villoresi, still shaken from the death of his brother three weeks earlier, to win an easy victory.
In retrospect:

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.4Luigi VilloresiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati4CL1.5S-4251h10m41.2s
2.6Franco CorteseOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati4CL1.5S-4251h11m03.4s+ 22.2s
3.12Emilio RomanoE. RomanoMaserati6CM1.5S-6251h18m17.6s+ 7m36.4s
4.10Giovanni RoccoOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-624
DNF16Enrico PlatéE. PlatéMaserati6CM1.5S-64mechanical
DNF8Pino BaruffiP. BaruffiMaserati6CM1.5S-63mechanical
DNF14Guido BarbieriG. BarbieriMaserati6CM1.5S-61crash
DNF2Paul PietschScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-61engine
Fastest lap: Luigi Villoresi (Maserati) on lap 20 in 2m45.2s = 130.8 km/h (81.2 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 127.3 km/h (79.1 mph)
Weather:


Race number source: "Il littoriale XIII-164"



Wakefield (Maserati)Tongue (Maserati)Bira (ERA)

GRAND PRIX DE L´ALBIGEOIS
(Voiturette 1500cc)

Les Planques - Albi (F), 16 July 1939
2 heats of 20 laps x 8.9 km (5.53 mi) = 178.0 km (110.6 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2Leonhard JoaSüdddeutsche RenngemainschaftMaserati4CM1.5S-4DNA
4Heinz DipperSüdddeutsche RenngemainschaftMaserati6CM1.5S-6
6Raymond SommerR. SommerMaserati6CM1.5S-6
8Roger LoyerR. LoyerMaserati6CM1.5S-6
10Armand HugScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM/CL1.5S-4DNS - crash
12Louis GerardL. GerardMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA - car rent to Sommer
14Arthur DobsonERA LtdERAE1.5S-6
16"B Bira""B Bira"ERAB1.5S-6
18Raymond MaysR. MaysERAB1.5S-6
20Paul PietschScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA
22Reggie TongueR. TongueMaserati4CL1.5S-4
24Emmanuel de GraffenriedEcurie AutosportMaserati6CM1.5S-6
26Jean DelormeJ. DelormeBugattiT51A1.5S-8
28Harry HerkuleynsH. HerkuleynsMGK3 Magnette1.1S-6
30George AbecassisG. AbecassisAlta1.5S-4
32John WakefieldJ. WakefieldMaserati4CL1.5S-4
34Marc HorvilleurM. HorvilleurMaserati4CM1.5S-4
36Marcel ContetM. ContetMaserati4CM1.5S-4
38Leslie BrookeL. BrookeBrooke-AltaSpl1.5S-4



Wakefield dominates, but Hug's crash casts a shadow over the event
The Albi race, run in two heats with results added together, was overshadowed by talent Swiss Armand Hug's huge practice crash that made him permanently invalidized. The E type ERA led first heat but crashed. Mays retired when a wheel came loose. Wakefield on a one stop strategy won the first heat from Tongue and an ill Bira, who however had decided that he had to race as soon as possible after his Reims crash. The same trio was at the top in the second heat and in the overall results.
The seventh Albi Grand Prix, run to the voiturette formula, followed its earlier format of two 20 laps heats with the aggregate results deciding the overall victor.
Entries:
Mussolini was still boycotting France so of course there were no Italian teams at Albi.
      Cook had entered the new E-type ERA for Arthur Dobson. After having to withdraw the car from the "Coupe de la Commision Sportive" Cook decided that he had to withdraw from Albi as well and do testing at Montlhéry instead. However, the Montlhéry tests proved so encouraging that the team changed their minds and decided to go to Albi anyway.
      Bira was back after his Reims crash with R4B "Romulus", which had been in France as a spare car, and Mays entered his usual R4D.
      Tongue's and Wakefield's 4CL's (#1567 & #1569) were the fastest of 12 Maseratis in the entry list, the other 10 being the usual mix of older four and six cylinder cars driven by French Contet, Horvilleur, Loyer & Sommer (in Louis Gérard's car), German Pietch, Dipper & Joa and Swiss Hug and de Graffenried. Delorme's Bugatti, Herkuleyns' M.G., Abecassis´ Alfa and Brooke's Alta-engined Brooke Special completed the field.
Practice:
Practice opened up on Friday with Dobson going fastest with the new ERA, doing 3m25s with Mays and Hug being one second slower. (Note 1)
      Saturday practice was badly disturbed by rain that continued into the afternoon. An anti-tetanus injection at Reims had given Bira a bad painful rash, he had had problems to sleep and his head was so swollen he could hardly see, but he was determined to race to get himself over the Reims crash. Wakefield in his Maserati was fastest with a time of 3m29s followed by Dobson's 3m30s. The other drivers were much slower. However, the practice was totally overshadowed by the accident of Armand Hug. The Swiss driver lost control of his Maserati and crashed into a telegraph pole. Hug was thrown out and hit the road head first, fracturing the base of his skull. H e was sent to hospital in unconscious condition.
Heat 1:
It was heavy rain again on Sunday morning but in the afternoon the sun appeared and the weather turned hot. The Albi event once again proved to be popular and there were a huge number of spectators waiting for the 15 cars to line up and the first heat to begin.
Pole Position
32
Wakefield

Maserati
3m29s

18
Mays

ERA
3m26s

14
Dobson

ERA
3m25s

16
"B Bira"

ERA
3m51s

22
Tongue

Maserati
3m35s

24
Graffenried

Maserati
4m08s

4
Dipper

Maserati
3m59s

6
Sommer

Maserati
3m56s

36
Contet

Maserati
4m13s

38
Brooke

Brooke


30
Abecassis

Alta


34
Horwilleur

Maserati
4m14s

28
Herkuleyns

MG
4m35s

8
Loyer

Maserati


26
Delorme

Bugatti
5m34s



As the flag dropped Dobson, in the sleek light green ERA, took the lead followed by the two 4CL Maseratis of Wakefield and Tongue, width Bira's and Mays' ERAs in fourth and fifth position. Even with Mays not pushing, the old "Romulus" with its ill driver was no match for the Zoller blown D type ERA, and after the second lap Mays went past Bira while Dobson in the lead had opened up a four seconds gap to the Maseratis. The situation remained the same for the next four laps but as Mays passed the pit after six laps the pit crew noticed to their horror that a hub cab was missing. There were no means of warning the driver but when the wheel went off Mays luckily was able to stop the car without crashing. Bira was now back to fourth with Abecassis fifth.
      Dobson's engine started to misfire and as the trouble got worse the pit decided to call the car in immediately. Trying to spare the car another lap ERA racing manager Mayne hurried to the corner before the pits to signal the driver. Dobson noticed the signal, braked hard and then lost control. The ERA spun into the straw bales damaging the tail and splitting the tank, forcing it to retire on the spot.
      That meant that Wakefield was now leading from Tongue and Bira. Further back in the field Brooke, to the cheers of the spectators, was doing some fearless driving, putting his car into some wild slides and passing car after car. On lap 12 he overdid it and spun in the corner before the pit but he managed to continue the race.
      Even with Wakefield doing a short pitstop for fuel the order in the top remained the same until the end of the heat. Wakefield took the victory before Tongue and Bira. Those three where the only unlapped competitors. All together 12 drivers managed to take the flag.
      Notable is that now when heat times were to be added and when it would have been convenient to get as many cars as possible to finish all the 20 laps, the often seen practice of the prewar era to let the race go on for some time was for some reason not used. Instead all cars were flagged of as soon as possible after Wakefield had taken the flag.
Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.32John WakefieldJ. WakefieldMaserati4CL1.5S-4201h10m22s
2.22Reggie TongueR. TongueMaserati4CL1.5S-4201h11m52s+ 1m30s
3.16"B Bira""B Bira"ERAB1.5S-6201h13m42s+ 3m20s
4.30George AbecassisG. AbecassisAlta1.5S-4191h11m47s
5.4Heinz DipperSüdddeutsche RenngemainschaftMaserati6CM1.5S-6191h11m48s
6.38Leslie BrookeL. BrookeBrooke-AltaSpl1.5S-4191h12m22s
7.6Raymond SommerR. SommerMaserati6CM1.5S-6181h10m41s
8.24Emmanuel de GraffenriedEcurie AutosportMaserati6CM1.5S-6181h11m14s
9.34Marc HorvilleurM. HorvilleurMaserati4CM1.5S-4181h12m11s
10.36Marcel ContetM. ContetMaserati4CM1.5S-4181h13m47s
11.28Harry HerkuleynsH. HerkuleynsMGK3 Magnette1.1S-6161h13m28s
12.26Jean DelormeJ. DelormeBugattiT51A1.5S-8141h10m47s
DNF14Arthur DobsonERA LtdERAE1.5S-69/13? crash
DNF18Raymond MaysR. MaysERAB1.5S-66lost wheel
DNF8Roger LoyerR. LoyerMaserati6CM1.5S-60mechanical
Fastest lap: Arthur Dobson (ERA) on lap 4 in 3m22s = 158.6 km/h (98.6 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 151.8 km/h (94.3 mph)
Pole position speed: 156.3 km/h (97.1 mph) Weather:

Heat 2:
The cars lined up in the finishing order of the first heat:
Pole Position
16
"B Bira"

ERA

22
Tongue

Maserati

34
Wakefield

Maserati

4
Dipper

Maserati

30
Abecassis

Alta

24
Graffenried

Maserati

6
Sommer

Maserati

38
Brooke

Brooke

36
Contet

Maserati

34
Horvilleur

Maserati

26
Delorme

Bugatti

28
Herkuleyns

MG


Wakefield, again starting on low fuel load, immediately took control of the race, pulling away fast from Tongue, who in turn pulled away from Bira. The only real excitement proved again to be Brooke, who challenged Dipper and managed to pass the silver colored Maserati for fifth position on lap 8. He then caught Abecassis on the next lap but at the same moment Abecassis' engine seized solid and Brooke, unable to react, crashed straight into the slowing down Alta at high speed. Brooke's car overturned and rolled several laps but amazingly both drivers were able to walk away from the accident. On lap 15 Wakefield did his fast pit stop and after some problems with getting the engine to restart he came back out still holding the lead with Tongue now 14 s behind. The situation remained the same till the end of the heat. Wakefield lapped third positioned Bira not far from the chequered flag.
      As the second heat had the same top three result as the first one that was of course also the final combined result with Wakefield taking yet another victory with the Maserati 4CL with Tongue as convincing second while an ill Bira was glad for finish third in his slower spare car.
In retrospect:
After being unconscious for several weeks at an Albi hospital, Hug was finally transported to his home in Lausanne by air. Having damaged the spinal cord Hug never fully recovered but remained a semi-invalid.
      After the race examining the E type ERA it was found that one of the exhaust valves that had created problems already at Reims had failed, forcing Dobson to pit with the known result.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.32John WakefieldJ. WakefieldMaserati4CL1.5S-4201h10m58.8s
2.22Reggie TongueR. TongueMaserati4CL1.5S-4201h11m18s+ 19.8s
3.16"B Bira""B Bira"ERAB1.5S-6191h11m02s
4.4Heinz DipperSüdddeutsche RenngemainschaftMaserati6CM1.5S-6191h12m29s
5.6Raymond SommerEcurie AutosportMaserati6CM1.5S-6191h14m15s
6.24Emmanuel de GraffenriedEcurie AutosportMaserati6CM1.5S-6181h12m21s
7.28Harry HerkuleynsH. HerkuleynsMGK3 Magnette1.1S-4151h11m44s
8.26Jean DelormeJ. DelormeBugattiT51A1.5S-8151h15m05s
9.34Marc HorvilleurM. HorvilleurMaserati4CM1.5S-4141h12m01s
DNF38Leslie BrookeL. BrookeBrooke-AltaSpl1.5S-49crash
DNF30George AbecassisG. AbecassisAlta1.5S-49crash
DNF36Marcel ContetM. ContetMaserati4CM1.5S-42mechanical
Fastest lap: John Wakefield (Maserati) in 3m22s = 158.6 km/h (98.6 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 150.5 km/h (93.5 mph)
Weather:



Results (Aggregate)

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.32John WakefieldJ. WakefieldMaserati4CL1.5S-4402h21m10.8s
2.22Reggie TongueR. TongueMaserati4CL1.5S-4402h23m10s+ 1m49.2s
3.16"B Bira""B Bira"ERAB1.5S-6392h24m44s
4.4Heinz DipperSüdddeutsche RenngemainschaftMaserati6CM1.5S-6382h24m17s
5.6Raymond SommerEcurie AutosportMaserati6CM1.5S-6372h24m56s
6.24Emmanuel de GraffenriedEcurie AutosportMaserati6CM1.5S-6362h23m35s
7.34Marc HorvilleurM. HorvilleurMaserati4CM1.5S-4322h24m12s
8.28Harry HerkuleynsH. HerkuleynsMGK3 Magnette1.1S-6312h25m12s
9.26Jean DelormeJ. DelormeBugattiT51A1.5S-8292h25m52s
Winner's medium speed: 151.1 km/h (93.9 mph)

Footnote:
1. 3m26s exactly corresponds to the 96.65 mph mentioned in Chula Chakrabongse's "Blue and Yellow". However, the grid in Sheldon's "A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Vol. 4" gives Mays a time of 3.27s.




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© 2014 Leif Snellman, Felix Muelas - Last updated: 04.05.2014