VIII GRAND PRIX DE COMMINGES
St Gaudens (F), 14 August 1932.
1500cc: 12 laps x 26.3 km (16.3 mi) = 315.6 km (196.1 mi)
2000 cc: 14 laps x 26.3 km (16.3 mi) = 368.2 km (228.8 mi)
Over 2000 cc: 16 laps x 26.3 km (16.3 mi) = 420.8 km (261.5 mi)
Rain shower makes Zehender a surprise winner
by Leif Snellman
33 cars in three classes took part in the race. "Williams" (Bugatti) took the lead but was an early retirement. Lehoux (Bugatti) then held the lead for just one lap before Dreyfus (Bugatti) took control
of the race. He was chased by Wimille (Alfa Romeo) and during a rain shower at the end of the race both Dreyfus and Wimille crashed giving the victory to Zehender (Alfa Romeo).
The two litre class, flagged off after 14 laps, was dominated by Count Czaykowski (Bugatti) and the voiturette class, flagged off at 12 laps, by Veyron (Maserati)
The Comminges GP, organized by Automobile Club du Midi, was run on 14 August, the same day as the Coppa Acerbo. It included races for motor bikes and cars.
This was to be the last race on the 26.3 km long variant of the road circuit. Marshalling and the need to keep two bridges closed for other traffic during the event proved too troublesome and for 1933 the
circuit would be replaced by a shorter 11 km variant on the north side of the river.
This was in fact three races in one. All the cars started together and the classes were to be flagged off at different laps, the voiturettes after 12 laps, the 2 litre cars after 14 laps, and those in the
open class after 16 laps, one lap more than the years before.
There was a splendid entry list for the race, In the unlimited class almost the whole French driver elite was present: Jean-Pierre Wimille, Philippe Etancelin, Raymond Sommer and Pierre Félix with their Alfa Romeo
Monzas against René Dreyfus, Marcel Lehoux , Benoît Falchetto and Jean Gaupillat with the Bugatti T51. Add to that Italian Geoffredo Zehender in his Monza and British-French driver "Williams" with his Bugatti.
Missing among the well known drivers was count Czaykowski, who preferred to race in the 2 litre class, and Louis Trintignant, who was listed in the 2 litre class as well but did not appear.
Laurens Cousinié and Raoul Miquel with their older Bugattis and Jean de Maleplane with a Maserati also took part in the free formula class.
The 2 litre class was an all Bugatti affair with five of the entries apart from the already mentioned Czaykowski coming to the start. They were familiar names as well: Jean Delorme, Charles Druck, "Ivernel",
"Ralph", and Comminges specialist Honoré Lormand.
14 drivers took part in the voiturette race. The main opponents were Bugatti drivers Augustin Cochin, racing under the name "Eric Lora", Alain Guilbaut, and the Maserati drivers "Antonio" Valette and Pierre Veyron,
the latter as usual in the car owned by Andre Vagniez.
Marcel Lister was obviously still waiting for his new Maserati to be delivered.
There might have been a special price for the 1100cc cars as they are specially mentioned in an entry list shown in El Mundo Deportivo even if they are not specially mentioned in the results lists. They were the usual
mix of Amilcars and Salmsons with a few BNCs and "specials" added.
All the classes were starting together, the 33 cars lining up three abreast in 11 rows.
Williams made the best start and at the end of the first lap Williams was still leading followed by Lehoux and the Alfa Romeos of Zehender, Wimille, Sommer and Etancelin and behind them came Falchetto in his
Bugatti. On the second lap Williams retired with fuel feed problems giving over the lead to Lehoux. Dreyfus had made a great second lap and had passed several cars to reach second position and on the next lap
he passed Lehoux for the lead, breaking the lap record with a time of 10m49s. On the next laps he lowered the record further to 10m30s and then again to 10m25s and opened up a gap of over one minute to Lehoux.
The situation after five laps was:
|1. Dreyfus (Alfa Romeo)||52m29s|
|2. Lehoux (Bugatti)||53m34s|
|3. Wimille (Alfa Romeo)||54m37s|
|4. Zehender (Alfa Romeo)||56m10s|
|5. Gaupillat (Bugatti)||56m42s|
|6. Sommer (Alfa Romeo)||57m49s|
|7. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)||58m15s|
|8. Lombard (Bugatti)||1m03m51s|
|9. "Ivernel" (Bugatti)||1m05m42s|
On the next lap Lehoux slid wide and damaged a tyre forcing him to do a pit stop that dropped him backwards in the order.
The 2 litre class was dominated by Czaykowski while in the voiturette class Dourel initially had held the lead with his 1.1 litre Amilcar but then Veyron with his Maserati had taken control of the race.
The race order after 7 laps was:
|1. Dreyfus (Alfa Romeo)|
|2. Wimille (Alfa Romeo)|
|3. Zehender (Alfa Romeo)|
|4. Gaupillat (Bugatti)|
|5. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)|
|6. Sommer (Alfa Romeo)|
Wimille, in second position some 2 minutes in front of Zehender, now speeded up and started to gain on Dreyfus. On the ninth lap Gaupillat retired his Bugatti from fourth position with transmission problems and
Etancelin had to retire as well on the same lap. Sommer went off road and through a picket fence at Huos but was able to continue.
Lehoux on new tyres was running flat out trying to gain back his lost positions, and he set a new lap record of 10m29s, which would stand throughout the race.
After 11 laps Dreyfus was still leading but with Wimille just 40 seconds behind him. Zehender was four minutes behind Wimille with Lehoux, now up to fourth position, another four minutes behind.
It was time to flag off the smaller classes. First the voiturette class with Veyron in the Maserati being the winner. Veyron could now add Comminges to his Casablanca and Lorraine voiturette victories in his
excellent 1932 season, which would earn him a works support from Bugatti in 1933. 6 1/2 minutes behind him followed Dourel in his 1.1 litre Amilcar and 2 1/2 minutes later Valette in the other Maserati.
About at that time the heavens opened and a shower hit the grandstand section of the circuit. All race fans know what a rain at the end of a race can do, Monaco 1982 being the prime example.
The spectators at the section before the right curve that led to the uphill section with the main grandstand could see, with some intervals between them, three cars coming towards them. First in row Felix, who was
about to be lapped, then leader Dreyfus, about to start his last lap, and chasing him Wimille. In the downpour Felix got into a skid and crashed into a ditch. Unable to get himself out the driver was pulled out
of the wreck, but he had not been seriously wounded.
Soon after him Dreyfus arrived and lost control at the very same spot. After a series of skids the Bugatti crashed into a tree, got airborne and turned over throwing out the driver on the road. If the tree had not
been in the way it is possible the car might have ended up among the spectators with tragic consequences.
Wimille, who by a skilful maneuver had avoided getting involved in Dreyfus' accident, now took over the lead and went out on his last lap.
A few minutes later Czaykowski took the flag to win the 2 litre class with a huge 16 minute margin.
Covered with blood Dreyfus was rushed to a first aid post and then sent on to hospital. The injuries were fortunately restricted to cuts and bruises and a very sore shoulder.
The drama continued at just two kilometers into Wimille's last lap, after he had passed the bridge over river Garonne to Valentine. Leader Wimille crashed his "Monza" on the slippery road and was thrown out just as
Dreyfus. Luckily, Wimille also got away with just scratches.
So suddenly Zehender in his "Monza" found himself leading the race. It is not known if he was aware of the situation until he saw the chequered flag but at least he did not make any mistakes on the last lap and took
a fine victory. He was followed to the flag by Lehoux with his Bugatti, Lombard, who took 2nd place in the 2 litre class, two laps behind, and then Sommer in his blue Monza, who finished third in the libre class.
|1.||14||Goffredo Zehender||G. Zehender||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||16||3h02m21s|
|2.||2||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||16||3h05m46s||+ 3m25s|
|3.||12||Raymond Sommer||R. Sommer||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||16||3h13m30s||+ 11m09s|
|4.||24||Benoît Falchetto||B. Falchetto||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||15|
|5.||30||Jean de Maleplane||J. de Maleplane||Maserati||26M||2.8||S-8||15|
|DNF||10||Jean-Pierre Wimille||J-P. Wimille||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||15||crash|
|DNF||22||René Dreyfus||R. Dreyfus||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||14||crash|
|DNF||16||Pierre Félix ||P. Félix ||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||13||crash|
|DNF||34||Raoul Miquel||R. Miquel||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8|
|DNF||28||Laurens Cousinié||L. Cousinié||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8|
|DNF||26||Philippe Etancelin||P. Etancelin||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||8|
|DNF||6||Jean Gaupillat||J. Gaupillat||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||8||transmission|
|DNF||20||"Williams"||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||1||fuel starvation|
Fastest lap: Marcel Lehoux (Bugatti) in 10m29.0s = 150.5 km/h (93.5 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 138.5 km/h (86.0 mph)
Weather: Rain shower at the end of the race.
Results (2000 cc)
|1.||60||Stanisłas Czaykowski||S. Czaykowski||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||14||2h52m36s|| |
|2.||70||Honoré Lormand||H. Lormand||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||14||3h09m25s||+ 16m49s|
|DNF||46||"Ralph"||M. Rousselet||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8|| || || |
|DNF||52||Jean Delorme||J. Delorme||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|| || || |
|DNF||62||Charles Druck||C. Druck||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|| || || |
Fastest lap: Stanisłas Czaykowski (Bugatti) in 11m48s =133.7 km/h (83.1 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 128.0 km/h (79.5 mph)
Results (Voiturette 1500 cc)
There were obviously some problems with retyping the timekeeper's results that day as winner's speed, 138.459 km/h, came out as 139.439 km/h in all newspapers and there were also two variants of "Ivernel's"
time: 3h44m06s and 3h14m46s. The latter should obviously be the correct one, because had the race continued for another half an hour Falchetto and de Maleplane would surely have had time to do all 16 laps, instead
of being flagged off.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
IL LITTORIALE, Bologna
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
L'Éclaireur de Nice
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
Motor Sport, London
VIII GRAND PRIX de LA BAULE
La Baule (F), 17 August 1932 (Wednesday).
25 laps x 6 km (3.73 mi) = 150.0 km (93.2 mi)
Williams' second La Baule victory
by Leif Snellman
The race was to be run in two heats on two consecutive days but the first day race was scratched because of a storm. In the second day's race "Williams" took the lead and held it
to the finish. His strong Bugatti T54 was in its own class on the straights, making up for slower cornering. Behind him several drivers were fighting for second position. In the
end with Lehoux, Etancelin and Fourny falling back Bouriat finished second with Falchetto third. Mme Siko was the winner of the "Ladies Cup".
Hardly had the French drivers taken the flag at the Comminges Grand Prix before some of the teams had to start packing their things in a hurry to make themselves ready for the night
trip across Gascoigne up to the Atlantic coast to the next race on the calendar, the La Baule Grand Prix, where practice started the very next day, i.e. on Monday.
That event was once again, much to entertain the tourists, held on the sandy beach of the French sea resort la Baule near Saint Nazaire. The circuit consisted of two three kilometre
long straights on the beach connected by hairpins at each end. The race was this year divided into two parts with 25 laps equalling 150 km to be raced both on Tuesday 16 and
Wednesday 17 August. Due to the tide the Tuesday race was planned to start between 10:00 and 11:00, and the Wednesday race between 10:30 and 11:30. Race time was restricted to 1 1/2 hour.
Prizes were as follows: 5,000, 2,000 & 1,000 Fr for the top three in each of the two races. For the combined results: 40,000 Fr and a silver trophy donated by newspaper Le Matin for
the winner, 15.000 Fr for second place, then 10,000, 5,000, 4,000, 2,500, 2,000, 2,000, 2,000 and 1,500 Fr for positions three to ten. There were also a "Ladies Cup" and a
"Coupe Mohammad Hassan", donated by the brother of the disposed Shah of Persia, for the fastest 1100cc car.
The organizers published an impressive entry list with 35 names. The cars were not divided into classes but all raced against each other, some drivers going for horsepower, other for light
cars. However, in the end there were "only" 21 starters in the event and because of incomplete results only 18 of them are known by name. Wimille and Dreyfus had both crashed at Comminges,
the latter injuring his arm, and were definitely not racing at La Baule, and neither was Comminges GP winner Zehender nor Scaron. Probably Sommer was a non-starter as well as he isn't
mentioned once in any race report.
However, at least 7 of the Comminges competitors were present. They included Bugatti T51 drivers Marcel Lehoux, Guy Bouriat, and Benoît Falchetto while "Williams" had replaced his T51
for his huge T54. Charles Druck entered his Bugatti, Jean de Maleplane raced his Maserati and Philippe Etancelin his Alfa Romeo Monza.
Max Fourny, Ricardo Bernasconi, Ducouret, and Priolet raced Bugattis. Ferdinand Montier (the son) raced the Ford based Montier Speciale with two engines mounted in tandem for a total of
Among the voiturette entries were Louis Desvaud in an Amilcar and André Rossignol in a Chenard-Walcker.
There were three competitors for the ladies' cup with "Helle-Nice" in her Bugatti T35C challenged by French driver Odette Siko, who had finished 4th overall at the 1932 LeMans (the best ever
for a female competitor), and American millionaire daughter Lucy O'Reilly Schell, both racing Alfa Romeo 6C-1750.
At 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning a violent but short lived storm hit la Baule. Even though the weather remained overcast and threatening, there was still hope that the race could be run in normal order.
A huge crowd gathered on the stands and on the boulevards and streets near the beach, the cars were rolled out on the track, some including Etancelin and Lehoux made fast laps to be sure the track
was still in order and then they lined up three and three for the start.
Just as everything was ready the storm returned. Strong winds and thunder were followed by a heavy downpour. Everything turned black and it rained cats and dogs for more than an hour.
As soon as the storm calmed down a bit the "official car" was sent out for a test lap. Back came the report that the sand had softened and there were holes and washouts that could not be fixed in
time to allow racing before the tide would interrupt the event.
At 11:15 the organizers held a meeting and then announced that the first day's race had been scratched and that there were changes to the second day's prizes as follows:
45,000 Fr and a silver trophy would be given to the winner, then 17.000, 11.000, 6.000, 5.000, 3.500, 3.000, 2.500, 2.500 & 2.000 Fr for 2nd to 10th positions and 500 Fr each for 11th-15th position.
The Wednesday weather turned out to be fine and sunny. Once again the spectators arrived in hordes to the beach. Dignities included the French ambassador in Germany and the earlier mentioned Mohammad Hassan.
The cars were lined up, 21 in total, on the grid three and three. The grid is unknown but as the cars seem to have been numbered according to engine size it's quite possible that they were lined up
in that order on the grid as well.
At 11a.m the race was started by Maurice Benoist, winner of the 1924 la Baule race and brother to Robert Benoist. "Williams" immediately took the lead, followed by Lehoux, Fourny, Bouriat, and Etancelin.
"Williams" finished the first lap in 2m34s, already beating the former lap record by two seconds, with Etancelin and Lehoux following him some 100 meters behind. On the second lap "Williams" was lowering
the lap record to 2m27s. Lehoux was now up to second position and behind him followed Etancelin, Bouriat and Fourny.
After the third lap the order was "Williams", Fourny, Lehoux and Bouriat. Falchetto had moved up to fifth while Etancelin had fallen backwards.
On the fourth lap "Williams" was closely followed by Fourny and Bouriat while Lehoux was in trouble and had lost a position.
Bouriat passed Fourny and took up the chase on "Williams", who was now leading by 3 seconds. De Maleplane had passed Etancelin.
Lehoux retired on the sixth lap.
Bouriat was considerably faster in the hairpins but "Williams" gained so much on the straights that Bouriat never was able to get close enough for an attack. Slowly but surely the distance between the
duo and Fourny behind got longer and longer as the latter started to struggle.
"Williams" kept up his high speed making lap 8 in 2m28s and laps 9and 10 in 2m30s. Situation after 10 laps:
|2. Bouriat (Bugatti)||25m06s|
|3. Falchetto (Bugatti)||~25m36s|
"Williams" made both lap 11 & 12 in 2m27s. Race order: "Williams", Bouriat, Falchetto, de Maleplane, Fourny, Etancelin and Druck.
On the13th lap Etancelin retired as did "Helle Nice". "Williams" continued making sub 2m30s laps and Bouriat was no longer able to answer. After 15 laps the gap was up to 27 seconds:
|2. Bouriat (Bugatti)||37m47s|
|3. Falchetto (Bugatti)||38m50s|
|4. de Maleplane (Maserati)||39m10s|
|5. Druck (Bugatti)||40m10s|
On the next five laps "Williams" opened up the gap with a further 24 seconds, that's about 5s a lap. On lap 18 "Williams" made a new lap record, 2m25s, which would stand as the fastest lap of the day.
Situation after 20 laps:
|1. "Williams" (Bugatti)||49m42s|
|2. Bouriat (Bugatti)||50m33s|
|3. Falchetto (Bugatti)|
|4. de Maleplane (Maserati)|
During the last laps "Williams'" superiority became just more proven as he continued to open up the gap with 7 seconds a lap to take the victory about 1 1/2 minute in front of Bouriat with Falchetto,
lapped by the winner, finishing third.
De Malaplane was fourth, Ducouret fifth, Montier with the big special sixth, and Mme Siko seventh and winner of the "Ladies Cup". Fourny was eighth and Desvaud ninth and last to complete the 25 laps winning
Coupe Mohammad Hassan as the best 1.5 liter car.
Bonuses were awarded to some riders who were still running at the end, although they had not completed the needed laps in 1 1/2 hours. These are Lucy Schell, who received 1.500 Fr, and Rossignol who got 500 Fr.
Fourny and Druck also got a 500 Fr bonus, possibly for good performance early in the race?
|1.||3||"Williams"||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T54||5.0||S-8||25||1h01m57.2s|
|2.||11||Guy Bouriat||G. Bouriat||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||25||1h03m25.0s||+ 1m27.8s|
|3.||18||Benoît Falchetto||B. Falchetto||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||25||1h05m15.2s||+ 3m18.0s|
|4.||4||Jean de Maleplane||J. de Maleplane||Maserati||26M||2.5||S-8||25||1h05m45.6s||+ 3m48.4s|
|5.||26||A. Ducouret||A. Ducouret||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||25||1h13m30.6s||+ 11m33.4s|
|6.||2||Ferdinand Montier||F. Montier||Montier Ford||Speciale||4.1||2x4||25||1h14m26.4s||+ 12m29.2s|
|7.||28||Mme Odette Siko||Mme O. Siko||Alfa Romeo||6C-1750||1.8||S-6||25||1h23m01.8s||+ 21m04.6s|
|8.||17||Max Fourny||Fourny||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||25||1h27m52.0s||+ 25m54.8s|
|9.||34||Louis Desvaud||L. Desvaud||Amilcar||CGS||1.1||S-6||25||1h28m24.0s||+ 26m26.8s|
|DNC||29||Lucy Schell||Mme L. O'Reilly-Schell||Alfa Romeo||6C-1750||1.8||S-6||20||1h29m14.0s|
|DNC||31||André Rossignol||A. Rossignol||Chenard-Walcker||Y?||1.5||S-4||20||1h29m55.0s|
|DNF||22||Charles Druck||C. Druck||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
|DNF||35||Maurice Mestivier||M. Mestivier||Amilcar||1.1|
|DNF||25||Ricardo Bernasconi||R. Bernasconi||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8|
|DNF||21||"Mlle Helle-Nice"||"Mlle Helle-Nice"||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||13|
|DNF||8||Philippe Etancelin||P. Etancelin||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||13|
|DNF||15||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||6|
|DNF?||36||Louis Martin||L. Martin||BNC||527||1.1|
|DNF?||37||Yves Desbois||Y. Desbois||Rosengart||0.75|
Fastest lap: "Williams" (Bugatti) on lap 18 in 2m25s = 149.0 km/h (92.6 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 145.3 km/h (90.3 mph)
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Echo de Paris, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
Motor Sport, London
The Motor, London
Stefan von Déván: Automobil und Motorrad Weltalmanach 1933
Special thanks to:
20 August 1932: Cyril Whitcroft (Riley 1.1 litre) wins the RAC Tourist Trophy sports car
handicap race at Ards near Belfast from George Eyston (Riley 1.1 litre) and Eddie Hall (M.G. Midget 0.7 litre).
20 August 1932: Luigi Fagioli (Maserati) wins the Circuito di Senigallia sports car
race in Italy from Pietro Ghersi (Alfa Romeo 8C-2300) and Antonio Brivio (Alfa Romeo 8C-2300).