Ardenza Circuit, Livorno (I), 7 August 1938
40 laps x 5.8 km (3.6 mi) = 232.0 km (144.2 mi)
Lang wins the Coppa Ciano
by Hans Etzrodt and Leif Snellman
The 1938 Coppa Ciano over 40 laps was a minor event. Of the 11 starters the two Mercedes of Caracciola and Lang took the lead ahead of Farina (Alfa Romeo), Trossi (Maserati), Brauchitsch (Mercedes) followed by six others.
On the 2nd lap Zehender (Maserati) retired. On the 4th lap Trossi took the lead ahead of Caracciola, Lang, Farina and Brauchitsch. At this time Comotti (Delahaye) retired. When Trossi stopped on lap nine, Caracciola
re-took the lead, Lang became second ahead of Brauchitsch who had passed Farina. Trossi had fallen one lap behind and stopped again on the 13th lap when Brauchitsch spun into the straw bales and backed out with reverse gear.
Enthusiastic spectators helped push his car on the track, which was a rules violation. Trossi eventually retired on the 16th lap including Teagno (Maserati). After 20 laps Caracciola led ahead of Lang, Farina and Brauchitsch.
When Caracciola stopped to change tires, Lang took the lead ahead of Farina, Caracciola and Brauchitsch. On lap 24 the sick Wimille handed his Alfa Romeo to Biondetti. Caracciola retired after 26 laps when Farina stopped
at the pits and Brauchitsch became second behind Lang. Brauchitsch chased after Lang who stopped near the end to change rear wheels, so Brauchitsch took the lead which he kept until the finish. After Brauchitsch was
presented to the Contessa Ciano as the winner to receive the first prize, a protest was placed by Alfa Corse and the German was disqualified. So then Lang was declared the winner and received the Ciano Cup. Farina came
second, Wimille/Biondetti third, Belmondo fourth, and Dreyfus fifth.
The organization of the 18th Coppa Ciano was overseen by RACI. The event counted towards the 1938 Italian and European Championships, to be held on the Ardenza town circuit, which was shortened from 7.200 km to
5.800 km, leading through narrow streets and being bordered by walls, located just south of Livorno (Leghorn in English). From the start at Rotonda Ardenza, Via del Mare, Ardenza terra, Via del Litorale, Via Aurelia,
Piazza Bartolomei (Antignano), Piazza del Castello, then along the narrow 1.4 km coastal straight of Viale Vittorio Emanuele, the only place to pass another car, then back to Rotonda Ardenza.
The Coppa Ciano was to be the first severe confrontation of the season among the three manufacturers. The total cash prizes for the 1500 cc class were 35,000 Lire, and for the Grand Prix class 90,000 Lire. Thus, the
general total cash prizes of 125,000 Lire was less than the 150,000 lire of the past.
The Coppa or trophy was donated by the Italian Navy hero Costanzo Ciano for a 1927 Montenero sports car race, which was named after the trophy. The Coppa Ciano name was applied for the second time to the 1928 Montenero
sports car race. As of 1929, when the sports car race was dropped from the program, the Coppa Ciano name was assigned to the racecar event for the first time.
There were 11 entries listed. Daimler-Benz was present with four cars, one of them for practice, for the three drivers, Rudolf Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Hermann Lang. Seaman was not entered and Walter
Bäumer was the reserve driver. The radiators of the three Mercedes were again painted and framed in different colors to enable the pit crew to recognize the cars from a long distance. Brauchitsch's radiator was framed
in red, Lang blue and Caracciola gray. Because of the high outside temperatures all W 154 drove without covered exhaust pipes. For the same reason the cars of Lang and Brauchitsch both had an additional oil cooler
installed to the right side of a wider radiator grill. Caracciola drove a lighter experimental version of the W 154 with a different tank lay-out to improve the car's handling. The car had two little cowls on top
of the radiator. The additional oil cooler opening to the right side of the radiator grill was installed rather elegantly.
The Auto Union team had not entered their cars and instead prepared seriously for the Coppa Acerbo race, one week later.
Alfa Corse managed the Alfa Romeo team with four Grand Prix cars present at the pits. Two red type 312, 3-L 12-cylinder cars for Giuseppe Farina and Jean-Pierre Wimille, who drove the first time with the team.
A 16-cylinder car type 316 was tested but not raced.
The official Maserati Team entered two of the new 8CTF type with 3-liter 8-cylinder engine for Carlo Felice Trossi and Goffredo Zehender, driving instead of Varzi, who was still sick.
René Dreyfus and Gianfranco Comotti were driving for Ecurie Bleu, managed by Madame Schell from Paris, who entered two Delahaye 145 types with 4.5-L, V-12 engines not supercharged.
Edoaro Teagno drove a 3-L 8CM Maserati entered by Scuderia Sabauda. Vittorio Belmondo drove an Alfa Romeo type 308, with Renato Belestrero his reserve driver.
August 4 - Thursday, was the first day of official practice on a very hot day with ground temperature of 45 degrees Celsius. Maserati and Alfa Romeo cars were announced, and when the circuit closed at 1pm, almost all
drivers were present. The timetable for Thursday, Friday and Saturday practice remained the same: from 1 to 2 pm, the 1500 cc cars had practice and from 2 to 3 pm, the large cars were on the track. All participants
had to be at 12.30 at the finish line in Ardenza. Brauchitsch in the Mercedes drove the fastest time in 2m26.0s at 143.013 km/h average speed. Caracciola and Lang drove laps at 135.913 km/h in 2m 33.6s. The new Maseratis
were expected to practice on Friday.
|Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)||2m26.0s - 2m29.8s - 2m33.6s|
|Farina (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||2m29.6s - 2m30.8s|
|Wimille (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||2m31.2s - 2m42.6s|
|Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)||2m32.8s - 2m33.6s - 2m33.8s|
|Lang (Mercedes-Benz)||2m33.6s - 2m35.0s - 2m44.0s|
|Farina (Alfa Romeo 16-cyl.)||2m34.8s|
|Belmondo (Alfa Romeo 8-cyl.)||2m38.6s|
|Severi (Alfa Romeo 1500)||2m39.2s|
|Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 1500)||2m40.0s|
|L. Villoresi (Maserati 1500)||2m45.4s|
August 5 - Friday practice took place with temperatures unchanged hot. After the first two practice days, the times achieved by the drivers of the two teams proved that there was a great balance. Apart from the fast lap
completed by Trossi in 2m35s with a 6-cylinder Maserati, Viloresi had lapped in just over 2m36s and Biondetti, who had the best time of 1500 Alfa Romeos in 2m37s. Farina with the Alfa Romeo 12-cylinder, lapped in 2m29.6s,
an excellent time even if compared to Caracciola with 2m25s and Lang with 2m27.6s. Trossi, with the eight-cylinder Maserati even scored a magnificent 2m26.0s. The Delahaye were not practicing.
|Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)||2m25.0s - 2m26.8s - 2m35s|
|Lang (Mercedes-Benz)||10m07.0s - 135 km/h|
|Trossi (Maserati 8-cyl.)||2m26.0s - 2m26.6s|
|Brauchitsch Mercedes-Benz)||2m26.4s - 2m29.4s - 2m30.0s|
|Lang (Mercedes-Benz)||2m27.6s - 2m29.6s - 2m33.0s|
|Farina (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||2m29.6s|
|Wimille (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||2m31.2s|
|Trossi (Maserati 6-cyl.)||2m35.0s - 2m35.2s|
|L. Villoresi (Maserati 6-cyl.)||2m36.2s - 2m37.2s|
|Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 1500)||2m31.8s - 2m37.0s|
|Belmondo (Alfa Romeo 8-cyl.)||2m49.0s|
August 6 - Saturday was the last practice and took place under a scorching sun. Emilio Villoresi with the new 1500 Alfa Romeo set a record of 2m31s, followed by Severi with 2m33s and Biondetti with 2m34.0s. Luigi Villoresi
recorded 2m35s, while Cortese lapped in 2m37s and Marazza in 2m42s. The best time of the day was set by Trossi in the 8-cylinder Maserati with 2m26s, repeated twice in a row. The Mercedes did not go below 2m27s today,
recorded by Lang. Farina lapped in 2m28s improving yesterday's time, again with the 12-cylinder, and Wimille, recovering from his disturbance yesterday, in 2m31s also with the 12-cylinder. The 16-cylinder Alfa Romeo
would not race as it was expected until yesterday. Farina and Wimille will start with the 12-cylinders, while Belmondo will drive his eight-cylinder in which he set a time of 2m38s. The second 8-cylinder Maserati will
not be driven by Varzi because as he was still sick. Instead, the car will be driven by Zehender, who on Saturday practiced in 2m36s, his best time of the day. The two Delahayes of Comotti and Dreyfus did not record
|Trossi (Maserati 8-cyl.)||2m26.0s - 2m26.2s|
|Lang (Mercedes-Benz)||2m26.8s - 2m27.0s|
|Farina (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||2m27.8s - 2m28.0s|
|E. Villoresi (Alfa Romeo 1500)||2m31.0s - 2m31.2s|
|Wimille (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||2m31.0s|
|Severi (Alfa Romeo 1500)||2m33.0s|
|Biondetti (Alfa Romeo)||2m33.4s - 2m34.0s - 2m34.6s|
|L. Villoresi (Maserati 1500)||2m35.0s|
|Zehender (Maserati 8-cyl.)||2m31.0s - 2m36.0s|
|Belmondo (Alfa Romeo 8-cyl.)||2m38.0s|
Scrutineering of the cars and other formalities took place Saturday morning at the Hotel Palazzo at 10 am. From 10 to 10:30 the 1500 cars, with the exception of those belonging to Maserati and Alfa Corrse.
From 10:30 to 11 Alfa Corse. From 11 to 11:30 Mercedes. From 11:30 to 12 Delahaye and Maserati. At 6 pm at the RACI offices, presided by Giuseppe Verdi, the drawing of the pits took place.
Sunday was again a very hot day with blue sky. The 145 km race of the 1500 cars held in the great heat of the afternoon preceded the Grand Prix cars and was won by Emilio Villoresi in 1h05m21.6s with a new Alfa Romeo.
The starting grid was supposed to be arranged by order of the best practice times of each driver. The organizer published only the order of the staring grid but not the practice times. The best times of each driver shown
in the starting grid below were published in the various practice press reports. Evidently, the order of the starting grid was not by order of the practice times achieved but by intuition.
After the presentation of the drivers made to Costanto Ciano, the timekeeper engineer Ghio lowered the silky flag to start the race. Caracciola and Lang were in front, followed by Farina. Trossi, the fastest in practice,
started slow in fourth position, although still ahead of Brauchitsch and Wimille. The others were further behind, but did not count for absolute victory. During the first three laps they passed in this order. Zehender's
Maserati retired on the 2nd lap with clutch failure. Trossi in fourth place passed first Farina; then Lang. After the next lap Trossi overhauled Caracciola and took the lead with a record lap of 2m26.8s, just as his Maserati
and the Mercedes crossed the finish line next to each other. The enthusiastic roar of the crowd was said to be higher than the noise of the engines. Trossi in the lead with his red Maserati meant that the crowd began to
cheer. On lap five Comotti retired the Delahaye. After 29 km, Trossi led when the order was as follows after 5 laps:
|2.||Caracciola (Mercedes Benz)||12m37.6s|
|4.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||12m40.0s|
Trossi dominated for four laps, while the gap between his car and Caracciola's was getting progressively bigger and on lap eight the gap was five seconds. Lang and Brauchitsch both passed slightly delayed and with a dented
bonnet, a clear sign of road contacts due to excessive enthusiasm. On lap nine Trossi stopped to change spark plugs and Caracciola retook the lead while Trossi still lingered after a few laps to adjust brakes, then changed
spark plugs again. Farina was fourth behind the three Mercedes, after having held up Brauchitsch for a few laps. After 58 km, Caracciola led at an average of 139.107 km/h when the order was as follows after 10 laps:
|1.||Caracciola (Mercedes Benz)||25m00.0s|
|2.||Lang (Mercedes Benz)||25m05.0s|
|4.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||25m15.4s|
|5.||Wimille (Alfa Romeo)||26m09.4s|
Behind the five leading cars, the others were far away and no longer counted, including Zehender and Comotti who had retired earlier. The race went on like this, up to the 13th lap, when Trossi again stopped at the pits.
On the same lap Farina passed in third position instead of Brauchitsch who had lost time. As he and Lang passed the pits to enter the fast long right-hand bend which follows, they were side by side, both sliding towards
the outside of the curve when Lang eased up slightly and Brauchitsch accelerated too much, got into a slide, turning right around and finishing into the straw bales. He brought the car with running engine in reverse gear
back onto the track but could not fend off helping spectators pushing his undamaged car back into the race despite his protest calls. So, he formally violated the regulations using outside assistance. Trossi retired on
lap 16, including Teagno's Maserati. The official explanation that caused Trossi's Maserati to retire, was caused by the perforation of the float of one of the two carburetors. The race went on like this with Caracciola
first, Lang second, Farina third and Brauchitsch fourth. After 116 km, Caracciola led at an average of 140.105 km/h with the times as follows after 20 laps:
|1.||Caracciola (Mercedes Benz)||49m40s|
|2.||Lang (Mercedes Benz)||50m10s|
|3.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||50m21s|
|5.||Wimille (Alfa Romeo)||53m01s|
This order remained until the 21st lap, at the end Caracciola stopped at the pits with the right rear tire in shreads. The tire cover had flung off, causing a hole in the rear tank, so Caracciola rejoined the race with a
leaking tank. Now Lang held the lead, Farina was second, Brauchitsch third and fouth was Caracciola who did a new fastest lap in 2m26.4s. Lang on lap 25 improved this time. Wimille who drove his first race for
Alfa Corse, stopped on lap 24 as he was suffering from kidney trouble and handed over his car to reserve driver Biondetti. After 145 km, Lang led with order as follows after 25 laps:
|1.||Lang (Mercedes Benz)||1h02m33.0s|
|2.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h02m53.6s|
|5.||Wimille / Biondetti (Alfa Romeo)||1h05m41.8s|
|6.||Belmondo (Alfa Romeo)||1h06m08.4s|
Lang held a lead of 23 seconds to Farina. Caracciola retired after 26 laps due to his leaking tank. On the following lap Farina had to stop to refuel and Brauchitsch gained second place. The field was now down to
six cars. After 174 km Lang led at an average of 139.249 km/h when the order was as follows after 30 laps:
|1.||Lang (Mercedes Benz)||1h14m58.6s|
|2.||Brauchitsch (Mercedes Benz)||1h15m26.2s|
|3.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h16m06.4s|
|4.||Wimille / Biondetti (Alfa Romeo)||1h18m32.0s|
|5.||Belmondo (Alfa Romeo)||1h20m27.0s|
Meanwhile, Lang and Brauchitsch began a battle for the fastest lap. On the 31st lap it was Brauchitsch who made a lap in 2m25.4s and on the following lap Lang did the same time. The gap between the two was 24 seconds with
Farina third, about 1m30s behind the leader. After 203 km, Lang led with the times as follows after 35 laps:
|1.||Lang (Mercedes Benz)||1h27m12.6s|
|2.||Brauchitsch (Mercedes Benz)||1h27m35.4s|
|3.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h28m43.2s|
|4.||Wimille / Biondetti (Alfa Romeo)||1h31m24.0s|
|5.||Belmondo (Alfa Romeo)||1h33m49.6s|
All that remained now was the wait for Lang's arrival, but he experienced the same damage that Caracciola had suffered, when the cover of the left rear tire came off and knocked a hole through the rear fuel tank. But it
happened in the last laps, so Lang had the rear wheels changed and the tank refilled. It took only 37 seconds but was enough for Brauchitsch to take the lead by 48 seconds at the finish. Farina ended up third on the
same lap, fourth was Biondetti in Wimille's car one lap behind, fifth Belmondo two laps behind, sixth and last Dreyfus three laps behind.
At the end of the race, Brauchitsch, Lang and Farina were guided to the grandstand to receive congratulations of the Contessa Ciano. Only thereafter did Alfa Corse file a protest against Brauchitsch's victory. It was
Giuseppe Furmanik personally who was responsible for the disqualification and he overruled the organizers wishes in his position of being President of the RACI Sporting Commission. Brauchitsch had received outside help
to rejoin after his spin into the straw bales and thereby had violated the regulations. Brauchitsch declared that the engine had not stalled and he used the reverse gear to drive out of the straw bales but he could not
prevent overzealous spectators pushing the car. In spite of it, Brauchitsch, who finished first, was then disqualified. As a result, Lang was then declared the winner and all other cars moved ahead one place in the
standings. Mercedes intended to file a protest but then changed their mind.
|DSQ||54||Manfred von Brauchitsch||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W 154||3.0||V-12||40||1h39m56.2s||Disqualified|
|1.||46||Hermann Lang||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W 154||3.0||V-12||40||1h40m35.2s|
|2.||50||Giuseppe Farina||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 312||3.0||V-12||40||1h41m23.2s||+ 48.0s|
|3.||62||J-P. Wimille / C. Biondetti ||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 312||3.0||V-12||39||1h41m49.2s|
|4.||42||Vittorio Belmondo||V. Belmondo||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 308||3.0||S-8||38||1h41m53.2s|
|5.||48||René Dreyfus||Ecurie Bleue||Delahaye||145||4.5||V-12||37||1h43m15.0s|
|DNF||44||Rudolf Caracciola||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W 154||3.0||V-12||26||fuel tank|
|DNF||60||Edoardo Teagno||Scuderia Sabauda||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||15|
|DNF||56||Carlo Felice Trossi||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8CTF||3.0||S-8||15||engine|
|DNF||58||Gianfranco Comotti||Ecurie Bleue||Delahaye||145||4.5||V-12||4|
|DNF||52||Goffredo Zehender||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8CTF||3.0||S-8||1||clutch|
Fastest lap: Hermann Lang & Manfred von Brauchitsch (Mercedes Benz) on lap 31 and 32 in 2m25.4s = 143.6 km/h (89.2 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 138.4 km/h (86.0 mph)
Fastest qualifying lap speed: 144.0 km/h (89.5 mph)
Weather: great heat, dry
Practice and intermediate times differed now and then between the sources. We believe to have selected the correct times.
Charles Faroux wrote in L'Auto: A big incident - Shortly after the finish, a protest was lodged against the winner for the following fact: Brauchitsch spun, then coming from behind in contact with the straw bales,
reversed to resume his direction and, he is pushed by some spectators, for no other reason than feeling, since the engine was still running. Admittedly, a regulation is formal. Again, you might agree that it was thought
to make it impossible for the spectators, out of overzealousness, or even for another less honorable reason, to cause a driver to be disqualified.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Aachener Anzeiger, Aachen
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Corriere del Tirreno, Livorno
DDAC Motorwelt, München
IL LITTORIALE, Roma
IL Telegrafo, Livorno
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
RACI settimanale, Roma
Rheinisch-Westfälische Zeitung, Essen
Special thanks to:
XIV° COPPA ACERBO
Pescara (I), 14 August 1938
16 laps x 25.8 km (16.0 mi) = 412.8 km (256.5 mi)
Caracciola was the sole German survivor
by Hans Etzrodt and Leif Snellman
At the 16-lap Coppa Acerbo race around the 25.8 km Pescara circuit started the five works teams of Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Delahaye and the independent Alfa Romeo of Belmondo.
The event was of great significance as it was the last test ahead of the upcoming Italian Grand Prix. Biondetti (Alfa Romeo) who started for Sommer, retired on the first lap. On lap two Nuvolari left his
Auto Union at a chicane with seized supercharger bearing while Brauchitsch stopped his Mercedes at the pits with broken engine. Caracciola's Mercedes was in the lead since lap two, second was teammate Lang.
His car caught fire on the fifth lap and burned out. Then Caracciola led the Auto Unions of Müller and Hasse. Luigi Villoresi in his first grand prix drive took over the Maserati from injured Trossi.
When Caracciola refueled on lap nine, Müller took the lead only to retire soon with a broken fuel pump. On the same lap Dreyfus (Delahaye) was impeded by teammate Comotti and forced into a ditch.
On his way back to retire at the pits with broken gearbox, Dreyfus stopped to give Lang, who was walking back along the road side, a ride to the pits. The rested Trossi retook his Maserati in second
place behind Caracciola but the Italian retired on lap 11. Hasse was now second ahead of Farina, Belmondo and Comotti (Delahaye). When the last Auto Union retired with a broken axle shaft on lap 13,
the order was Caracciola, Farina, Belmondo, Comotti, which was the order the four cars finished the 3-hour race.
The Coppa Acerbo was first held in 1924 when Minister Giacomo Acerbo named the race in honor of his brother Capitano Tito Acerbo, a decorated war hero, who was killed during the last year of WW I.
Now in its 14th running it had become one of the more important events of the international calendar and was held on August 14. Practically the same 25.8 km Pescara circuit was in use for 1938; however,
road surface improvements had made it a faster course over the years. The cars had to complete 16 laps, a total of 412.8 km. It was triangular in shape consisting of regular roads with all the normal
road hazards. The start was outside the Adriatic seaside resort of Pescara, where the road went straight for about one kilometer along the shore. Before Pescara the circuit made a sharp right turn,
heading inland for about 11 km along a winding road up into the Abruzzi Mountains, through forests and the hill villages of Villa Raspa, Montani, Spoltore, Pornace and Villa S. Maria, rising to 190 meters
above sea level. Then the circuit descended to Capelle sul Tavo where there was a slow righthand hairpin exiting under a bridge. From here, the road led into the approximately 11 km long Monte Silvano
downhill straight to the coast at blistering speed. The Monte Silvano straight was followed by a fast right turn at Monte Silvano railroad station, which led into the Lungo Mare straight along the coast
back to the start. To slow the cars on that sea-level straight, since 1934 a large artificial chicane had been introduced just before the start-finish area, to reduce the speed as cars passed the pits.
Additionally, the organizers once again added an artificial chicane on each of the two straights, breaking the two long straights into four sections. It was no longer possible to 'fly' at maximum speed
and stay at this rate for about a minute. Officially, these chicanes reduced the risks of high speeds that could be reached on the straights but more truthfully, they tended to interrupt the long sprints
which favored the more powerful German cars.
Raffaele Staccioli, president of the Pescara Automobile Club, was organizing the 1938 event with assistance of Minister Giacomo Acerbo, of the A.C. Pescara, also race director commendatore Castagneto and others.
Of the 13 entries listed, Daimler-Benz was present with four cars, one of them was for practice. The drivers were Rudolf Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Hermann Lang. Walter Bäumer was the reserve
driver and Richard Seaman was not entered. The improved W 154 cars from the Coppa Ciano were reworked in the factory and could not take part at the Coppa Acerbo. So, only the conventional W154 cars were
seen at the start.
The Auto Union team had not raced at the preceding Coppa Ciano to be able instead improving and preparing for the Coppa Acerbo race. They entered two of the latest type D cars for Tazio Nuvolari and
H.P. Müller while Rudolf Hasse drove the older type C/D. Stuck was not present as he practiced for the important 12.6 km Grossglockner-mountain climb in Germany.
Alfa Corse managed the Alfa Romeo team with two red 3-Liter 12-cylinder cars for Giuseppe Farina and also Clemente Biondetti who replaced Raymond Sommer as the Frenchman was still troubled by his chest
after his crash a few weeks ago.
The Maserati Team entered two of the new 8CTF type with 3-liter 8-cylinder engine for Carlo Felice Trossi and Luigi Villoresi. But only Trossi started with his car which he shared with Luigi Villoresi.
René Dreyfus and Gianfranco Comotti were driving for Ecurie Bleu, managed by Madame Schell from Paris, who entered two Delahaye 145 types with 4.5-L, V-12 engines, not supercharged.
Vittorio Belmondo was the only independent entry with an Alfa Romeo type 308, which he had previously raced at the Coppa Ciano race where he finished third.
August 12 - Friday morning was the first day of official practice from 8 to 12 a.m. It was very hot, 31 degrees Celsius with ground temperature of 42 degrees. Numerous spectators were present to watch Nuvolari
in the Auto Union driving the fastest lap in 11m15.8s at 137.457 km/h. Brauchitsch was quickest of the Mercedes drivers in 11m17s, Lang 11m20.6s and Caracciola 11m24.6s. The remaining drivers were considerably
slower, like Farina in the Alfa Romeo in 11m42s and Sommer 11m40s while the Delahayes of Comotti needed 12m29s and Dreyfus 12m39.6s. Maserati were not present on Friday.
|Nuvolari (Auto Union)||11m15.8s - 11m15.6s - 11m15.14s|
|Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)||11m17.0s - 11m40.0s - 11m40.4s - 11m40.8s|
|Lang (Mercedes-Benz))||11m20.6s - 11m26.1s - 11m26.2s|
|Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)||11m24.4s - 11m24.6s - 11m24.8s|
|Sommer (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||11m40.0s - 12m40.0s|
|Farina (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||11m42.0s|
|Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||12m25.0s - standing start|
|Hasse (Auto Union)||12m28.0s|
|Comotti (Delahaye)||12m29.0s - 12m29.2s|
|Dreyfus (Delahaye)||12m39.0s - 12m39.6s|
|Belmondo (Alfa Romeo 8-cyl.)||12m45.0s - 12m45.4s|
August 13 - Saturday practice did not bring the expected faster times as a strong down pour soaked the area for quite some time and the wet roads did not allow fast times. Trossi in the Maserati was satisfied
with 13-minute laps which placed him at the very end of the starting grid but Alfa Corse had him at 11m52s, while E. Villoresi in the other Maserati lapped in 11m43s. The Mercedes drivers practiced on wet roads.
Caracciola reached 12m24.2s, Lang 12m26.3s and Brauchitsch 12m43s. Auto Union waited for the roads to dry before they started practice. Müller's best lap was 11m30.2s, Hasse's 11m52s and Nuvolari 11m26.4s,
clocked by Alfa Corse.
|Nuvolari (Auto Union)||11m26.4s - 16m55.0s|
|Müller (Auto Union)||11m30.2s - 11m30.4s|
|E. Villoresi (Maserati)||11m43.0s - 12m23.8s - 12m23.0s|
|Farina (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||11m49.0s - 11m52.0s - 13m02.6s|
|Hasse (Auto Union)||11m52.0s - 11m52.6s - 20m17.4s|
|Trossi (Maserati)||11m52.0s - 13m00.0s - 13m52.2s|
|Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 12-cyl.)||11m56.0s - 12m13.4s - 12m23.0s - 12m26.0s|
|Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)||12m24.2s - 12m24.4s|
|Belmondo (Alfa Romeo 8-cyl.)||12m26.0s|
|Lang (Mercedes-Benz)||12m26.3s - 12m26.8s - 12m26.6s|
|Sommer (Alfa Romeo)||12m43.0s|
Sunday 8:00 in the morning, preceding the Grand Prix, the 1500 car race was started, over six laps or 154.8 km. Luigi Villoresi won in 1h10m49.57s with a Maserati. A large crowd witnessed the Grand Prix race.
The twelve cars were to be arranged by order of the best practice times of each driver. The organizer published only the order of the staring grid but not the practice times. So, the best times of each driver
shown in the starting grid below, were published in the various practice press reports. Evidently, the order of the starting grid was not by practice times but by intuition. Luigi Villoresi (Maserati) did not
start. Sommer (Alfa Romeo) also did not start as he still suffered from prior injuries and Biondetti replaced him.
The race start was scheduled at around 9:30 a.m. The clock above the pits showed the time at 9:50 a.m. when General Alberto Pariani lowered the flag. Brauchitsch nosed his car in front of Caracciola and Lang,
followed by Nuvolari and Müller. These five cars drove close together at an incredible fast pace dictated by Brauchitsch.
At the end of the first lap, Brauchitsch lead in 11m13.51s ahead of Caracciola in 11m19.12s, Lang 11m20.00s, Nuvolari 11m23.91s and Müller close together, followed by Farina, Trossi, Hasse, Belmondo, Comotti,
Dreyfus and at the tail a slowing Biondetti (Alfa Romeo) who had started for Sommer but retired on the first lap due to a broken valve.
After the second lap Caracciola had taken the lead in 22m26.8s, followed by Lang in 22m29.8s, Müller in 22m41.9s, Trossi 22m52.5s, Farina 23m00.3s, Hasse 23m18.1s, Belmondo 24m29.8s and the Delahayes of Comotti
and Dreyfus. Brauchitsch slowly reached his pits after 24m04.1s and retired with a broken engine. Nuvolari came walking to the pits after he retired at a chicane with supercharger bearing damage.
At the end of three laps, Caracciola still held the lead in 33m26.5s, ahead of Lang in 33m44.3s, Müller 34m01.9s, Trossi 34m04.2s, Farina 34m23.1s, Hasse 34m40.8s, Belmondo 36m24.9s and the Delahaye of Comotti
and Dreyfus in 36m26.3s and 36m26.8s.
After four laps Caracciola led ahead of Lang and Trossi, who had now passed Müller. Farina in fifth place stopped at his pit to change spark plugs. Caracciola held the lead with the 9-car field in the following
order after the 4th lap:
|4.||Müller (Auto Union)|
|5.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)|
|6.||Hasse (Auto Union||46m04s|
|7.||Belmondo (Alfa Romeo)||48m07s|
On the long downhill-straight the race organizer had a speed trap installed. Caracciola was stopped at 276.923 km/h, Müller (Auto Union) and Lang (Mercedes) 268.656 km/h, Hasse 267.705 km/h, L. Villoresi for
Trossi (3-L Maserati) 268 km/h, Dreyfus (Delahaye) 260.869 km/h, Trossi (Maserati) 257.142 km/h.
On lap five Trossi's fast Maserati skidded off track and bumped the tail of the car. While getting the Maserati back onto the road, Trossi pulled a muscle in his arm so badly that he stopped at the pits.
There he handed the wheel to reserve driver Luigi Villoresi, in his first ever Grand Prix race, telling him to drive the car for five laps, just to hold position. But then Villoresi drove away rather fast.
His prior experience in the fast Maserati were only two practice laps in the rain. On the same lap Lang, who was doing about 280 km/h on the downhill straight, had a conrod let go, cutting fuel and ignition
lines which started a fire while he was breaking hard for the first chicane. The center fuel tank also seemed to have been damaged, so fuel was flowing over the engine and ignited. Lang could not see the
flames in the bright sun through his dark goggles but felt the unbearable heat on his feet. He was still breaking hard and steered into a side road. Before the car came to a stop, Lang removed the detachable
steering wheel and jumped with it out just before a 30-meter-tall jet of flame shot towards the sky. There were no fire extinguishers. In the tanks were 240 liters of racing fuel. The heat of the fire was
unbelievable. Lang walked to the other side of the road and had to watch how his beautiful car burned out. In the meantime, Caracciola in first place completed the fifth lap in 55m53.8s, Müller second
56m30.3s, Hasse third 57m28.3s, followed by the remaining five cars.
After 154.8 km, Caracciola held the lead at 138.176 km/h average speed with the 8-car field in the following order after the sixth lap:
|2.||Müller (Auto Union)||1h07m46s|
|3.||Hasse (Auto Union)||1h08m46s|
|4.||Trossi / L. Villoresi (Maserati)||1h09m27s|
|5.||Belmondo (Alfa Romeo)||1h11m33s|
|7.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h12m00s|
After eight laps, half the race, Caracciola was first with 1h29m41.6s and stopped to refuel for 43 seconds, Müller was second in 1h30m14.5s and passed into the lead. But at km 6.3 he retired at mid-course
with a defective fuel pump. Hasse was third in 1h31m46.0s and also stopped to refuel in 50 seconds, followed by Villoresi for Trossi, Farina, Belmondo, Dreyfus and Comotti.
After lap nine Caracciola was still in the lead ahead of second placed Villoresi who made the fastest lap in 10m57s at 141.368 km/h average speed. Third was Hasse followed by Farina, Belmondo, Comotti and
Dreyfus, who was hindered by Comotti and drove into a ditch. Later on, while Lang was walking back along the road side, Dreyfus stopped his wide Delahaye and gave Lang a ride back to the pits where he retired
with gearbox problems.
After ten laps Caracciola led the six-car field at 136.335 km/h average speed, nearly two minutes ahead of his nearest follower, Trossi in the Maserati, who on lap 10 relieved Villoresi and re-joined after a
long pit stop with a tire change.
|2.||Trossi / L. Villoresi (Maserati)||1h55m21s|
|3.||Hasse (Auto Union)||1h55m47s|
|4.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h57m47s|
|5.||Belmondo (Alfa Romeo)||1h59m50s|
On lap 11, Trossi with his fast Maserati retired at Capelle due to carburation problems. After 11 laps Caracciola led in 2h05m10.5s with Hasse second in 2h07m04.4s, Farina third in 2h09m32.2s, Belmondo
2h14m42.8s and Comotti 2h17m57.0s. While Brauchitsch and Lang had retired early with engine damage, Caracciola drove through the many turns of the mountain region as fast as possible and on the long straights
instead he treated his engine with more respect and was still the fastest with 276 km/h at the speed trap.
After 12 laps Caracciola led in 2h16m53.8s ahead of Hasse in 2h28m27.5s, Farina 2h20m59.3s, Belmondo and Comotti. On the 13th lap Hasse retired on the course with a broken rear axle shaft, reducing the field
to just four cars which survived until the finish.
After 15 laps Caracciola led in 2h51m57.4s, Farina 2h55m31.4s, Belmondo 3h00m15.0s and Comotti 3h12m34.9s.
At the end of lap 16, Caracciola crossed the finish line after 3h03m45.65s, over three minutes ahead of Farina's 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo, followed by Belmondo's 8-cylinder and Comotti's Delahaye, one lap behind.
|1.||26||Rudolf Caracciola||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W 154||3.0||V-12||16||3h03m45.65s|
|2.||28||Giuseppe Farina||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 312||3.0||V-12||16||3h07m11.64s||+ 3m26.0s|
|3.||34||Vittorio Belmondo||V. Belmondo||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 308||3.0||S-8||16||3h12m20.63s||+ 8m35.1s|
|4.||48||Gianfranco Comotti||Ecurie Bleue||Delahaye||145||4.5||V-12||15||3h12m35.00s|
|DNF||44||Rudolf Hasse||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C/D||3.0||V-12||11||rear axle shaft|
|DNF||42||C. F. Trossi / L. Villoresi ||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8CTF||3.0||S-8||10||engine|
|DNF||30||Hermann Müller||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||D||3.0||V-12||8||fuel pump|
|DNF||36||René Dreyfus||Ecurie Bleue||Delahaye||145||4.5||V-12||6||gearbox|
|DNF||32||Hermann Lang||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W 154||3.0||V-12||4||engine fire|
|DNF||46||Manfred von Brauchitsch||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W 154||3.0||V-12||2||engine|
|DNF||40||Tazio Nuvolari||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||D||3.0||V-12||1||supercharger|
|DNF||38||Clemente Biondetti||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 312||3.0||V-12||0||valve|
Fastest lap: Luigi Villoresi (Maserati) on lap 9 in 10m57.0s = 141.4 km/h (87.8 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 134.8 km/h (83.8 mph)
Fastest speed trap time: Rudolf Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz) in 13s = 276.9 km/h (172.1 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 137.4 km/h (85.4 mph)
Weather: sunny, very hot
The practice times and some intermediate times differed now and then between the sources. We believe to have selected the correct times. Only the best practice times achieved were shown for the starting grid,
which was arranged as reported and seen on photographs.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Aachener Anzeiger, Aachen
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitiung, Berlin
Corriere del Tirrene, Livorno
Frankfurter Zeitiung, Frankfurt
IL LITTORIALE, Roma
Il Telegrafo, Livorno
Kölnische Zeitung, Köln
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
LA STAMPA, Torino
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Special thanks to:
15 August 1938: The Targa Abruzzo 6 hour sports car race is run at the Pescara circuit in Italy.
|1.|| 2 Cortese / Ghersi||Alfa Romeo 2300B||669.093 km|
|2.||40 Cantoni / Agosti||Lancia Aprilia||647.840 km|
|3.||70 Bertani / Taddei||Stanguellini SN1100 Fiat||630.518 km|
|4.||32 Libeccio / Tonta||Lancia Aprilia||619.647 km|
|5.||48 Garagnani / Bertocchi||Stanguellini SN1100 Fiat||617.424 km|
|6.||22 Bellucci / Rocco||Lancia Aprilia||613.532 km|