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The information within these pages was derived primarily from contemporary magazines and newspapers. I am indebted to all those outstanding journalists and reporters for their diligent reporting. Without their stories, we would not have learned about what happened at these events. Secondary sources have also been helpful but to a much lesser extent. Several others have given valuable advice and corrected errors. I extend my appreciation to all those helpful specialists and enthusiasts. My thanks include Tony Kaye for patiently editing the text and catching my occasional blunder. Lastly I am especially grateful to Leif Snellman, not only for his wonderfully lifelike drawings but also for providing a site where these factual and elaborate accounts can enable us to relive these long ago races.
Hans Etzrodt


The French Delage team and Robert Benoist ruled the 1927 season winning all four of the European Grandes Epreuves. The other contenders were Bugatti (France), Talbot (France), Maserati (Italy) and to a lesser extent O.M. (Italy), Duesenberg (USA), Miller (USA), Alvis (Great Britain), Halford (Great Britain) and Thomas Special (Great Britain). At the end of the year Talbot, Delage and Fiat had lost interest in the sport, retiring their racing teams and withdrawing from racing. Their departure eliminated the last remnants of glamor of former grand prix racing. Alfa Romeo had already pulled out in 1925 at the end of the 2-liter formula and the Fiat works team had their last race in 1924 except for a one off appearance in 1927 at Monza. However Bugatti and Maserati still had factory race teams and both companies also sold grand prix racing cars to private entrants.

The 1927 Formula
For 1926 the CSI (International Sporting Committee) of the A.I.A.C.R. had decided on a formula with a 1.5-liter maximum engine capacity, which was to remain in place through 1927. However the minimum weight limit was increased for 1927 to 700 kg - 1543 lb. Two seats remained mandatory in two seat cars but at the same time single-seater cars were allowed provided the seat had a minimum width of 80 cm - 31.5 in and a minimum height of 25 cm - 9.8 in. Indianapolis remained part of the World Championship until 1930. The 1926 Indianapolis 500 rules remained in effect for 1927 but with a reduced engine size from 122 to 91.5 cubic inches, to match the 1.5-liter Grand Prix Formula.
      Formula Libre without the 1.5 liter formula restrictions worked well and produced good racing, allowing the 2.0 and 2.3 liter blown Bugattis to contest Grand Prix races. The Targa Florio regulations were for racing cars divided into three categories: up to 1100 cc, 1500 cc and over 1500 cc.

The Races
Only the national clubs of France, Spain, Italy and Great Britain held races to the Grand Prix formula. The Indianapolis 500 was run to a different formula. Other major race cars events were held to Formula Libre, including the Targa Florio, Rome Grand Prix, San Sebastian Grand Prix and the Coppa Acerbo bringing the total to eight major races.
      There were an additional 12 minor events for Grand Prix cars, comprising the Tripoli Grand Prix, Grand Prix de Provence, Coppa Messina, Alessandria Circuit, Coppa Perugina, Bologna Prize, ACF Free for All Race, Marne Grand Prix, Coppa Montenero, Milan Grand Prix, Boulogne Grand Prix and Garda Circuit. The remaining races were less important, national events with a club type nature where the organizers made no effort to attract factory teams and drew mainly independent entries.

The 1927 World Championship
for constructors was organized by the CSI of the AIACR, comprising five international races in five different countries and was won by Delage with Robert Benoist winning four events. More about it here.

The nationalist Fascist government promoted Italian motorsport as one of the pillars of its sporting propaganda under Il Duce Benito Mussolini, who embraced motorsport as one of the most important activities of the new Fascist era. The sporting commission of the R.A.C.I. established the 1927 automobile sport calendar. For the first time a national championship was to be held comprising 12 events counting towards the

Major contests:
April 24 --- Targa Florio
June 12 --- Royal Rome Grand Prix
Sept. 04 --- Italian Grand Prix
Other contests:
May 08 --- Coppa Vinci
May 15 --- Savio Circuit
May 22 --- Mugello Circuit --- later cancelled
May 29 --- Coppa della Perugia
June 19 --- Bologna Circuit
June 26 --- Monza Grand Prix
Aug. 06 --- Coppa Acerbo
Aug. 14 --- Coppa Montenero
Oct. 09 --- Garda Circuit
In each of the major contests 3 points were assigned, all others one single point. (We are working on comprehensive information regarding the points scoring which may take a while.)
      The Sporting Commission of the RACI declared Materassi as the 1927 Italian Champion in their meeting on December 1 and 2. At the same Meeting the Maserati make was announced as the champion make of car.

Cancelled events
The Mugello Circuit race in Italy, scheduled for May 22, was cancelled.


Factory Racing Teams

Alvis by T.G. John Ltd. (Coventry, Great Britain)
Cars: the improved 1926 type 8-cyl. 1500 cc Grand Prix car, for 1927 with twin OHC.
Drivers: Maurice Harvey (GB) - George Duller (GB).
Races entered: British Grand Prix (The car broke in practice and did not start in the race.) - Brooklands JCC 200.

Automobiles Delage (Courbevoie in Paris, France)
Cars: 15-S-8 , was the improved version on the 1926 model, a new type of which 4 cars were built. Three cars of the 1926 version were also available but probably not raced.
Drivers: Robert Benoist (F) - Edmond Bourlier (F) - André Morel (F) - Albert Divo (F).
Races entered: Grand Prix de l'Ouverture - Grand Prix de Provence - French Grand Prix - Spanish Grand Prix - La Baule Grand Prix - European Grand Prix - British Grand Prix.

Automobiles Ettore Bugatti (Molsheim, France)
Meo Costantini had retired as a driver at the end of 1926 to work exclusively in the technical and construction area within Bugatti but also to manage the racing team.
Cars: T35C T35B and T37A, existing cars. Updated versions of these race cars were used for 1927.
Drivers: Ferdinando Minoia (I) - Caberto Conelli (I) - André Dubonnet (F) - Emilio Materassi (I) - Jules Goux (F) - Louis Chiron (MC).
Races entered: Targa Florio - French Grand Prix - San Sebastian Grand Prix - Spanish Grand Prix - British Grand Prix.

Automobiles Peugeot (Sochaux, France)
Cars: the type 174 S was the 1925 model (six cars were built), with minor improvements one car was raced in 1927 but only at two Formula Libre events.
Drivers: André Boillot (F) - Louis Rigal (F).
Races entered: Targa Florio - Sport Commission Cup at Montlhéry.

Automobiles Talbot (Suresnes in Paris, France)
Cars: Type GPLB (1926 type designation by Automobiles Talbot) was the improved version of the 1926 model, a new type of which 3 cars were built.
Drivers: "Williams" (F) - Albert Divo (F) - Louis Wagner (F) - Jules Moriceau (F).
Races entered: Grand Prix de Provence - Free for All Race at Montlhéry - French Grand Prix. Talbot withdrew from racing after the French Grand Prix.

Duesenberg Inc. (Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
Cars: Type 91
Drivers: George Souders (USA) winner of the 1927 Indy 500 race. There were four other Duesenbergs in the Indianapolis 500, but their drivers did not take part in any of the European races.
Races entered: Indianapolis 500 - European Grand Prix (The 1927 European Grand Prix was the only Grand Prix ever run in Europe in which 50% of the cars were made in USA.)

Fiat SpA (Turin, Italy)
Car: 1500 cc type 806
Drivers: Pietro Bordino (I) – Carlo Salamano (I).
Races entered: Milan Grand Prix, also scratched entries at European Grand Prix (Monza) and British Grand Prix (Brooklands).

Miller Motors Inc. (Los Angeles, California, USA)
Cars: Type 91
Drivers: Peter Kreis (USA) - Earl Cooper (USA). There were over twenty other Millers in the Indianapolis 500, but their drivers did not take part in any of the European races.
Races entered: Indianapolis 500 - European Grand Prix (two cars entered by Cooper Engineering Co., cars were named as Cooper-Miller.

Officine Alfieri Maserati (Bologna, Italy)
Cars: 1500 cc type 26 designs from 1926 (3 cars built). For 1927 modernized type 26 (3 cars were built). For 1927 a new type 26B was developed with 2000 cc engine (2 cars were built)
Drivers: Alfieri Maserati (I) - Ernesto Maserati (I) - Carlo Tonini (I) - Aymo Maggi (I) - Baconin Borzacchini (I) - Emilio Materassi (I).
Races entered: Tripoli Grand Prix - Pozzo Circuit - Targa Florio - Coppa Messina - Coppa della Perugina - Bologna Circuit - Spanish Grand Prix - Coppa Acerbo - Garda Circuit.

SA Officine Meccaniche (O.M.) (Brescia, Italy)
Cars: two 1926 8-cyl. 1500 Grand Prix cars
Several 665 "Superba" types of straight 6- cylinder of 1990 cc sports cars, stripped for racing.
Drivers: Lettorio Piccolo Cucinotta (I) - Dario Piolanti (I) - Giuseppe Morandi (I) - Nando Minoia (I) - Archimede Rosa (I).
Races entered: Coppa Messina, Coppa Montenero, European Grand Prix, Garda Circuit.
Two OM 8-cylinder racecars were entered for the European Grand Prix. Previously only one car had raced in 1926 at the German Grand Prix in Berlin where Minoia failed to finish but had claimed the fastest lap at 161 km/h. After the 1927 European Grand Prix in Monza, one car plus at least one spare engine was sold to R.F. Oats in England to be raced at the JCC 200 in Brooklands where the car was primarily raced until 1933.

Independent Racing Teams

F. Halford designed by Major Frank Halford (Great Britain)
Cars: 1926 type 6-cyl. 1500 Grand Prix car Halford Special. A 1927 type was not completed.
Drivers: George Eyston (GB).
Races entered: French Grand Prix.

Thomas Special designed by Parry Thomas (Brooklands, Great Britain)
Cars: 1926 type 6-cyl. 1500 Grand Prix cars, sold after the designer's death in 1927.
Drivers: Bummer Scott (GB) - Harold Purdy (GB).
Races entered: British Grand Prix - Brooklands JCC 200.

VICTORIOUS DRIVERS and the rise of Louis Chiron

Robert Marcel Charles Benoist, the 32-year old Frenchman from St. Benoît near Paris, had left WW I as a daring fighter pilot in 1919. He began racing in 1921 and was accepted in the Salmson racing team later that year. After some minor successes including an outright win at the 1922 Gaillon hill climb with the 8-cylinder Salmson, he was offered a drive with Delage in 1924 and raced with that team until the end of 1927 when Delage withdrew from racing. During his time with the team he made FTD at 17 hill climbs for them, came third in the 1924 French Grand Prix, fourth at San Sebastian and won the 1925 French Grand Prix with Divo. In 1927 he was unbeatable, winning the Grands Prix of France, Spain, Italy and Great Britain and winning the World Championship for Delage. For this accomplishment Benoist was honored by the President of France with the medal Chevalier de Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, the highest decoration in France (Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour).

Emilio Materassi, the 38-year old Italian from Florence had started racing in 1919. In 1927 he bought from the factory the 1500 Maserati 26 he had raced in 1926, which he drove on 8. May at the Coppa Messina where he retired near the end while leading. Once he had acquired his own T35C Bugatti, he sold the Maserati after June to Bindi. Materassi was sufficiently good for Ettore Bugatti to take him into his 1927 works team together with Count Caberto Conelli and Fernando Minoia, three Italians. With the Bugatti Materassi won the Tripoli Grand Prix, the Targa Florio and the San Sebastian Grand Prix while he crashed in the Spanish Grand Prix. In October he finished fifth in the British Grand Prix at Brooklands. Between those races with the factory Bugatti, he raced his old modified Itala 55 race car, with a 4-cylinder 5.8-Liter WW1 Hispano-Suiza aero engine, he won the Coppa Perugina on 29. May but crashed the car at the Rome Grand Prix on 12. June, killing two person and injuring others. Then, back again with his own Bugatti he won the Bologna race on 19. June and the Coppa Montenero on 14. August and finished third on 4. September at the Milan Grand Prix. After amassing the most points in his national automobile championship, the sporting commission of the R.A.C.I. proclaimed Materassi as the 1927 Italian Champion.

Tazio Nuvolari, the 35-year old Italian from Mantua, was still a contracted rider for Bianchi motorcycles when he raced a Bugatti T35C at several events. Nuvolari won the Rome Grand Prix, retired in the following Bologna Prize, finished fourth in Montenero, retired in the Milan Grand Prix and won the Garda Circuit race.

Giuseppe Campari, the 35-year old Italian from Fanfullo, Lodi, south of Milan, took a break from racing after Alfa Romeo withdrew their team at the end of 1925. He had raced with that team since 1913 and had won many races for them. Campari obtained one of the Alfa Romeo P2 grand prix cars winning at the 1926 Freiburg speed trial but had tire trouble the following day at the 12 km hill climb. In 1927 Campari raced his P2 independently but with factory support in only two events. He won the Coppa Acerbo and finished second in the wet Milan Grand Prix behind Bordino's Fiat.

George Souders, the 24-year old native of Indiana, USA, is mentioned here as winner with his Duesenberg Special in the 1927 Indy 500 race, which also was the first race of the 1927 World Championship. Souders was a dirt track driver and an unknown newcomer to the AAA racing scene with no experience in long distance racing. He was considered a dark horse and his victory at Indianapolis was a big surprise. He placed third in the 1927 AAA championship. At the rained out European Grand Prix at Monza, Souders held a strong second place with his Duesenberg but after 12 laps, after having lost the cap of the fuel tank, rain water had entered the tank causing incurable carburetor problems and forced his retirement.

Louis Chiron, the 28-year old Monegasque was an upcoming driver who had started racing in 1923. He had a contract with Bugatti for 1927, finished fourth in the San Sebastian Grand Prix and retired in the Spanish Grand Prix a week later. At the British Grand Prix he again finished in fourth place. He also raced in hill climbs where he won at Klausen. At Mont Ventoux on 18 September he was lucky to escape a serious accident when his Bugatti hit one of the boundary guard stones at the edge of the road and flipped over twice. Helpers pulled him out of the car, suffering only a slight contusion on one shoulder.


J.G. Parry Thomas (GB) lost his life in a world land speed record attempt on 3 March 1927 at Pendine Sands in South Wales (GB). His record car 'Babs' overturned at more than 170 mph and the popular driver suffered fatal head injuries.
Carlo Chiavellati (I) crashed fatally on March 17, 1927 in practice for the Pozzo Circuit race (I) when a tire burst.
Dr. Jan Havránek (CS) and František Skopal (CS) had an accident on May 4 during practice for the Zbraslav-Jíloviste (CS) hill climb at the Žákova turn with Junek's Bugatti T35 which Havránek had on loan with Junek's riding mechanic, František Skopal, who practiced with him. The Bugatti rolled over several times. Skopal died soon after the accident and Havránek died after a few days in a Prague hospitel. (Additional information with thanks to Andrzey Jakubaszek aka "anjakub").
René de Buck (F) race driver died May 8, 1927 at the Chimay circuit (B).
Mario Saetti (I) race driver died on May 15, 1927 at the Savio Circuit (I).
Marcel Michelot (F) race driver died on June 13, 1927 at Le Mans (F).
Gérard de Courcelles (F) race driver died on July 2, 1927 at Linas-Montlhéry (F).
Countess Paula von Schlik (A), riding mechanic to her husband, died on September 4, at the Salzberg hill climb (D), when she was thrown from the Austro Daimler in the second East turn. For unknown reasons the car experienced a jolt, which caused the countess to be thrown from the car. At first she was merely lying unconscious, but she died on the way to the Berchtesgaden Hospital.
Bohumil Matcha (CS) died on September 16, 1927 during practice for Ecce Homo (CS). In 1923-27 Bohumil Matcha was a motorcycle rider and competed on Alba, Mars Villiers and Premier. (Additional information with thanks to Andrzey Jakubaszek aka "anjakub").

Star 20 February 1927: Fred Geitel Sr (Hupmobile) wins the 20 km Finnish Automobile Club Winter Race on the Taivallahti ice, Helsinki .
Star 3 March 1927: J.G. Parry Thomas lost his life in a world land speed record attempt (see above).

Materassi (Bugatti)Balestrero (Bugatti)Maserati (Maserati)


Tagiura Circuit (I), 6 March 1927.
Classes over 1100 cc: 16 laps x 26.2 km (16.28 mi) = 419.2 km (260.5 mi)
Class up to 1100 cc: 14 laps x 26.2 km (16.28 mi) = 366.8 km (227.9 mi)


Category over 1500 cc
2Emilio MaterassiE. MaterassiBugattiT35C2.0S-8
3Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroBugattiT35C2.0S-8
4Aymo MaggiA. MaggiAlfa RomeoP22.0S-8
..Amedeo SillittiA. SillittiAlfa RomeoRL TF243.0S-6DNA - Did not appear
Category up to 1500 cc
5Carlo ToniniOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati261.5S-8
6Raffaele TotiR. TotiChiribiriMonza C1.5S-4
7Roberto SerboliR. SerboliChiribiriMonza C1.5S-4
8Luigi PlatèL. PlatèChiribiriMonza C1.5S-4
9Alfieri MaseratiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati261.5S-8
..Louis JolyL. JolyBugattiT37A1.5S-4DNS - Did not start
Category up to 1100 cc
..Baconin BorzacchiniB. BorzacchiniSalmson1.1S-4
..Renato DaneseR. DaneseSalmson1.1S-4
..R. SpongiaR. SpongiaSalmson1.1S-4
..Luigi ArcangeliL. ArcangeliDerby1.1S-4
..Massimo LasagniM. LasagniMarino1.1S-4
..Abramino CalòA. Calò Amilcar1.1S-4
26Vezio BellincioniV. BellincioniAmilcar1.1S-4
..Maurice FitoussiM. FitoussiAmilcar1.1S-4DNS - Did not start
..Marcel FitoussiM. FitoussiAmilcar1.1S-4DNS - Did not start

Materassi, Maserati and Danese victorious at Tripoli

by Hans Etzrodt
The international racing season of 1927 opened with the Tripoli Grand Prix on the old Tagiura circuit. The 15 cars at the start were divided into three categories. The expected duel between Maggi (2.0-L Alfa Romeo) and Materassi (2.0-L Bugatti) did not take place as Maggi retired after three laps. Materassi dominated from the beginning and won the race 16 minutes ahead of Balestrero (2.0-L Bugatti) and over 31 minutes ahead of the 1500 category winner A. Maserati (1.5-L Maserati), followed by Toti and Platè in 1.5-L Chiribiris. The 1100 class was won by Danese (Salmson) ahead of Borzacchini (Salmson) followed by the two Amilcars of Bellincioni and Calò. There were six retirements, amongst them the fast Arcangeli (1.1-L Derby), who was the early leader of the 1100 cc category.
The Grand Prix was held for the third time outside Tripoli in the Libyan Desert around the fast 26.2 km Tagiura dirt road circuit, starting at Porta Tagiura, continuing to Suk el Giuma, Sidi ben Ali, Sghedeida, Sidi el Messri and back to Porta Tagiura. Libya had been under Italian rule as a colony since 1911 and the Tripoli Grand Prix was a national event. The Automobile Club di Tripoli divided the entries into three categories. Over 1500 cc and up to 1500 cc had to complete 16 laps or 419.2 km, while the 1100 cc cycle cars had to do only 14 laps or 366.8 km. The road surface of the circuit was in awful condition because the longest sections of the roadbeds which had been completed in 1926 had not yet been surfaced.
From 19 entries 15 appeared at the start. In the main category Emilio Materassi made his debut with the latest supercharged 2000 cc Bugatti with which he would do all his races in 1927. Bugatti had hired him to drive for them in 1927 after Meo Costantini had retired as a driver at the end of 1926 to work exclusively in the technical and construction area within Bugatti but also managing the racing team. Renato Balestrero also made his debut with a two-liter supercharged Bugatti, both blue cars enjoying factory support with Costantini managing from the pits. Aymo Maggi had obtained an Alfa Romeo P2 which he entered in a one-off race appearance. These were undoubtedly the three drivers who would battle for the victory. The older Alfa Romeo RL of Amedeo Sillitti did not appear.
      The 1500 category included two official red Maseratis, the latest modernized version, for its designer Alfieri Maserati and Carlo Tonini. Maserati, who knew how to take advantage of any failing and every incident of his opponents, was also capable of winning on the fast Tripoli circuit. The Maserati team found themselves in difficulties. They discovered after arriving in Tripoli that the special fuel which they had brought from Italy in sealed cans was contaminated. As a result they had to convert to a local mixture which affected Tonini's car very badly. Additionally there were three older Chiribiris driven by Toti, Serboli and Platè.
      The 1100 cc category comprised three Salmsons of Danese, Borzacchini and Spongia, two Amilcars of Bellincioni and Calò who was an Italian from Tunis, one Derby of Arcangeli and one Marino of Lasagni. The Fitoussi brothers from Tunis withdrew their two Amilcars after Marcel Fitoussi seriously injured himself in a practice crash. Their friend, the Tunisian champion Louis Joly, also withdrew his Bugatti. A complete list of entries is at the beginning of this report.
The Governor, Senator De Bono and other officials arrived at 12:30 PM. At that time the 15 cars began to line up in pairs in order of their race numbers.
Grid not available

At 1:00 PM the Governor started the first category, namely Materassi, Balestrero and Maggi. All three set off very fast, after saluting the Roman Governor and the authorities. Two minutes later, the Senator lowered the flag and the second category started in the order Tonini, Toti, Serboli, Platé and Maserati while Tonini's Maserati would not start and was pushed to the pits. After another two minutes, at 1:04 PM, the 1100 cc cars were started with Arcangeli in a Derby, Borzacchini, Spongia and Danese in Salmsons, Bellincioni and Calò in Amilcars and Lasagni in a Marino.
      Materassi in the blue Bugatti was in the lead and completed the first lap at 142 km/h average speed. After about one minute Maggi followed in his red Alfa Romeo which did not have the road holding of the Bugatti and was jumping dangerously on the fastest stretches. Tonini's Maserati was still in his pit and refused to start due to the bad local fuel mixture. Meanwhile Maserati was leading his class with a handsome lead over his rivals and surprisingly he suffered no problems at all from the change to the local fuel. The field was in the following order after the first lap:
1.Materassi (Bugatti)11m03.0s2000 cc
2.Maggi (Alfa Romeo)12m08.0s2000
3.Balestrero (Bugatti)12m52.6s2000
4.Maserati (Maserati)?1500
5.Serboli (Chiribiri)?1500
6.Toti (Chiribiri)?1500
7.Platé (Chiribiri)?1500
8.Arcangeli (Derby)?1100
9.Borzacchini (Salmson)?1100
10.Spongia (Salmson)?1100
11.Bellincioni (Amilcar)?1100
12.Danese (Salmson)?1100
13.Calò (Amilcar)?1100
14.Lasagni (Marino)?1100

Materassi finished the second lap in 11m00.8s at an average of 142.737 km/h, ahead of Maggi who was now two minutes behind and Balestrero who followed after a gap of another minute. Maserati was still leading the second category ahead of Serboli and Platé while Arcangeli still headed the small cars followed by the two Salmsons of Borzacchini and Spongia.
      On lap three Arcangeli retired on the circuit when the magneto failed on his Derby, leaving the lead in the small category to Borzacchini' s Salmson. Lasagni retired his Marino on the same lap. Maserati continued to dominate the 1500 category while Borzacchini looked like a sure winner of the 1100 category.
      On the fourth lap Maggi slowed before the stands and stopped his Alfa Romeo at the pits. He could no longer accelerate after the tie rod of the accelerator broke and did not allow him to resume the race. This ended the duel between the two fierce rivals and Materassi, always very fast, was now headed to a certain victory. On the same lap Serboli stopped his Chiribiri at the pits for a long time before resuming, so that Toti and Platé advanced while Tonini's Maserati was still in his pit. For 28 minutes he had attempted to start his engine due to the local fuel mixture he had to use. Eventually he was able to complete just one lap.
      On the fifth lap, there were no changes and after 131 km Materassi held the lead at 140.078 km/h average speed with the field in the following order after five laps
1.Materassi (Bugatti)56m06.8s2000 cc
2.Balestrero (Bugatti)1h03m28.0s2000
3.Maserati (Maserati)1h07m03.0s1500
4.Toti (Chiribiri)1h14m33.0s1500
5.Borzacchini (Salmson)1h16m04.0s1100
6.Spongia (Salmson)1h17m30.0s1100
7.Platé (Chiribiri)1h17m38.0s1500
8.Danese (Salmson)1h19m25.0s1100
9.Bellincioni (Amilcar)1h20m45.0s1100
10.Calò (Amilcar)1h24m21.0s1100
11.Serboli (Chiribiri)?1500

On lap six, Bellincioni stopped his Amilcar at the pits and Platé began his first of several stops with his Chiribiri attending to lubrication problems. Spongia retired his Salmson on lap seven when the clutch failed, while Borzacchini's sister car was still leading the category. Serboli, who after a very long pit stop had rejoined the race in his Chiribiri, was about forty minutes behind, but on lap eight he retired permanently due to a clutch problem. There remained nine competitors in the race. After 262 km, the general classification was as follows after the ten laps:
1.Materassi (Bugatti)1h53m30s2000 cc
2.Balestrero (Bugatti)2h12m13s2000
3.Maserati (Maserati)2h13m42s1500
4.Toti (Chiribiri)2h26m23s1500
5.Borzacchini (Salmson)2h33m14s1100
6.Platé (Chiribiri)2h39m34s1500
7.Danese (Salmson)2h45m40s1100
8.Bellincioni (Amilcar)2h46m35s1100
9.Calò (Amilcar)2h49m25s1100

Around the tenth lap drivers started their refueling stops. Materassi refueled on lap 11 and took a mechanic on board who replaced the ballast Materassi had started with. At the end of lap 14 the race ended for 1100 cc category, while the five competitors of the two larger categories drove on for another two laps. Danese with the Salmson finished first in 3h47m55s after an exciting fight with Borzacchini who had lost very much time with two punctures on lap 13 and finished second. He had lost the top spot which he had held for ten consecutive laps. Bellincioni finished third and Calò fourth, both with Amilcars.
      The race continued for Materassi, Balestrero, Maserati, Toti and Platè. After 16 laps, the end of the race, Materassi's victory was greeted with great applause. The winner received congratulations from Governor De Bono and other officials at the grandstand of honor. Materassi with his new blue Bugatti won in 3h10m25.8s at 132,080 km/h average speed ahead of Balestero's sister Bugatti, followed by Maserati, Toti and Platè. Despite his two punctures, Borzacchini was only 12 seconds behind Danese at the end. Two 1100cc cars finished fourth and fifth overall.
      Materassi won the Grand Prix of Tripoli prize of 50,000 lire and the large gold medal of the King. He also won the Coppa Mussolini for the fastest lap of his category. The victor in the second category, Maserati, won 20,000 lire, the Coppa del Principe di Piemonte and the Coppa De Bono for the fastest lap in its category. Danese the winner in the third category won 20,000 lire with the Coppa del Duca d'Aosta, while in the same category the fastest lap was made by Borzacchini who won the Coppa Potenziani. All records had been beaten.



1.2Emilio MaterassiE. MaterassiBugattiT35C2.0S-8163h10m25.8s
2.3Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroBugattiT35C2.0S-8163h26m57.2s+ 16m31.4s
3.9Alfieri MaseratiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati261.5S-8163h41m52.8s+ 31m27.0s
4.6Raffaele Toti R. TotiChiribiriMonza C1.5S-4163h54m35.0s+ 44m09.2s
5.8Luigi PlatèL. PlatèChiribiriMonza C1.5S-4154h22m21.0s 
DNF7Roberto SerboliR. SerboliChiribiriMonza C1.5S-44clutch 
DNF4Aymo MaggiA. MaggiAlfa RomeoP22.0S-83accelerator
DNF5Carlo ToniniOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati261.5S-81fuel problem 
Fastest lap over 1500 cc: Emilio Materassi (Bugatti) on lap 2 in 11m00.8s at 142.7 km/h (88.7 mph).
Fastest lap up to 1500 cc: Alfieri Maserati (Maserati) on lap 8 in 13m10.0s at 119.4 km/h (74.2 mph).
Winner's medium speed, over 1500cc (Materassi): 132.1 km/h (82.1 mph).
Winner's medium speed, up to 1500cc (Maserati): 113.4 km/h (70.4 mph).

Results of 1100 cc class


1...Renato DaneseR. DaneseSalmson1.1S-4143h47m55.0s 
2...Baconin BorzacchiniB. BorzacchiniSalmson1.1S-4143h48m07.4s+ 12.4s
3.26Vezio BellincioniV. BellincioniAmilcar1.0S-4143h52m12.0s+ 4m17.0s
4...Abramino CalòA. CalòAmilcar1.0S-4143h57m07.0s+ 9m12.0s
DNF..R. SpongiaR. SpongiaSalmson1.1S-46clutch 
DNF..Luigi ArcangeliL. ArcangeliDerby1.1S-42magneto 
DNF..Massimo LasagniM. LasagniMarino1.1S-42  
Fastest lap 1100 cc: Baconin Borzacchini (Salmson) on lap 9 in 14m07.2s at 111.3 km/h (69.2 mph).
Winner's medium speed: 96.6 km/h (60.0 mph).
Weather: sunshine, dry, warm.

Primary sources researched for this article:
ACI magazine, Roma
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
Motor Sport, London
Special thanks to:
Alessandro Silva

Benoist (Delage)Lescot (Bugatti)Eyston (Bugatti)


Linas-Montlhéry - Paris (F), 13 March 1927.
20 laps x 12.5 km (7.8 mi) = 250 km (155.3 mi)


1George EystonG.E.T. EystonBugattiT35C2.0S-8
2"Francois Lescot"J. LebaudyBugattiT35B2.3S-8
4Robert BenoistAutomobiles DelageDelage 15 S 8 19261.5S-8
5Franz-LefèvreF.-LefèvreLa Perle1.5S-6
7Henri EsclassanH. EsclassanBugattiT371.5S-4
8Albert DivoAutomobiles TalbotTalbotGPLB1.5S-8DNS - did not start
9Armand GirodA. GirodBugattiT352.0S-8
10Douglas HawkesD. HawkesEldridgeSpl1.5
11GérardGérardMarechal1.5DNA - did not appear
12XXBugattiT352.0S-8DNA - did not appear
14Jean GrafSA des Automobiles Jean GrafJean Graf1.5S-6DNA - did not appear
15"Williams"W. WilliamsBugattiT352.0S-8DNA - did not appear
16"Philippe"P. de RothschildBugattiT352.0S-8DNA - did not appear

Benoist wins the Grand Prix d'Overture at Montlhéry

by Hans Etzrodt
The Opening race at Montlhéry was over 20 laps of the 12.5 km circuit in very wet conditions. Benoist in his 1500 Delage led unchallenged from start to finish since Divo's 1500 Talbot was withdrawn before the start. Lescot (2300 Bugatti) finished second, three laps behind. The other six finishers had been lapped more often. Two drivers retired in this dull race.
After Tripoli it was the first race in Europe, ending the winter break; l'Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry promoted a Spring Opening Race and scheduled a program that consisted of 11 small races for motorcycles and automobiles. The races started at 9:30 AM on a cold windy Sunday with continuous rain showers. The two morning races for 1100 cc cars were dominated by the latest Salmson race cars equipped with Cozette superchargers. The fifth race at 12:30 PM was officially called the Grand Prix d'Overture. It was reserved for cars between 1500 cc and 2000 cc, and was over a distance of 250 km or 20 laps of the full circuit.
From 15 entries only 9 cars made the start. "Lescot" (pseudonym for Jean Lebaudy) raced a supercharged 2.3 liter Bugatti T35B (#4816). Benoist drove a 1926 Delage grand prix car which had been heavily modified during the winter. It was the first time that he drove the car, which was destined for the 1927 season, and in the wet race he drove as hard as he could to test the new car. The 1500 Talbot which Divo was to drive was withdrawn, supposedly due to Divo's finger injury. Since his teammate Moriceau was present and could have substituted, the official excuse was not convincing to the spectators. A complete list of all entries is at the beginning of this report.
The main event of the day was the Grand Prix d'Overture where nine cars made the start: Eyston (2000 Bugatti), Lescot (2300 Bugatti), Marlot (1500 Bugatti), Benoist (1500 Delage), Lefèvre (1500 La Perle), Holzem (1500 Bugatti), Esclassan (1500 Bugatti), Girod (2000 Bugatti) and Hawkes (1500 Eldridge).
Grid not available

Unfortunately the long awaited match between Robert Benoist and Albert Divo, effectively Delage against Talbot, did not take place. Divo, with a finger infection, could not hold the wheel and in his absence and that of Williams, without a car, the task of Robert Benoist was easy, so that right from the beginning he had a won game. But it was nice to see this fine driver in well-balanced style and to hear the victorious song of the 1500 cc Delage without the slightest failure. Benoist gradually increased his pace, starting at 121.800 km/h and ending at 123.700 km/h with the total average of 122.947 km/h. On lap 16 he drove the fastest lap of the race at 128.250 km/h over the complete road circuit of 12.5 km with its severe turns in the never ending rain. Benoist finished the race in style, leading the second placed car of the amateur Lescot in a 2300cc Bugatti who was three laps behind. They were followed at a distance by Eyston, Esclassan, Lefèvre, Holzem and Girod. Hawkes retired the Eldridge on lap eight with supercharger problems.



1.4Robert BenoistAutomobiles DelageDelage 15 S 8 19261.5S-8202h02m00.2s
2.2"Francois Lescot"J. LebaudyBugattiT35B2.3S-817
3.1George EystonG.E.T. EystonBugattiT35C2.0S-816
4.7Henri EsclassanH. EsclassanBugattiT371.5S-416
5.5Franz-LefèvreF.-LefèvreLa Perle1.5S-615
7.9Armand GirodA. GirodBugattiT352.0S-814
DNF10Douglas HawkesD. HawkesEldridgeSpl1.5 7supercharger
Fastest lap: Robert Benoist (Delage) on lap 16 in 5m51s = 128.2 km/h (79.7 mph).
Winner's average speed: 122.9 km/h (76.4 mph).
Weather: raining

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
Automobile-Welt, Berlin
L'AUTO, Paris
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
Motor Sport, London
Special thanks to:
Michael Müller

Bona (Bugatti)Tonini (Maserati)Gamba (Alfa Romeo)


Circuito del Pozzo - Verona (I), 20 March 1927.
20 laps x 12.585 km (7.82 mi) = 251.7 km (156.4 mi)


Category D, 2001 to 3000 cc
1Ferruccio De FranceschiF. De FranceschiCeirano3.0S-6DNA - did not appear
2Nico Piccolicavaliere N. PiccoliAlfa RomeoRL TF243.0S-6DNA - did not appear
3Gaspare BonaG. BonaBugattiT35T2.3S-8
4Mario Gambaconte M. GambaAlfa RomeoRLS3.0S-6
5Supremo MontanariS. MontanariBugatti2.3S-8DNA - did not appear
5Ulrico GuyU. GuyDiatto3.0S-4
Category C, 1501 to 2000 cc
6Supremo MontanariS. MontanariBugattiT35A2.0S-8
7Aymo Maggiconte A. MaggiAlfa RomeoP22.0S-8DNA - did not appear
8Ogniben AlveràO. AlveràBugattiT35A2.0S-8
9Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroBugattiT35C2.0S-8
10Arrigo Chiavegatidottore A. ChiavegatiDiatto2.0S-4
11Giorgio FaggioliG. FaggioliDiatto2.0S-4DNA - did not appear
Category B, 1101 to 1500 cc
12Ignazio AvezzùI. AvezzùBugatti1.5S-4
13Aldo ZirondaA. ZirondaBugatti1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
14Raffaello TotiR. TotiChiribiri1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
15Umberto CapelloU. CapelloChiribiri1.5S-4
16Silvio PelàS. PelàAnsaldo1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
17Giuseppina "Pina" Conticountess G. ContiBugatti1.5S-4
18Carlo ToniniC. ToniniMaserati261.5S-8
19Gigi PlatèG. PlatèChiribiri1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
31Giulio PaganiniG. PaganiniBugatti1.5S-4
Category A, 750 to 1100 cc
20Dino RavasioD. RavasioFiat509S1.0S-4
21Tomaso SaccomaniT. SaccomaniAmilcarCGSS1.1S-4
22Egone SchironiE. SchironiDerbys/c1.1S-4
23Abele ClericiA. ClericiSalmsonGSS1.1S-6
24Alfonso ZampieriA. ZampieriAmilcarC61.1S-6DNA - did not appear
25Alberto MarinoA. MarinoMarinoGS1.1S-4
26Gianni ScalabriniG. ScalabriniFiat509S1.0S-4
27Massimo "Mino" LasagniM. LasagniMarinoGS1.1S-4
30Emilio RomanoE. RomanoSalmson1.1S-4

Bona victorious at Pozzo Circuit

by Hans Etzrodt
At the 1927 Pozzo Circuit 20 drivers started the 251.7 km race over 20 laps around the fast triangular circuit south of Verona. The battle between Bona and Balestrero in their large Bugattis provided the only excitement until lap nine when Balestero retired with engine problems. Other contenders retired earlier in the race leaving Tonini (1500 Maserati) and Gamba (3000 Alfa Romeo) in second and third positions. Further retirements followed, leaving just eight finishers with Bona first ahead of Tonini and Gamba, trailed by Clerici (1100 Salmson), Paganini (1500 Bugatti), Saccomani (1100 Amilcar), Capello (1500 Chiribiri) and Signora Pina Conti (1500 Bugatti).
The race on Circuito del Pozzo south off Verona had taken place since 1926 when it had been won by Cosonni in a Bugatti. The l'Automobile Club di Verona held the second Pozzo Circuit race on the fast triangular 12.585 km road course. The start was in Verona at Fort Tomba. The circuit made an immediate wide right turn, the Parabolica, from where it headed south for several kilometers along the Via Palezzina straight to San Giovanni Lupatoto. Here was a right turn leading to nearby Pozzo and San Gaetano where the course made another sharp right turn, heading back north onto the long straight of Via Cesare Battisti, which became Via Legnano further on towards Verona. This was the tip of the triangular course, where another right turn led back to the start and finish. The drivers had to complete 20 laps, a distance of 251.7 km. The Pozzo Circuit, which was amongst the fastest in Italy along with the super-fast Cremona and Tripoli circuits. It demanded courage and ability to drive for two hours at speeds very close to 150 km/h on the two narrow straights, which were dirt roads, where the cars reached their top speed.
      There was a total cash award of 50,000 lire. Two magnificent trophies were destined for the Ladies category, one from the Verona City Hall and the other from the AC Verona. The prizes in category A) for the first place was 3,000 lire, a gold medal and a certificate; for second 2,000 and a certificate; for third 1,000 and certificate, also a refund of the starting money to all drivers who reached a minimum of 80 km/h average; category B), C), and D), 5,000 lire for first, 3,000 for second, 1,500 for third, and reimbursement of the starting money to all drivers who had reached a minimum average of 90 km/h for category B), 100 km/h for category C), 110 km/h for category D); an extra prize of 1,000 lire to the driver who made the fastest lap; a cash prize of 10,000 lire for the team consisting of three cars which, in reference to the minimum averages set for each category, completed the best time.
The Verona AC received 30 entries, but only 20 cars appeared at the start. The Veronese driver Alverà was driving a 2000 Bugatti in the large class. Balestrero with his supercharged 2000 Bugatti was a potential winner because two weeks earlier at Tripoli he had finished in second place. Other contenders for victory included Bona and Montanari in large Bugattis with an outside chance for the two 3000 Alfa Romeos driven by Piccolo and Gamba. In the 1500 class the supercharged Maserati of Tonini was the strongest entry. At Tripoli he had been unlucky while his team leader Alfieri Maserati won the class in a sister car. A list of all entries with race numbers is at the beginning of this report.
      Late entries were assigned the race numbers of cars which did not appear. Montanari (2000 Bugatti) was a late entry and was given the number 6 which had originally been given to Guy (3000 Diatto). Guy then received number 5 which had belonged to Montanari (2300 Bugatti) who drove car number 6 and whose number became available. Other late entries were handled in a similar fashion. Paganini (1500 Bugatti) was a late entry and was given a new number 31,which made no sense since they could have used 29, the number of a driver who did not appear. Romano (1100 Salmson) and Lasagni (1100 Marino) were late entries and were assigned numbers 30 and 27 respectively.
      On Saturday before the main event, the AC di Verona held an internal club race to decide their club championship over 125.85 km for 9 sports cars. The winner was Giulio Milano with a 1500 Ceirano type "Roma", completing the 10 laps in 1h24m31s at an average speed of 89.332 km/h. Nico Piccoli (3000 Alfa Romeo) finished second in 1h26m15s at 87.548 km/h followed by countess Giuseppina Conti from Milano (2000 OM) in 1h34m51s. In fourth place was Giulio Cesare Ambrosi with a Lancia in 1h51m42s. The fastest lap was done by Nico Piccoli in 7m16.6s at 103.724 km/h average speed.
The greatest interest was for the unrestricted race on Sunday. Since the morning the arrival of outsiders into Verona had been intense. One hour before the start the grandstands were overcrowded. By 3:00 PM the 20 cars were lined up at the finish line and the start was given by Count Bernini Burri with an interval of one minute between each category.
Grid not available

Category D, the three large cars over 2000 cc started first, consisting of Bona (Bugatti), Gamba (Alfa Romeo) and Guy (Diatto).
      Category C, the four 2000 cc cars started next, comprising Montanari (Bugatti), Alverà (Bugatti), Balestero (Bugatti) and Chiavegatti (Diatto).
      One minute later Category B followed with the five 1500 cc cars of Avezzù (Bugatti), Capello (Chiribiri), Conti (Bugatti), Tonini (Maserati) and Paganini (Bugatti).
      Particularly exciting was the start of the 1100 cc category A, where the eight cars were ready for the signal to go: Ravasio (Fiat), Saccomani (Amilcar), Schironi (Derby), Clerici (Salmson), Scalabrini (Fiat), Lasagni (Marino), Marino (Marino) and Romano (Salmson).
      The only accident occurred on the first lap at the Pozzo curve where Gamba struck against a fence but was able to resume immediately and finish the race. After the first lap Chiavegati, Romano and Guy retired. From the very beginning, there was a duel between Bona and Balestrero which was the most exciting part of the first phase. Bona completed the first lap in 5m40.4s at 133.096 km/h average speed, but Balestrero took over the lead on the next lap and drove the fastest lap of the race in 5m20.2s, at 141.492 km/h average speed. Bona regained the lead but had to relinquish it to Balestrero on lap five when he had a puncture. On the fifth lap Ravasio retired his little Fiat with a broken front axle, and was followed by Montanari in his 2-liter Bugatti who retired on the sixth lap. After another tire change on lap eight, Bona regained the lead on the 9th lap following Balestrero's retirement due to engine failure. Now Bona found the task easier and was no longer threatened in the leading position. The top three drivers were Bona, Tonini and Gamba, running fast and consistently with Bona uncontested in first position. Countess Conti Giuseppina was less fast, but equally consistent. At mid-race the twenty-car field had shrunk to 13 in the following order after ten laps:
1.Bona (Bugatti)1h00m16.8s
2.Tonini (Maserati)1h05m35.0s
3.Gamba (Alfa Romeo)1h07m59.4s
4.Clerici (Salmson)1h08m17.0s
5.Paganini (Bugatti)1h12m22.0s
6.Scalabrini (Fiat)1h15m25.2s
7.Avezzù (Bugatti)1h18m41.4s
8.Lasagni (Marino)1h19m16.2s
9.Saccomani (Amilcar)1h20m33.8s
10.Conti (Bugatti)1h21m48.0s
11.Capello (Chiribiri)1h23m07.2s
12.Marino (Marino)1h25m18.6s
13.Schironi (Derby)2h06m23.2s

Many drivers had to abandon the race with mechanical problems. On the tenth lap Bona was leading the race by almost a whole lap over Tonini and emphasizing his superiority after the retirement of Balestrero, his only serious competitor who had initially provided a lot of excitement in the race. On lap 16 Bona drove a new record lap in 5m09s at 146.621 km/h average speed. Strangely, Balestrero's second lap had been credited as being the fastest (see also 'In retrospect'). The race order did not change and the fast pace continued until the finish, ending with the victory of Bona, who was almost 14 minutes ahead of Tonini's 1500 Maserati. Clerici with the Salmson easily dominated the smallest category, setting a good time and being ahead of a few cars of larger capacity. On lap 19 he set the fastest lap in his category in 6m30s at 116.189 km/h average speed.
      Bona received great applause from the crowd and even Tonini in second place with a strong run received lively applause. Chivalrous ovation and enthusiasm was given to the brave countess Conti when she finally crossed the finish line.
      Bona, the overall winner, received the Coppa Benito Mussolini. Balestrero was credited with the fastest lap and won the Trophy of the Armed Forces of Verona. The most regular driver in the race was Tonini, winning the gold medal of the King. His average lap time was 6m32.2s, driving within 1m47.8s, the difference between his fastest and slowest laps.



1.3Gaspare BonaG. BonaBugattiT35T2.3S-8201h56m56.4s
2.18Carlo ToniniC. ToniniMaserati261.5S-8202h10m46.4s+ 13m50.0s
34Mario GambaM. GambaAlfa RomeoRLS3.0S-6202h12m52.2s+ 15m55.8s
4.23Abele ClericiA. ClericiSalmsonGSS1.1S-6202h15m44.0s+ 18m47.6s
5.31Giulio PaganiniG. PaganiniBugatti1.5S-4202h25m48.6s+ 28m52.2s
6.21Tomaso SaccomaniT. SaccomaniAmilcarCGSS1.1S-4202h34m48.4s+ 37m52.0s
7.15Umberto CapelloU. CapelloChiribiri1.5S-4202h40m46.4s+ 43m50.0s
8.17Giuseppina "Pina" Conticountess G.ContiBugatti1.5S-4202h42m14.8s+ 45m18.4s
DNF27Massimo "Mino" LasagniM. LasagniMarinoGS s/c1.1S-41010 laps or more 
DNF12Ignazio AvezzùI. AvezzùBugatti1.5S-41010 laps or more 
DNF22Egone SchironiE. SchironiDerbys/c1.1S-41010 laps or more 
DNF25Alberto MarinoA. MarinoMarinoGS1.1S-41010 laps or more 
DNF26Gianni ScalabriniG. ScalabriniFiat509S1.0S-41010 laps or more 
DNF9Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroBugattiT35C2.0S-88engine 
DNF6Supremo MontanariS. MontanariBugattiT35A2.0S-86  
DNF20Dino RavasioD. RavasioFiat509S1.0S-45front axle 
DNF8Ogniben AlveràO. AlveràBugattiT35A2.0S-8   
DNF10Arrigo ChiavegatiA. ChiavegatiDiatto2.0S-41  
DNF30Emilio RomanoE. RomanoSalmson1.1S-41  
DNF5Ulrico GuyU. GuyDiatto3.0S-41
Fastest lap in category over 2000cc: G. Bona (Bugatti) on lap 16 in 5m09.0s = 146.6 km/h (91.1 mph).
Fastest lap in category up to 2000cc: R. Balestero (Bugatti) on lap 2 in 5m20.2s = 141.5 km/h (86.9 mph).
Fastest lap in category up to 1500 cc: C. Tonini (Maserati) on lap 3 in 6m19.8s = 119.3 km/h (74.1 mph).
Fastest lap in category up to 1100 cc: Abele Clerici (Salmson) on lap 19 in 6m30.0s = 116.2 km/h (72.2 mph).
Average speed of category over 2000 cc: G. Bona (Bugatti): 129.1 km/h (80.2 mph).
Average speed of category up to 1500 cc: C. Tonini (Maserati): 115.5 km/h (71.8 mph).
Average speed of category up to 1100 cc: Abele Clerici (Salmson): 111.3 km/h (69.1 mph).
Weather: dry, warm
In retrospect:
The fastest lap by Bona on lap 16 in 5m09s was issued at 137.541 km/h average speed but in fact the correct speed is 146.621 km/h. L'Arena and L'Auto Italiana both published 137.541 km/h. Was that the time keepers doing? (The speed corresponds to a lap time of 5m29.4s). But Balestrero received the trophy for the fastest lap and he was credited for his time on lap 2 which was 5m20.2s at 141.492 km/h.

Primary sources researched for this article:
ACI-revista, Torino
La Gazetta dello Sport, Milano
L'Arena, Verona
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
Special thanks to:
Alessandro Silva
Andrea Campalto
Paola Masetta
Markus Neugebauer


© 2020 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 08.02.2024