Hermann Lang - Mercedes-BenzManfred von Brauchitsch - Mercedes-BenzRudolf Caracciola - Mercedes-Benz


Autodromo di Mellaha - Tripoli (I), 15 May 1938
40 laps x 13.1 km (8.14 mi) = 524.0 km (325.6 mi) (Note 1)


Class over 1500 cc:
10Achille VarziOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-8
12Laury SchellEcurie BleueDelahaye1454.5V-12DNS - did not start
14Giuseppe FarinaAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3123.0V-12
18Clemente BiondettiAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-8
26Rudolf CaracciolaDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
28Carlo Felice TrossiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-8
38Jean-Pierre WimilleAutomobiles E. BugattiBugattiT59/50B3.0S-8DNA - did not appear
40Gianfranco ComottiEcurie BleueDelahaye1454.5V-12
44Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
46Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12
48Raymond SommerAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3123.0V-12
52Eugenio SienaAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3123.0V-12
60René DreyfusEcurie BleueDelahaye1454.5V-12
Class up to 1500 cc:
2Pietro GhersiScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6
4Pino BaruffiGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
6Armand HugA. HugMaserati4CM1.5S-4
8"Raph"B. de las CasasMaserati6CM1.5S-6
16Manuel de TefféScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
20Enrico PlatéGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
22Gianni BattagliaScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNS - did not start
24Ettore BiancoE. BiancoMaserati4CM1.5S-4
30Giovanni LuraniScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati4CM1.5S-4
32László HartmannL. HartmannMaserati4CM1.5S-4
34Luigi VilloresiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
36Edoardo TeagnoScuderia SabaudaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
42Ferdinando RighettiScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6
50Giovanni RoccoOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6
54Piero TaruffiScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6
56Franco CorteseOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6
58Paul PietschP. PietschMaserati4CM1.5S-4

Mercedes-Benz in its own class.

by Hans Etzrodt and Leif Snellman
The Tripoli Grand Prix over 40 laps on the 13.1 km high speed Mellaha course counted as one of the fastest and richest races in the world. Much interest was generated in this 1938 event as the works teams of Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Bugatti and Delahaye were to race each other for the first time to the new formula. Auto Union was absent but 17 small voiturettes also started to bring the total entry to 30 cars, the number required for the lottery. After an exciting battle during the first ten laps between the red Italian Alfa Romeo and Maserati with the Mercedes Silver Arrows, the Germans Lang, Brauchitsch and Caracciola totally dominated the race. They finished in this order, far ahead of Sommer's blue independent Alfa Romeo in fourth place, followed by the blue Delahaye of Dreyfus in 7th place, who was beaten by the voiturette Maserati of Taruffi and Rocco, trailed by four surviving small Maserati. The bright red Grand Prix car armada of the works Alfa Romeo and Maserati retired and crashed, unable to keep up with the fast pace commanded by the Silver Arrows. Two fatal crashes of Siena and Hartmann happened when a Grand Prix car tried to lap a slower voiturette, placing a dark shadow over the event.
      All cars in the voiturette class were Maserati. Luigi Villoresi took the start but was soon passed by Cortese's works car. Cortese later slowed down and Bianco took over the lead. When he fell back it was Taruffi and Rocco who fought for the victory, Taruffi finally won by 9 seconds.
The Gran Premio di Tripoli took place for the 12th time, organized by the L'Automobile Club di Tripoli and the Commissione Sportiva of RACI (Reale Automobile Club d'Italia), overseen by RACI general commissioner. The race was held on the high-speed Mellaha circuit in Tripolitania, now Libya, an Italian colony in Africa at that time. The event was also called 'the race of millions' due to the huge prize money and the big lottery. The 13.1 km racetrack had to be lapped 40 times, a total of 524 km. The circuit was situated between the sea and the desert, surrounding the airport. The promoters had again organized their lottery of gigantic proportions, which was very successful with enormous ticket sales in Italy and the Libyan colony. It also provided a large amount of money for the Tripoli AC, enabling them to improve this highspeed racetrack, having erected a gigantic grandstand and pits out of reinforced concrete. They surrounded the entire circuit with a network of small towers and radio stations to enable the race officials on top a 40 meters tall concrete tower to keep abreast of all activity and incidents on the track. Over the years the course had been widened and the six sharp turns had received a slight banking.
      The motor-rally to Tripoli, which was held to the race of the Tripoli Grand Prix, was won by the German driver Macher with a Ford 'Eifel'. From 74 starters he was the only German and covered 5280 km (Calais, Berlin, Brenner-Pass, Messina, Bengasi, Tripoli).
were received for 13 Grand Prix drivers, representing the five factory racing teams and two independent drivers. Additionally, 17 Maserati voiturettes were added, bringing the total number to 30 cars, as required for the lottery. One thing was clear, that on such a circuit it was extremely difficult to run big and small cars together, also that the sand on the edges of the road should have been swept off as driving behind anther car was like driving through a sand storm in the desert.
      The Mercedes-Benz team, managed by Alfred Neubauer, arrived with four W 154 cars (the early type with the exhaust pipes hidden inside the body) for Rudolf Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Hermann Lang, while Richard Seaman was reserve driver. The fourth car was used only for practice. When Alfa Corse had been allowed to race Sommer independently in a fourth Alfa, which had been quickly re-painted in blue, Mercedes asked permission to start Seaman also independently and wanted paint their practice car green, but the organizer refused to give approval.
      As of 1938 Scuderia Ferrari no longer managed the Alfa Romeo Grand Prix cars from Modena but now the factory in Milan did that under the name of Alfa Corse with Enzo Ferrari still as team manager. Engineer Vittorio Jano had left Alfa Romeo to start at Lancia. The new supercharged cars were designed by Gioachino Colombo and Luigi Bazzi, a straight-8 and a V-12 based on the previous engines, also a V-16. At Tripoli all three versions were seen during practice but in the race only three 12-cylinder cars for Giuseppe Farina, Eugenio Siena and Raymond Sommer were entered and one 8-cylinder for Clemente Biondetti . The team decided not to race the 16-cylinder after they had learned about several minor problems, although Biondetti with the V-16 had made the fastest practice time of all Alfas. As only three cars were allowed to be entered by each team, Alfa Corse re-painted one of the 12-C cars blue and Sommer was allowed to start with it as an independent entry.
      Maserati entered two 3-liter 8-cylinder cars of 8CTF (stands for 8cilindri testa fissa) type for Carlo Felice Trossi and Achille Varzi. The German Pietsch, drove independently, with a silver painted 1500 Maserati.
      Eucurie Bleu came with four cars and three drivers, Dreyfus, Comotti and Schell. Jean-Francois Viotti had designed a streamlined body for one of the cars but it overheated terribly.
      To bring the entry up to 30 -required for the lottery- 17 voiturette Maserati were included to simultaneously start behind the 13 Grand Prix cars. The voiturettes are listed above in the entry list, class up to 1500.
Wednesday 11. May was the first official practice under the orders of race director Renzo Castagneto. The Mercedes and Delahaye teams as well as some individual drivers were present. Alfa Romeo and Maserati teams were absent, due to delays in landing operations and the early closure of practice (from 2 to 3 pm). The new Mercedes reached high speeds. Until the Italian cars have tested it was not possible to predict the outcome of the Tripoli Grand Prix but it was certain that the Mercedes have serious chances of victory. The best time of the day was set by Brauchitsch with 3m36.63s at 217.7 km/h average speed.
Wednesday times
Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)3m36.63 - 3m36.75s - 3m36.6s
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)3m38.19s - 3m38s     - 3m38.1s
Lang (Mercedes-Benz)3m40.53s - 3m40s     - 3m40.5
Dreyfus (Delahaye)3m59.70s - 3m59s
Comotti (Delahaye)4m21.18s
Lurani (Maserati 1500)4m42.66s
Rocco (Maserati 1500)4m44.20s
Hartmann (Maserati 1500)4m55.37s
De Teffe (Maserati 1500)4m56.23s
Thursday 12. May was the second practice. Maserati and Alfa Corse made their official appearance, immediately arousing great interest since after the demonstration by the new Mercedes on Wednesday, this would be a direct comparison with the Italian cars. Alfa Corse had its three official drivers, Farina, Siena and Biondetti, practicing and put another car at the disposal for Sommer entered as independent. Maserati entered Varzi and Trossi with the two new 8CTF types. Mercedes also practiced with Caracciola, Brauchitsch and Lang who made a fast lap in 3m30.09s at 224.571 km/h average speed.
Thursday times
Lang (Mercedes-Benz)3m30.09s - 3m30.90s
Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)3m30.16s - 3m32.45s
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)3m32.50s - 3m32.75s
Farina (Alfa Romeo V-12)3m36.45s - 3m38.83s
Trossi (Maserati 8CTF)3m36.75s - 3m38.18s
Biondetti (Alfa Romeo S-8)3m45.27s
Siena (Alfa Romeo V-12)3m41.11s
Sommer (Alfa Romeo V-12)3m44.83s
Dreyfus (Delahaye)3m51.97s
Schell (Delahaye)3m58.59s
Cortese (Maserati 1500)4m16.22s
Lurani (Maserati 1500)4m16.57s
Varzi (Maserati 8CTF)4m17.35s - 4m17s
Friday 13. May was the third official practice day. With reduced hours from 12 to 14 the practice session with the participation of all the drivers registered by now, the last arrived in the morning. Alfa Corse lined up the new 16-cylinder to be tested by Biondetti. Many other drivers were practicing but their times were not published.
Friday times
Lang (Mercedes-Benz)3m26.24s - 3m30s      - 3m26.4s
Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)3m29.66s - 3m30s      - 3m29.6s
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)3m32.75s - 3m34.00s - 3m31s - 3m43.3s
Trossi (Maserati 8CTF)3m36.07s - 3m38s      - 3m36.7s
Farina (Alfa Romeo V-12)3m40.02s
Varzi (Maserati 8CTF)3m40.2s   - 4m13s
Biondetti (Alfa Romeo V-16)3m40.30s - 3m45s      - 3m40s - 3m41.1s
Sommer (Alfa Romeo V-12)3m40.70s - 3m41s      - 3m44s
Siena (Alfa Romeo V-12))3m41.11s - 3m41s
Biondetti (Alfa Romeo S-8)3m41.19s
Dreyfus (Delahaye)3m51.80s - 3m52s
Comotti (Delahaye)4m07.40s
Pietsch (Maserati 1500)4m13.60s - 4m15.63s - 4m15.2s - 4m26s
Lurani (Maserati 1500)4m16s
De Teffe (Maserati 1500)4m21s
Bianco (Maserati 1500)4m22s
Hug (Maserati 1500)4m24s
Saturday 14. May was the last practice day. Some of the recorded times were published in the morning.
Saturday times
Lang (Mercedes-Benz)3m29.20s
Biondetti (Alfa Romeo V-16)3m30.40s - 3m33.80s - 3m31s - 3m34s
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)3m32.40s - 3m39.95s
Varzi (Maserati 8CTF)3m36.78s - 3m39.10s
Siena (Alfa Romeo)3m40.40s - 3m49.40s
Dreyfus (Delahaye Streamln.)3m52s
Comotti (Delahaye)4m02.10s - 4m02.30s
Dreyfus (Delahaye4m06.80s
Brauchitsch (Mercedes)4m08.41s
Cortese (Maserati 1500)4m13.68s
Taruffi (Maserati 1500)4m16.90s
Rocco (Maserati 1500)4m26s
Raph (Maserati 1500)4m35s
In the afternoon the heat was tropical at the oasis of Tripoli, with a strong wind blowing loose desert sand on the racecourse. The large enthusiastic crowd was hoping for an Italian victory. Eventually the cars were sent to their starting places, the silver Mercedes, the red Maserati, red Alfa Romeo, blue Delahaye and sky-blue Alfa Romeo of Sommer. Behind those stood the colorful platoon of the 1500 Maserati voiturettes between which stood out the yellow-green car of the Brazilian De Teffe and the silver-grey Maserati of the German Pietsch. The 27 cars assembled on the grid in order of their practice times. However, the RACI time keepers only published the order of the staring grid while the times were published in the various pre-race press reports. The three nonstarters included Wimille (Bugatti) who had not appeared, also Schell (Delahaye) and Battaglia (1500 Maserati).
Pole Position

Alfa Romeo












Alfa Romeo






Alfa Romeo


Alfa Romeo







de Teffé






L Hartmann












L Villoresi




E Platé




Note: #22 Battaglia (Maserati) was not mentioned in the reports, so his was the missing car on the 27-car grid.

The start was scheduled for 3 p.m. but at this time the Governor of Libya, Air-Marshall Balbo appeared, and together with the German NSKK motor sport leader Adolf Hühnlein inspected the cars, talked to the drivers, and shook their hands. Eventually the engines were started, then to the shot from a canon and the sound of a siren, Balbo gave the starting signal with the checkered flag at 3:25 p.m. to the roaring pack of 27 cars. With earsplitting exhaust notes the horde shot away, Farina and Biondetti in front, just ahead of Lang, then Caracciola and Varzi, a mix of red and silver cars.
      The wait for their return from the first lap was less than four minutes. The cars appeared at top speed with Lang after 3m49s ahead of Farina, then Caracciola and Brauchitsch, Siena, Trossi, Sommer, Varzi, Comotti, Dreyfus, Biondetti, Cortese - the first of the 1500s - Bianco, Taruffi, Pietsch, Teagno, Rocco, Lurani, Villoresi, De Teffe, Hartmann, Raph, Hug, Ghersi, Baruffi, Platè.
      The last 1500 Maserati has just passed, and the leader Lang bursts over the finish line to complete the 2nd lap, ahead of Brauchitsch who had passed Farina, closely followed by Caracciola, Siena, Trossi, Varzi, Sommer and the two Delahaye already detached, then Biondetti with the 8-cylinder Alfa had passed Comotti.
      After the 3rd lap Lang was still first, but Brauchitsch was now very close, while Farina lost ground and was approached by Caracciola, who was chased by Trossi. The same positions were maintained during the 4th lap after which Brauchitsch passed Lang on lap 5 and Trossi in the fast Maserati passed Caracciola for fourth place. Brauchitsch held the lead at 211.404 km/h average speed with the order as follows, after five laps:
1.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)18m35.41s
2.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)18m35.80s
3.Farina (Alfa Romeo 12-C)18m49.40s
4.Trossi (Maserati 8CTF)18m53.32s
5.Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)18m55.40s
6.Siena (Alfa Romeo 12-C)19m14.82s
7.Sommer (Alfa Romeo 12-C)19m05.13s
8.Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 8-C)20m13.89s
9.Comotti (Delahaye)20m26.67s
10.Varzi (Maserati 8CTF)20m28.67s
11.Dreyfus (Delahaye)20m44.70s

Amongst the 1500 voiturettes during these first laps a very fierce struggle had developed between Cortese, Bianco, Pietsch and Taruffi, who was slightly separated from the others. Until the 4th lap Cortese held the lead from Bianco, who pulled Pietsch behind him. Cortese was fourth, followed by Taruffi and Lurani.
      On lap 6 Varzi, whose car did not work properly from the start, was forced to retire with gearbox problem. But the race continued fiercely in the leading positions where Trossi boldly unleashed a battle against the three Mercedes. On lap 6 Trossi was fourth ahead of Caracciola but with Brauchitsch, Lang and Farina ahead. In this order started the 7th lap when Trossi passed Farina for third place, now only behind Brauchitsch and Lang. Then Sommer stopped due to carburetion problems but his Alfa also suffered from overheating.
      In the 1500 group Bianco in the meantime had taken the lead, followed by Pietsch, Taruffi, Cortrese, Rocco and Lurani while Righetti and Ghersi had stopped along the way.
      On the 8th lap, while Lang passed Brauchitsch to take the lead again, Trossi passed into second place, pulling Farina behind him, while Brauchitsch was then fourth ahead of Caracciola. Trossi's action with his Maserati was exciting to watch and enlivened the crowd, that saw the long-awaited Italian supremacy looming. Indeed, on lap 9 Trossi passed Lang, taking the red Maserati into the lead by driving a lap in 3m35.41s, but Lang remained close behind the Maserati's tail. A constant problem was created when sand from the edge of the road was spread onto the racetrack. This generated a sand dust barrier behind a car, causing trouble to the driver who attempted to pass.
      On the 9th lap Siena, in the 12-cylinder Alfa was running a regular race but got out of control when he caught up with the slower Cortese in a 1500 Maserati ahead of Mellaha bend. When he saw, that he could not pass ahead of the turn, Siena braked so hard that his car went into a spin, skidded off the road, up a sandy side hill and then crashed into a small house near the race track. His car was completely wrecked, while poor Siena was killed instantly. Cortese continued in complete ignorance, probably unaware that a car had been behind him at all.
      In the 1500 group Platè and Baruffi suffered breakdowns along the way and Platè retired. Teagno extended the list of withdrawals due to a broken valve. It was perhaps more interesting to follow the 1500 race in which, on lap 10, Bianco dominated in 43m16.58s at 181.622 km/h average speed ahead of Taruffi, Rocco, Lurani and Cortese. The race of the Grand Prix cars was eventful as Trossi after his fast lap had to slow down when Lang passed him for the lead with the order as follows, after 10 laps:
1.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)37m02.63s
2.Trossi (Maserati 8CTF)37m04.82s
3.Farina (Alfa Romeo 12-C)37m26.62s
4.Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)37m29.40s
5.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)37m31.21s
6.Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 8-C)
7.Comotti (Delahaye)
8.Dreyfus (Delahaye)
9.Bianco (Maserati 1500)43m16.58s
10.Taruffi (Maserati 1500)43m25.14s
11.Rocco (Maserati 1500)44m06.96s
12.Lurani (Maserati 1500)44m08.80s
13.Cortese (Maserati 1500)46m09.55s

Trossi's Maserati now in second place caused some concern with the crowd and on lap 12 their disappointment continued with Trossi not crossing the finish line. Farina also did not appear and there were moments of very strong anxiety. But Farina, eventually appeared when he stopped at the pits, while Trossi had retired at the second turn with a gearbox problem. The three Mercedes now were the absolute masters of the situation, with Biondetti relegated far away with his 8-cylinder Alfa. He had to stop repeatedly replacing plugs while Sommer was delayed with pit stops due to overheating. The slow Delahaye of Comotti and Dreyfus seemed to advance.
      On the 12th lap happened the Farina-Hartmann crash, when the two cars collided with each other between the third and fourth turns, going off the road and each overturning outwards to its own side of the road. Farina was only slightly cut, but the unfortunate Hartmann sustained dreadful injuries and died the next day. Farina explained that, while he was overtaking Hartmann, the latter, perhaps due to the wind, squeezed, causing the collision.
      Lang held the lead at 211.696 km/h average speed after 55m41.60s finishing 15 laps ahead of Caracciola, Brauchitsch, Biondetti and Comotti. While the three Mercedes continued undisturbed on lap 16, Caracciola stopped at the pits, changed all spark plugs, took on fuel and changed tires.
      In the 1500 class Lurani was second behind Rocco. Refueling took place halfway through the race. After repeated position changes among the 1500 cars, Rocco kept the lead and completed the 20 laps in 1h29m23s at an average speed of 175.861 km/h, followed by Lurani, Bianco, Taruffi, Hug and De Teffè. At mid-race, Comotti passed Biondetti who lost time with pit stops due to overheating. Sommer, had been able to catch up and pass Dreyfus. Lang led at 211.584 km/h average speed, three minutes ahead of Brauchitsch and five minutes to Caracciola with the order as follows, after 20 laps:
1.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)1h14m17s
2.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)1h17m17s
3.Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)1h19m17s
4.Comotti (Delahaye)1h21m56s
5.Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 8-C)1h24m30s
6.Sommer (Alfa Romeo 12-C)1h28m39s
7.Rocco (Maserati 1500)1h29m23s
8.Dreyfus (Delahaye)1h29m27s
9.Lurani (Maserati 1500)1h30m01s
10.Bianco (Maserati 1500)1h30m03s
11.Taruffi (Maserati 1500)1h30m07s
12.Raph (Maserati 1500)1h33m29s
13.Hug (Maserati 1500)
14.De Teffe (Maserati 1500)

Lang pitted on lap 21, refueled and changed rear wheels. Brauchitsch and Caracciola also made their refueling stops. The race continued monotonously.
      The 1500 class offered the only interesting note by the uncertain fight between the 1500 drivers. At the 25th lap the first three raced together in the order Rocco, Taruffi and Bianco, in the space of just 19 seconds. Lurani had dropped behind due to ignition problems.
      Among the large cars Lang's average had dropped to 207.091 km/h average speed after 25 laps, ahead of Brauchitsch and Caracciola. In the meantime, Biondetti had managed to overtake Comotti, while Sommer was clearly recovering after numerous stops. His 12-cylinder Alfa suffered from continuous overheating and had stopped several times to replace boiling cooling water. Later, larger jets were installed to improve inner engine cooling and other spark plugs with lower thermal value were installed, to bring the car through the race.
      The 1500 class still ignited some glimmers of interest where on lap 30 Taruffi held first place, followed by Rocco, Bianco, Lurani and De Teffe. Three quarters of the monotonous race were now complete with the Mercedes drivers in the same positions. Comotti was able to pass Biondetti, moving up to fourth place, about 12 minutes behind Lang who led at 207.592 km/h average speed with the order as follows, after 30 laps:
1.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)1h53m36s
2.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)1h57m02s
3.Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz)1h57m27s
4.Comotti (Delahaye)2h05m18s
5.Sommer (Alfa Romeo 12-C)
6.Biondetti (Alfa Romeo 8-C)
7.Dreyfus (Delahaye)
8.Taruffi (Maserati 1500)2h13m09s
9.Rocco (Maserati 1500)2h14m15s
10.Bianco (Maserati 1500)2h17m07s
11.Lurani (Maserati 1500)2h17m56s
12.De Teffe (Maserati 1500)2h18m46s
13.Raph (Maserati 1500)
14.Hug (Maserati 1500)

After 30 laps Baruffi could not restart his 1500 Maserati after the pit stop. In the meantime, it was learned that Biondetti was forced to stop along the way and withdrew due to tire failure. Lang held the lead after 35 laps ahead of Brauchitsch, Caracciola and Comotti. Three laps before the finish, however, Comotti's Delahaye broke down, losing fourth place to Sommer.
      At the end of lap 40, big applause welcomed the arrival of Lang, winner of the race again this year followed by his teammates Brauchitsch and Caracciola. The final battle among the 1500 cars was thrilling, ending with the victory of Taruffi, followed by Rocco. Both even managed to overtake the Delahaye of Dreyfus.



1.46Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12402h33m17.14s
2.44Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12402h37m55.64s+  4m38.50s
3.26Rudolf CaracciolaDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW1543.0V-12402h38m20.76s+  5m13.62s
4.48Raymond SommerAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3123.0V-12402h46m52.82s+ 13m35.68s
5.54Piero TaruffiSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6402h57m47.34s+ 20m30.30s
6.50Giovanni RoccoOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6402h57m56.34s+ 24m39.20s
7.60René DreyfusEcurie BleueDelahaye1454.5V-12402h58m06.43s+ 24m49.29s
8.30Giovanni LuraniScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati4CM1.5S-4403h03m37.63s+ 30m20.49s
9.24Ettore BiancoE. BiancoMaserati4CM1.5S-4393h06m13.25s 
10.8"Raph"B. de las CasasMaserati6CM1.5S-6383h14m20.26s 
DNF40Gianfranco ComottiEcurie BleueDelahaye1454.5V-1237engine
11.6Armand HugA. HugMaserati4CM1.5S-4333h00m22.67s 
DNF16Manuel de TefféScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-63030 or more laps
DNF18Clemente BiondettiAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3083.0S-830tire
DNF4Pino BaruffiGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-630 not restarted 
DNF14Giuseppe FarinaAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3123.0V-1213crash with Hartmann
DNF32László HartmannL. HartmannMaserati4CM1.5S-413fatal crash 
DNF28Carlo Felice TrossiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-811gearbox
DNF56Franco CorteseOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-61010 or more laps
DNF36Edoardo TeagnoScuderia SabaudaMaserati6CM1.5S-69valve 
DNF20Enrico PlatéGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-48  
DNF52Eugenio SienaAlfa CorseAlfa RomeoTipo 3123.0V-128fatal crash
DNF2Pietro GhersiSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-66  
DNF58Paul PietschP. PietschMaserati4CM1.5S-46oil pump 
DNF42Ferdinando RighettiSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-66  
DNF10Achille VarziOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-85gearbox
DNF34Luigi VilloresiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-611 or more laps 
DNF22Gianni BattagliaSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-60probably DNS 
Fastest lap: Hermann Lang (Mercedes-Benz) on lap 3 in 3m34.7s = 219.7 km/h (136.5 mph)
2nd Fastest lap: Carlo Felice Trossi Trossi (Maserati) on lap 9 in 3m35.41s = 218.9 km/h (136.0 mph).
Winner's average speed: 205.1 km/h (127.4 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 228.7 km/h (142.1 mph)
Weather: sunny, windy, very hot.

Piero Taruffi - MaseratiGiovanni Rocco  - MaseratiGiovanni Lurani - Maserati (Scuderia Ambrosiana)

Voiturette Results


1.54Piero TaruffiSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6402h57m47.34s 
2.50Giovanni RoccoOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6402h57m56.34s+       9.00s
3.30Giovanni LuraniScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati4CM1.5S-4403h03m37.63s+ 5m50.29s
4.24Ettore BiancoE. BiancoMaserati4CM1.5S-4393h06m13.25s 
5.8"Raph"B. de las CasasMaserati6CM1.5S-6383h14m20.26s 
6.6Armand HugA. HugMaserati4CM1.5S-4333h00m22.67s 
DNF16Manuel de TefféScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-63030 or more laps
DNF4Pino BaruffiGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-630 not restarted 
DNF32László HartmannL. HartmannMaserati4CM1.5S-413fatal crash 
DNF56Franco CorteseOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-61010 or more laps
DNF36Edoardo TeagnoScuderia SabaudaMaserati6CM1.5S-69valve 
DNF20Enrico PlatéGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-48  
DNF2Pietro GhersiSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-66  
DNF58Paul PietschP. PietschMaserati4CM1.5S-46oil pump 
DNF42Ferdinando RighettiSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-66  
DNF34Luigi VilloresiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-611 or more laps 
DNF22Gianni BattagliaSquadra TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-60probably DNS 
Fastest lap: Paul Pietsch (Maserati) in 4m12.25s = 187.0 km/h (116.2 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 176.8 km/h (109.9 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 186.0 km/h (115.6 mph)
Weather: sunny, windy, very hot.
In retrospect:
Because of the two fatal catastrophes the traditional banquette was cancelled. There was much criticism from the drivers over the decision to race the two classes together and almost all GP drivers had had incidents during the race.
      Hermann Lang tells in his biography that "Farina, who was totally innocent, had been unable to avoid the accident. He took the accident hard and was totally devastated during the trip back to Naples."

#22 Gianni Battaglia in the #22 Maserati 1500 most likely did not start. While all other 1500 Maserati drivers were mentioned in the various reports about their progress in the race, Battaglia was the only one not mentioned in any of our sources, except in the start line-up descriptions. Also, in an aerial photograph of the starting grid, instead of the 28 cars mentioned in the reports, only 27 cars are seen to have lined up while one car far behind the grid can be seen in a stranded position. So, we reasoned that Battaglia was the one who did not start.

The actually-good 1938 Motor Sport Tripoli report described the action from race-start to 10th lap with downright falsehoods. The worst part really is, that a few others blindly copied this rubbish later into their own reports.

Practice- intermediate- and final times differed now and then between the sources. We believe to have selected the correct times.

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
DDAC Motorwelt, München
Freiburger Zeitung, Freiburg
Kölnische Zeitung, Köln
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
L'Auto, Paris
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
La Vie Automobile, Paris
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Revista RACI, Roma
Westfälische-Landeszeitung, Dortmund
The Autocar, London
The Motor, London
Special thanks to:
Alessandro Silva
Adam Ferrington
Giuseppe Prisco
Hugo Boecker
Simon Davis

Star 21 May 1938: J.H.T. Smith (MG Magnette 1.1L) wins the Sydenham Trophy Race (handicap) at the Crystal Palace track in England.
Star 22 May 1938: The 500 km long Groote Prijs van Antwerpen sports car race is run on the Circuit van Antwerpen Linkeroever circuit in Belgium.
1.Robert MazaudDelahaye 135CS3h48m12s (132.6 km/h)
2.Jean TrémouletDelahaye 135CS128.6 km/h - 2nd after protest
3.WillingDelahaye 135CS128.5 km/h
4."Bob" Gérard Delage coupé+ 1s
5.John Snow Delahaye 135

Giovanni Rocco - MaseratiRaph - MaseratiLuigi Villoresi - Maserati (Scuderia Ambrosiana)

(Voiturette 1500cc)

Favorita Park - Palermo (I), 22 May 1938
30 laps x 5.718 km (3.55 mi) = 171.6 km (106.6 mi)


2Luigi PlatéL. PlatéTalbot7001.5S-8
4Luigi SoffiettiGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
4Pino BaruffiGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-6Also tested - shared car
6Pietro GhersiScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA
8Franco CorteseScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA
10Armand HugEcurie HelvetiaMaserati4CM1.5S-4DNA
12Manuel de TefféScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
14Ferdinando RighettiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
16Paul PietschP. PietschMaserati4CM1.5S-4
18Piero TaruffiScuderia TorinoMaserati6CM1.5S-6DNA
20Edoardo TeagnoScuderia SubauraMaserati6CM1.5S-6
22Enrico PlatéE. PlatéMaserati6CM1.5S-6
24Dioscoride LanzaScuderia SubauraMaserati4CM1.5S-4
26Letterio CucinottaL. CucinottaMaserati4CM1.5S-4
28Gianni BattagliaG. BattagliaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
30Aldo MarazzaOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6
32Luigi VilloresiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
34Giovanni RoccoOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6
36Giovanni LuraniCount LuraniMaserati4CM1.5S-4
38Ettore BiancoScuderia SubauraMaserati4CM1.5S-4
40"Raph"B. de las CasasMaserati6CM1.5S-6

Rocco scores on narrow track

Lurani and Bianco initially fought for the lead only to crash. Pietsch then took over but soon retired leaving Villoresi and Marazza to fight for the victory. Villoresi held the lead until lap 10 when Marazza passed him. On lap 23 the leading duo crashed with each other leaving Rocco to take the chequered flag as winner.
For the second time the once so famous Targa Florio was raced at the small Favorita Park circuit in Palermo. For 1938 the track configuration had been changed but it was hardly much of an improvement. In fact overtaking was banned for a third of the circuit as the track was too narrow. The race had also been shortened down from 50 to 30 laps.
The field consisted almost entirely of Maseratis, the only exception being Luigi Platés old Talbot. Among non Italian Maserati drivers were Manuel de Teffé, "Raph", Armand Hug and Paul Pietsch.
Practice times where: Bianco 3m18.2s, Pietsch 3m20.2s, Soffieti 3m25.6s, Baruffi 3m28.6s, Platé 3m34.2s, Marazza 3m45.2s, Lanza 4m41.6s.

Grid not available

Bianco took the lead and held it for three laps before retiring leaving Villoresi and Marazza to fight for the lead. The fight went on for most of the race, Marazza taking the lead at 1/3 distance, but four laps from the end the cars collided. That left Rocco to win comfortably before Raph.



1.34Giovanni RoccoOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-6301h30m04.6s 
2.40"Raph"B. de las CasasMaserati6CM1.5S-6301h32m15.0s+ 2m10.4s
3.32Luigi VilloresiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6301h34m09.4s+ 4m05.0s
4.28Gianni BattagliaG. BattagliaMaserati6CM1.5S-6301h35m56.4s+ 5m51.8s
5.4P. Baruffi / L. SoffiettiGruppo VoltaMaserati6CM1.5S-6301h36m15.0s+ 6m10.4s
6.12Manuel de TefféScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6291h35m18.2s 
DNF26Letterio CucinottaL. CucinottaMaserati4CM1.5S-4? 
DNF30Aldo MarazzaOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati6CM1.5S-623crash 
DNF24Dioscoride LanzaScuderia SubauraMaserati4CM1.5S-4? 
DNF20Edoardo TeagnoScuderia SubauraMaserati6CM1.5S-6? 
DNF22Enrico PlatéE. PlatéMaserati6CM1.5S-6? 
DNF2Luigi PlatéL. PlatéTalbot7001.5S-8? 
DNF14Ferdinando RighettiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6? 
DNF16Paul PietschP. PietschMaserati4CM1.5S-43mechanical 
DNF38Ettore BiancoScuderia SubauraMaserati4CM1.5S-42crash 
DNF36Giovanni LuraniCount LuraniMaserati4CM1.5S-42crash 
Fastest lap: Aldo Marazza (Maserati) on lap 22 in 2m52.0s = 119.7 km/h (74.4 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 114.3 km/h (71.0 mph)
Weather: overcast, showers, very hot


© 2023 Leif Snellman, Felix Muelas, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 07.06.2023