B Bira - ERAArthur Dobson - ERAJohn Wakefield - ERA

(Voiturette 1500cc)

Brooklands (GB), 15 October 1938 (Saturday)
10 laps x 3.648 km (2.267 mi) = 36.5 km (22.7 mi)


Eugenio MinettiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6
"B Bira"Prince ChulaERAC1.5S-6
Arthur DobsonA. C. DobsonERAB1.5S-6
John WakefieldJ. WakefieldERAB1.5S-6
Tony RoltA. RoltERAB1.5S-6
Ian ConnellI. ConnellERAB1.5S-6
George AbecassisG. AbecassisAlta1.5S-4
Angus Cuddon-FletcherA. Cuddon-FletcherMG
Percy MaclureP. MaclureRiley1.7
Herbert HadleyH. HadleyAustin
Entry list possibly incomplete

Bira wins ERA duell with Dobson.

This race was part of the B.A.R.C. Autumn Meeting. Minotti took the lead at the start but soon the race developed into a fight between the ERAs of Dobson and Bira, the latter finally winning by one second.
The Siam Challenge Trophy scratch race was part of the B.A.R.C. Autumn Meeting. The meeting started off with two "long" handicap races, won by C. G. H. Dunham (Alvis 2.5L) and Chris Staniland (Multi Union 2.9L) and then came the Siam Challenge Trophy run on the Campbell Circuit. It was open for 2 litre unsupercharged and 1.5 litre supercharged cars.
Entries included Eugino Minetti in Scuderia Ambrosiana's red voiturette Maserati 6C, "B. Bira" with is Zoller blown ERA (R12C "Hanuman") , Arthur Dobson in his white ERA (R7B). John Wakefield (R14), Ian Connell (R6B) and Tony Rolt (ex Bira R5B "Remus") were two other ERA entries. George Abecassis (Alta), Angus Cuddon-Fletcher (M.G.) "Bert" Hadley with his "baby" Austin and "Percy" Maclure in a Riley are other known entries.

Grid not available

The race started in front of the Paddock Stand and Minotti took the lead at the start from Connell's ERA and Hadley's Austin and led the field into a hairpin that took them out to the road course. At the end of the lap Dobson in his white ERA was leading from Minotti, Connell, Bira, Wakefied, Hadley and Abecassis. After two laps Bira was up to second and closing in on Dobson and On lap three the ERA's of Wakefield and Rolt were up to fourth and fifth positions as Minotti was falling back, the ERAs were now holding the top five positions. On the next lap Wakefield passed Connell for third. The race developed into a fight between Dobson and Bira, the leader reciving urgent signals from the pits about the approaching Siamese. Bira took the lead, Dobson retook it going into members Hill bend only to see Bira pass again before the Railroad Straight. Meanwhile Minotti had to retire his Maserati. Dobson tried twice to re-pass Bira without success and the Siamese driver took the flag just one second in front of Dobson with Wakefield third, 29.4s behind Bira.



1."B Bira""B Bira"ERAC1.5S-61018m32.9s (Note 1)
2.Arthur DobsonA. C. DobsonERAB1.5S-61018m33.9s
3.John WakefieldJ. WakefieldERAB1.5S-61019m02.3s
?Percy MaclureP. MaclureRiley1.7?finished
?Ian ConnellI. ConnellERAB1.5S-6?
DNFEugenio MinettiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6?retired
DNFTony RoltA. RoltERAB1.5S-6?engine?
DNFGeorge AbecassisG. AbecassisAlta1.5S-4?valve gear
DNFAngus Cuddon-FletcherA. Cuddon-FletcherMGlost wheel
DNFHerbert HadleyH. HadleyAustin
Fastest lap: "B Bira" (ERA) in 1m47.8s = 121.8 km/h (75.71 mph) (Note 1)
Winner's medium speed: 73.33 mph
Weather: sunny and dry

1. Times calculated from winning speed (75.71 mph).

Main source is Bill Boddy's "The history of Brooklands Motor Course", sports magazine "Motor Sport" November 1938.

Raymond Mays - ERAChristopher Staniland - Multi-UnionArthur Dobson - ERA


Brooklands (GB), 15 October 1938 (Saturday)
10 laps x 1.883 km (1.170 mi) = 18.8 km (11.7 mi)


Eugenio MinettiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5
Christopher StanilandC. StanilandMulti Union2.9S-8
Raymond MaysR. MaysERAD2.0S-6
Arthur DobsonA. C. DobsonERAB1.5S-6
Ian ConnellI. ConnellERAB1.5S-6
John WakefieldJ. WakefieldERAB1.5S-6
Tony RoltA. RoltERAB1.5S-6
Peter AitkenP. Aitken
Lord AveburyLord AveburyAlta
Anthony BeadleA. H. BeadleAlta2.0
Percy MaclureP. MaclureB.H.W.-Bugatti5.0S-8
Francis AshbyAlfa Romeo

Mays controls the race

This race was also part of the B.A.R.C. Autumn Meeting. Mays in his ERA led from start to finish and was never challenged. Staniland was second and Dobson third.
The Mountain circuit scratch race was part of the B.A.R.C. Autumn Meeting. It followed the Siam Challenge and was the only Mountain Circuit race of 1938. The race was then followed by three five lap road handicap races, won by Soames (Bugatti 1.5L) and Rolt (ERA 1.5L) and Ansell (ERA 1.5L).
The entry list above is probably incorrect/incomplete.

Grid not available

Mays in his 2 litre ERA took the lead of the race followed by Beadle's Alta. Then Staniland took over second position and Dobson and Minetti had a tight fight for third place. Ashby had to retire almost immediately with a slipping clutch. Rolt and Connell had engine troubles and had to retire as did lord Avebury, Wakefield and Beadle. Mays was never challenged and went on to take the flag as the winner. Staniland in his Mercedes-inspired Multi-Union was second and Dobson in his white ERA third.



1.Raymond MaysR. MaysERAD2.0S-6108m44s
2.Christopher StanilandC. StanilandMulti Union2.9S-8108m56s+ 12s
3.Arthur DobsonA. C. DobsonERABS-6108m58.4s+ 14.4s
4.Eugenio MinettiScuderia AmbrosianaMaserati6CM1.5S-6?
5.Peter AitkenP. Aitken?
DNFIan ConnellI. ConnellERA?
DNFLord AveburyLord AveburyAlta?
DNFJohn WakefieldJ. WakefieldERA?
DNFAnthony BeadleA. H. BeadleAlta2.0?
DNFTony RoltA. RoltERA?
DNFPercy MaclureP. MaclureB.H.W.-Bugatti5.0S-8?
DNFFrancis AshbyAlfa Romeoclutch
Fastest lap: Raymond Mays (ERA) on lap 2 in 51.2s = 132.4 km/h (82.27 mph) (Note 1)
Winner's medium speed: 129.4 km/h (80.39 mph) (Note 2)

1. Lap time calculated from speed (82.27 mph)

2. 80.39 mph is given by both "Motor Sport" and Bill Boddy and is obviously the official result. Using 11.7 mi and 8m44s a calculation gives 80.38 mph. An possible explanation could be that the time has been rounded off in "Motor Sport" from 8m43.9s. Due to the nature of the Brooklands races (mostly short handicaps), medium speed rather than total time was the usual quantity used in the results.

Main source is Bill Boddy's "The history of Brooklands Motor Course", sports magazine "Motor Sport" November 1938.

Star 16 October 1938: Hans Stuck (Auto Union) wins the Schulerau hillclimb in Romania.

Tazio Nuvolari - Auto UnionHermann Lang - Mercedes-BenzRichard Seaman - Mercedes-Benz


Donington Park (GB), 22 October 1938 (Saturday)
80 laps x 3.125 mi (5.029 km) = 250.0 mi (402.3 km)


1Hermann MüllerAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
2Rudolf HasseAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
3Christian KautzAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
4Tazio NuvolariAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12
5Walter BäumerDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-12
6Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-12
7Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-12
8Richard SeamanDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-12
9René DreyfusEcurie BleueDelahaye1454.5V-12
10"Raph"Ecurie BleueDelahaye1554.5V-12
11Luigi VilloresiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-8
12Percy MaclureP. MaclureRiley MonopostoIFS2.0S-6
14Robin HansonMrs Hall SmithAlta53S1.5S-4
15Ian ConnellI. ConnellERAB1.5S-6
16Norman WilsonN. WilsonERAB1.5S-6DNA - did not appear
17Humphrey Cuddon-FletcherH. Cuddon-FletcherMGK3 Magnette1.4S-6
18William "Billy" CottonW. CottonERAB1.5S-6
19Arthur DobsonA. C. DobsonERAB1.5S-6

Nuvolari wins the Donington Grand Prix for Auto Union

by Hans Etzrodt & Leif Snellman
The fourth Donington Grand Prix had been delayed by three weeks because of the Munich Crisis and took place during pleasant but cool sunny weather. 17 cars lined up for the race over 80 laps. After the first lap Nuvolari held the lead ahead of Müller both in Auto Unions, chased by the four Mercedes-Benz of Brauchitsch, Lang, Seaman and Bäumer, followed by Hasse and Kautz in Auto Unions, then Villoresi (Maserati), the two Delahaye of Dreyfus and Raph, and the remaining six small British cars.
      Kautz retired on lap three, followed by Raph after ten laps, Maclure's little Riley on lap 13, Cuddon-Fletcher's MG Magnette on lap 18, Villoresi's Maserati the following lap, Dreyfus after 23 laps, Hanson's Alta and Hasses Auto Union after 25 laps. With the field down from 17 to 9 cars, on lap 26 Nuvolari stopped at the pits and lost his lead to Müller who was followed by Lang, Nuvolari back in fourth place and Brauchitsch fifth after 30 laps. Bäumer retired after 43 laps. Müller stopped on lap 41 when Lang took the lead and shortly thereafter lost his windscreen, smashed by a stone thrown while passing a car.
      On lap 64 Nuvolari passed Müller for second place, then chased after Lang who drove without his windscreen, his face pounded by the cold air pressure affecting his breathing. He soon was no longer able to hold the steering wheel at top speed. Nuvolari passed Lang on lap 67 and finished the race after 80 laps, 1m38s ahead of Lang, followed by Seaman one lap behind, then Müller, Brauchitsch and six laps down trailed the little ERA of Dobson, Cotton/Wilkinson, and Connel/Monkhouse. From the 80 laps Nuvolari led 38, Lang 28 and Müller 14 laps.
The Donington racetrack was about 155 miles north-west of London and 18 miles away from Nottingham in Castle Donington, 8 miles S.E. of Derby. This was a wonderful old family property with a very large sleepy park owned by Mr. J. G. Shields. In its center stood a nice castle. The organizer of the race was Fred Craner and his Derby & District Motor Club developed an automobile race track, fenced off in the park, along beautifully made roads passing through groups of old trees. Craner was able to again attract the works entries of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union for the 1938 Donington Grand Prix.
      The 1938 Donington Grand Prix took place on the 3.125 miles Donington circuit over 80 laps, so a total of 250 miles. From the start in clockwise direction was the short run to the 45 degrees left hand Red Gate Corner after which the cars passed below Dunlop Bridge heading on the long right turn through Holly Wood, then a slight left turn, into a short straight downhill to the right-hand Hairpin Bend. Then the road passed below the narrow Stone Bridge, before it was snaking to the sharp right hand McLeon's Corner into a short straight up to the sharp right hand Coppice Corner. Immediately thereafter the road moved between the Coppice Farm Buildings, then passed through a narrow-looking bridge. Here began the fast part along a straight with a slight right then left turn along Starkey's Straight and over Starkey's Hill, which had been flattened for 1938 so race cars would no-longer leave the ground for a few seconds. From there downhill to the right hand 180-degree Melbourne Corner back uphill to the Start and Finish. Regarding the rough road surface with good grip, the racetrack was not ideal for the Grand Prix cars. It was not a fast track because of the many turns and was much too narrow. The circuit was very bumpy in places and still especially stressful for the chassis.

The Donington Grand Prix was originally planned to be held on 1st of October but this did not happen due to the strained international situation, caused when Germany threatened to start a war if they could not annex Sudetenland, which was strictly opposed by Britain and France. At the 'Munich Agreement' end of September, France and Britain then allowed Germany to annex Sudetenland and war was avoided.
      In the week preceding 1st of October, holding the race was thrown into doubt. On Monday 26 September, the German teams of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, both of whom had arrived, were prepared for recall and whether they would compete was in doubt. On Tuesday 27 September, the French drivers returned to France due to the mobilization in their country. Then Alfa Corse withdrew the entries for Farina and Biondetti. The Auto Union team had been present since 24 September at their pre-practice, to collect information for preparing their cars. Maserati withdrew on 28 September. Eventually, Mercedes and Auto Union withdrew, both teams left for Germany, Auto Union on Wednesday 28 September, and the Donington authorities cancelled the event.
      After the international situation had turned around at the beginning of October, the Donington organizer decided to hold the race on 22 October with the assurance from Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. An earlier date was not possible as the 8th and 15th of October were occupied with races at Brooklands. Auto Union started practice already on Friday 14 October. The Mercedes Team shipped across the Channel on Monday 17 October and started practice on Tuesday. Villoresi's Maserati entry was also assured as he left for England on Saturday.
The Auto Union team arrived with five D-type cars, of which one was for practice marked with a 'T' for Training. The drivers were Tazio Nuvolari, H. P. Müller, Christian Kautz and Rudolf Hasse with Ulrich Bigalke as their reserve driver.
      Daimler-Benz was present with four cars for Walter Bäumer, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Hermann Lang, and Richard Seaman, also a practice car marked with a 'P' probably for Practice. Engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut was considered the reserve driver since Bäumer started for Caracciola who was still suffering after his right foot was burned from the leaking exhaust gasket received six weeks earlier at Monza. The radiators of the four Mercedes were 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, Seaman's green, Lang blue and Bäumer gray. Four of the cars were the shorter and lighter version of the regular type W 154 with a large saddle tank between firewall and instrument panel. The rear tank was smaller and the tail much shorter. Lang drove the only standard-tank car with the long tail, which he preferred to drive.
      Ecurie Bleu, managed by Madame Lucy Schell from Paris, entered two Delahaye type 155 Monoposto to be driven by René Dreyfus and 'Bodoignet Raph', an alias for R.B. De las Casas, instead of Gianfranco Comotti, who was not allowed to drive. Madame Schell had made the decision in view of Comotti who had hindered Dreyfus for several laps to pass him at the Coppa Acerbo. Lucy Shell was the nominated reserve driver. Dreyfus practiced with the Monoposto and found the engine to be good but the car would not stay on the road. So, he drove the old Delahaye (his Pau car) a 2-seat type 145 with 4.5-liter, V-12 engine not supercharged and the Monoposto of type 155 with the same engine was probably driven by "Raph".
      Officine Maserati entered Luigi Villoresi with a Maserati 8CTF 3.0 S-8 (#3030). The local opposition consisted mostly of 1.5 litre S-6 ERA voiturettes driven by Ian Connell with ERA B (R6B); Norman Wilson with ERA A Type (R4A) but he did not appear; Billy Cotton with ERA B Type (R1B); Arthur Dobson with ERA B Type (R7B). There were also Percy Maclure with a Riley Monoposto (IFS) 2.0 S-6, Robin Hanson with an Alta 53S 1.5 S-4, and Humphrey Cuddon-Fletcher with a 1.4 litre MG K3 Magnette (K3009).
Monday 17 October Nuvolari was practicing and made the fastest lap of 2m11.2s, which was faster than the 1937 lap record. Later the day Nuvolari had a narrow escape at McLeon's forest when suddenly a large stag leaped in front of his speeding Auto Union. The animal was seriously hit and died immediately. It was not a serious accident but the Italian damaged his ribs which he had firmly strapped up for the race. Nuvolari had the stag head with great 10-end antlers mounted and taken back to Mantua where it remained as a special trophy.
Nuvolari (Auto Union)2m11.2s
Tuesday 18 October, Lang drove the fastest lap in 2m11s. Kautz was the slowest of the works drivers, suffering from a cold. Tuesday times were published as follows:
Lang (Mercedes-Benz)2m11.0s
Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)2m11.4s
Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)2m12.2s
Müller (Auto Union)2m12.6s
Bäumer (Mercedes-Benz)2m13.8s
Hasse (Auto Union)2m15.4s
Kautz (Auto Union)2m18.6s
Villoresi (Maserati)2m21.0s
Dobson (ERA)2m24.6s
Dreyfus (Delahaye)2m25.4s
Raph (Delahaye)2m36.4s
Thursday 20 October, early morning, Uhlenhaut took the Mercedes training car, labeled with a big "P", and turned many laps. Uhlenhaut wore full kit and was apparently the team's spare driver. In the afternoon Auto Union was out to improve their times. Lang went out and tried to beat the fastest time of 2m11.2s done earlier by Nuvolari's Auto Union. He was successful and was timed at 2m11.0s, the only time that was published.
Lang (Mercedes-Benz)2m11.0s
Friday 21 October, was the last practice day. Villoresi's Maserati finally arrived and the Italian had to learn the circuit as it was new to him. His fastest time was 2m29.1s. Cotton's 1488 cc ERA was stopped at the amazing time of 2m25.2s. Most drivers drove primarily to bed in tires, test suspension settings and other adjustments. On this last practice day, Brauchitsch was standing on the running-board of Seaman's car while driven a short distance to the pits, but when coming to a violent stop, the German fell off and suffered hemorrhages in the left hand and hip, he also broke a little finger. Only two practice times were published.
Villoresi (Maserati)2m29.1s
Cotton (ERA)2m25.2s
It was a chill morning, race drivers and mechanics walked around in heavy coats due to the wintery temperatures. By noon time the sun began to break through and the day developed into a glorious afternoon, warm and sunny. A crowd, estimated at 60,000 packed into Donington Park. The 17 cars lined up according to their practice times, which were incomplete. Lang wore white overalls and a white helmet, Brauchitsch a red helmet, Seaman green, Bäumer blue and Nuvolari in blue trousers, short-sleeve yellow jumper and red helmet.
Pole Position



Auto Union






Auto Union




Auto Union


Auto Union



















(Note 1)

The race became a sporting event of the first order because the youngest brother of the King HRH the Duke of Kent, assisted by the famous Brooklands starter A.V. "Ebby" Ebblewhite, gave the starting signal for the first time and thereby lifted the automobile sport in England to a moment of unheard significance till then. Assisted by Richard Seaman, the Duke also greeted every starting driver personally and was driven twice around the race track by Seaman in a V-12 Lagonda. Thirty seconds before the start the cars roared to life, the air was shaking with the song of the eight German cars that completely drowned everything else. Exactly at 12 p.m. the Duke of Kent lowered the little Union-Jack and the pack swept away with the Auto Unions of Nuvolari and Müller in the lead then the Mercedes of Brauchitsch, Seaman and Lang.
      After the first lap Nuvolari was in the lead, then Müller, Brauchitsch, Lang, Seaman, Bäumer, Hasse and Kautz, after an interval followed the Maserati of Villoresi, then the two Delahaye and the smaller British cars with the slow Riley at the very end.
      For three laps the order at the front did not change. Nuvolari drew away from Müller, Villoresi began to gain ground and the two Delahaye appeared to be in trouble. Raph in the Delahaye stopped at his pit with the engine smoking. Then Kautz overshot first at Coppice corner, left the road demolishing a fence and hit a bank, then went on to Melbourne where he slid off the road with a sticking throttle and crashed into a bank with the back in a ditch. He escaped unhurt and walked back to the pits.
      On the 4th lap, Seaman passed Brauchitsch for third place. Villoresi, 11th on the first lap, began to pass car after car on successive laps, then passed Hasse's Auto Union. After five laps the order was as follows:
1.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
2.Müller (Auto Union)
3.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz
4.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Bäumer (Mercedes-Benz)

After six laps Nuvolari lapped Maclure's Riley. On lap eight Raph's Delahaye stopped again at his pits. Eventually, Lang also passed Brauchitsch who drove with an injured hand. In addition, his engine did not run smoothly beginning after the first laps, while the engines of Lang and Seaman were in magnificent order. At the end of 10 laps Nuvolari at an average speed of 81.57 mph led from Müller by 14.6 seconds, Seaman by 15.8s, Lang by 22.0s and Brauchitsch by 30.0s, followed by Villoresi after 10 laps:
1.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
2.Müller (Auto Union)
3.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)
4.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Villoresi (Maserati)

On the 11th lap Raph retired the Delahaye with lost oil pressure. Maclure with the Riley retired after Melbourne on the 12th lap with a broken rear axle. Hasse passed Bäumer on lap 14.
      After 15 laps Villoresi's Maserati was sixth, in front of Hasse's and Bäumer's Auto Unions. At 16 laps Villoresi in the bright-red Alfa Romeo passed Brauchitsch to hold fifth place but after that, things went badly amiss. On lap 18 a piston broke, smoke and oil came from the Maserati engine causing Villoresi's retirement at the pits. Cuddon-Fletcher's MG left the road at Melbourne and retired near the stranded Auto Union of Kautz.
      After 20 laps Nuvolari with an average speed of 82.07 mph led from Müller by 21.8 seconds, Seaman by 22.6s in third place, Lang by 26.8s in fourth place, Brauchitsch by 1m06s behind Nuvolari, then Hasse, Bäumer, Dreyfus, Dobson, and the rest after 20 laps.
1.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
2.Müller (Auto Union)
3.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)
4.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Hasse (Auto Union)

Dreyfus retired his Delahaye after 23 laps with a broken oil pump. After 25 laps the order was the same as on lap 20. When Nuvolari's engine suddenly started to misfire he stopped at the pits on lap 26 to change a spark plug in 53 seconds which dropped him to fourth place. Müller now gained the lead ahead of Seaman, Lang and Nuvolari.
      On lap 30, Hanson's Alta, on his 25th lap, threw a connecting rod and in a second a sheet of oil from the engine covered the road at the approach to Melbourne Hairpin which made the road extremely slippery. As a result, every German car left the road spinning around in wild rotations in the grass to both sides of the track. Nuvolari slid off to the right-hand grass verge, recovered and got around the hairpin. Brauchitsch slid, spun around twice, and made the hairpin broadside. Hasse skidded to the right, shot across the road, and hit the safety bank. The car was badly damaged but Hasse jumped out of the car unhurt. Seaman also left the road on the inside and ended up beyond the wrecked Auto Union. Seaman stalled his engine and lost an entire lap before he received outside help by officials, who pushed him back into the race. Lang and Müller also slid with their cars through the grass. As a result, Müller at an average speed of 80.10 mph now led from Lang by 4.0s, Nuvolari by 59.4s, Brauchitsch by 1m32.8s, then Bäumer and one lap back Seaman after 30 laps:
1.Müller (Auto Union)
2.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
3.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
4.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Bäumer (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)

After 35 laps the order was the same as on lap 30. Lang was the first to do his refueling stop on lap 38 in 33 seconds and he did not lose second place. Brauchitsch was next at the pits on the 39th lap for 30 seconds. Connell stopped his ERA at the pits for fuel and was relieved by Monkhouse. After 40 laps, Müller at an average speed of 80.07 mph led Lang by 48.4s Nuvolari by 58s, Bäumer by 2m30.2s, Brauchitsch by 2m39.4s and Seaman in sixth place, Dobson seventh, Cotton eighth and Connell ninth after 40 laps:
1.Müller (Auto Union)
2.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
3.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
4.Bäumer (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)

Müller stopped on lap 41 to refuel and change rear wheels in 40 seconds. He left in second position while Lang had taken the lead. After the first half of the race, as Lang passed a car, a stone from the rear wheel hit his windscreen, which broke in pieces. Nothing happened to Lang but now he was pounded by the cold October air and what it brought with it into his face. According to Lang, it became difficult to breathe above 150 mph. The air pressure was such that he soon was exhausted and his head was in a dazed state, unable to fight Nuvolari. Simultaneously he continuously received signs from his pit to go faster since Nuvolari came closer every lap.
      Bäumer stopped on lap 41 for fuel and plugs in 79 seconds. On the same lap Seaman refueled in 44 seconds. Nuvolari stopped on lap 43 to refuel and change four wheels in 35 seconds. After 43 laps Bäumer with his Mercedes badly misfiring, slowly arrived at the pits with the engine on fire. The exhaust gasket was defective, flames hit the gas pedal which was glowing hot so that Bäumer could not use it. After the fire was doused, the car was retired. Dobson was sixth in the race, 2½ minutes ahead of the next ERA. Nuvolari made a new lap record at 82.72 mph. The order was the same after 45 and 50 laps, when Lang led at an average speed of 78.77 mph from Müller by 40.6s, Nuvolari 58s, Brauchitsch 1m58s and Seaman 2m48.2s after 50 laps:
1.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
2.Müller (Auto Union)
3.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
4.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Dobson (ERA)

Nuvolari was now really trying and at 53 laps he passed Müller. At 54 laps the Italian was 39 seconds behind Lang. Gradually the gap lessened. Lang was handicapped as he had no windscreen, unable to drive at top speed. Wilkinson stopped for fuel and handed the ERA back to Cotton. On his 56th lap Nuvolari made a new lap record at 82.96 mph average speed. Between 50 and 60 laps, Seaman lost 15.2s on Nuvolari, who now was the fastest driver. Dobson, the quickest of the ERA drivers, stopped on lap 57 for 61 seconds to refuel. The order after 55 laps was the same as after 60 laps, when Lang led at 80.01 mph average speed from Nuvolari by 21 seconds, Müller was third 1m04.2s behind Lang, Brauchitsch 1m59.8s behind and Seaman 2m26.6s after 60 laps:
1.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
2.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
3.Müller (Auto Union)
4.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
5.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Dobson (ERA)

Between 60 and 70 laps, Seaman lost 15.8s on Nuvolari and was 2m21.4s behind. On his 63rd lap Nuvolari did a lap in 83.71 mph average speed, the fastest lap of the race, and closed the gap to Lang to 12 seconds. On lap 64, Müller made another pit stop as his car began to overheat due to a broken linkage of a cooling flap which was repaired in 38 seconds. After 65 laps Lang still led ahead of Nuvolari and Müller, while Seaman was now fourth after he had passed the handicapped Brauchitsch with Dobson sixth. Nuvolari gained a few seconds every lap and on lap 67 he passed Lang on Starkey Straight at a speed of 160 mph.
      Nuvolari ran clean away, he was in colossal form, and that with 46 years of age. Lang followed next, Müller was third, then Seaman and Brauchitsch, both one lap behind. Seaman was eight seconds behind Nuvolari on the road, driving better than any German on the course. At 69 laps Seaman caught Müller, passed him, gaining third place. After 70 laps Nuvolari led at an average speed of 80.29 mph from Lang by 17.4s, from Seaman by 2m21.4s, Müller by 2m30.2s, and Brauchitsch 2m59.8s behind Nuvolari after 70 laps:
1.Nuvolari (Auto Union)
2.Lang (Mercedes-Benz)
3.Seaman (Mercedes-Benz)
4.Müller (Auto Union)
5.Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz)
6.Dobson (ERA)

The race ran on with no position changes during the last monotonous laps with Nuvolari's lead getting larger and larger, eventually to 41 seconds, then up to 1m30s. There was nothing Lang could do about it. At the end of lap 80, Nuvolari crossed the finish line with the Auto Union after 3h06m22.0s at 80.49 mph average speed, amidst such an ovation as was never heard in the country before. The crowd mobbed Nuvolari, who was very affected. He said, he never had a warmer reception. He received a wreath of honor and then drove the lap of honor. The German anthem rang out followed by the Giovinezza, the Italian anthem in honor of Tazio Nuvolari.
      Lang finished second on the same lap. When he got out of his car he fell flat down. The mechanics started massaging him and got his blood circulating again. Seaman came third one lap behind with Müller fourth and Brauchitsch fifth, both also one lap down. Arthur Dobson, the fastest of the ERA drivers was flagged off in sixth place, six laps behind. The first prize of £250 went to Nuvolari, who also received the Craner Trophy and £100 the prize for fastest lap, the £50 award for leader at mid-race went to Müller and the team award went to the ERA team drivers. £100 and the President's Trophy for first British car and driver was awarded to Dobson (ERA).



1.4Tazio NuvolariAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12803h06m22.0s
2.7Hermann LangDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-12803h08m00.0s+ 1m38.0s
3.8Richard SeamanDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-12793h06m22.8s
4.1Hermann MüllerAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-12793h07m09.0s
5.6Manfred von BrauchitschDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-12793h08m21.0s
6.19Arthur DobsonA. C. DobsonERAB1.5S-6743h07m56.2s
7.18W. Cotton / W. WilkinsonW. CottonERAB1.5S-6743h08m14.6s
8.15I. Connell / P. MonkhouseI. ConnellERAB1.5S-6743h08m52.4s
DNF5Walter BäumerDaimler-Benz AGMercedes-BenzW 1543.0V-1243engine fire
DNF2Rudolf HasseAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-1229crash
DNF14Robin HansonMrs Hall SmithAlta53S1,5S-425engine
DNF9René DreyfusEcurie BleueDelahaye1454.5V-1223oil pump
DNF11Luigi VilloresiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8CTF3.0S-818piston
DNF17Humphrey Cuddon-FletcherH. Cuddon-FletcherMGK3 Magnette1.4S-617brake rod
DNF12Percy MaclureP. MaclureRiley MonopostoIFS2.0S-612rear axle
DNF10"Raph"Ecurie BleueDelahaye1554.5V-1210oil pressure
DNF3Christian KautzAuto Union AGAuto UnionD3.0V-122crash
Fastest lap: Tazio Nuvolari (Auto Union) on lap 63 in 2h14.4s = 83.7 mph (134.7 km/h)
Winner's medium speed: 80.5 mph (129.5 km/h)
Pole position lap speed: 85.8 mph (138.2 km/h)
Weather: cool, sunny, and dry.
In retrospect:
Rudolf Caracciola for years the leading driver of the Mercedes-Benz racing team, received from the AIACR for the third time the title of European Champion, based of his excellent performance during the 1938 racing season, namely with 8 points ahead of von Brauchitsch (15 points), Lang (17 points) and Seaman (18 points), all with Mercedes-Benz. Stuck, Nuvolari and Müller, all with Auto Union (all had 20 points). For his outstanding achievement Caracciola additionally was awarded the Great Gold Medal of the AIACR.

No one of the spectators, who went home after having seen a tremendous race, could have imagined that it would take 55 years before the next Donington GP was run. As Donington winner Rosemeyer and Nuvolari got a worthy successor: Ayrton Senna!

1. Times for the two last rows from Sheldon's book (2nd ed). The published Friday practice time for Cotton however was 2m25.2s!

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
DDAC Motorwelt, München
Frankfurter Zeitung, Frankfurt
Kölnische Zeitung, Köln
L'AUTO, Paris
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
The Autocar, London
The Motor, London
Special thanks to:
Adam Ferrington

Star 7 December 1938: Richard Seaman married Erica Popp, daughter of the BMW president. Richard's mother was not present as she went to a matinee instead in protest.


© 2023 Leif Snellman, Felix Muelas, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 17.04.2023