LE MANS 24 HOURS 1933

17th - 18th June

29 starters 13 classified finishers

That greatest of all pre-war drivers, Tazio Nuvolari, known as the "Flying Mantuan"came to Le Mans only once. And won in a nail - biting finale with Luigi Chinetti. Just before the start, given by Colonel Lindsay Lloyd, the vice president of the R A C (Royal Automobile Club), there was a minute's silence for local hero, Guy Bouriat, kilIed on 21st May 1933 at Peronne. In addition, all the British drivers knew that Tim Birkin (Le Mans winner in 1929 and 1931) was at death's door with blood poisoning after being seriously burned by the exhaust pipe of his Maserati in Tunis. Seven Alfa Romeos turned up, 5 of which were works entries including the two 170 bhp MM models entrusted to Chiron - Cortese and Nuvolari - Sommer. Nuvolari it seemed was not over - enthusiastic about night driving but Sommer said he would bear the brunt of it. The race began at grand prix speeds and the pace never let up. If the 4.9 litre Bugatti (identical to the 1931 car), the antique Lorraine and the old Bentley had their sup­porters, the excitement was at the head of the field thanks to Chiron, Sommer and Chinetti. Up to half - distance the Italian and his French co - driver managed to repulse the assaults of all their rivals and pulled out a 21ap lead over the Chiron - Cortese Alta Romeo. Just after 4HOO on Sunday morning the leader hit problems with a leaking fuel tank and a detached wing. The leak was finally stemmed and the wing was bodged with string and wire. Eighteen minutes were lost and the other Alta drivers took full advantage of the Franco - Italian pair's misfortune. At 8HOO, Sommer handed over to a fully rested Nuvolari. They were 3'35" behind the leaders and the race was on again. Warned by his pit, Cortese upped the pace but to no avail as Nuvolari, crouched over the steering wheel in his inimitable style ate into his team - mate's lead. By 9HOO, he was ahead and when he handed over to Sommer at lOHOO, he had nearly a lap in hand! In attempting to keep up Cortese spun off the track in the Esses. He got back to the pits where a bent chassis and out of line wheels spelt retirement. Nuvolari and Sommer now had a lap's lead over the Chinetti - Varent Alta but more stops to stem the leak (with chewing gum! ) ate into their advance. In addition, the exhaust pipe was falling off, the brakes fading and the water radiator was becoming unsealed. Closer drew Chinetti and as they entered their final lap he went into the lead. The race was decided at Amage when he missed a gear and went off the track allowing Nuvolari back in front. At Maison Blanche, Luigi was back on Tazio's tall and tried to overtake. Suddenly, Francois Paco pulled out in front of him and it was back off or crash. Chinetti decided on the former and Nuvolari went on to win by a mere 400 metres in what was the closest ever finish in the 24 Hour race up to that date (and the second - closest ever).

CIRCUIT :

16, 430 kms.

The facilities in the Tertre Rouge private section were improved , the surface being stabilised and the brushwood fencing, extended as far as the Route Nationale 158.

A yellow axial line was painted on Les Hunaudieres. The warnings on the triekiest parts of the circuit were now in the form of reflecting signs. Spectator capacity was increased to around 60,000.

REGUlATIONS:

Fuel : 5 formulas to choose from : touring car petrol, pure benzol, petrol with benzol added, a petrol, alcohol benzol mixture, and diesel. Disappearance of the 5000 cc dass. The handicap on supercharged cars increased from 33 to 40%.

STARTERS:

29 cars 4 nations 16 makes

France : 3 Amilcars, 1 B. N. C (Bollaek, Netter et Cie) , 2 Bugattis, 1 Lorraine Dietrieh, 1 Rally, 1 S. A. R A (Ste des Automobiles a Refroidissement par Alr), 1 Salmson, 1 Tracta.

Great Britaln : 3 Aston Martíns, 1 Austin, 1 Bentley, 2 M. G. s, 2 Rileys, 1 Singer,

ltaly : 7 Alta Romeos.

United States of America : 1 Dusenberg.

SUMMARY:

At scrutineering all eyes were on the huge 250 bhp S. J 8 cylinder 6882 cc Dusenberg (America's replacement for the usual Stutz) driven by Prince Nicolas of Roumania and Callaneo. It dwarfed the privately entered T 50 Bugatti of Bussienne and Mrs Duprez, Trevoux's repaired Bentley and the old Lorraine of Roger Labric, future historian of the Le Mans 24 Hour race. 1933 also sawthe last appearance of a strearnlined S. A. R A. Other entries induded !he 3 Aston Martíns, and in the small cubic capacity classes opposition to the French Amilcars, Tracta, Salmson, B. N. C etc carne from abrace of Rileys, one of which had won !he Tourist Trophy, a Singer, 2 M. G. s, and an Austin. Mrs Sico was lucky to escape from a spectacular accident when her Alta Romeo flew off the road beside Amage flattening 2 pine trees and catching fire. She was thrown out and landed at the feet of a gendarme who helped to her to get up. He then removed the branches which Sommer and a Riley had miraculously managed to avoid. This accident has been magnificently illustrated by both Geo Harn and Gordon Crosby. Other eliminations which were heavily contested at the time induded that of the "princely" Dusenberg for premature refuelling and the Cloitre - Moll Alta Romeo. The reason given ; "Mr. Moll carried the fuse which was necessary for the lighting system of the 8C to his team - mate stranded out on the circuit". Another victim was the Martín - Bodoignet Amilcar which refuelled too early having lost the cap of the fuel tank! Finally, after the finish, Morandet and Mottet in their SARA. were convinced that they had covered the set distance but the official figures said otherwise.

RECORDS:

The first 3 cars all exeeeded !he 3000 km mark and !he out and out record (all circuits) set in 1931 by the Birkin - Howe Alfa Romeo was increased from 3017, 665 to 3144, 038 kms. In addition, for the first time, the first 2 cars averaged over 130 km/h. The lap record was beaten no fewer than 9 times first of all by Chiron and then by Sommer and Nuvolari. It went from 136 to 146 km/h and it was Sommer who had the final say in 5'31"2 or 5'31"4. The little Riley had a thoroughly deserved win in the Index of Performance as well as finishing fourth overall at a speed of 107, 563 km/h. Aston Martín completed a hat-trick of victories in the 1101 to 1500 cc dass.

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Sports Car Races

Targa Florio 1963

Sebring 1966

Stardust GP 1968

Le Mans 1930

Le Mans 1949

Le Mans 1950

Le Mans 1951

Le Mans 1952

Le Mans 1953

Le Mans 1954

Le Mans 1955

Le Mans 1956

Le Mans 1957

Le Mans 1958

Le Mans 1959

Le Mans 1960

Le Mans 1961

Le Mans 1962

Le Mans 1963

Le Mans 1964

Author: ArchitectPage

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