History of Formula 1 – Motor Races 1931

History of Formula 1 – Motor Races 1931

Ogden’s Cigarettes

Tobacco advertising and automobile racing goes back a lot further than Marlboro. Cigarette cards came into use in 1879, the year in which several American tobacco manufacturers began putting small card stiffeners into the flimsy paper packs of cigarettes to protect the contents from damage. At first the tobacco companies were content merely to print their name and address and brand name on these little cards. It was a gradual change from a pictorial element in the advertisement to a full-blown picture which had no direct relevance to the product, but by 1885 the first purely pictorial cards were beginning to appear. In the 30’s a company by the name of Ogden’s Cigarettes produced a set depicting famous races of the 1931 season.

Argentine National Grand Prix, March, 1931

One of the few motor-races held in South America, this event is also one of the longest set-distance events. It is a town to town race over roads running from Buenos Aires through Rosario on to Cordoba and back to the Argentine capital again, the distance being 938 miles. Run off early in March the distance was covered by Carlos Zatuszech, driving a Mercedes-Benz car, 15 hrs. 44 mins. 5 1/5 secs., giving him victory at an average speed of a shade under 60 m.p.h. The second man Ansaldo, driving a Hudson, arrived over two hours later. Ernesto Blanco, with a Reo car, took third place.

Double-Twelve Race, Brooklands, May 8-9, 1931

Run off for the second time at Brooklands on May 8-9, this event was won on handicap by an M.G. Midget, driven in turn by the Earl of March and C.S. Staniland, at an average speed of 65.62 m.p.h., and covering a distance of 1,574.9 miles. Cars of this make took the first five places in the race. The event is run for 12 hours on Friday, when the cars are backed up and restarted at 8 a.m. the next morning for another twelve hours. There were forty-eight starters; but only twenty-four finished. The greatest actual distance was covered by a Talbot-1,902.9 miles which ran into 10th place on handicap.

Grand Prix – Casablanca, Morocco May 17, 1931

Fifty five laps of a four-mile circuit through the streets of Casablanca formed this event, which in the previous year had been run over a single circuit of 450 miles covering the south of Morocco. With the Sultan as spectator, the cars were off at 2:30 p.m. on May 17. Count Czaikowski prooved victorious on a Bugatti, his average speed being 85.6 m.p.h. Etancelin was second and de Maleplane was third, both driving Bugatti cars. The winner made a record lap of 2 mins. 50 secs.

Targa Florio Race, Sicily, May 10, 1931

Generally regarded as the most difficult and hazardous of all motor races, this event is run off over the Madonie Mountains in Sicily. The customary circuit is 67 miles in length, but landslides had wrecked sections of the road, and the cars were set to compete over a course 90 1/2 miles. Four laps comprised the race, which was won by Nuvolari on an Alfa-Romeo, averaging 40.29 m.p.h. over the dangerous mountain roads. Borzacchini another Alfa-Romeo finished second, 2 1/4 minutes behind the leader; Achille Varzi being third with a Bugatti. Only four cars finished.

Australian Grand Prix, March, 1931

There were nineteen entries for this race which was held on Port Phillip Island in March, 1931. The winning car, an Austin Seven, had won the Brooklands 500-mile race five months earlier when handled by S.C.H. Davis. The Australian course is 6 1/4 miles long, with four difficult corners, and this year’s event was won by Dickason in 3 hrs. 2 mins. 24 secs., carrying a handicap of thirty minutes. The second place was taken by Junkers on a straight-8 Bugatti, and another Bugatti came third with Drake-Richmond at the wheel. Only six cars finished the course.

Mont Ventoux Hill Climb, August 30, 1931

The oldest and most famous hillclimb known to motor racing was run for the twenty-fourth time on August 30, 1931. The sinuous is 12 ½ miles long. All records were broken by Rudolf Caracciola with a Mercedes-Benz, who made the ascent in 15 mins. 22 secs., giving a speed of 52.4 m.p.h. The previous record was 16 mins. 45.2 secs. Set up by Lamy on a Bugatti in 1928. Caracciola’s rival this year was Albert Divot, driving a Bugatti, whose time was 16 mins. 5 secs.; Divot had preciously set up a record for the hill in 1925.

Junior Car Club, High Speed Trial, July 4, 1931

Organized by the Junior Car Club the High-Speed Reliability Trial was held at Brooklands on July 4, 1931. There is a minimum speed for each class of car, and reliability over a determined distance is the test. Cars use part of the track, turn off into the paddock road, then follow a road circuit down the steep test hill onto the track again. Most competitors turn the event into an unofficial race, and the hairpin bend always produces some lurid skidding.

500 miles Race, Indianapolis, May 30, 1931

This race which is held annually at the end of May, is the only one run off on the brick-surfaced at Indianapolis, U.S.A. The circuit is 2 1/2 miles round. and is paved with 3,500,000 special bricks. The course is very dangerous when wet, and this year’s event was marred by rain which slowed the cars. The victor was Louis Schneider, an ex-traffic policeman, who took a Miller into first place at an average speed of 96.62 m.p.h. (the 1930 race was won at 100.44 m.p.h.) A Duesenberg machine was second, and another Miller third.

Italian 1000 miles Race, April 11-12, 1931

Roads are not officially closed for the “Mille Miglia.” The cars race southwards from Brescia to Rome, turn east and then skirt the coast, then travel up through Bologna to Trevino and back to Brescia. Rudolf Caracciola drove his Mercedes-Benz to victory in 16 hrs. 10 mins. 10 secs. at an average speed of 62.84 m.p.h. traveling at over 100 m.p.h. on many parts of the road and breaking all records for the race. g. Campari was second, arriving 11mins. 7 secs. later on an Alfa-Romeo. One hundred cars started; fifty-one finished-the last arriving 8 1/2 hours after Caracciola.

Swedish Winter Grand Prix, February 23, 1931

Held in 1931 for the first time, the Winter Grand Prix was run over a 30-mile circuit at Raemshyltan on 23 February. The circuit, which had to be covered seven times, included the icy surface of the Ramen Lake and roads covered with snow. There were twenty-five entries, seventeen of which were American cars, including three Fords. Karl Ebb, on an Auburn, held the lead almost from start to finish for the full distance of 210 miles, and won at an average speed of 43.8 m.p.h. The second was J. Ramsey (Chrysler), the third was Bergstrom (Chrysler) and the fourth was Harry Larsson (Ford).

Grand Prix , Automobile Club De France, June 21, 1931

Popularly known as the “French Grand Prix,” the event organized by the Automobile Club de France was held on the Montlhery track and road circuit near Paris, on Sunday, June 21, 1931. The course was 7 ¾ miles long and the race went to the car, which went the greatest distance in ten hours. Twenty-three cars started and Louis Chiron and Achille Varzi driving a Bugatti car in turn, covered 782 miles, winning at an average of 78.2 m.p.h. Borzacchini and Campari were second, covering 735 miles, a Maserati driven by Biondetti and Parenti was third with 737 miles. Twelve cars finished.

Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird, Daytona, February 5, 1931

On February 5, 1931, Captain Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the world’s land speed record on his 1,300 h.p. Napier-Campbell “Bluebird” car by attaining a mean speed of 246.08 m.p.h. an average of runs in opposite directions. This speed is that achieved over the measured kilometre; over the measured mile his pace was slightly less, being 245.73 m.p.h. The record was previously held by the late Sir Henry Segrave who, on March 11, 1929, drove his Irving-Napier Special – “Golden Arrow” – through the mile at a mean speed of 231.36 m.p.h. The record runs were made on Ormonde Beach, Daytona, Florida, U.S.A.

German Grand Prix (1500 cc Class), July 19, 1931

Held over a circuit of 14 ¼ miles of the Nurburgring course in the Eifel Mountains, this event was won by Rudolf Caracciola on a Mercedes-Benz at 67.29 m.p.h., on Sunday, July 19, 1931, the race distance being 310 miles. The circuit is one of the most difficult in the world, and the crowd of over one hundred thousand spectators saw many crashes. Chiron in a Bugatti was second at 66.92 m.p.h., and another Bugatti was third with Achille Varzi at the wheel-66.24 m.p.h. First place in his class was taken by Dudley Froy on a British Riley car, his speed being 58.03 m.p.h.

Southport 100 miles Race, June 27, 1931

Royal Prix De Roma, June 7, 1931

Seventeen cars started in the elimination heats for this event, held on the new Littorio track near Rome, on Sunday, June 7, 1931. This circuit is 2 1/2 miles round, and is rather more road than track, although very fast. The final event to decide the winner was run over 60 laps, and resulted in Italian Maserati cars achieving five of the first places out of six. The winner was Ernesto Maserati, on a Maserati car, with an average speed of 95.2 m.p.h.; Drefus finished two minutes behind and Biondetti was five minutes behind the winner, taking third place – these machines were all Maseratis, but Ruggeri brought a four-year-old Talbot racer into fourth place.

Irish Grand Prix – Eireann Cup, July 6, 1931

This event for cars above 1500 cc capacity was run of on the Phoenix Park circuit on July 6, 1931, this race being desperately contested during intermittent thunderstorms. Earl Howe broke the lap record twice in the first half hour with 91.8 m.p.h. but Sir Henry Birkin drove an Alfa Romeo to victory at an average of 83.73 m.p.h. Earl Howe finishing sixth owing to supercharger trouble. G. Campari took an Italian Maserati into second place with 82.56 m.p.h., and Brian E. Lewis was third with a British Talbot car, at 79.92 m.p.h. In spite of the fierce pace there were only two who did not finish.

Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb, July 11, 1931

The only important hill-climb now held in England, this annual “open” event took place on July 11, 1931, when R.G.J. Nash set up the fastest time of the day by climbing the 1,000 yards long hill in 43 2/5 secs. His Frazer-Nash car “The Terror” had twin rear wheels which lent additional grip to the road. The record for the hill is held by Hans von Stuck who, on July 12th, 1930 drove his Austro-Daimler car up in 42.8 secs. Formerly the record was held by Raymond Mays with his Villiers-Vauxhall Special, its being 45 3/5 secs. (Sept. 14th, 1929).

Circuit De Dieppe (Over 1500 cc Class), July 26, 1931

Run over a rain-soaked surface on the afternoon of July 26, 1931, this event was held under a time limit of four hours; a race for machines under 1500 cc being held concurrently. A high wind and intermittent rain contributed to several crashes, but in spite of the treacherous surface the lap record was broken three times. Philippe Etancelin took his Alfa-Romeo into the lead from the start, winning at 74.4 m.p.h. Count Czaikowski was second on a Bugatti, the third place being taken by De Maleplane on a Maserati.

Italian Grand Prix – Monza, Italy May 24, 1931

Held at Monza Speedway, a track set in what was formerly a royal park near Milan, on Sunday, May 24, after Luigi Archangeli had been killed in practice the day before. Fourteen cars started and nine finished. The race was for ten hours and the machines left the line at 7 a.m. Campari and Nuvolari drove an Alfa-Romeo to victory, covering 967 miles at an average speed of 96.7 m.p.h. Another Alfa-Romeo was second, driven by Minoia and Borzacchini while Divo and Bouriat took a Bugatti machine into third place.

Monaco Grand Prix, April 20, 1931

First held in 1929, this race takes place through the streets of Monte Carlo, and has claims to be considered the world’s most spectacular event. The circuit is only two miles long, and 197.5 miles have to be covered necessitating taking over a thousand corners. Louis Chiron won the 1931 event at a speed of 54.09 m.p.h. Fagioli on a Maserati was second, and Achille Varzi took third place with a Bugatti. Twenty three cars started, but only these three actually finished; six others were running when the race was stopped, but the nearest to Varzi was two laps behind.

Circuit De Dieppe (1500 cc Class), July 26, 1931

This event was marked by a crash which put seven cars off the road at the same time. Run off on July 26,1931, simultaneously with a race for machines of over 1,500 cc it resulted in a win for Earl Howe, driving a five year-old Delage. His average speed was 73.2 m.p.h. and he was third for the general placing of the combined race. He was delayed by a wheel change on the first lap, but took the lead on the twenty-first circuit and held it to the end. Delorme was second on a Bugatti, the third being Wagniez on another machine of the same make.

R.A.C. International Tourist Trophy, Ulster, August 22, 1931

This race is over a distance of 410 miles, comprising thirty laps of the 13 2/3rds miles Ards Circuits near Belfast. The winner was Norman Black, driving an M.G. Midget, at an average speed of 67.9 m.p.h.-the cars running under handicap. Second place was taken by Borzacchini on an Alfa-Romeo, with a speed of 79.05 m.p.h.-the fastest average ever set up in this race. The Italian driver also broke the lap record with 81.28 m.p.h. A.S. Crabtree was third on another M.G. Midget finishing five seconds behind Borzacchini, with an average of 67.62 m.p.h.

Sand Race – Skegness, July 18, 1931

One of the very few race meetings held in England, other than Brooklands, this event took place on the sands at Skegness on July 17-18, 1931 with prominent amateur drivers handling the cars. Fast time was set up by N.A. Carr, driving a Bugatti, in the one-lap “Unlimited” final, when he covered the one and a half miles in 1 min. 35 2/5 secs. The five-lap handicap was gained by A.N. Spottiswoode, also on a Bugatti, in 7 mins. 55 secs., running in the racing car class, but Sadlier Jackson beat this time in the sports car class with another Bugatti, clocking 7 mins. 13 secs.

Monza Grand Prix, September 6, 1931

This event was staged in a series of heats on the Monza Speedway, near Milan. In all forty-nine machines were competing, and were thinned out in the heats until only eight cars were left in the final. These machines were probably the finest racing cars ever built, and a terrific race resulted in Fagioli taking the Maserati to the winner’s flat at a speed of 96.6 m.p.h. Borzacchini was second on an Alfa Romeo, only seventy-five seconds behind, and Achille Varzi was third on a Bugatti, arriving two minutes later.

Sir Henry Birkin at Brooklands, October 17, 1931

Belgian 24-Hours Race, July 4-5, 1931

Thirty-three machines lined up on July 4, 1931 for this race on the Spa circuit, ten being sports models and the other cars of standard type. The greatest distance was covered by Prince Dmitri Djordjadze and M. Zehender on a Mercedes-Benz; they covered 1,580.7 miles at a speed of 65.8 m.p.h A lap record was set up by a British driver, G.E.T. Eyston on an Alfa-Romeo with 77.86 m.p.h. Seventeen cars were running at the end of the twenty-four hours, and all won prizes, owing to the numerous sub-divisions and classes into which the entrants were divided.

Relay Race – Brooklands, July 25, 1931

Sixty-six machines started in this event, held at Brooklands for the first time on July 25, 1931. The cars ran in teams of three, each machine under handicap, and the fastest cars in each team covered thirty laps before the driver’s sash was passed to the next car, which then took up the running. The idea of the race was very original and, in spite of a heavy rain-storm and a water-logged track the event was most successful. Captain Waite’s team of supercharged Austins won at an average speed of 81.77 m.p.h., driven by L. Cushman, J.D. Barnes and C. Goodacre.

Grand Prix D’Endurance, Le Mans, June 12-13, 1931

Starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 12, the eighth race of this series ended twenty-four hours later with a victory for Earl Howe and Sir Henry Birkin, who handled an Alfa-Romeo car in turn. The event is run through daylight and darkness over a road circuit 10 miles long. The winning machine covered a distance of 1,875 miles at an average speed of 78.13 m.p.h. A Mercedes-Benz car was second, covering 1,805 miles at 75.2 m.p.h.; the third was a Talbot with 1,763 miles at an average of 73.46 m.p.h.