The cars line up in the Bremgarten pits before Heat 1 of the 1947 Swiss Grand Prix.
Motor racing, especially at the Grand Prix level, had reached a frenzied pace before World War II but was brought to a halt in 1940. When the war was over, Mercedes and Auto Union were gone from racing but it wasn’t too long before Alfa Romeo announced that it would be returning to the competition scene. By September 1945, a group of racing stalwarts organized the first post-war event in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. It was a minor race to commemorate those in racing who had been killed in the war. Jean-Pierre Wimille, Raymond Sommer, Etancelin, “Levegh”, Maurice Trintignant, Chaboud and a few others put on a good show, and Wimille won the race in an old Bugatti.
This first and only 1945 event had been run to the 3-liter supercharged/4.5-liter unsupercharged Grand Prix rules from the pre-war period. However, for 1946 the races were intended to be run to what was essentially Formula Libre, incorporating both 3-liter and 1.5-liter cars. Most races were organized by the French, though other European countries soon followed suit, with the entries inevitably being privateers at first. Some of these privateer teams rapidly developed, most notably the Scuderia Milan, which was essentially a semi-works Maserati operation. Villoresi and Sommer’s Maseratis won the early 1946 events and then Wimille’s private Alfa 308 started to win races. Tazio Nuvolari appeared in Enrique Plate’s Maserati 4CL at Albi in July, where he also won. By then the Alfa Corse 158s had appeared for a race at St. Cloud in Paris and had failed, so when they reappeared on July 21 for the Grand Prix des Nations in Geneva, the intention was to win without question. The Scuderia Milan was, by this time, really a works Maserati, with the Swiss Ecurie Autosport a strong back-up group to fight the Alfas. The domination of the Geneva race by the Alfettas was the first true sign of the return of professionalism to motor racing in Europe. The Alfettas of Farina, Trossi and Wimille ran away with the final and not even Nuvolari could stay on terms with them.
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