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Birkin's Maserati


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#1 TonyKaye

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 20:13

A friend of mine wants to make a model of Birkin's Maserati in the 1933 Tripoli GP, his last race. Specifically he wanted to know the racing number and the color of his car. Sheldon Volume3 soon identified the number as '10' and I suggested that the car was more likely to have been BRG, since it was owned by Rubin, than Italian racing red.
I couldn't find a picture of the car in the race, except for the massed grid prior to the start (Gran Premio di Tripoli by Redaelli).Sheldon as usual came to the rescue. Birkin was the right hand car on row two, which was conveniently close to the photographer. But this was number 14, Fagioli's Maserati.
So was Birkin really Number 10 and was I right to guess that the car was BRG?

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#2 Wolf

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 22:56

I remember reading recently an article where it specifically stated it was green (I don't recall about number being mentioned). I've checked Don's article @ http://www.atlasf1.c...ger/mirror.html, but it doesn't say anything about the colur, but I guess Don could have a thing to say.
Later I've checked Neubauer's story @ Dennis' site http://www.ddavid.co...a1/trip1933.htm where it is said, but- ah well, you decide for yourself how much is he to be trusted on that matter.

#3 Don Capps

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 01:14

Tony,

It was indeed given the number "10" for the race. I will scan a few pictures I have and send them to you. I will also look for others in my "archives."

I don't recall anything about the color of the Birkin/ Rubin 8CM being mentioned, but don't be too quick to assume that it was BRG, although that is a distinct possibility.

On the case...

#4 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 01:27

Birkin's #10 Maserati was in the first row, the second from the left. Fagioli in #14 Maserati was placed on the right edge of row two. The starting line up consisted of six rows of five cars each, except the last row had just four cars.

There is an excellent, very clear 14x9 inch picture of the assembled grid just before the start in Grand Prix Tripoli 1925-1940 from Valerio Moretti. The body color of the Alfas and Maserati's appears to be very dark (red), Birkin's and Cussini's Maserati in row one, have both a lighter color (green is definitely possible).

Let me know if you want the picture, Tony. :)




#5 Wolf

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 01:27

So, Don, Neubauer wrote it was green; are we to assume you don't give him much credit on Tripoli matter?;)

#6 Don Capps

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 01:30

None whatsoever when it comes to Tripoli and not much to Moretti for that matter on the "scandal"....

#7 Barry Lake

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 13:02

I raised this question elsewhere but, since we now have a thread specifically on Birkin, perhaps I can try again.
I am sure I read in Motor Sport magazine a small piece that said modern-day doctors (and this could have been any time from the 1960s to the 1990s that I read it) had analysed the symptoms Birkin had when he died (they might even have had his medical records) and claimed that he did not die from blood poisoning from his burns. They said it was some other condition, that he must already have had.
Unfortunately, that is all I remember.
Can anyone - while chasing information on his car - throw any light on this?

#8 Don Capps

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 13:32

It was recurrent malaria. Captain Birkin contacted the disease while campaingning in the Middle East during the Great War. After his adventures in North Africa in 1933, he suffered a relapse which led to his death in June of that year.

#9 Don Capps

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 13:34

PS: the burn had nothing to do with it. In the picture in Moretti you can see a small bandage on the left forearm.

#10 TonyKaye

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 18:54

Don and Hans,
I look forward to seeing your pictures.
I didn't intend this to become another of TNA's mysteries, but if Birkin was on the front row, it means that the starting grid in Paul Sheldon's tome is wrong. His grid conforms exactly to the numerical order of the cars' numbers, the front row consisting of #2, #4, #6 and #8 etc. This is why I expected to find Birkin (#10)on the outside of the second row. Perhaps this is how they were MEANT to line up, but, for whatever reason, didn't.
We may between us have enough pictorial evidence to set out the true grid, or at least the first few rows.
From the photo in Gran Premio di Tripoli I can make out the following from the first two rows:

??????? ??????? #4 #2

??????? #22 #20 #14

On the following page of the book there is another picture of the starting grid, this time just the left hand side of the front row. This consist of #8, #10 and #12. Now #12 isn't even in the other picture. I take this to mean that not all the cars had assembled on the grid in the first photo. It also means that the cars started 5-4-5 etc. not 4-4-4 as in Sheldon's book. The likelihood that some cars have not yet reached the grid is compatible with the Tripoli book's assertion that there were 29 starters, not the mere 21 that I can see in the photo. It also fits reasonably well with Sheldon's single non-starter, #62.But it still doesn't explain what happened to #6 Bianchi's Maserati.
And I still don't know what color my friend should paint his Maserati! I think I'll tell him to do Nuvolari's Maserati instead. He drove a purple one, Right?

#11 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 21:21

Originally posted by Hans Etzrodt
...The starting line up consisted of six rows of five cars each, except the last row had just four cars...

Grid (dots/periods were used to line up the numbers only)
Row 1: - 12 - 10 - ..8 - .4 - .2
Row 2: - 24 - 22 - 20 - 18 - 14
Row 3: - 36 - 34 - 30 - 32 - 28
Row 4: - 48 - 44 - 42 - 40 - 38
Row 5: - 58 - 56 - 54 - 52 - 50
Row 6: - 60 - 64 - .... - 62 - 60


#2 Premoli (Maserati) DNF - 7 laps compl.
#4 Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) 2nd
#8 Cussini (Maserati) 14th
#10 Birkin (Maserati) 3rd
#12 Gazzabini (Alfa Romeo) DNF - 17 laps compl.

#14 Fagioli (Maserati) DNF - 17 laps compl.
#18 Varzi (Bugatti) 1st
#20 Battaglia (Alfa Romeo) 8th
#22 Balestrero (Alfa Romeo) 6th
#24 Giusti (Maserati) DNF - 3 laps compl.

#28 Pratessi (Alfa Romeo) DNF - 4 laps compl.
#30 Cazzaniga (Bugatti) DNF - 11 laps compl.
#32 Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo) DNF - 2 laps compl.
#34 Matrullo (Maserati) 11th
#36 Battilana (Alfa Romeo) 4th

#38 Campari (Maserati) DNF - 20 laps compl.
#40 Castelbarco (Maserati) 10th
#42 Barbieri (Maserati) 13th
#44 Zehender (Maserati) DNF - 29 laps compl.
#48 L. Hartmann (Bugatti) 9th

#50 Corsi (Maserati) DNF - 2 laps compl.
#52 Moradei (Talbot) DNF - 7 laps compl.
#54 Biondetti (MB Speciale) DNF - 2 laps compl.
#56 Tadini (Alfa Romeo) DNF - 20 laps compl.
#58 G. Ferrari (Alfa Romeo DNF - 28 laps compl.

#60 Letterio (Talbot) 12th
#62 Pellegrini (Alfa Romeo) DNF - 6 laps compl.
#64 Taruffi (Alfa Romeo) 5th
#66 Ghersi (Alfa Romeo) 7th

Non-Starters:
#6 Bianchi's Maserati (not practiced)
#? Sommer (Maserati) (not practiced)
#? Jellenek (Alfa Romeo) (not practiced)
#? Guglielmo (Alfa Romeo) (not practiced)

Note:
Sheldon's book has a wrong grid and some wrong starting numbers. I believe he corrected these errors in his Addendum, which I wanted to buy but cannot find anywhere.


#12 TonyKaye

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 21:30

Thanks for the great detail Hans. I hace never seen the ar Addendum you refer to; I wonder if it really exists.


Has anyone out there seen a Paul Sheldon Addendum containing amendments to the 1933 Tripoli Grand Prix?

#13 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 22:06

Out of my files:
On 7 May 1933 Tim (Tim Birkin, as he called himself) raced a 8C 3000 Maserati, entered by Bernard Rubin, former Bently Boys teammate, at the 393 km, 30 lap Grand Prix of Tripoli. This was the historic race rigged by Varzi, Nuvolari, Borzacchini and journalist Canestrini so they could split the $400,000 winning ticket with three other ticket holders. Starting from the first row of the grid Tim Birkin, not involved in this collusion, had been in the lead for the first four laps, ahead of Nuvolari, Campari, Varzi and Fagioli. But none of these drivers had to do refueling stops. At half time Birkin was in second place, only 10 seconds behind Nuvolari. Birkin’s scheduled refueling stop on lap 16 turned out to take a long time. Because his pit was poorly organized, this may have cost him the race and certainly was to cost him his life. He drove with a short-sleeved shirt and during his refueling stop he received a small burn from the Maserati’s hot exhaust pipe on his bare forearm. Birkin joined the race in third place and was unable to make up the lost time. Tim drove his private Maserati to third place, just over 1½ minutes behind Varzi and Nuvolari. After he returned to England, he did not tell anybody about his injury, which he neglected. When Dr. J.D. Benjafield, his former Bently Boys teammate, heard about Tim having a depression, he met with him and noticed an old bandage on Tim’s arm. When asked what it was, Tim said it was nothing. But Benji found the burn to be septic with serious blood poisoning. For three weeks, Benji fought with several other specialists for Tim Birkin’s life in London. There were no antibiotics yet in 1930! The efforts of the specialists did great help but in the end, Tim Birkin died of blood poisoning on 22 June 1933 in London. There exist modern statements to the effect that Tim died because he had become too weak to fight off an attack of Malaria he had since WW1. Be that as it may, England had lost a superb driver and great sportsman.

#14 Barry Lake

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 06:54

Now that you have prompted my memory, I do remember it was malaria that Birkin had.
I suspect, now - as when I first read this, that Birkin might have survived either the blood poisoning or the malaria alone, but the two combined was more than his body could handle.
It would be unlikely, I think, that his death could be pinned down specifically to either problem - certainly from this distance.
The story I read, though, indicated that doctors had examined the records and they believed the symptoms were consistent with malaria.
Don sounds as though he might know more on this. Do you Don?

#15 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:03

Yes Don,
Please reveal the details about recurrent malaria to us. :)

#16 Barry Lake

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:07

The addenda does exist, I have a copy. It hs a soft cover, though matches the other books in size and colour.
It has 87 pages of tightly-packed corrections. I find it very difficult to understand as page numbers (to find the item requiring correction) and lists of car starting numbers are all in the same column.
It is diabolical to try to follow.
The only reference I can find to the 1933 Tripoli race is the addition of a couple of chassis numbers.

A source of frustration is the fact that genuine historians like the people on this forum have been unable to buy this. I have the same problem with other Sheldon books. When the F3 and F-Junior "work books" were published, I asked would there one day be revised versions. I was told there would be, so said I would wait for those. Later, I was told they would not be reprinted. Now I am having trouble tracking down copies of the originals.

Also, as I said somewhere else, there apparently was a book on all the Goodwood races published recently and all copies were sold without any going to book shops.

Perhaps we all should approach Sheldon and ask can he please keep all here informed of any new products. If he was smart, one would think he would use this group to add to or correct anything he plans to publish.


#17 Barry Lake

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:18

Something else frustrating about the Sheldon information is that, because the books are text only, and these days there are printing machines that make it economical to produce very small numbers, it would be simple for him to run off a few more copies of anything he has.

I mentioned on another thread that I had bought a copy of a Wheels magazine index, several hundred pages in size and professionally bound to a high quality. The author of that prints them off in batches of 10 or 12, as required, and has them bound.

He sells that for around $100 Australian, including postage and it is equivalent in size to at least two of Sheldon's books and is very similar quality - in the paper, printing and the binding. The Sheldon books cost almost 50% more than this.

It seems crazy to me that genuine historians should be denied access to such material. Also I don't understand why it is not continually updated and corrected. Most buyers would back up for a heavily revised version at some time in the future. And these are not books merely to read for pleasure; they are supposed to be historical records.

#18 Barry Lake

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:19

Speaking of Tim Birkin, that is...

#19 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:53

I would appreciate if someone would contact Paul Sheldon. I wrote him some time ago, he never answered. Probably he is too busy. But whoever writes to him can use my name. Just say 'Hans from Hawaii' and he will know. He wrote me once that there were no Addendums left. He might have knowledge who bought them all to make a lot of money now, when there is a demand for them.