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Mlle. Helle-Nice


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#1 Don Radbruch

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 16:26

Does anybody have any information on Mlle. Helle-Nice who drove Grand Prix races in the mid-1930s? I have a bit of information that shows she drove at Pau in France in 1935 and finished 8th in the race won by Nuvolari. There may have been only nine cars in the race. I also have a newspaper photo of Mlle. Helle-Nice crashing into the crowd at Sao Paula, Brazil---date unknown. Mlle. Helle-Nice, dscribed as a "famous French pilot" was severely injured and six spectators were killed. It would be interesting to find out more about Helle-Nice's (perhaps Helle Nice) racing career.

Don Radbruch

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#2 Leif Snellman

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 16:33


"Mlle. Hellé-Nice" (Mariette Delangle) (F)
1900 - 1984
A frequent starter in the mid 30's first with a Bugatti and then with a blue Alfa Romeo Monza. The diminutive Hellé- Nice was probably the top female driver of the era. A fast but safe driver she often managed to bring the car to the finish. She was mostly known for her female "extras" on the race overall and by her curious habit to keep her mouth open while racing. At Pau 1936 she crashed. In Sao Paulo 12 July 1936 a spectator trew a straw bale into the track. Hellé-Nice hit the bale in 160km/h and went into the gransdstand resulting in several fatalities. A chocked Hellé-Nice gave up Grand Prix racing but took part in some minor racing events.


#3 dbw

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 17:19

see thread on "fitness obsession" in the recent past, a t35b, represented as the "helle-nice" car was sold at auction...i don't know the details as to the particular car [if she actually owned it at one time or just drove it..]but it did fetch a large sum..500k+ us dollars......i guess the chick magic was still there....

btw...if you can,find a copy of "memoirs of a bugatti hunter"...[the author escapes me now..]for a "revealing" photo of our lady as an exotic dancer....perhaps this is how she snagged the rides.....[p][Edited by dbw on 01-03-2001]

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 20:55

Can someone please debunk the myth of the origins of her non de course? It supposedly comes from “elle est nice” (she is nice), but that doesn’t ring true.


#5 dbw

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 22:03

just a guess , but it could have been her stage name prior to her racing "career"....but still no clue to the origin...

#6 jarama

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 22:16

Originally posted by dbw


btw...if you can,find a copy of "memoirs of a bugatti"...[the author escapes me now..]for a "revealing" photo of our lady as an exotic dancer....perhaps this is how she snagged the rides.....


Applying the word "exotic", do you mean "stripper"? There were rumours in these days about his way of life.


#7 dbw

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 22:23

that's a really good question......

#8 Barry Lake

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Posted 04 January 2001 - 12:38

The book with the "exotic" photo of Hellé-Nice is:

Memoirs of a Bugatti Hunter Antoine Raffaelli 1997 Maeght Editeur

It is a very tasteful photo, I thought, although she appears to be naked behind some material of some sort she is holding in front of her.
My memory tells me that Hellé-Nice was also her stage name and I have it written as being hyphenated. I assume I copied it accurately from that book and others.

Another book with some mentions of her racing is:

Alfa Romeo Modello 8C 2300 Angela Cherrett 1996 Veloce Publishing Plc

I can't remember where I read it (although it was quite recently - it could have been in that Alfa book) but she appeared in an all-ladies race at Montlhery in Renault 750s in the very early 1950s. The race had a number of well known names in it and she did quite well, I believe.

Once I searched the Internet to see if there was a biography/autobiography of her, but I found nothing. I suppose if there was such a thing it would be in French.

I think she was well known enough as a stage performer that a biography is a possibility.

#9 fines

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Posted 04 January 2001 - 17:43

Originally posted by Dennis David
I'd be interested in what she looked like. Just for historical purposes of course.



#10 Gil Bouffard

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Posted 04 January 2001 - 20:25

Women Racing Drivers (In General) and Helle Nice in particular.

I have been cataloguing the exploits of women racing drivers for quite some time. From Madame Camille Du Gast to Sarah Fisher, there have been many women who have taken up auto racing seriously as a profession. As the categories of motor racing has grown, so has the number of women competing in motor sport.

This has not been an easy task because in some cases (pre-war and pre-liberation) women were referred by their married name and if unmarried by their surname. It is not uncommon to find references to "Mrs. Robert Bentley, " or, "Miss McCluggage," in contemporary reports and articles

From S.C.H. (Sammy) Davis' book, ATALANTA WOMEN AS RACING DRIVERS; Foulis, 1955: 175-176 ATALANTA AND THERE ARE MANY OTHERS:
"Helle Nice, attractive, intelligent, very French, shone brightly as a Star around 1930 and, given a good car, could hold her own with anyone. Why she disappeared so suddenly it is hard to say though there might be twenty reasons not connected with racing, but I always considered her in the front rank and wished she could have shown what she could do in first-class grand prix racing. You had only to look, at her in her racing kit to realize she was taking the job seriously and it always amused me that workmanlike as her clothing was she added that small feminine touch-little, hardly noticeable, bows-to the shortened sleeves. And her handling of her car was good to watch since she treated mechanism gently while her amusing expression-mouth slightly open-when cornering was an ever-present amusement."

I also have a picture of her (from the same book) in her racing garb..

Gil




#11 Michael Müller

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Posted 04 January 2001 - 20:57

Who said that a search on the internet shows no results on “Helle-Nice”?

Hereafter an extract from an article written by Joe Saward and found at “inside.f1.com”.

“It is a splendid book if you don't read the text. It is full of wonderful photographs and has a magnificent cover featuring a sepia-tinted photograph of pretty woman racing driver, perching pertly on a Bugatti Type 35. She has an enormous grin and bags under her eyes which suggest that she had been doing rather a lot of dancing the previous evening.
Her name was Helle Nice. Well, that is not strictly true. Her real name was Helen Delangle and later in the book there is a photograph of her wearing nothing but a scarf. When she wasn't a racing driver she was a dancer at the Casino de Paris and obviously it got very hot there because the need for clothing was clearly not pressing.
You don't get racing drivers like that any more...
In those days the grids were peopled by aristocrats and gigolos (sorry, I cannot name names but you can usually spot them because their cars were entered by baronesses). There was a Cubist painter (Amedee Ozanphant) who liked to race and the Chilean consul in Nice Juan Zanelli was no slouch at the wheel of a Bugatti. There were German bankers and heirs to great fortunes many of whom raced with pseudonyms. What were their secrets? What were they trying to hide?
"Philippe" was always one of my favorites. He walked into the Bugatti offices in Paris in 1929 and ordered three Bugatti 35Cs, each at 155,000 Francs. I am not good at arithmetic but I do know that this was a major amount of money.
He drove one, lent one to his friend Helle Nice (I wonder if he told his wife?) and the other to a pal called Guy Bouriat.
"Philippe" was an amazing man. His real name was Baron Philippe de Rothschild and he came from the famous banking family.”



#12 Jaxs

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Posted 04 January 2001 - 22:15

It's a strange old world, there was a picture of Helle-Nice in a quiz supplement of one of the sunday papers over christmas, She is shown sitting across a bugatti and looking very much the Femme Fatale.

Jack,

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 January 2001 - 23:24

fines, you are a tease! No more AGP results for that...

And an apology to Dennis is in order...

As for me, I don't think our artistic desires would be complete unless we could have that picture of the scarf.

#14 dbw

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Posted 05 January 2001 - 01:09

yeah! that's what we need....a "hotties" section here at TNF.artistic desires indeed...[i've got the pic and she's a babe!!]

#15 TonyKaye

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Posted 05 January 2001 - 17:26

A whole article was devoted to the Madame some time ago in Classic and Sportscar (or maybe Classic Cars). It must have been three or four pages long. But I don't remember her scarf, perhaps she wasn't wearing it at the time.

#16 Don Radbruch

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Posted 05 January 2001 - 23:41

A close look at the newspaper photo of Mlle. Helle-Nice crashing into the crowd shows an object that could very well be the hay bale that caused the crash

Information on the "Golden Age Of Grand Prix" website has a slightly different version of Hille-Nice's real name. Mariette and not Helen Delangde. She was born in 1900 and died in 1984. I would have loved to hear some of the tales she must have told----naturally, the racing and not the dancing.

Don

#17 Barry Lake

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Posted 06 January 2001 - 03:28

Don

Any chance of getting a good scan of that newspaper photo?

#18 fines

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Posted 06 January 2001 - 11:58

Originally posted by Ray Bell
fines, you are a tease! No more AGP results for that...

And an apology to Dennis is in order...

:blush: Ehem, I just thought this to be the proper place for his request. Well, sorry Dennis!!!!

Originally posted by dbw
...[i've got the pic and she's a babe!!][/B]

Then, why the f*§% don't you post it???? :mad:

#19 dbw

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Posted 06 January 2001 - 18:09

my,my,my.....it seems the helle-nice magic has lost none of it's power over men...i'm sure she'd be pleased.

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#20 Michael Müller

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Posted 06 January 2001 - 19:29

W H E R E I S T H E P I C T U R E ! ! ? ? ?

#21 Don Radbruch

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 00:34

Sorry Troops, but I do not have a scanner to post the crash photo of Helle-Nice. I'll be happy to send a copy to anybody who wants one but I'll need mailing addresses. Do remember that I copied the photo from a newspaper clipping so it is not very clear.

Barry---I mailed a package of racing goodies to you a few days ago and I think I included a copy of the crash photo.

Don

#22 Barry Lake

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 02:11

Thanks Don. I am looking forward to seeing it.

#23 Roger Clark

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 06:55

This is a picture of Mlle. Helle-nice from Gil Bouffard via Barry Lake. It is from "Atalanta - Women as Racing Drivers" by S C H Davis.

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#24 dbw

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 07:07

yeah,yeah,yeah....but where's the casino de paris shot???that's what we all want!!

#25 Roger Clark

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 08:51

this is nothing to do with me, you undestand, I'm just doing it for a friend, who prefers to remain anonymous... or should do.


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#26 Michael Müller

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 08:54

Ahhhh, .... finally!

#27 Barry Lake

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 13:36

You will notice that, unlike Isadora Duncan, that other "exotic" dancer of the era, Hellé Nice did not wrap her scarf around her neck. So, if she was offered a ride in an Amilcar (or a Bugatti, if you prefer) and the scarf became caught in or under a rear wheel, she would simply be embarassed, not strangled or have her skull smashed.

Obviously a thinking lady.

Hellé Nice (without the hyphern) is Bugatti hunter Antoine Raffaelli's spelling. As he has an album with many pictures of her, I am guessing he would have studied the subject closely.

I have now changed the spelling in my records.

#28 dbw

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Posted 07 January 2001 - 17:38

now THAT'S a racing driver!..do i recall a photo somewhere with semi clad gp drivers[with s. moss in a wig?]

btw barry,.... your copy of rafaelli's book i think is a translation ;the original was in french....hugh conway's transciptions of bugatti factory delivery sheets shows the hyphenated name..[ch.4863,eng.111,t35c,july,1927, helle-nice,paris]...i wouldn't drop the hyphen quite yet...

#29 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 00:40

Perhaps when Barry wrote "studied the subject closely" he got the meaning twisted himself?
Just who, though, is getting the benefit of her gaze in the clad photograph?

#30 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 01:39

Hellé-Nice was her pseudonym. This is how her name appears in some of my sources.
[*]Hellé-Nice in AUTOMOBIL-REVUE 1936, No.57, pg.3
[*]Helle-Nice, Mme. in Montlhery, by William Boddy, 1961
[*]Hellé-Nice Mme. in Das grosse Rennfahrerbuch, by Erwin Tragatsch, 1970
[*]Hellé-Nice Mlle in Alfa Romeo a History, by Peter Hull & Roy Slater, 1982
[*]Madame Helle-Nice in Grand Prix Bugatti, by H.G. Conway, 1983
About the Sao Paolo race on 12 July 1936: ..."Near the end of the event happened a serious accident. The French 'pilot' Hellé-Nice, who was also driving an Alfa Romeo in the race, was hit with force by Teffè on Alfa Romeo. After her car had toppled over twice, it ran into the crowd. Four persons were dead immediately, while the number of the light and heavily injured people amounts to 26. - Hellé-Nice was transferred to hospital unconsciously, where the doctors diagnosed a serious concussion." (Source: AUTOMOBIL-REVUE 1936, No.57, pg.3)
[p][Edited by Hans Etzrodt on 01-08-2001]

#31 Barry Lake

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 03:28

OK! I'll put the hyphen back in the name.

Thank you Hans for that bit of extra information on the fatal crash. Much appreciated.

#32 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 07:40

Another version of the crash at the São Paulo GP out of Alfa Romeo a History, by Peter Hull & Roy Slater, 1982
"...The heroine of the event, though ultimately a tragic one, was Mlle Hellé-Nice, who had been driving an inspired race, and was even second to Pintacuda for some time. At the finish of the race she was having a duel with de Teffé when the excited crowd dislodged a straw bale into the road, on the final straight, and poor Hellé-Nice hit it and swung round at 100 mph into the grandstand with some fatal results to the spectators. Hellé-Nice herself was thrown over the heads of the crowd, and was very badly shocked. She was passing de Teffé when the accident happened, and was awarded fourth place...
"...Hellé-Nice gave up grand Prix racing after her sad accident though she was in a team of women drivers who took long distance records at Montlhéry with a Ford V8 the following year."


#33 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 10:04

And yet another version of the São Paulo crash after digging through my German mags, I found in Allgemeine Automobil Zeitung, Berlin, 1936, No.33, pg. 16 "...The clock pointed towards 12. The race neared the end. Then, roaring applause surged: the Italian Pintacuda raced as first through the finish. His countryman Marinoni followed him. Further back lay the Brazilian Manoel de Teffé and behind him the 25-year old French woman sport driver Hellé-Nice. Just when both had gained the first two places, the crowd started to become restless and pushed at some places across the barriers onto the track. But that was not all. Just at the moment when the third, Brazilian Teffé, neared the finish, one of the spectators, a soldier, who until now had sat on a hay-bale, jumped into the racetrack and dragged the hay-bale with him. At the same moment, Hellé-Nice arrived racing at 150 km/h. She braked, but could not avoid the sudden obstacle and ran over the soldier, who died soon afterwards. But this was only the beginning of the horrible disaster. The car started to skid and raced in wild rebounds along the spectators. The young woman driver was flung out high through the air into the crowd of people and owed her life only through this circumstance. The driverless car on the other hand threw the nearest standing to the ground, ran them over, ripped arms and legs from them and behaved as if it was agitated. Shortly after the finish line it came to a standstill. Five People were immediately dead, while 35 partly serious and partly light injured were brought into the hospitals. At the very onset it was believed that the daring woman driver had become a victim of the accident. First telegrams declared her dead, but she was only unconscious and had solely received some injuries. After 24 hours she regained consciousness, but could not remember the accident. Her condition today is not one to be concerned..."

#34 Darren Galpin

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 10:17

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Hellé-Nice, Madame
b 1900 - d 1984

Hélène Delange was an acrobat and dancer whose stagename was Hellé-Nice, having had star billing at the Casino de Paris in the Gala Maurice Chevalier, and she started racing in 1928, winning the Grand Prix Féminin at Montlhéry in an Omega Six, beating the likes of Estelle Lang and Anne Itier. Ettore Bugatti then loaned her a Type 35T for a speed record run where she averaged 198 kph before an accident. She was due to take part in the GP of Casablanca, but withdrew after her friend Count "Bruni" d'Harcourt had a fatal accident.

She finished 3rd in the GP Bugatti at Le Mans, and was hired by the Williams Morris Agency to do a tour of America. She took part in a record run at the New Jersey Woodbridge oval, driving a Ford, but crashed and rolled after three laps. Nice was uninjured and crawled out of the wreckage, waving to the crowd. She came back to Europe and competed regularly in the Bugatti, collecting start money in 1932, and took the ladies hillclimb record at Mont Ventoux.

In 1933 she purchased an Alfa Romeo Monza, finishing 9th in the Italian GP where Campari, Borzacchini and Czaykowski were all killed in an accident, and subsequently took part in the Pescara 24 Hours. In 1936 she won the Coupe de Dames on the Monte Carlo Rally driving a Ford V8, but a trip to South America driving the Alfa went horribly wrong. Driving in the Grand Prix de São Paulo, Nice lost control when avoiding an excited official and was thrown from the car. Nice was in a coma for three days from which she recovered, but the run-away car killed six spectators. She never raced seriously again.

In 1937 she joined an all-female record breaking team at Montlhéry, and the following year SS member Huschke von Hanstein tempted her to drive a DKW on the Rallye de Chamonix. Because of this association, Nice was accused of Nazi sympathies after the war, and she went to court to clear her name.

She returned to rallying in 1950, teaming up with Anne Itier to drive a Renault 4CV on the Monte Carlo Rally. However, they had an ignominous early exit when at the Amsterdam start she skidded on black ice and fell in a canal. Her last race was the 1951 GP de Nice, where she again drove a Renault 4CV. Unfortunately her place in the team was taken by a young Jean Behra.


From http://www.silhouet....ople/index.html.

#35 Yves

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 10:43

Very interesting ;)

Another great talent was not incensible to Hélène's charms :

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For those who doesn't identify this gentleman ;) here is the link :

http://www.abol.it/c...o/nivola2I.html

Y.[p][Edited by Yves on 01-08-2001]

#36 Yves

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Posted 08 January 2001 - 14:25

The reporter was really a very galant man : in 1936, Hélène was no more 25 for a while :)

Quoted from Hans's post :

"the Brazilian Manoel de Teffé and behind him the 25-year old French woman sport driver Hellé-Nice"

That's the way history is writen by galant person :rolleyes:

Y.

#37 Don Radbruch

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Posted 09 January 2001 - 01:03

Thanks to Darren Galpin for posting the history of Helle-Nice's racing career. Also thanks to others who have posted information and photos.

Darren's posting mentions that Helle-Nice had signed up for an American tour in 1933. This was a fairly common thing back then and a number of ladies took part in exhibition runs on tracks all over the US. The Woodbridge, New Jersey track where Helle-Nice crashed was a half mile dirt oval. Obviously she was driving what today would be called a sprint car. I will see what else I can find out about Helle-Nice at Woodbridge and, perhaps, other US race tracks.

Don

#38 Joe Fan

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Posted 09 January 2001 - 09:46

Oh boy, soft porn! I guess it pays to rumage around the Nostalgia forum.

#39 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 January 2001 - 11:18

Remember that when you're trying to sell books!

I actually placed an ad for this thread in the Paddock Club, but I don't think they'll take any notice...

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#40 Sean L

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Posted 09 January 2001 - 12:24

I picked up on your subtle hints that this was a good thread Ray.;) I often read the NF just don't have much to contribute though.
I suppose you can get away with soft pr0n from the past hidden away down here because you know the young'ns would hardly venture into nostalgia.

#41 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 January 2001 - 12:48

But was it worth the download time?

#42 Sean L

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Posted 09 January 2001 - 13:34

I haven't encountered a thread that took more than 10 seconds to download. I love the internet at work.

#43 Damop

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Posted 09 January 2001 - 14:12

She should have moved to Quebec so the government would pay for implants.

#44 dbw

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Posted 10 January 2001 - 03:23

yeah..like this would even turn a head with the "young'ins"....watched any music videos lately??yikes!!!

#45 Barry Lake

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Posted 10 January 2001 - 15:18

I don't see what the excitement is about.

At the dance competitions in which my partner Loretta and I compete, the girls wear less than this when they are dancing Latin-American.

Hellé-Nice has a large scarf. Some of the dance costumes I see could be made from a small scarf - or even a large handkerchief.


#46 Joe Fan

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Posted 10 January 2001 - 16:19

Originally posted by Ray Bell
But was it worth the download time?


I guess this would depend on whether you uploaded anything.;) No Viagra jokes please!

#47 Roger Clark

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Posted 10 January 2001 - 18:43

Originally posted by Barry Lake
I don't see what the excitement is about.

At the dance competitions in which my partner Loretta and I compete, the girls wear less than this when they are dancing Latin-American.

Hellé-Nice has a large scarf. Some of the dance costumes I see could be made from a small scarf - or even a large handkerchief.


You asked for it..

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Posted Image

#48 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 January 2001 - 00:18

When will Barry be able to post photos?

#49 dbw

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Posted 11 January 2001 - 16:48

actually at some of the salsa clubs in san francisco,the girls will wear even less than shown.....and it is also a competition..of sorts...

#50 Barry Lake

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Posted 12 January 2001 - 05:05

I realise this has little to do with women racing drivers - unless either of the young ladies here takes up race driving (not an impossibility).

However, it just dawned on me that, by coincidence (I just grabbed the first couple of Loretta's photos that gave some idea of what I was talking about), both of these couples pictured are planning to compete in the British Dancesport Championships at Blackpool (in June, I think).

So any of you Brits who would like to see them (and hundreds more) should be planning a mid-year holiday in Blackpool.

Me? I'll be in South America, with dbw (investigating the Helle-Nice crash, of course).