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Why no Italian Grand Prix in the early years?


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#1 HistoryFan

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 12:41

The Italian Grand Prix is right in front of us. What I'm interested in to know: Why was there no Italian Grand Prix until 1921?

I think there were many drivers and cars from Italian since the first GP races in 1906. So we have drivers, cars - but no Grand Prix. Why? It was not a need to have a permanent race track, so that also didn't count. 



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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 13:03

As soon as I saw the thread title I knew who had initiated it :)

 

The same question could be raised about Britain, Germany, Belgium or Spain. The Grand Prix was seen in the early years to be a French-run international event - who needed another? Only the Americans copied the French before 1921, and with comparatively little international support



#3 Tim Murray

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 13:36

There were many major international races held in Italy in the early days - Coppa Florio, Targa Florio, Coppa Velocita di Brescia etc. It's just that it wasn't until 1921 that they chose to give the title Gran Premio to one of them.

#4 HistoryFan

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 14:13

Okay that sounds logical, thank you. 



#5 Roger Clark

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 15:59

Am I correct in thinking that 1921 was the first year in which an internationally agreed formula was applied for Grand Prix racing?


Edited by Roger Clark, 29 August 2013 - 15:59.


#6 Charlieman

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 18:43

The Grand Prix was seen in the early years to be a French-run international event - who needed another?

This is a crucial point to understand. The French Grand Prix was "the Grand Prix", originally for out and out racing cars. Other races were Grandes Epreuves, identified by region or sponsor, and some were for sports cars. Races organised on behalf of the national club sometimes had particular significance, lots of money and lots of prestige.

 

The European Drivers' Championship was established in 1931. It set a new pattern, identifying particular Grandes Epreuves as being as worthy as the French Grand Prix. No doubt, this year will be discussed on the French equivalent of TNF as the turning point to decline. Races in the European Drivers' Championship were required to be run by the national club, one event per country/club. The concept of championship and non-championship races is established.



#7 David McKinney

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 18:50

Factual inaccuracies aside, I don't see the relevance of any of that to events before 1921, CM :)



#8 Charlieman

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 19:31

Factual inaccuracies aside, I don't see the relevance of any of that to events before 1921, CM :)

Have a go at me about inaccuracies, David. 

 

I was trying to draw a broad picture about the special attribution to the expression "GP" (or local equivalent) from 1931. Which is pertinent to understanding 1921, when GP regulations were effectively ACF rules.  



#9 RVM

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 15:08

Am I correct in thinking that 1921 was the first year in which an internationally agreed formula was applied for Grand Prix racing?

 

Given that the ACF decided to adopt the "formula" that the IMS and the A.A.A. Contest Board had put into place beginning with the IMS event in May 1920, for its Class E machines, this is very possible. That the Contest Board did adopt the A.I.A.C.R. "formula" during the most of the next decade (even if a season late) would give credence to this thought. Of course, there was 1908 with the Grand Prix and the Grand Prize....


Edited by RVM, 31 August 2013 - 15:08.


#10 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 06:03

Have a go at me about inaccuracies, David. 
 
I was trying to draw a broad picture about the special attribution to the expression "GP" (or local equivalent) from 1931. Which is pertinent to understanding 1921, when GP regulations were effectively ACF rules.

  

Given that the ACF decided to adopt the "formula" that the IMS and the A.A.A. Contest Board had put into place beginning with the IMS event in May 1920, for its Class E machines, this is very possible. That the Contest Board did adopt the A.I.A.C.R. "formula" during the most of the next decade (even if a season late) would give credence to this thought. Of course, there was 1908 with the Grand Prix and the Grand Prize....

As I understand it, before 1914 each organising club would specify the rules for their own races. In some cases two clubs might specify the same, or consistent, rules either by accident or design. At some time in the 1920s, the AIACR, as the international body responsible for motor sport began to publish a set of rules and to encourage clubs to use them. This means that it was not, as Charlieman says, the case that GP regulations were effectively ACF rules, but the ACF was following AIACR rules. Whenever it happened, it was a significant point in motor racing history.

#11 Vitesse2

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:04

   Whenever it happened, it was a significant point in motor racing history.

The official foundation of the AIACR's Commission Sportive Internationale can be dated precisely to their General Assembly in London, December 7th 1922. :) Not a date that will live in infamy.



#12 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:23

Were any rules specified by the parent body before the establishment of the CSI?  



#13 Vitesse2

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:35

Not that I am aware of, Roger, but it's very murky water when you look at 1919-22. Some secondary (tertiary?) sources like Ivan Rendall suggest it but offer no definite proof from a primary source.

 

Before the foundation of the AIACR's CSI the IMS/AAA, ACF and RACI each issued their own regulations when announcing their own races - although they were all pretty much identical, presumably indicating some sort of gentlemen's agreement between the major clubs, usually following the lead of the ACF, which had claimed primacy in such matters since the formation of the AIACR in 1904. It's an odd situation in that powers which the AIACR should have retained for themselves seem to have been delegated to the ACF's CSI, effectively meaning that the French - alone - had the last word on sporting matters.

 

However, the American tail had ended up wagging the French dog, as racing had been revived there before it had in Europe, so the ACF had - probably reluctantly - adopted the IMS/AAA rules, since those few French manufacturers which had built new racing cars had built them to conform to the 1920 US 3 litre rules. The ACF originally wanted to run their 1922 Grand Prix to a 2 litre limit, but eventually retained the 3 litre one.

 

I suspect the other "grandee" clubs - RAC, AAA, RACB, RACE, ÖAC and RACI - may have staged a gentle coup in order to reduce that French influence. All six, plus the ACF, were represented on that first CSI, which was headed by a Belgian-born Frenchman - René de Knyff.

 

On the subject of the original question, it should be borne in mind that post-WW1 Italy was pretty much a financial basket case, having suffered rampant inflation during the war years, and was being "governed" by a succession of fast-falling administrations which were trying to deal with massive economic problems and industrial unrest.



#14 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 14:42

 The ACF originally wanted to run their 1922 Grand Prix to a 2 litre limit, but eventually retained the 3 litre one.

 

 

Really?



#15 Vitesse2

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 15:32

Oh yes ... this is from some research which Hans Etzrodt carried out some years ago. These magazines are of course now online at ANNO:

 

Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, (Wien), September 18, 1921, Nr. 38, pg. 22:

 

In the coming year a Grand Prix will be staged again in France, provided sufficient participation will be present.  The ACF Sporting Commission came to this decision, however all reports referring to the particulars of this race have to be viewed as premature.  It has been claimed that the 3-liter principle should be adhered to also in 1922 race to which a fuel limitation should be added.  It should be adjusted in such a way that about 9 km can be covered with one liter gasoline.  That would be a slashing limitation because in the Grand Prix of 1907 the limitation was 100 km with 30 liter fuel or 10 km with 3 liter.  Just such a decision has not been made by the ACF and the Sporting Commission has to first decide about this question.  In certain French circles work is carried out to accept a 2-liter principle.  Considering the fact that in Great Britain, America, Belgium and Italy all races of next year are fixed for cars with 3-litre engine capacity, it would be a serious blunder by the ACF to introduce another principle, because it would deter foreign entries from entering their race.

 

Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, (Wien), October 2, 1921, Nr. 40, pg. 27:

The anticipated two-litre principle. 

 

The French Grand Prix 1922 shall be made up of two days, one for touring cars and one for racing cars.  In the meantime the more direct main features for the future regulations have been established.  For the racecars the following three major rules: maximum engine capacity two litres; minimum weight 750 kg; distance 500 km. For the touring cars: maximum consumption of fuel and oil 17 liter for 100 km; four seat sport type body; distance 800 km. 

 

Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, (Wien), October 9, 1921, Nr. 41, pg. 26:

 

The ACF Sporting Commission has already partially altered the main regulations for the 1922 Grand Prix, as published in last week’s report, because doubts have been raised in constructor circles.  To allow the designers the necessary time for building two-litre rac ing cars, the ACF Sporting Commission agreed to relinquish their regulation to enforce the two-litre formula already announced for the 1922 Grand Prix.  They are now going uniformly with the Indianapolis race management, which means that for both races next year [1922] the 3-litre formula remains in force, and only for the races in 1923 it is intended to change to the 2-litre formula.  …  …Additionally, the total minimum distance for the racing car class was increased from 500 km to 800 km, so that it is the same for touring cars and racing cars.

 

 



#16 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 15:57

I thought the 1922 Grand Prix was run to a 2-litre formula.