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1938 European Championship


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#1 Vitesse2

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 11:47

In the past we have spent much time and many electrons on the intricacies of - particularly - the 1939 and 1935 European Championships.

 

1938 seemed pretty much done and dusted, with only the usual minor discrepancies about points for distance covered for the minor players. No dispute about Caracciola's title. MB drivers 1-2-3-4 in the order Caracciola, von Brauchitsch, Lang, Seaman.

 

However, the English press of the time throws up an interesting discrepancy.

 

When Dick Seaman's engagement was officially announced on September 20th (Dick put notices in The Times and Daily Telegraph) several national daily and local evening papers reported it and also included a statement to the effect that the CSI had declared him to be 'the second racing driver of Europe' behind Caracciola.

 

Realistically, there is only one way this could work, which is to completely ignore the somewhat farcical French Grand Prix: a 'best three of four' solution still leaves von Brauchitsch second on nine points and promotes Seaman to third on ten.

 

This is where it gets interesting - or confusing. The only published source I have from the right time is the Swiss Automobil Revue i/d September 16th, which - as part of a review of the Italian GP - says that Caracciola had won the title with von Brauchitsch second - but with no scores quoted.

 

However the CSI did not actually meet until September 23rd. I have several reports of that meeting, which was intended (as usual) to discuss next year's calendar but also covered possible alterations to the Formula. None of them mentions confirmation of the European Champion.

 

So - had the CSI already announced it? And if so, had they really ignored the French GP?

 

 



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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 12:07

The plot thickens ... I have found versions of this text in four English and Scottish regional daily papers (and in the Irish Independent), all dated Friday September 16th 1938. This - from the Western Daily Press & Bristol Mirror - appears to be the most complete, since it is both datelined 'Paris, Thursday' and credited to the Press Association:

 

WDP%2019380916.jpg

 

On the same day, this slightly erroneous text appeared in the Luxemburger Wort. Although it claims (incorrectly) that Caracciola had won the French GP, it also seems to place Seaman second.

 

www.eluxemburgensia.lu%202014-7-20%2012%

 

So far, this is the only non-English language source I've found. I've checked all the obvious places like Gallica, ANNO, Biblioteca dello Sport, La Stampa, Freiburger Zeitung and various Swiss archives - plus quite a few less obvious ones too! Unfortunately, this was at the time the Sudeten crisis was unfolding: the big motor sporting news was the duel on the salt between Eyston and Cobb, plus Campbell at the Halwilsee, so one way or the other this announcement may have been squeezed out.



#3 uechtel

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 10:07

I can think of two possible explanations

 

1. An errouneus report of the news agency spread over British newspapers

2. Like 1935 the French GP was held as Grande Epreuve, but nevertheless not counting towards the championship. In this case the error would be made by other journalists cocnluding that any GE would automatically be a EC event.



#4 Tim Murray

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 11:01

FWIW, in his Seaman biography Chris Nixon wrote:

... the four Grandes Epreuves had all been won by a different driver (French - von Brauchitsch; German - Seaman; Swiss - Caracciola and Italian - Nuvolari) but Caracciola had done better, just, in the other races to win the European Championship (for the third time) by just one point from von Brauchitsch. Seaman was third, a fine effort, considering he had not raced in the French GP.


He didn't specify his sources.

#5 Vitesse2

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 11:24

I can think of two possible explanations

 

1. An errouneus report of the news agency spread over British newspapers

 

 

Yes, I considered that. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Press Association got it wrong: the phrasing of all the pieces in British papers is all - to a greater or lesser extent - verbatim as above. I've since found other instances of this claim too: it's sometimes mentioned in end-of-year reviews of motoring or sport.

 

However, how do we explain Luxemburger Wort apparently coming up with the same finishing order on the same day? They may have used PA as a source, but it seems unlikely. I've looked at other neutral - or at least less censored - sources too, but that's the only one I've found (so far).

 

As I mentioned, it was a big news week. I can think of several reasons why the French press wouldn't mention it, of course. The Italians too. In Germany it would presumably have to be filtered via the NSKK before publication: on ANNO there is virtually no mention of Cobb and Eyston, for example, although the French and Italian press were full of the story.



#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 11:41

FWIW, in his Seaman biography Chris Nixon wrote:

 

... the four Grandes Epreuves had all been won by a different driver (French - von Brauchitsch; German - Seaman; Swiss - Caracciola and Italian - Nuvolari) but Caracciola had done better, just, in the other races to win the European Championship (for the third time) by just one point from von Brauchitsch. Seaman was third, a fine effort, considering he had not raced in the French GP.

He didn't specify his sources.

He seldom did. :well:

 

I can't see any consistent way of calculating it to give Caracciola winning by one point. Least of all with Seaman third.

 

It only works if Caracciola retains all his scores and each of von Brauchitsch, Seaman and Lang drops his worst score. Then you get:

Caracciola 8

von Brauchitsch 9

Seaman 10

Lang 12

 

Applying the same calculation puts Nuvolari, Stuck and Müller on 12 points too.



#7 ReWind

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 20:03

Although this ain't the place for fluff, how about a slightly changed points scheme?

1 for 1st, 2 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, 4 for any other participant, 5 for any non-participant.

This gives:

2 2 1 3 =   8 = 1st: Caracciola

5 1 2 4 = 12 = 2nd: Seaman

1 4 3 4 = 12 = 3rd: v. Brauchitsch

5 4 4 1 = 14 = 4th: Nuvolari

5 4 4 2 = 15 = 5th: Farina

3 4 4 4 = 15 = 6th: Lang

5 3 4 4 = 16 = 7th: Stuck

5 4 4 4 = 17 = 8th: Müller

 

Problem is Lang falls behind Nuvolari and ends 5th or 6th.



#8 Simon Davis

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 15:40

Perhaps the clue is in the mistake quoted in the Luxemburger Wort? If it was believed that Caracciola had won the French Grand Prix, then maybe the entire results list for that race was wrong? What if the Swiss Grand Prix results (the race that Caracciola did win) were duplicated in error? Seaman would lose a costly 8 points and gain 2 points instead.

 

As a point of interest an article in the Österreichische Touring Zeitung (date unknown but clearly pre-1938 season) listed the following races for the 1938 European Championship (four of which subsequently did not take place on the Grand Prix calendar):-

  • Tunis Grand Prix
  • Tripoli Grand Prix
  • Eifelrennen
  • French Grand Prix
  • German Grand Prix
  • Monaco Grand Prix
  • Swiss Grand Prix
  • Italian Grand Prix
  • Masaryk Grand Prix
  • Donington Grand Prix


#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 16:41

 

Perhaps the clue is in the mistake quoted in the Luxemburger Wort? If it was believed that Caracciola had won the French Grand Prix, then maybe the entire results list for that race was wrong? What if the Swiss Grand Prix results (the race that Caracciola did win) were duplicated in error? Seaman would lose a costly 8 points and gain 2 points instead.

Interesting thought, Simon. But the British sources do seem to originate from the CSI via PA.

 


As a point of interest an article in the Österreichische Touring Zeitung (date unknown but clearly pre-1938 season) listed the following races for the 1938 European Championship (four of which subsequently did not take place on the Grand Prix calendar):-

  • Tunis Grand Prix
  • Tripoli Grand Prix
  • Eifelrennen
  • French Grand Prix
  • German Grand Prix
  • Monaco Grand Prix
  • Swiss Grand Prix
  • Italian Grand Prix
  • Masaryk Grand Prix
  • Donington Grand Prix

 

I've seen that list in other German-language sources. Notably the Swiss Automobil Revue, which reported it as a bit of 'kite-flying' by good old Adolf Hühnlein who wanted to expand the championship.