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The Grand Prix circuit at Dieppe 1907 - 1912


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#1 Roger Clark

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Posted 29 May 2001 - 20:59

Les Amis des Circuits d'Antan (kpy, Barry Boor and I) have just complete a trip to Normandy to view bits of road, mainly the former racing circuits at Dieppe and Rouen. We will post pictures from the trip later this week, but first here is a minor mystery.

A book has recently been published in France on racing at Rouen. It includes a chapter on racing in the area before the opening of the Circuit des Essarts in 1950. It contains this map of the 1907 Dieppe circuit.

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Compare it with this one, which appears in TASO Mathieson's Grand Prix Racing 1906-14

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The differences lie at the North East corner of the circuit in the town of Eu. Mathieson's map shows circuit turning shapr left onto the main Dieppe road. THe alternative version shows the circuit going straight on at that point, and running almost along the coast before rejoining Mathieson's version at the village of Criel.

Pictures of cars in Mathieson's book leave no doubt that his version is correct, yet the version in the Rouen book clearly dates from the time of the race.

So, has somebody made a mistake or was an alternative version of the circuit originally planned?

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#2 FEV

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Posted 30 May 2001 - 12:23



Roger,

My two sources for the Dieppe Grand Prix track show the same
version as TASO Mathieson's. In "Renault et la Comp├ętition -
l'Epoque Historique" (Gilbert Hatry, Editions Lafourcade, 1979)
there is quite a complete chapter about how the choice was
made on Dieppe against other venues in France, and it seems
that the original map became the definitive one. The major
criticism against Dieppe was that two many towns were visited,
so maybe at first Le Tr├ęport was part of the track but it's clear
that the defenitive Grand Prix track didn't pass by it.
In Henri Cohin's book ("Historique de la Course Automobile",
Editions Fanauto, 1977) the only change beetween the 1907-
1908 and 1912 Grand Prix was the place of the start-finish line.
The map show the same track as in Hatry's book for all three
races.

FEV

#3 Roger Clark

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Posted 30 May 2001 - 18:13

this is the first of our pictures, for which we have to thank the photographic talents of Barry Boor. It shows the start area of the 1908 and '12 races. As FEV says, the 1907 race started around the previous corner. Wherever possible I will show then and now picture but I have included this one because it shows the charater of the circuit: very long fast straights. Several miles long without a bend is the rule. It was a test of cars rather than of racing drivers as we know them.

The area here has changed considerably, with an industrial estate on the left of the road.

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#4 Barry Boor

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Posted 30 May 2001 - 18:20

Roger is too kind. It is Kodak Technology we have to thank - I just point and press.

Actually I have only posted this message so that I get an e-mail to tell me that another post has been made. :)

#5 Roger Clark

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Posted 30 May 2001 - 18:23

These pictures were both taken from the railway bridge at Ancourt.

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Ancourt is about 5 miles from the start and the road has run pretty well dead straight since then.

#6 Roger Clark

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Posted 30 May 2001 - 19:00

These picture were also taken at Ancourt; this time across the road from the railway bridge. The old picture shows De Palma's FIAT in 1912.


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#7 quintin cloud

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Posted 31 May 2001 - 06:09

Excellent Photos :up: :up: :up: the photo with on lookers looking down on the passing cars , and the photo of today is amazing :up: Rodger thanks for some great photos :cool: :smoking:

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 31 May 2001 - 18:04

Here are some more pictures from Ancourt, this time from the other side of the railway bridge.

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Salzer and his mechanic about to change a rear rim (1907)

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Szisz (Renault0 followed by a Darracq (1907)

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Reid (arrol-johnston) in 1912




#9 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 01 June 2001 - 03:18

Roger and Les Amis des Circuits d'Antan,
Thank you very much. I will enjoy all your interesting reports and entertaining pictures, old and new.

#10 LittleChris

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Posted 01 June 2001 - 10:45

I second Hans on that, I'm loving seeing these pictures. Thanks to all involved

#11 Brian O Flaherty

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Posted 01 June 2001 - 11:17

:up:
I love the pictures too.
Would I be right in saying that your modern day picture in post#6 is on the modern road whereas the driver can be seen driving on the now defunct narrower road shown in post#5 inside the new road.


#12 Barry Boor

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Posted 01 June 2001 - 17:16

Good question. I took the picture and even I am not sure. To be honest, the angle of Nazarro's car in the old image makes me think that maybe the road is the same as it was but the huge growth in foliage etc does make direct comparisons difficult.

Logic would dictate that Brian is correct.

#13 Boniver

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Posted 01 June 2001 - 18:37

great great great great great

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

#14 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 June 2001 - 20:07

Thanks to all those who have posted on this thread, Any pleasure you get from the pictures is small compared with that which we got from the trip.

These pictures are from Envermu, another 5 miles of high speed motoring from Ancourt. The 1908 picture is of Stricker's Porthos. During the race a foot bridge was erected over the road, and it looks as though the photographer was on that bridge. We got as close to that position as we could. The town is unchanged in many respects.

You will see from the modern picture that there was a rally being staged while we were there. We saw enough competing cars in ditches to realise that the drivers were taking the event pretty seriously. Unfortunately we didn't get the opportunity to ask whether any of the drivers knew the historical significance of the roads they were racing on. We did speak to a few local residents seeking help on locations. None of them had heard of the races but all were interested when we showed them the pictures.

A tent has been erected in lmost exactly the same place as in 1908. You can also see the back of me in one picture but you probably didn't want to know that.

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#15 Roger Clark

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Posted 02 June 2001 - 13:16

These pictures are from Londinieres, where the track turns sharp left and starts the long run back to the coast at Eu. The 1907 picture is of Dutemple (Panhard-Levassor). Two houses have been buit on the area at the apex of the corner where the spectators are watching but the corner is recognisable.



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Following Londinieres the road climbs through the low hills towards the village of Fresnoy. Here we found a bit of a mystery. Mathieson's book contains a number of pictures of the cars in Fresnoy, but we couldn't locate any of them. We're fairly sure that the road is the same as it would have been in 1907 as it seems to follow naturally the course before and after the village, but none of the buildings are recognisable. In itself that might not be remarkable after 90 years, but one of Mathieson's picture shows the church spire on the west side of the road. The church today is on the east side. A local told us that the church had been rebuilt after the war, but it seems strange to have moved it so far. We wondered whether Mathieson had wrongly captioned the pictures and that they were another village all together, but we found no possibilities.

We had a drink at the cafe in Fresnoy. The landlady told us that she had raced herself when younger in Renault-Alpines and Gordinis, and that she had known Jean-Pierre Beltoise and (less well) Henri Pescarolo.

#16 Gary C

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Posted 02 June 2001 - 18:47

Great stuff, lads!
Now, on to Montjuich Park with you!

#17 Roger Clark

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Posted 03 June 2001 - 17:52

today's pictures are from Eu, where the raod turns sharp left and starts the final leg of the triangle back towards Dieppe. They were taken just outside Eu where the cars passed under a very impressive railway viaduct. THe 1912 car is Boillot's Peugeot. Again the scene has changed little in 90 years although the hous you can see through the arch is new.

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#18 condor

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Posted 03 June 2001 - 23:29

Nice pics :)
Well done - for what you've accomplished so far

#19 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 June 2001 - 18:51

On now to the town of Criel. These scene has changed hardly at all apart from the cars parked by the road side and me walking on the right. These pictures prove that the Mathieson version of the circuit map is correct (see the first post on this thread). On the alternative version the track would have rejoined this road just around the right hander. The racing car is Thery (Brasier) in 1908.


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#20 Kvadrat

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 09:04

Originally posted by Roger Clark These pictures were both taken from the railway bridge at Ancourt.
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Does anyone know the year?

#21 LB

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 10:39

1907 - according to the Cimarosti book which has that exact photo and thats Nazarro in front apparently.

#22 Kvadrat

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 01:30

Thank you.

#23 bradbury west

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Posted 30 May 2007 - 23:22

In France recently I had the opportunity, charged with the enthusiam of a TNFer and being the owner of the 1912 FIAT print from the recent GoddardPL auction, to avail myself of the routes, photos, maps and narrative so ably provided by Roger and Barry. What struck me strongly, apart from the long straights and the narrow villages and towns, was the undulation of the long roads, coupled with the heavy camber and road crown. Having seen some of these Edwardians, Mors le Sanglier 8ltr V8, Austin Hall-Scott etc especially, at Prescott and a very wet Wiscombe, I can only sit in amazement considering the performace of those drivers racing them in period on barely metalled badly cambered dusty roads, in cars with huge engines in rudimentary chassis, artillery wheels with rear brakes only, perhaps of unpredictable retardation, dubious directional capability and marginal tyres, not helped by a very high c of g. Oh, and racing for several hours. It redefines heroes.

Roger Lund.

#24 Bob Bark

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 01:37

Quite by chance I visited Dieppe armed with my Taso Mathieson book earlier this year to research material for paintings I am doing(I had done the same thing in Lyon in 1990). I found 'the Fourche' at Nueville (now cut off from the main road) pretty unadulterated. All the buildings in the Mathieson photos are still there. People in the bar were fascinated by the photos and pointed out a couple hanging on their wall which I photographed. Like you I also puzzled about which was the original road under the bridge at Ancourt. I think it might well have been the narrow, now unused road, but I noticed that the bridge had been widened to take two train tracks which makes it even more difficult to work out exactly what went where. Like you, I was also completely confused at Fresnoy. I too thought that Mathieson must have got the captions wrong and looked in vain to find some thread to pull it all together in other villages around the circuit. At Eu I noticed that the viaduct had also been widened to take two tracks. It's been carefully done in the same style, but clearly noticeable and of course the widening makes it look a lot less tall and slender. I was only able to spend a few happy hours at the track, but came away with loads of material and am now planning several paintings. I'll post some of my photos if anyone is interested.

#25 cpbell

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 13:29

Lovely photos - thanks for posting material on what is possibly my favourite era. I know it's already been confirmed, but I know that the Mathieson map is the same as in William Court's Power and Glory Volume 1, and obviously the photos show this as the case. What interests me as a railway enthusiast as well as motor-sport nut is that, unlike most lines in the UK, the line that crosses at Ancourt and Eu has been doubled since 1912, and that the spectators were allowed on the line at the Ancourt bridge! :eek: The lady in the hobble skirt peering over the edge whilst balanced on the ballast looks to be in a particularly dangerous position. :rolleyes:

#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 22:28

Just reviving this splendid thread because yesterday, on the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Grand Prix de l'ACF at Dieppe, we ran a couple of '08 GP Mercedes, a freshly rebuilt '08 GP Benz, the 1907 Fiat 'Floretta' and other cars around the great circuit...just to pay our respects.

The day was organised largely by Mercedes-Benz - ever conscious of its historic pedigree - and embraced a quintessentially loony band of the VSCC's Edwardian-car finest. My heart went out to Mark Walker who has been living for this day with his Panhard, only to have its transmission fail seriously at 10 minutes to midnight on Monday the 6th, outside our hotel in Dieppe. And this after literally thousands of ultra-reliable miles in recent years. "Oh merde!" scarcely says it adequately. Normally indefatigable Mark was inconsolable...

There is some splendid photography to build upon what Roger and Barry have previously posted - if of any interest.

But - though 24 hours late - let's at least raise a glass in memory of Rene Hanriot (3rd for Benz), Victory Hemery (2nd for Benz), Christian Lautenschlager (winner for Mercedes) and for the winning riding mechanic Mackle and his counterparts in the two Benz cars.

And also remember Henri Cissac and his riding mechanic Schaube - of Panhard - who lost their lives during the race - near Maisoncelles cross-roads - 100 years ago yesterday, as premier-league Grand Prix motor racing's first to fall.

The fastest lap round the 47-mile circuit was completed in 36 minutes. My first lap yesterday took 5 1/2 hours - for other reasons, not altogether unconnected with becoming a bystander while a broken counter-shaft locking key was sorted out, a replacement key manufactured at the roadside from a Snap-on scraper shaft, then a 50-minute wrestling match with someone else's thrown tyre.

But all round - thinking back over those one hundred years (to the very day) - what great men...what great sport...

Respect!

DCN

#27 Gary C

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 23:21

Very nice, Doug. Would have been good to have videoed it ??

#28 RTH

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 10:15

These 'Then' and 'Now ' photos are fascinating. More of this sort of thing everybody please.

Will this feature in MFQ, Doug ? Which by the way must soon be due again soon ??;)

#29 bradbury west

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 11:18

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Just reviving this splendid thread because yesterday, on the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Grand Prix de l'ACF at Dieppe, we ran a couple of '08 GP Mercedes, a freshly rebuilt '08 GP Benz, the 1907 Fiat 'Floretta' and other cars around the great circuit...just to pay our respects.

There is some splendid photography to build upon what Roger and Barry have previously posted - if of any interest.
DCN


Doug, I am sure we all welcome any photo-postings which you might care to offer.
Roger Lund.
.......plus of course the hoped for multi-page article in one of the magazines giving the history of the original races and the story of the events there in recent days.RL

#30 Barry Boor

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 15:46

How nice to see this thread brought back - it revives so many good memories.

Not least of which is the total incredulity evinced by my colleagues at school when I announced I was going off to France with a man I'd never met, to stay with another man that neither of us had ever met, in order to look around some obscure French roads that were used for a motor race a mere 90 or so years earlier!

"What if he's a homicidal maniac?" they said. My answer was, "Well if he IS a homicidal maniac, he is a homicidal maniac with an interest in old race circuits - which makes him o.k. with me."

Roger turned out NOT to be a homicidal maniac, nor indeed, any other sort of maniac.

#31 Doug Nye

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 14:27

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This is German heating industrialist Herr Viessmann's new-build 1908-type Mercedes based upon an original chassis, gearbox, countershaft etc with a faithful repro engine made for him by the Daimler-Mercedes Classic division. Beyond is Ben Collings in the genuine 1908 GP Mercedes. Note the discreet camera wagen mit crew on the left...

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Tony Dron in the Mercedes Museum's faithful 08 Benz. He shared the driving with Jochen Mass. Good guys...

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VSCC luminary Roger Collings with George Daniels in the 07 Itala 'Floretta' - road-equipped as it has been for many years now - and running perfectly.

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Big banger - the repro engine of the Viessmann 08 Mercedes. Boom-boom...

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What in period might be described as "an involuntary stop" for the newly completed Mercedes after a countershaft key locking the left-hand sprocket in place had sheared. The village church of - I think - Bellengreville had seen such cars before...100 years before...to the day.

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Herr Viessmann, Michael, Volker and Manfred from Mercedes revive their rebuilt 08 car. The electric start is - of course - absolutely non-standard, but my goodness wasn't it welcome!

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...and then there were the loony VSCC guys - this is the 1911 Sunbeam which threw its right-front tyre in a fast left-hand, slightly downhill, curve. Manfred and Volker of Mercedes-Benz doing the work after the owner and his pal had just flat run out of strength - when we arrived they confessed to a couple of hours' struggle with the rigid-walled cover having left them "totally knackered". Manfred is chief mechanic on the Mercedes' collection cars, while Volker has a reputation for being able to make anything at the drop of a hat from a split-pin to a guided missile. At Goodwood the following weekend Manfred told us "I sink if Volker vent to Afrika on a bicycle he vould come back viz a car!". More good guys...

...and by the way, while these lovely 'then and now' comparisons have been posted before, here's the 1908 Porthos negotiating the village-centre crossroads in Envermeu in 1908, followied by the self-same buildings shot from as near as I could get to the original photographer's position (only at street level) exactly 100 years later...

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...and finally, how's this for a fearsome lightweight special - the GN with JAP V8 air-cooled aero engine...

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All photos Copyright: The GP Library

DCN

#32 ensign14

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 17:57

So, in 1908 did Envermou have a multi-storey building on the corner, some sort of bridge, or even a temporary stand? Or is it just that it is off-limits now?

What DID happen to the stands from those first Grands Prix? Disassembled for scrap?

#33 fines

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 18:29

Probably a (temporary) bridge, Ens - there was usually one in every village, to avoid pedestrians crossing.

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Boooh, cheaters! :p

Lovely pics, Doug! :up: Thank you! :)

#34 robert dick

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 09:44

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Big banger - the repro engine of the Viessmann 08 Mercedes. Boom-boom...



#35 Allan Lupton

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 12:55

Pity it's titled "Old Benz in Dieppe :mad:

#36 Ridgefield

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 13:40

Hello, I'm a new member to this Forum and this is my first post. Just joined after seeing the 1908 Mercedes photos. Is the Herr Viessmann 1908 Mercedes the former Larry Beals car that last raced in the USA with a HISSO V8 aircraft engine? If so it it was formerly owned by Spencer Wishart and finished 4th in the first INDY 500 in 1911. Is there a link to the cars restoration, I have more info on the car if the current owner is interested. The restoration looks wonderful. Bob

Probably a (temporary) bridge, Ens - there was usually one in every village, to avoid pedestrians crossing.

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Boooh, cheaters! :p

Lovely pics, Doug! :up: Thank you! :)



#37 terry mcgrath

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 16:13

Wonderful
the then and now photos are truly fantastic
the only question is what was your lap time!
good work

#38 terry mcgrath

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 16:17

is it possible to get the name an publisher of the book you refer to
terry

A book has recently been published in France on racing at Rouen. It includes a chapter on racing in the area before the opening of the Circuit des Essarts in 1950. It contains this map of the 1907 Dieppe circuit.



#39 Roger Clark

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 11:52

It is exactly 10 years since the trip recorded in this thread and there seems eo be some interest in the 1912 Peugeots so I thought I would revive this ancient thread for teh benefit of new arrivals who may not have seen it.

Last Friday I went to see Lang Lang at the Bridgewater Hall. He remarked that it was exactly 10 years since his Manchester debut. Nice to think that he was doing that while Barry, kpy and I were exploring the course of this 100 year old circuit. Manchester needs cheering up at the moment. By the way, is he related to the pre-war Mercedes driver?

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#40 Stefan Schmidt

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 09:49

Great pictures!

I go to Dieppe tomorrow!

#41 LittleChris

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 10:36

Great pictures!

I go to Dieppe tomorrow!


Enjoy yourself Stefan and don't forget to do a lap of the " small " circuit used for the Dieppe GP's during the 1930's ( see bottom of this link from Darrens site. )

The main straight is the D915 just south of the town

http://www.silhouet....cks/dieppe.html

Chris

#42 Stefan Schmidt

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 13:27

Enjoy yourself Stefan and don't forget to do a lap of the " small " circuit used for the Dieppe GP's during the 1930's ( see bottom of this link from Darrens site. )

The main straight is the D915 just south of the town

http://www.silhouet....cks/dieppe.html

Chris


GREAT - Thank you! :clap: