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1100cc Racing in the Fourties

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#1 fines

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Posted 21 November 2000 - 23:10

After WW2 many countries went their own way as regards racing formulae. In Italy and some neighbouring countries races for unblown 1100cc racing cars were very popular, and attracted world class drivers.

Unfortunately Paul Sheldon decided to ignore most of them in his "black books", so that my information about these races is rather sketchy, to say the least. Somebody to improve on my list?

1947 Cairo
Date unknown
1st Taruffi (Cisitalia)
no more info

Prix du Léman (Lausanne)
1st Bira (Simca-Gordini)
full results known (Sheldon)

Prix de Genève
1st Sommer (Simca-Gordini)
full results known (Sheldon)

Prix de Berne
1st Taruffi (Cisitalia)
full results known (Sheldon)

Circuito del Garda 1100cc
1st Moss (Cooper_JAP)
entry list and top 7 finishers in final known (Sheldon)

1949 Madrid GP
Date unknown (Nov ?)
2 heats of 20 laps (67 km) each and a final of 60 laps (201 km)
PP Sommer (Simca-Gordini)
Heat 1
1st Sommer
Heat 2
1st Chiron (OSCA)
1st Sommer, 40'36.7"
2nd Trintignant (Simca-Gordini)
3rd Graffenried (OSCA)
4th Taruffi (Cisitalia)
5th Dei (Cisitalia)
no more info

Coppa Dante Spreafico (Monza)
1st Bonetto (OSCA)
2nd Sommer (OSCA)
also started:
no more info


#2 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 07:48

Is it possible that Paul Sheldon encountered similar problems you are coming across now? Not enough ground covered by others? Sheldon's account of the Forties is second bar none.

Without trying to be obnoxious, I never spent much time other than researching Grand Prix racing before 1950 because that alone takes up all of my time and will keep me busy for years to come. Since I moved from South Africa to the USA, I read up on some of the American races and I am sorry that I cannot help you with your question.

#3 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 07:59

Originally posted by fines
...Somebody to improve on my list?...

1947 Cairo
Date unknown
1st Taruffi (Cisitalia)
no more info

Egypt, Cairo Circuit at Gezireh
1947 race for Cisitalia cars
1. F. Cortese
2. A. Ascari
3. P. Taruffi

#4 sat

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 20:44

Sehab Almaz Bey Trophy
Circuit El Geriza, Cairo 9.3.1947
2 races á 25 laps
Final:50 laps (75 km)
50 000 spectacors
Started (in final)10
1. Cisitalia D46 - Franco Cortese I (50) 45:49,400 98,2 km/h
2. Cisitalia D46 - Alberto Ascari I (50) 46:02,000
3. Cisitalia D46 - Piero Taruffi I (50) 46:03,400
4. Cisitalia D46 - Pietro Dusio I (50) 46:44,000
5. Cisitalia D46 - Cyro Basadonna CH Also raced
Cisitalia D46 - Mario Tadini I
Cisitalia D46 - Nello Pagani I
Cisitalia D46 - Raymond de Saugé F - accident
Cisitalia D46 - Dorino Serafini I
Cisitalia D46 - Banfi ?
Cisitalia D46 - Piero Ghersi I
Cisitalia D46 - Louis Chiron MC

Race in Asti
1. Cisitalia D46 - Felice Bonetto I 32:26,400 103,945 km/h
2. Cisitalia D46 - Brandoli I 32:27,800
3. Cisitalia D46 - Piero Taruffi I 32:39,400

#5 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 21:45

About the race in Egypt I found the following:

Automobile Quarterly, Vol.8, No.2 by Stanley Nowak:
The world tour did materialize, but it fizzled out on its first stop in Egypt. An all-Cisitalia race was held on Gezira Island, Cairo, on March 9th, 1947, and 22 of the little monopostos raced in two heats and a final runoff before a disappointing crowd of only 6,000 Egyptians. The racing was wheel to wheel all the way and the final results showed Cortese as the overall winner, closely followed by a very stylish beginner, Alberto Ascari. From all reports, it was a most exciting contest, but a financial disaster. The "world tour" was cancelled.

The Encyclopaedia of MOTOR SPORT edited by G.N. Georgano, Cisitalia by Michael Sedgwick:
A curious aspect of the 1949 scene was Dusio's attempt to popularize one-class racing. He formed a Cisitalia 'circus' of 16 drivers (including Lurani, Brivio, Taruffi and the yet little-known Alberto Ascari) which was prepared to perform to order at meetings, and so in Cairo, though there were no other takers for this entertainment, and the idea died.

Works Driver by Piero Taruffi:
Among the races in which I drove Cisitalias myself was one in Cairo in 1947. On that occasion, for the second time in my life, I missed an aeroplane that crashed. Dusio had wanted me to go on ahead and deal with the organization of the race, which he had agreed to lay on but, very luckily, changed his mind at the last minute, when I had already bought my ticket. I left later with the rest of the outfit, which comprised Ascari, Brivio, Serafini, Chiron, Cortese, Tadini, Ghersi and Lurani.

The Man with Two Shadows by Kevin Desmond:
...Alberto Ascari's first official chance, taken with the knowledge of, but against the will of both his wife and his mother came to Egypt in March 1947 at the International Grand Prix. It was an extraordinary affair, organized by Piero Dusio.

...So in March 1947, a fleet of Cisitalias was dispatched to Cairo, together with a group of experienced Italian drivers, including Piero Dusio himself, Basadonna, Ghersi, de Sauge, Lurani - and Alberto. Louis Chiron was also there from France.

So that no favoritism should be suspected and to avoid jealousy, these drivers drew lots for their cars. The contest took place not far from the gaze of the Sphynx on March 9 in the gardens of El Ghezira, a residential quarter of Cairo, situated on a little island in the River Nile - round a 1½ km circuit with numerous twisting little curves.

...Alberto, wearing his old Bianchi helmet, came second in his heat, while Serafini, wearing his old Gilera helmet, came 3rd. In the final, Taruffi shot into the lead, pursued by Cortese, Dusio and Ascari, who for 10 laps struggled to get into 3rd position by overtaking Dusio. On the 11th lap he was successful in overtaking him, and went off in pursuit of the leader, Franco Cortese - only to come 2nd, 13 seconds behind him. King Farouk presented a gold cup to the winner - and the group of Italians returned home the best of friends.

Although the race had only been watched by a few desultory Egyptians sitting in the upper seats of the empy Grandstand, encouraged by his near victory, and by being acclaimed by the Italian Press as "Il nuovo astro" (the new star), Alberto now definitely decided to continue his motor racing career in earnest...

#6 sat

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 23:14

Thats results of heats in Cairo:
1. Cortese (25) 23:24,2 96,147 km/h
2. Dusio (25) 23:30,8
3. Tadini (25) 24:14,2
4. Pagani
5. Basadonna
retired de Saugé - accident

1. Tauffi (25) 23:05,6 97,451 km/h
2. Ascari (25) 23:37,6
3. Serafini(25) 23:28,9
4. Banfi
5. Cortese
retired Chiron - oil leak

#7 Marcor

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 02:19

1- In March 1947, about 16 drivers, including Serafini, Ascari, Taruffi, Cortese and Brivio took part in the first Cairo GP, where all the drivers had the same car, a Cisitalia D46. Piero Dusio would like to create a series but the one-model racing ideas foundered and the race was one-off.

Cairo (Gezira Island) 09/03/47
1- Ascari Cisitalia D46
2- Cortese Cisitalia D46

2- Here's what I know about the Madrid race for cars of 1100 cm³ sport unsupercharged (so that's why Shedldon say nothing about it)

Madrid 30 October 1949 (Track of La Ciudad Universitaria)

Overall results (final: 60 laps = 201 km)
1- Sommer Simca Gordini 01GCS TMM 4T11 n°30
2- Trintignant Simca Gordini 17GCS T15S 2T11 n°26
3- de Graffenried Osca MT4
4- Taruffi Cisitalia D46
5- Dei Cisitalia D46
6- Philippe Simca Deho

retired- Manzon Simca Gordini 18GCS T15S 6T11 n°28
retired- Serafini Osca MT4 1108
retired- Fagioli Osca MT4 1107
retired- Chiron Osca MT4 1109

Final of 201 km (60 laps)

Heat 1 (67 km = 20 laps)
1- Sommer Simca Gordini 1GCS TMM 4T11 n°30
2- Dei Cisitalia D46
3- Fagioli Osca MT4 1107
4- De Graffenried Osca MT4

Heat 2 (67 km = 20 tours)
1- Chiron Osca MT4 1109
2- Manzon Simca Gordini 18GCS T15S 6T11 n°28
3- Farina Cisitalia D46
4- Taruffi Cisitalia D46

Track of 3,35 km
Also entered:
Villoresi Osca MT4
Ascari Cisitalia D46
Bonetto Fiat-Stanguellini
? Monopole
Farina Cisitalia D46
Cacciari Osca MT4 1104
Cornacchia Osca MT4 1101
Cabianca Osca MT4 1106

I'm not sure of all the data...

Different sources (2 French sources + 1 web source)

#8 alessandro silva

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 10:46

racing in the 40s is my main interest now and I am looking hard for French sources. Can you list some for me?

#9 fines

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 17:04

Originally posted by sat
Race in Asti

Strange coincidence, the Torino-Asti-Torino race was on 18.5.1895!

Now that we have three different winners for the Cairo race (Taruffi is mentioned in Mike Lawrence's "Grand Prix Cars 1945-65"), what are the sources for Ascari and Cortese (apart from those mentioned by Hans)?

Great stuff, guys, keep it all coming! :)

#10 sat

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 19:01

Coupe Roger Benoist
Started 23 Classified 15
1. Simca-Gordini - Jean-Pierre Wimille 1:24:47,4 / 92,275 km/h
2. Cisitalia D46 - Rymond de Saugé 1:25:04,1
3. Cisitalia D46 - Robert Manzon 1:25:10,4
4. Cisitalia D46 - Harry Schell 1:25:27,1
5. Simca-Gordini - Gordini + 1 lap
6. ? - de Cortanze
7. ? - José Scaron
8. ? - Martin
9. ? - Jacques
10. ? - Bossut
11. Monnier-FIAT - Maurice Monnier No. 23
Retired: Simca-Gordini - Maurice Trintignant

45 laps x 3,44 km = 154,8 km
1. Cisitalia D46 - Piero Taruffi / 93,381 km/h
2. Cisitalia D46 - George Abecassis
3. Cisitalia D46 - Bernabei

#11 Marcor

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Posted 24 November 2000 - 03:17

Coupe Robert Benoist (Nîmes) 01/06/47
1 + PP- Jean-Pierre Wimille Simca Gordini 7GC T15 n°4, 1h 24m 47.4s
2- Raymond De Saugé / Raymond Sommer Cisitalia D46
3- Robert Manzon, Cisitalia D46
4- Harry Schell, Cisitalia D46
5- Amédée Gordini,Simca Gordini T11 n°5
7- José Scaron, Simca Gordini T11 n°6
12- Maurice Trintignant, Simca Gordini 2GC T11 n°7

Fastest lap: Sommer, 3m 11.4s

Charles De Cortanze: Darl'mat Peugeot, connexion with André de Cortanze (Father/son).
Eugène Martin: Frazer-Nash BMW Martin.
Bossut: died during "La Coupe de Paris" at Longchamps" (July 47), I don't know if it was during the practice or the race.

#12 karlcars

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Posted 25 November 2000 - 10:03

My book on Ascari -- due to be out any day -- will contain the following on the Cairo event:

Early in 1947 Alberto Ascari received a treasured invitation. He had been chosen to compete in an unique race on a fast circuit on one of the four islands of the Nile River in the heart of Cairo, Egypt. All drivers would pilot the same little 1,100 cc Cisitalia single-seaters, drawn by lot from a pool of 22 identical cars. Three such race events were scheduled in Egypt, the first to be on 9 March on Cairo’s 1½-kilometre El Gézirah Park circuit. Ascari was invited as one of the motociclisti taking part, in contrast to the proper piloti. He was, as usual, ‘son of the unforgettable ace Antonio Ascari’ and at 28 was the youngest of the 16 drivers participating.

In the straitened circumstances of post-war Italy this ‘Cisitalia Cruise’ was a glamorous and exotic event, bankrolled by Cisitalia chief Piero Dusio. Refuelling at Lecce, two tri-motor transports flew the drivers and others to Cairo on the morning of 22 February. Féted by King Farouk and Cairo society, the drivers toured the sights at Giza and at Alexandria, where one of the other two races was to be held.

The racing format was two 25-lap heats and a 50-lap final. The experienced Franco Cortese won the first heat. Second-heat winner was Piero Taruffi, who had done much of the development testing of the little Cisitalia. Behind him, however, was Ascari, thus easily qualifying for the final. This was started by none other than the car-mad Egyptian King himself.

In the final the two heat winners, followed by Cisitalia chief Dusio, were away ahead of Alberto. Taruffi led, setting the fastest lap, but retired. Ascari pressurised then passed Dusio and set his sights on the leading Cortese. There seemed every chance of catching him but at the finish Ascari fell 13 seconds short. It had been the most exciting drive of the race. ‘Without gainsaying the merits of Cortese and Taruffi,’ wrote l’Auto Italiana, ‘the overwhelming final of Ascari had equal value and his second place had the decisive merit of a victory.’

A fellow competitor, Gianni Lurani, pointed out that – contrary to the views of many – Ascari was not new to car racing and that his pre-war car outings ‘had let us see the makings of a future ace’. The Cairo race, he said, ‘confirmed the rosiest expectations and [his] very fast, courageous pursuit in the final is the guarantee that the Italian auto world can count on one champion more.’

The ‘Cisitalia Cruise’ returned to Italy, eschewing the other planned races. Spectator interest had been low. Neither did the circus carry on to Spain or South America as had been hoped. Alberto Ascari drove a Cisitalia only twice more, retiring in June at Rome’s Caracalla circuit and placing fifth behind bigger cars at Albi in July. Never again would he race such a small car. He would, instead, be accepted at once into racing’s highest echelons. But was this the life for un uomo quadrato?

#13 fines

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Posted 27 November 2000 - 00:25

Originally posted by Marcor
Here's what I know about the Madrid race for cars of 1100 cm³ sport unsupercharged (so that's why Shedldon say nothing about it)


thanks for the data. :) But I believe this race was for Racing Cars, as explicitly mentioned in the report I found ("Das Auto", 23/49). Besides, the D46 Cisitalias wouldn't be allowed into a Sports Car race, since they were true monopostos. The Tipo 202 Cisitalia, which would've been eligible, would hardly have stood a chance against the intertype Gordinis and OSCAs, I believe.


Your an Italian expert of the fourties, this should be your stage...;)

#14 alessandro silva

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Posted 27 November 2000 - 23:08


After WWII there were two small capacity engines available: the FIAT 1100 (former 508 Balilla) and the FIAT topolino. They were very apt to be tuned and this led to numerous builders of specials for the 1.1L and .75L sportscars classes and to the organization of races. Some of these builders went on to become real racing cars builders: Stanguellini, Volpini, Ermini, Taraschi, Giannini and the already established Moretti and Siata... The long road races such as Mille Miglia, Giro della Sicilia, Targa Florio, Giro delle Calabrie and the shorter Coppa delle Dolomiti, Giro della Toscana etc. had separate classifications, and prizes, for the .75L, 1.1L, 2L and unlimited sportscar classes (for instance: Mille Miglia 1947, Touring cars .75, 1.1, 1.5 classes, sportscars .75, 1.1, 2.0 and unlimited. It makes 7 classifications plus overall. In 1955 there were over 30 different classifications). It is lot of work to find the records and in lesser meetings on closed circuits it is not clear when different classes raced together or separately and daily newspapers were not interested in giving results divided by class on Mondays. These specials had light and often pictoresque bodywork and chassis, poor brakes but the tuners could squeeze up to 70bhp from the FIAT 1.1L engine. To give you an idea, in the Mille Miglia 1948 the 1.1L sportscar class was won by Comirato-Dumas (Dumas was a lady driver) at a 110.559 kmh average speed on a never properly identified FIAT Special and they finished second overall albeit one and a half hour behind Biondetti's Ferrari. To understand this result, Nuvolari had won the same class one year before at 110.444 kmh a.s. on a Cisitalia 202, that was a real car but we'll go back to that later, on a faster course (though longer). Imagine driving a .75 Topolino spl. for 19 and a half hours at full speed as it took Fiorio (Cesare's father) and Avalle to win their class in the 1948 Mille Miglia at 93kmh a.s. It was a bloody (in every sense you give to the word) way of racing. These cars could be stripped of their lights and motorcycle type mudguards and raced as "singleseaters". In truth they had two half seats! They were racing against Cisitalias. Here the big problem is that in sources is seldom specified if they were singleseater D46 Cisitalias or 202 sportscars and photographic evidence shows that sometimes both types of Cisitalias were present at the same time. Also the FIAT specials were just called FIAT (such as BMW in German F2).
In principle Cisitalias were FIAT specials in the sense that their engines were also of 1100 derivation. But the analogy stops here; Dusio had set up a real car factory in miniature with a design department and a development department (headed by Piero Taruffi who was also team manager and works top driver). The D46 was conceived along the same lines as the Gordini cars of the same time but it was much better engineered tough less powerful and heavier. Dusio's idea was to run a monotype monomarque series of racing but unfortunately this idea was forty years ahead of its time. Italian people at that time wanted to see MARQUES (i.e. Alfa Romeo or later Ferrari) racing each other (i.e. beating foreign opposition) in circuits possibly driven by drivers of the same nationality of the car (i.e. Italians. For example the Italian press went beserk when Fangio was signed by Alfa Romeo in 1950 and the Italian public never liked him) while the Mille Miglia, with most of the cars and drivers running it being Italian, was the race for MEN. The Cairo race recalled in this thread was the beginning and the end of Dusio's idea. The financial fiasco induced Dusio's Swiss backers to bail out and the cars (about 20) were almost all sold and never properly developed with the exception of one raced by Taruffi in 1947 and with it Taruffi graduated to Italian Champion of the 1.5L class for unsupercharged single seater cars (yes 1.5L !). The truth is that there NEVER was a 1.1L SINGLE SEATER class, but officially the Cisitalia D46 raced in the 1.5L unsupercharged class. For instance the 1947 Circuito delle Terme di Caracalla in Rome saw Taruffi winning from Abecassis' Alta (an unblownized 1.5L. car) . The reason for this was to allow also 1.5L Lancia Aprilia Specials to race in this class. There were few of them and very little is known about. Cisitlaia later built in 1948 about five new singleseaters with a 1.2L engine and a new bodywork. They trounced Gordini opposition at the Prix de Berne, one of Taruffi's nicest drives. It was their swansong even though Frenchmen de Saugè and Loyer and Swiss Basadonna enjoyed some success in their private D46. FB (F2) put an end to the 1.5L class single seater. The end for the FIAT Specials came when the Maserati brothers were released by the Orsi concern and the new OSCA 1.1L was put out. It was a real racing car, a two-seater with detachable mudguards that allowed the car to compete even in F2. In sportscar form it won with Fagioli its class in the 1949 Mille Miglia and was dominating the smaller sportscar classes in Italy until the early sixties also in the .75 and 1.5 versions. By 1959 a FJ car would cost half the price of an OSCA 750cc sportscar and that was the end of these kind of cars and the revenge for some of the early FIAT special builders who came into FJ with renovated passion and even poorer chassis.
The 202 Cisitalia in coupé form set the trend for GT cars body design up to now but the OSCA was no match for them. There were hopes that the new GT category, another invention of "Johnny" Lurani, would become the right place for the 202, but before the first race ever for GT cars, a 3hrs race in Monza, Coppa Intereuropa 1949, it was discovered that the "Barchette" 166 Ferrari with enveloping body matched the FIA GT regulations (no number of cars built yet, just body form and dimensions) and they dominated the race. A 1.1L GT class was invented right away, but by now Dusio was broke and was emigrating to Argentina.
What I want to point out with this story is that research for the minor races of the period has the peculiarity that it is often unclear under which specifications the race was contested and that the same car or chassis was used in many different classes (for instance the wellknown case of the 166 Ferrari). Also it is very difficult to find the builders of the Specials and almost impossible for the Lancia Aprilia.
In any case I am no expert on the 40s; I work to become one. I know better the 50s and early 60s. When I try to work on this in this blessed-by-the-gods sunny country I find great difficulties. The local Auto Clubs do not answer my letters; we have TWO national libraries and it took me a full day to learn that the Auto Italiana collection is only in the Florence one. My only hope is the Turin Museum Library: I'll have a February recess but it is so cold there at that time of the year..... If you want race results, please wait a little bit.

#15 fines

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Posted 29 November 2000 - 13:30

Alessandro! :) :) :)

Thank you very much for this very elucidating introduction. I appreciate your difficulties in dealing with such a subject, it looks like we're all facing the same problems there and then. The nice thing about TNF is that there are so many nationalities present here, so that we can all hope that some day even our questions about "foreign" topics will be answered, eventually.

Thanks! :)

#16 alessandro silva

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Posted 29 November 2000 - 21:53

Here is some about minor single seater racing in the 40s in Italy that I could double check.
What I can be positive about is that there were NEVER races for 1.1L SINGLE SEATER unsupercharged but officially they were for 1.5 L unsupercharged with the possible exception of the Coppa Brezzi 1946.
Coppa Brezzi (supporting race to the Valentino GP and maiden race for the Cisitalia D46). 1. Dusio Cisitalia D46.
Photographic evidence shows that more than half of the pack consisted of Specials with sportscars bodies.
Races counting towards the Italian Championship for 1.5L unsupercharged singleseater class:
Circuito di Asti 1. Bonetto
Circuito del Lido 1.Taruffi
Circuito di Vercelli 1. Taruffi
Circuito di Caracalla 1. Taruffi
Circuito del Montenero 1. Venturi
ALL Cisitalia D46. Taruffi Italian Champion for 1.5L unsupercharged singleseater.
The 1.5L unsupercharged singleseater class merged into the FB (F2) and the records are luckily to be found in Sheldon (races at Vercelli, Bari, Naples, Mantova and Florence for 1948) , but I have (positively) also the 1949 Naples GP (1. Vallone, Ferrari) that it is not in Sheldon besides Roma, Bari, Monza, Garda.
Taruffi won also the Italian F2 Championship in 1949 driving Ferraris and Cisitalias, but I could not find the champion for 1948 yet. I do not know how the points for the Championship were awarded, in any case the system changed each season and a reasonable guess can be made that also some hillclimbs counted for it at least in 1949.

Finally, I have the Madrid race listed in a pretty safe list of Taruffi's races as a sportscar race! I do not know whether there were Gordini 1.1 sportscars then.