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Sommer and Alfa-Romeo 308


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#1 GIGLEUX

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 00:18

Just opening this thread not to be OT in Doug's "ummm,63".
In 1939 Sommer was still in the Alfa-Romeo team but just for sports car events and that after two seasons racing 8C-35, 12C-36, 308 and 158 official single-seater cars.
As written by David Venables in "First among champions": "a further directive came forth that it was back to an all-Italian policy for drivers, so Sommer was told that his services were not needed.
He still found work driving for Alfa Corse in sports car events, and a 308 was avalaible for him in grand prix, which if not a works entry still had a lot of factory infuence.".
Sommer made quite a lot of apparitions with that car: Pau (4th) La Turbie hillclimb (3rd and first in 2000-3000cc class), Angoulême (1st), Coupes de Paris (2nd), Belgium GP (4th with the 308 and not a 312 as oftenly written), ACF GP (5th), German GP (retired) and he took an entry in the Swiss GP but did'nt arrived. After all not a too bad season.
But what was this car; was it a disguised works entry or was it Sommer own car (he was wealthy enough to buy it).
In fact his 308 had a white cross on the scuttle, Swiss origin? Second fact for reflection: I found the following lines in "La Dépêche" (du Midi) of march 30 1939, prior the Pau GP.
"The swiss driver de Graffenried has just created a racing team with italian cars. At Pau he will enter two cars of recent models: an Alfa-Romeo and a Maserati. No doubt it will be one of the great
unknown quantities of this GP...These two cars, which both have blown 3 liter engines will be driven, one, the Maserati, by de Graffenried himself and the other, the Alfa-Romeo by one of the best french drivers: Raymond Sommer who was, during several years, official driver of Alfa Corse.".
So was it an "official" car on loan to de Graffenried for Sommer's use?
At Pau the two cars were side by side in front of the pits, at La Turbie de Graffenried finished second behind Sommer in the 2000-3000cc class ant in the Coupe de Paris they both followed in the entry list withN) 45 and 46 ( de Graffenried had a Bugatti that day).

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The two cars at Pau

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Sommer at Angoulême

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#2 john medley

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 02:28

Though rumoured to have been bought by Australian driver Colin Dunne late 1939, this car made its way to the USA.
According to the Joel Finn book " American Road Racing : the 1930s" ( Pages 346 on) Sommer was able to buy the car under very favourable terms,painted it blue, ran Pau 2nd April, French GP ( Reims)9th July , Angouleme 23rd July, then sold the car (chassis number 422022 is quoted) for 125000 French francs via John Oliveau to the USA, the car leaving Italy 2nd Feb 1940. Joel Finn provides considerable detail.

#3 Michael Müller

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Posted 09 May 2004 - 16:17

I spotted this Swiss (?) logo already on another picture of Sommer, but cannot remember which one. Just checked my archive, but without success.

If Sommer's 308 has been sold to the US in 1939/49, which car did he drive then at Nice 1946??

#4 Michael Müller

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Posted 09 May 2004 - 16:29

Sorry, just realized that this question has been answered already in Doug's No. 63 thread...

#5 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 15:39

Originally posted by GIGLEUX
J
In 1939 Sommer was still in the Alfa-Romeo team but just for sports car events and that after two seasons racing 8C-35, 12C-36, 308 and 158 official single-seater cars.
As written by David Venables in "First among champions": "a further directive came forth that it was back to an all-Italian policy for drivers, so Sommer was told that his services were not needed.
He still found work driving for Alfa Corse in sports car events, and a 308 was avalaible for him in grand prix, which if not a works entry still had a lot of factory infuence.".
Sommer made quite a lot of apparitions with that car: Pau (4th) La Turbie hillclimb (3rd and first in 2000-3000cc class), Angoulême (1st), Coupes de Paris (2nd), Belgium GP (4th with the 308 and not a 312 as oftenly written), ACF GP (5th), German GP (retired) and he took an entry in the Swiss GP but did'nt arrived. After all not a too bad season.
But what was this car; was it a disguised works entry or was it Sommer own car (he was wealthy enough to buy it).
In fact his 308 had a white cross on the scuttle, Swiss origin? Second fact for reflection: I found the following lines in "La Dépêche" (du Midi) of march 30 1939, prior the Pau GP....


Thanks Jean-Maurice for those interesting press cuts that, unfortunately, don't solve the mistery.

Things are even worse if you think that already during the 1938 season, from the German Grand Prix on, the 308s were kind of private entries, but still with a T-car managed, test-driven by official Alfa Corse crew, everyhting wrapped in deep fog as far as ownership is concerned. Belmondo, Ghersi and Sommer could have afforded buying such cars, possibly, but they seemed anyway too close to the factory team to be real private entries.

The swiss flag on the 1939 308 scuttle could be a hint toward the swiss ownership you quote, but Alfa trying to go round the political order of entering only Italian drivers might have lead to "cover" their entries. Anyway, I assume that Sommer should have paid something (possibly a "political price") for those entries rather than having been paid for.