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Albert de Bondeli


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#1 Doug Nye

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 20:11

Bugatti owner-driver and patron of young Rene Dreyfus's racing in the late 1920s. Does anyone have handy a record of his results or perhaps a profile of the man. I believe he was a wealthy Parisian who wintered in Nice - but whose racing career ended when he lost a leg in a nasty accident.

DCN

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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 07:29

Probably not much in this you don’t already know:
Raced a Bugatti 37A in 1929 and 1930
The first year entered voiturette races at Lyons (16/6, DNF) and Comminges (18/8, DNA) then won the 1500 class of the Tunis GP on 17/11 (ahead of Ernesto Maserati’s Maserati)
In 1930 he entered voiturette races at St Raphael (2/3. DNF), Lyons (15/6, DNA) and Dieppe (20/7, DNA). Also started the ACF Grand Prix at Pau 21/9, apparently standing in for Michel Doré, but again failed to finish
In the same period (and I think I can see where you’re coming from here) he also owned the ex-Williams Monaco-winning Bugatti 35B, which was usually driven by Dreyfus, eg 1st at Dieppe 1929 and St Raphael 1930

#3 Jimmy Piget

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 09:31

Albert Baron de BONDELI was born at Neuchâtel (Switzerland) on 16 April 1901. He seemed to wear both nationalities : French and Swiss.
He was leg-amputated in 1930 after a road accident (near Avignon, Vaucluse, F).
He died on 4 September 1967, I don't know where.

Sources : private correspondance with one of his nephew, late XXth century. This man cannot learn me more, as there were family trouble within the Bondelis.

#4 Rob G

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 18:15

According to Antoine Raffaeli's "Memoirs of a Bugatti Hunter", Williams' Monaco-winning Bugatti, chassis 4914, was sold on July 16, 1929 to de Bondeli, whose address was listed as 11 Rue Massenet, Nice. The car was registered 9273 BA and sold to Dreyfus on September 23, 1931 after Rene had been driving it for two years.

#5 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 22:12

I'm sure you've checked Dreyfus' "My Two Lives", Doug.  ;) René renders the name as de Bondelli throughout, but that could be an over-enthusiastic subbie at Aztex. Not much more than recounted above, apart from the fact that de Bondeli used to transport the 35B in a Chevrolet van, which Dreyfus and Friderich later bought.

However, according to Dreyfus, the accident in which de Bondeli lost his leg was "after Tunis" 1929 and he and Friderich bought a new 35B for Monaco 1930 having sold his 37A!

Something doesn't add up there ....

#6 Doug Nye

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 22:29

Yeeessss - that's one of the minor difficulties - but the surviving Bugatti Type 35B (ch. no '4914') has been in the same ownership for the past 51 years, in which time the now 84-year-old owner doubts it has covered more than 500kms, yet it still starts on the handle and runs clean and ear-splittingly strong.

Although aesthetically 'tired' (in fact MAGNIFICENTLY so) it has more patina than you could shake a stick at - a real short-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-up time machine - almost certainly the most unspoiled of surviving Grand Prix Bugattis, and indeed (come to that) of surviving pre-war Grand Prix cars...and it was 'Williams's 1929 Monaco GP winner, too. We're featuring it in Motorfilms Quarterly Volume 13 out directly - but I am interested in De Bondeli because I know so little about him, and he sounds interesting...

If anybody's interested I'll break my rule and post some pix here.

DCN

#7 jj2728

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 23:42

I am most interested Doug....post away...

#8 VWV

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 00:18

I too am interested in any pics you might have.

#9 Barry Lake

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 03:40

Originally posted by Doug Nye


If anybody's interested...

DCN


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 10:22

I'd rather have the car - but pictures will do!! :lol: When the sale was announced, there were a few pictures in the national press: the caption prize has to go to the Daily Mirror which mentioned that the car had once belonged to "the French Grand Prix driver "Williams""!!! Merde alors! :rolleyes:

Googling de Bondeli comes up with very little - the name Albert de Bondeli appears on the list of unclaimed Swiss bank accounts known or assumed to belong to Jews affected by the Holocaust: he appears in the list of Swiss Jews, so it might be the same chap. And of course Dreyfus was also Jewish, so that might be a connection. However, the main Swiss genealogical website seems to be permanently shut down, so I drew a blank there.

#11 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 10:44

Ah well...thus encouraged (as they say)...here's the inaugural Monaco GP-winning Bugatti Type 35B as it survives today...

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Evidence indicates that this is the 1928 Bugatti works car in which Louis Chiron won the IV Grand Prix de la Marne at Reims upon its debut. That year's German Grand Prix saw two road-equipped works team Type 35Bs entered, of which one is confidently believed to have been ‘4914’ . Drivers ’Nando Minoia and Conelli respectively finished seventh and retired … but evidence is sparse on which car was driven by whom.

Robert Benoist then contested that year's San Sebastian GP in this car, finishing 2nd. After 'Williams' won in it at Monaco in 1929 it sold to Bondeli for Dreyfus, and it is the car in which he won that year's Dieppe GP amongst a series of good results. The chipped and worn paint layers include (not in order) two shades of blue, red, a cream/white colour which may be some kind of primer...and green.

After (presumably) poor De Bondeli's road accident, a sale is recorded of this car to Maurice Boutin of Nice on 20th January 1931, when the car was re-registered ‘2121 BA2’.

That sale might conceivably have fallen through, or Boutin might somehow have been an associate of De Bondeli/Dreyfus, because records also indicate that Dreyfus bought ‘4914’ directly from De Bondeli on 23rd September 1931. He then sold it to Aristide Lumachi of Marseille, who re-registered the car as ‘8871 CA4’ (the number still painted on this car’s apron today) on 17th February 1932.

Lumachi had recently sold the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B (‘4942’) that he had actively campaigned during the 1930-31 seasons, but so far we have found no evidence of his having raced ‘4914’. However, it seems that Lumachi retained ownership during the 1930s, the car spending the war years 1939-1945 stored in Ernest Friderich’s Nice showrooms before being acquired by a wine merchant from the Var region soon after the end of hostilities. His business failed and it seems the car ended up as bailiff's stock. After several years un-reclaimed in storage it was offered in a distress auction sale in 1954, at which point it was acquired by the present owner.

Incidentally, amongst the paperwork we have seen are several importunate letters from the Schlumpf brothers, offering all kinds of riches (and other inducements - including a job for the owner's son) if only he would sell the car to them for their collection: "...we are able to look after it better than you can..." proved to be a rather counter-productive line, regardless of whether they might have been right.

I'm not easily moved by old bangers - but this is an exceptional survivor, and one whose fabric talks to us...


DCN

#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:15

:love: :love: Beautiful: thanks Doug! That car just oozes history. Give me one of those to twenty over-restored ones.

Are the ducks included in the sale? That's probably all I could afford ....

#13 Adam F

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:27

Lumachi had recently sold the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B (‘4942’) that he had actively campaigned during the 1930-31 seasons, but so far we have found no evidence of his having raced ‘4914’. However, it seems that Lumachi retained ownership during the 1930s, the car spending the war years 1939-1945 stored in Ernest Friderich’s Nice showrooms



Doug,

Lumachi was entered, according to Paul Sheldon's Black Book, for the 1946 Marseille Grand Prix in a Bugatti, but did not start. He is not listed in the programme entry list. I assume from the above that this would likely to have been '4914', before its sale to the wine merchant?

Hope this helps,

#14 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 12:48

Very interesting - thanks Adam - DCN

#15 Dennis Hockenbury

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 13:32

That the "Williams" 1929 Monaco winner survives at all is impressive, but to see this Bugatti in such a marvellous state of near-original condition is exceptional.

I truly enjoyed seeing the pictures Doug. Great stuff. :up:

#16 jj2728

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 21:23

Wonderful photos Doug. Thanks for sharing them and this glorious piece of racing history.

#17 robert dick

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 08:33

From the French magazine "Auto Passion" no. 85/October 1993 - article about Dreyfus by Christian Moity :
De Bondeli (with two "l"s in the article) appears after Dreyfus' 5th place in the 1929 Monaco GP :

"... la performance du jeune bugattiste a convaincu tout le monde, y compris un certain Albert de Bondelli, sportsman dilettante mais aisé qui n'aura de cesse de racheter la 35B de "Williams" pour la confier à René. Le nouveau mécène sera vite récompensé, puisqu'à Dieppe, pour sa première course, sur une 2,3 litre encore peinte en vert anglais, René Dreyfus s'impose nettement, ajoutant même un brillant record du tour à une victoire aisée, car acquise face à des gentlemen-drivers. La campagne d'été sera tout aussi fructueuse. A Saint-Gaudens, faute d'obtenir un résultat, Dreyfus se liera d'amitié avec le comte Czaikowski, pilote qui a ses entrées à Molsheim. En Espagne, la 35B, toujours prétée, mais bleue cette fois, se classera 4è et à Turin, elle décrochera même un podium grâce à une 3è place acquise derrière l'Alfa Romeo de Brilli-Peri et la Bugatti de Lehoux. A Nice toute la famille pavoise quand un fâcheux accident élimine ce bon M. de Bondelli. Amputé d'une jambe, en difficulté financière, celui-ci se décide à revendre la 35B. La 37A heureusement est toujours là, Friderich aussi qui à son tour décide de sauter le pas. Il achète une 35B neuve (160 000 F!) à charge pour son pilote et employé d'en payer la moitié. En revendant la brave petite 37A, René Dreyfus parviendra à joindre les deux bouts et, à peine descendue de Molsheim à Nice, la belle 35B va s'offrir déjà deux victoires : à Saint-Raphael, dans une coursette, mais aussi à La Turbie, là où la Bugatti tout juste rodée établit un nouveau record absolu. Et le 6 avril, tout le monde se retrouve à Monaco!"

According to Moity :
- Albert de Bondeli was a "sportsman dilettante", but wealthy;
- Dreyfus' first race in the 35B was at Dieppe, the 35B still painted green;
- in Spain the 35B was painted blue;
- de Bondeli had an accident in the summer of 1929, lost a leg, was "en difficulté financière" (in financial difficulties), and decided to sell the 35B;
- Friderich bought a new 35B for Dreyfus.

If de Bondeli sold his 35B in the autumn of 1929 and Maurice Boutin bought it on January 20, 1931, who was the owner in 1930?

#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 13:14

That's the conundrum, Robert. According to Dreyfus' autobiography, de Bondeli's accident was shortly after the 1929 Tunis race - which took place on November 17th. Dreyfus recalls going by train to Molsheim to pick up a new 35B which he had bought with Friderich, selling his 37A to raise the money. On the way back he says he raced this new car at St Raphael on March 2nd 1930: but another contestant there was none other than de Bondeli!!

De Bondeli's last race was apparently the GP de l'ACF on September 21st 1930.

Difficult to square that with Dreyfus' and Moity's accounts!

#19 robert dick

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 13:17

Turin in Moity's article is a distortion of Tunis, where Dreyfus (35B) finished third and de Bondeli (37A) fifth, on November 17, 1929.
On March 2, 1930, de Bondeli started in Saint-Raphael, ..., and on September 21 in Pau.
So de Bondeli had his accident after September 21, 1930, and his 35B was sold directly to Maurice Boutin.

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#20 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 13:35

So it would appear that the car was unraced in 1930 - unless perhaps de Bondeli hired it out to someone other than Dreyfus. That doesn't explain why the car was no longer available to Dreyfus though - he might have remembered it as being the accident, but it would appear not!

#21 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 14:22

Thanks Richard/Robert,

Dreyfus was provided by Friderich with a replacement or alternative Type 35B for 1930 - chassis '4944'. It was a car which had been completed in October 1928 and which Friderich bought for the concessionaire's price of only 75,000 Francs against nearer 110,000 for a normal Joe Blow customer. The car was given the factory trade plate registration '1764 WW5' and since St Raphael was more or less en route to Friderich's place at Nice the car was driven there on the road - it was raced by Dreyfus - and won - and became one of his works-backed mounts that year. It was his 1930 Monaco winner.

It seems that the De Bondeli or 'Bondelli' T35B '4914' indeed sat fallow most of that year.

At this point the records indicate a sale to one Maurice Boutin of Nice on 20th January 1931, when the car was re-registered ‘2121 BA2’, while another record reveals that Dreyfus bought ‘4914’ directly from De Bondeli on 23rd September 1931. It may be that the sale to M. Boutin was not completed for some reason, but fascinatingly - immediately after his final purchase of the car - on September 27, 1931, using Type 51 road wheels and running race number ‘56’, this car was then used by René Dreyfus to win the minor Brignoles Grand Prix in France – by coincidence this being the home town of today’s vendor.

It was only after this late success that - on 17th February 1932 - Dreyfus then sold the car to Aristide Lumachi of Marseille, who re-registered it as ‘8871 CA4’ (the number still painted on this car’s apron today). Lumachi had recently sold the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B (‘4942’) that he had actively campaigned during the 1930-31 seasons, but no subsequent evidence has come to light of his having raced ‘4914’. It seems probable that during his long ownership he then painted it red, and fitted it with the lighting set dynamo and wiring which survive on the car today, together with a hood and broad windscreen now evidenced only by empty bolt holes. Lumachi seems to have retained ownership throughout the 1930s, the car spending the war years 1939-1945 stored in Friderich’s Nice showrooms.

DCN

#22 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 14:44

Pure shot in the dark, Doug: might the de Bondeli car be the one used by Zanelli in 1930-31? I'm no Bugatti chassis expert, but the timing (and the Nice connection) would fit, since he ran a Maserati 26 in 1929 and switched to a 35B in 1930 ....

#23 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 15:07

Specialist David Sewell advises me that Zanelli had two T35s available to him - '4920' and earlier '4865' which had been the prize car for winning the Bugatti Grand Prix. In conversation Geoffredo Zehender might be a candidate to have used the fallow '4914' - wheeler-dealer-driver, part-Paris based...

DCN

#24 Scuderia CC

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 16:15

Thanks Doug for your beautiful pictures of #4914. I had happiness to see this superb Bugatti T35B #4914 at the time of the demonstration l'Art de l'Automobile in Monaco in June 2003 which was devoted to Bugatti, it is really beautiful in its patina !!

See here : http://perso.wanadoo...tti_T35B_GP.htm

Best regards

#25 Rob G

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 23:53

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Lumachi seems to have retained ownership throughout the 1930s, the car spending the war years 1939-1945 stored in Friderich’s Nice showrooms.

According to my aforementioned Raffaelli book, 4914 was sold on September 11, 1954 and shows a photocopy of the registration documentation with the dates of Lumachi's purchase and sale, indicating that he owned it the entire time.

#26 Barry Lake

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 07:13

Originally posted by Doug Nye


I'm not easily moved by old bangers - but this is an exceptional survivor, and one whose fabric talks to us...

DCN



Doug, what do you classify as "an old banger"?

Does this mean you aren't moved by any old cars, or just cars before a certain era?

Thanks for the pics. I always find that an original car is far more interesting than an over-restored version. The best part of any motor museum is the area where they store the cars awaiting restoration.

Some examples, for me, have been the Schlumpf collection at Mulhouse, Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart, Harrah's (then, but no longer, in Reno, Nevada).

BL

#27 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 07:45

Barry - I was simply faintly embarrassed by possibly appearing to be simply too google-eyed and gushing over what pictorially might appear to be just another neglected old heap with faded paintwork and cracked, holed and punctured body panelling. If it was a Humber Super Snipe or a Morris Marina or a Nissan Cedric in such condition it would indeed be an "old banger" - nothing more.

I wanted to put across the notion that I'm smitten by this car not merely because it's in what most of the unconverted/uninformed would interpret as "poor aesthetic order" - but because in this condition, combined with its individual history, it's a true document, little erased, not much obscured...the whole story lies there before us, if we have the wit to read it.

I've said this before in this cyberworld - sometimes don't take what I write too literally - I'm naturally somewhat diffident about my personal enthusiasms, after years of keeping them largely to myself in private, and only burbling on about them in public...

So the psychology when I hit the keyboard in private here is that I'll often insert a caveat or a contrary remark just to cover myself against coming across as a complete nerd. Or is that a word banned within this medium?

I don't know, but perhaps this is self-confession time, I suppose I've been a racing car nerd for more than 50 years. Tee-hee... :stoned:

DCN

#28 nick stone

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 08:01

This may seem a foolish question, but was the car painted red at some stage of its active career? It seems this might be the case if one looks at the abraded areas in the close-up of the spare wheel area.

Nick

#29 Allen Brown

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 14:44

It's confession time?

My name is Allen and I've been a racing car nerd for 27 years.

TNF is no place to be embarrased about such things, Doug.

#30 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 16:27

Nick - not a foolish question at all - We think that the probably Italian-extraction Aristide Lumachi painted the car red during his long ownership through the later 1930s, when it seems to have been used primarily as a "hey lookit me" road car with lighting set, dynamo, broad screen and hood attached.

Incidentally - not only did the Brignoles GP-winning Bugatti driven by Dreyfus have Type 51 road wheels, as mentioned above, it WAS a Type 51 and not this Type 35B at all.

Rene Dreyfus had just finally acquired this car four days before that race, but he put its old De Bondeli period road registration number (which is what fooled us) onto the Type 51 which he was loaned for Brignoles by his pal Count Stanislas Czaykowski. Sorry for broadcasting duff gen. I know, I know...dear me.... :rolleyes:

DCN

#31 robert dick

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 07:12

From Hugh Conway's book "Grand Prix Bugatti"/first edition 1968/factory register data :

37A (or 37C in the book) - chassis no. 37377, engine no. 281, was delivered in July 1930 to de Bonelli.
If this de Bonelli was our de Bondeli, why did he buy a new 37A in the summer of 1930?

Is the chassis no. of Dreyfus' 5th-place-1929-Monaco 37A known?
Chassis no. 37352, engine no. 256, was delivered in December 1928 to Marseille;
chassis no. 37365, engine no. 267 in April 1929 to Friderich, Nice.
One of these?

#32 Scuderia CC

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 08:13

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Lumachi had recently sold the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B (‘4942’) that he had actively campaigned during the 1930-31 seasons


See here : http://www.bugatti35b.com/SALE.html

Best regards

#33 Macca

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 08:14

Absolutely superb pictures, Doug; a car that oozes history in that way does it for me too. Please feel free to break your rule about pictures more often....................


Confession: I am a racing-car nerd, and have been for 30 years - and I fear I may be developing anoracksia.............


Paul M

#34 qualibre

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 19:18

From Hugh Conway's book "Grand Prix Bugatti"/first edition 1968/factory register data :

37A (or 37C in the book) - chassis no. 37377, engine no. 281, was delivered in July 1930 to de Bonelli.
If this de Bonelli was our de Bondeli, why did he buy a new 37A in the summer of 1930?

Is the chassis no. of Dreyfus' 5th-place-1929-Monaco 37A known?
Chassis no. 37352, engine no. 256, was delivered in December 1928 to Marseille;
chassis no. 37365, engine no. 267 in April 1929 to Friderich, Nice.
One of these?


No !
Rene Dreyfus was the owner of his brand new Bugatti 37A chassis number 37.301
bought through ernest friderich in febraury 1928.
this was the first 37A delivered in France in 1928
and was registered to rene dreyfus on 29 march of 1928 : 8700 M12
this car is in france, in the same familly ownership since the late '50.
the compressor is missing, but all is original on the car.

with this car dreyfus raced :

-1928 circuit de la riviera 3rd overall and 1rst in class
-1928 grand prix d'antibes 3rd overall and 1rst in class
-1928 targa florio 8th overall
-1929 course de cote de la turbie 1srt and record in class
-1929 circuit de la riviera 2d overall and 1rst in class
-1929 grand prix d'antibes dnf
-1929 monaco grand prix 5th overall and 1rst in class

-..... and more

Edited by qualibre, 28 November 2009 - 19:56.


#35 Frank Verplanken

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Posted 26 June 2022 - 09:24

Hi TNF :wave: .

 

From the notes for my never-to-be-completed book on the history of motor racing on the French Riviera :

 

Bondeli (not Bondelli as sometimes seen) - his road accident happened on October 12, 1930 in Avignon. Also in the car was another driver from Nice, Henri Isaïa, who also was badly injured. Don't know who was driving, but they collided with another car. They were on their way to the Paris Salon. Isaïa doesn't seem to have raced ever again after that, although the extent of his injuries is not known. They were hospitalized at the Clinique Montagard in downtown Avignon.

 

In typical cosmopolitan Riviera fashion Bondeli was a Swiss-born parisian racing with a ACNCA (Automobile-Club de Nice et de la Côte-d'Azur) licence, much like other non-French contemporary racers such as Juan Zanelli or Stanislas Czaykowski. He was from a wealthy family of bankers, his father having been a director of the Crédit Lyonnais before the Great War.

 

(sources : L'Automobile sur la Côte-d'Azur, #44, Oct 1930, p32)


Edited by Frank Verplanken, 26 June 2022 - 09:27.