Alberto Ascari was an Italian racing driver and twice Formula One World Champion. He was a multitalented racer. Ascari won consecutive world titles in 1953 for Scuderia Ferrari, he was the last Italian to date to win the title. This was sandwiched an appearance in the Indianapolis 500 in 1952. Ascari won the Mille Miglia in 1954. Ascari was noted for the careful precision and finely-judged accuracy that made him one of the safest drivers in a most dangerous era. Ascari remains along with Michael Schumacher Ferrari's only back-to-back World Champions, he is Ferrari's sole Italian champion; when Alberto was a young child, his father, a famous racing driver, died in an accident at the 1925 French Grand Prix. Alberto once admitted that he warned his children not to become close to him because of the risk involved in his profession. So this proved when he was killed during a test session for Scuderia Ferrari at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Ascari took great pains to avoid tempting fate, his unexplained fatal accident – at the same age as his father's, on the same day of the month and in eerily similar circumstances – remains one of Formula One racing's great tragic coincidences.
Born in Milan, Ascari was the son of Antonio Ascari, a talented Grand Prix motor racing star in the 1920s, racing Alfa Romeos. Just a fortnight before Alberto's seventh birthday, Antonio was killed while leading the French Grand Prix in 1925 at the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry, but the younger Ascari had an interest in racing in spite of; such was his passion to become a racing driver like his father, twice he ran away from school. He raced motorcycles in his earlier years. At the age of just 19, Ascari was signed to ride for the Bianchi team, it was after he entered the prestigious Mille Miglia in an Auto Avio Costruzioni 815, supplied by his father's close friend, Enzo Ferrari, in 1940 that he started racing on four wheels regularly. He married a local girl the same year; when Italy entered World War II, the family garage, now run by Alberto, was conscripted to service and maintain vehicles of the Italian military. It was during this period, he established a lucrative transport business, supplying fuel to army depots in North Africa.
His partner in the enterprise was Luigi Villoresi. The pair did; as their business supported the Italian war effort, it made them exempt from being called up during the war. Following the end of World War II Alberto Ascari began racing in Grands Prix with Maserati 4CLT, his teammate was Villoresi, who would become a mentor and friend to Ascari. The pair were successful on the circuits in the North of Italy. Soon he was bestowed with the nickname Ciccio, meaning "Tubby". Formula One regulations were introduced by the FIA in 1946, with the aim of replacing the pre-war Grand Prix structure. During the next four transitional years, Ascari was at the top of his game, winning numerous events around Europe, he won his first Grand Prix, the Gran Premio di San Remo in 1948 and took second place in the RAC International Grand Prix the same year, at Silverstone. Ascari won another race with the team the following year, Gran Premio del General Juan Perón de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, his biggest success came.
The team boss, Enzo Ferrari, had been a great friend and teammate to Antonio Ascari, had taking a keen interest in Alberto's successes. That won three more races that year; the first Formula One World Championship season took place in 1950, the Ferrari team made its World Championship debut at Monte Carlo with Ascari and the famous French driver Raymond Sommer on the team. The team had a mixed year – their supercharged Tipo 125 was too slow to challenge the dominant Alfa Romeo team so instead Ferrari began working on an unblown 4.5l car. Much of the year was lost as the team's 2-litre Formula Two engine was progressively enlarged, though when the full 4.5l Tipo 375 arrived for the Gran Premio d'Italia Ascari gave Alfa Romeo their sternest challenge of the year before retiring. The new Ferrari won the non-championship Gran Premio do Penya Rhin. Throughout 1951, Ascari was a threat to the Alfa Romeo team though he was undone by unreliability. However, after winning at the Nürburgring and Monza he was only two points behind Fangio in the championship standings ahead of the climactic Gran Premio de España.
Ascari took pole position, but a disastrous tyre choice for the race saw the Ferraris unable to challenge, Ascari coming home 4th while Juan Manuel Fangio won the race and the title. For 1952 the World Championship season switched to using the 2-litre Formula Two regulations, with Ascari driving Ferrari's Tipo 500 car, he missed the first race of the championship season as he was qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, at the time a World Championship event. He was the only European driver to race at Indy in its 11 years on the World Championship schedule, but his race ended after 40 laps without having made much of an impression, as a result of a wheel collapse. Returning to Europe he won the remaining six rounds of the series to clinch the world title and recording the fastest lap in each race, he scored the maximum amount of points a driver could earn since only the best four of eight scores counted towards the World Championship. Fangio missed m
Carlo Alberto Conelli, count de Prosperi, best known as Caberto Conelli was a sometime Italian racecar driver. He raced once for Bugatti in 1920 and in his only other race won the 1931 Belgian Grand Prix with William Grover-Williams, he died at 84 years old
Bartolomeo "Meo" Costantini was an Italian aviator and racing car driver, known for being the sporting manager of the Bugatti car manufacturer. He joined the Italo-Turkish War, became well known in World War I, where capitano Costantini became a flying ace with six victories flying a Spad in the Squadriglia degli Assi, part of the Corpo Aeronautico Militare. Costantini used a Spad VII to score his first aerial victory in conjunction with Prince Fulco Ruffo di Calabria, on 25 October 1917; the next day, Costantini shot down another Aviatik reconnaissance plane over Castelmonte. A month on 23 November, he shared his third victory over a two-seater with Cesare Magistrini. A week he had another shared win, he did not score again for nine months. In August 1918, he acquired a newer Spad XIII. On the 12th, he singlehandedly defeated an Albatros D. III near Lucia di Piave. Ten days he flamed a two-seater over Marano di Piave and watched its observer parachute away. Costantini was a racing driver in the Aquila Italiana team.
He joined Bugatti and won two Targa Florio in a Bugatti Type 35, won the Circuito Lasarte, in chassis #4802 of Type 39, got second in French GP. He remained racing team manager until 1935, replaced by Jean Bugatti. Franks, Norman. Above the War Fronts: The British Two-seater Bomber Pilot and Observer Aces, the British Two-seater Fighter Observer Aces, the Belgian, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Fighter Aces, 1914–1918: Volume 4 of Fighting Airmen of WWI Series: Volume 4 of Air Aces of WWI. Grub Street, 1997. ISBN 1-898697-56-6, ISBN 978-1-898697-56-5. Guttman, Jon. SPAD XII/XIII Aces of World War I. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1841763160, 9781841763163
Sunbeam Motor Car Company
Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited was a British motor car manufacturer with its works at Moorfields in Blakenhall, a suburb of Wolverhampton in the county of Staffordshire, now West Midlands. Its Sunbeam name had been registered by John Marston in 1888 for his bicycle manufacturing business. Sunbeam motor car manufacture began in 1901; the motor business was sold to a newly incorporated Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited in 1905 to separate it from Marston's pedal bicycle business. In-house designer Coatalen's enthusiasm for motor racing accumulated expertise with engines. Sunbeam manufactured their own aero engines during the First World War and 647 aircraft to the designs of other manufacturers. Engines drew Sunbeam into Grand Prix racing and participation in the achievement of world land speed records. In spite of its well-regarded cars and aero engines, by 1934 a long period of slow sales had brought continuing losses. Sunbeam was unable to repay money borrowed for ten years in 1924 to fund its Grand Prix racing programme, a receiver was appointed.
There was a forced sale, Sunbeam was picked up by the Rootes brothers. Manufacture of Sunbeam's now old-fashioned cars did not resume under the new owners, but Sunbeam trolleybuses remained in production. Rootes had intended to sell luxury cars under the Sunbeam name, but four years after their purchase, in 1938, the two brothers instead chose to add the name Sunbeam to their Talbot branded range of Rootes designs calling them Sunbeam-Talbots. In 1954 they dropped the word Talbot. Sunbeam continued to appear as a marque name on new cars until 1976, it was used as a model name, firstly for the Chrysler Sunbeam from 1977 to 1979, following the takeover of Chrysler Europe by PSA Group, for the Talbot Sunbeam from 1979 through to its discontinuation in 1981. John Marston, the London-educated son of a sometime mayor of Ludlow and landowner, had been apprenticed to Edward Perry, tinplate-works master and twice mayor of Wolverhampton. In 1859 aged 23 Marston bought two other tinplate manufacturers in Bilston, four miles away, set himself up on his own account.
On Perry's death Marston bought his Jeddo Works in Paul Street Wolverhampton, left Bilston and continued Perry's business. An avid cyclist he established his Sunbeamland Cycle Factory in 1897 in his Paul Street premises manufacturing and assembling pedal bicycles he branded Sunbeam, his Sunbeam trademark was registered in 1893. In 1895 a company, John Marston Limited, was incorporated and took ownership of John Marston's business; the Sunbeam trademark was registered for motor-cars in 1900. Rugby-educated Thomas Cureton 1863–1921 began as his apprentice became Marston's right-hand man in the cycle works and the cautious advocate of a motor-car venture, their board of directors did not favour it but Marston and Cureton continued their project. Between 1899 and 1901 Sunbeam produced a number of experimental cars driven about Wolverhampton but none was offered for sale. In late 1900 they announced the purchase in Blakenhall of "a large area of land in Upper Villiers Street for the erection of works for the manufacture of cars" alongside the premises of Marston's Villiers Engineering business.
The first announcement of their new autocar was in 22 September 1900 issue of The Autocar but no full description was provided to the public until February 1901. It would be supplied with a 2-seater body on a channel steel frame powered by a 4-horsepower horizontal engine with electric ignition intended to run at 700 rpm and have two forward speeds and reverse using belt drive to differential gears on the live axle. Dimensions: weight 10 cwt, overall measurements 84 inches by 57 inches; the first production car branded Sunbeam was not Marston and Cureton's but a car designed and developed by a young architect, Maxwell Mabberly-Smith, powered by a single-cylinder 2¾ horsepower De Dion engine. Described as a "sociable" it carried two passengers sitting close together facing the roadside from above a central belt-drive. To begin with they faced opposite roadsides; this layout provided propinquity while maintaining propriety. Their driver at his tiller sat behind them his body facing the opposite roadside.
Wheels were arranged in a diamond formation. They used a frame like a motorised quadracycle version of Starley's Coventry Rotary and were to be referred to by The Automotor Journal as "the curiously light vehicles with which their name has for some time been associated"; the Sunbeam Mabley was a limited success, several hundred sold in 1901 and 1902 at £130. More stock was still in the Sunbeam catalogue in early 1904 with the following specification: single cylinder 74 x 76 mm. 327 cc engine designed to run at 1,800 rpm, 2-speed gearbox, central wheels driven by belt chain drives from the differential. Weight 4½ cwt. Price £120 At the annual Stanley Cycle Show in November 1902 Sunbeam approved by the magazine's correspondent, displayed beside more Mableys a 12-horsepower four-cylinder car with the engine beneath a bonnet at the front, camshaft within the "crank chamber", a four-speed gearbox and all four artillery wheels of the same size fitted with pneumatic tyres. Price 500 guineas or £525.
Listed in February 1904 its specification was: four cylinders 80 × 120 mm. 1527 cc engine designed to run at 1,000 rpm, four-speed gearbox, rear wheels driven by chain drives from the differential. Weight 16 cwt. Price £512. In February 1904 the 12-horsepower car was given a six-cylinder 16-horsepower stablemate. Like the 12 the new engine was designed to give its full power at what were then considered low engine speeds. Particular note was made that special attention had once more been paid to further controlling the airflow beneath the car's apron and the chassis to reduce t
Robert Marcel Charles Benoist was a French Grand Prix motor racing driver and war hero. Born near Rambouillet, Île-de-France, Robert Benoist was the son of Baron Henri de Rothschild's gamekeeper; as a young man, Benoist served during World War I in the French infantry as a fighter pilot in the new Armée de l'Air and as a flying instructor. Looking for excitement in the post-war world, Benoist joined the de Marçay car company as a test driver, he moved on to Salmson and was successful in cyclecar races before being signed to drive for Delage in 1924. The next year, teamed with Albert Divo, he won the French Grand Prix in the race that claimed the life of Italian racing star Antonio Ascari. In 1927, driving a Delage 15-S-8, he won the French, Spanish and British Grand Prix races, earning the season championship title for the French manufacturer; when the Delage company dropped out of racing, Robert Benoist was without a job and was appointed manager of the Banville Garage in Paris. He did occasional races for the Bugatti team, finishing second in the 1928 San Sebastián Grand Prix in Spain.
The following year he teamed up with Attilio Marinoni to win the Spa 24 Hours race in Belgium, driving an Alfa Romeo. At the end of the season he retired until 1934, he was soon made head of the competition department and masterminded the company's Le Mans programme. In 1937 he partnered with Jean-Pierre Wimille to win the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race. Following that victory, Benoist retired permanently, but continued to run Bugatti's racing department until called up into the French Air Force. In addition to Jean-Pierre Wimille, Robert Benoist became good friends with another Grand Prix driver, William Grover-Williams; when World War II broke out and France was occupied, these three race drivers all escaped to Britain where they joined the Special Operations Executive as secret agents to return to France to assist the French Resistance. Benoist was commissioned into the British Army as a captain. Parachuted into France, Benoist helped organise sabotage cells and with William Grover-Williams moved weapons from air-drops in the Rambouillet forest to his home at Auffargis for storage and distribution.
In June 1943, the "Prosper" network in Paris collapsed and its leaders, Francis Suttill and Andrée Borrel, were arrested by the Gestapo. In August, Benoist's home was raided by the Gestapo and Grover-Williams was captured and executed with Francis Suttill at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Three days Robert Benoist was apprehended in Paris. While being driven to Gestapo headquarters, Benoist leaped from the moving vehicle and escaped being smuggled back to Britain via the underground. Benoist returned to France on a second mission, lasting from October 1943 to February 1944, after which he returned to London for a short time before going back to France in March to work in the Nantes area with fellow SOE agent Denise Bloch. Benoist was arrested on 18 June 1944 and shipped to Buchenwald concentration camp where he was executed three months on 9 September. Following Germany's surrender, on 9 September 1945, the "Coupe Robert Benoist" automobile race was held in Paris in his memory. Captain Robert Benoist is recorded on the Brookwood Memorial in Surrey, as one of the SOE agents who died for the liberation of France, he is listed on the "Roll of Honor" on the Valençay SOE Memorial in the town of Valençay, in the Indre departement of France.
In his honour, the village of Auffargis named a street after him and it is there in the churchyard cemetery on "Allée Robert Benoist" that fellow pioneer race driver, Ferenc Szisz is buried. Among the remaining grandstands still standing at the former Reims-Gueux circuit in France is one named "Tribune Robert Benoist". Au volant: Cours pratique de conduite automobile, Bernard-Précy, Robert Benoist, Paris, Ed. Tallandier 1933 Foot, MRD: SOE in France Ryan Robert: Early One Morning, Headline 2002 ISBN 0-7472-6872-X Pernod Alain: Grand Prix de France: Un siècle en histoires, ed. ETAI, 2006, ISBN 2-7268-8657-4 Saward, Joe: "The Grand Prix Saboteurs", Morienval Press, London, 2006, ISBN 978-0-9554868-0-7 Motor Sport, August 1945, Page 156
Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry
Autodrome de Montlhéry is a motor racing circuit called L’autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry, located south-west of the small town of Montlhéry about thirty kilometres south of Paris. Industrialist Alexandre Lamblin hired René Jamin to design the 2,548.24 metres oval shaped track for up to 1,000 kg vehicles at 220 km/h. It was called Autodrome parisien, had high banking. A road circuit was added in 1925; the first race there, the 1925 French Grand Prix, was held on 26 July 1925 and organised by The Automobile Club de France Grand Prix. It was a race; the Grand Prix revisited the track in 1927 and each year between 1931 and 1937. In 1939 the track was sold to the government, deprived of maintenance, again sold to Union technique de l’automobile et du cycle in December 1946; the "Coupe du Salon", "Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or" and the "1000 km" were arranged irregularly since as the track has had several high-speed problems. Fatal accidents at Autodrome de Montlhéry include Benoît Nicolas Musy, the one in which Peter Lindner, Franco Patria and three flag marshals died in 1964.
The last certification for racing was gained in 2001. The first race, the 1925 French Grand Prix, was held on 26 July 1925 and organised by the Automobile Club de France. Robert Benoist in a Delage won. In July 1926 Violette Cordery lead a team that averaged 113.8 km/h for 8,047 km driving an Invicta, became the first woman to be awarded the Dewar Trophy by the Royal Automobile Club. The Grand Prix revisited the track in 1927. In 1929, Hellé Nice drove an Oméga-Six to victory in the all-female Grand Prix of the third Journée Feminine at the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry and set a new world land speed record for women; the Grand Prix revisited the track each year between 1931 and 1937. The "Coupe du Salon", "Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or" and the "1000 km" were arranged irregularly since as the track has had several high-speed problems; the Grand Prix de France was organized in Linas-Montlhéry in 1925, 1931, 1935 and 1937 with the best worldwide racers. A competitor Grand Prix de France was organized from 1924 to 1937 with the best French and British racers.
The Bol d'or, the well-known French motorcycle endurance race of 24 hours, was held in Linas-Montlhéry before the Second War from 1937 to 1939, after the Second War in 1949, in 1950, from 1952 to 1960, in 1969 and in 1970. British motorcycles were victorious from 1931 to 1959,. A legendary French racer, Gustave Lefèvre is always the record holder with 7 victories despite riding alone during 24 hours: his average speed was 107 kilometres per hour in 1953; the year after, two riders were allowed. In 1969, a Japanese bike, Honda Four, wins for the first time. In 1970, a British one, Triumph Trident, wins for the last time. Another race open the year in France, the Côte Lapize, climbing around the hill of Saint-Eutrope: the new engines confidentially prepared during the winter months were shown. In early 1950s, Pierre Monneret riding the famous Gilera Four, 500 cc, sent by the official Italian team, was one of them; some races were open to production motorcycles like the Coupes Eugène Mauve. In 1933 the circuit hosted the UCI Road World Championships for cycling.
In 2010 the Speed Ring played host to Ken Block's Gymkhana Three video, an advertisement for his company, DC Shoes. William Boddy, Montlhéry, the story of the Paris autodrome ISBN 1-84584-052-6 Montlhery.com Website about Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry on Stades Mythiques Paris Autodrome News Association pour le soutien de l'autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry Historic Purpose Built Grand Prix Circuits on Google Maps
Delage was a French luxury automobile and racecar company founded in 1905 by Louis Delage in Levallois-Perret near Paris. The company was founded in 1905 by Louis Delage, who borrowed Fr 35,000, giving up a salary of Fr 600 a month to do so, its first location was on the Rue Cormeilles in Levallois-Perret. The company at first had just two lathes and three employees, one of them Peugeot's former chief designer. Delage produced parts for Helbé, with the De Dion-Bouton engine and chassis assembled by Helbé; the first model was the Type A, a voiturette which appeared in 1906. It was powered by a one-cylinder De Dion-Bouton of 9 hp. Like other early carmakers, Delage participated in motor racing, entering the Coupe de Voiturettes held at Rambouillet in November 1906 with a 9 hp racer. Seven days of regularity trials decided the entrants, one of the two 9 hp Delage specials was wrecked in the rain on the fifth. In 1907 the factory moved to the Rue Baudin Levallois; the two-cylinder Delages were no match for the competition this year at the Coupe des Voiturettes.
In 1908, the success enabled the development of the entry into more Grand Prix races. That year, racing success returned: Delage won the Grand Prix des Voiturettes held 6 July; this event, six laps of the 47.74 mi Dieppe Grand Prix circuit, saw 47 starters. Delage fielded three cars: a pair with 1,242 cc De Dion-Bouton twins, driven by Thomas and Lucas-Bonnard, a radical 28 hp 1,257 cc one-cylinder in the hands of Delage dealer Albert Guyot. Guyot won at an average 49.8 mph. All three Delages finished this time, Thomas the quickest of the two-cylinder cars, while the team took home the regularity prize; these good results contributed to total sales exceeding 300 cars for the year. Delage converted to four-cylinder engines at first provided by De Dion and Edouard Ballot. After an increase in sales, the existing facilities were too small, so in 1910 the factory moved to a new facility at 138 Boulevard de Verdun, Courbevoie; the following year saw the creation of advanced bodywork. By 1912, 350 workers were producing over 1000 cars annually, offered four- and six-cylinder sidevalve engines.
During the First World War, Delage produced munitions. Production of passenger cars stopped, with the exception of some fabrication for the Army, but the Delage factories were running full support for the war effort. When the war concluded, Delage made its reputation with larger cars. First up was the CO, with a 4,524 cc fixed-head sidevalve six producing 20 hp; the CO plans had been drawn up during the conflict. It was joined by the DO with a 3-liter four; the 1920s were the first "Golden Age" of Delage. The most famous were the DI: 4 cylinders of about 2 liters and 11 hp. Delage attempted to compete with Hispano-Suiza, with the GL of 30 hp and 5954 cc, with some success. After that came a new generation of six-cylinder cars, like the MD and DR, the best-selling vehicle in the history of the brand, designed by engineer Gaultier. Both the CO and DO were replaced in 1922; the CO became the CO2, which changed to an overhead valve twin-plug head, producing 88 hp, while the DO was supplanted by the DE with a 2,117 cc sidevalve four and, unusual in a production car in this era, four-wheel brakes.
The CO2 completed the Paris-Nice run in an average of 67 km/h. The next year, the new 14 hp DI switched to OHV with a 2,121 cc four, fitted with magneto ignition and thermosyphon cooling. At the other end of the scale, the GL known as the 40/50, replaced the CO2, being fitted with a magneto-fired 5,344 cc overhead cam six. In 1923, a hillclimb car with DI chassis, larger wheels and tires, 5,107 cc CO block was produced. Delage scored successes at Mont Ventoux; this car was joined by a 10,688 cc V12, which broke the course record at the Gaillon hillclimb, with Thomas at the wheel. Thomas would set the land speed record at Arpajon in this car, at a speed of 143.24 mph, in 1924. A 1925 car had a 5,954 cc six, again using the GL block, with four valves per cylinder and twin overhead cams. Driven by Divo, it broke the Mont Ventoux course record in its debut; the car was destroyed by fire at the Phoenix Park meet in 1934. The 1924 and 1925 DIS, with a 117 in wheelbase, switched from Rolls-Royce-type locking wheel hubs to Rudge knock-ons, better cam, bigger valves, while the 1925 and 1926 DISS on the same wheelbase.
Some of the DISes were bodied by Kelsch. The DIS became the Series 6 in 1927, switching to water pump. In 1926, Delage introduced the DM, with a 3,182 cc six, which made it emblematic of the era for the marque; the high-performance DMS had hotter cam