Grand Prix des Nations

Wimple, Farina, Alfa Romeo

One of the first grand prix races after the war, and certainly the most prestigious, was the Grand Prix des Nations which was held on a 3 km street circuit in Geneva on July 21, 1946. Alfa Romeo sent four of their Tipo 158 prewar cars, two with new two-stage supercharging, which were driven by Giuseppe “Nino” Farina, Jean-Pierre Wimille, Carlo Felice Trossi, and Achille Varzi. The main competition were six Maserati 4CLs and three ERAs with well-known drivers such as Tazio Nuvolari, Raymond Sommer, “Raph” (Marquis George Raphaël Béthenod de Montbressieux), Raymond Mays and Prince Bira. This was typical of the in-town street course venues used shortly after the war years when what permanent circuits which had existed had mostly been heavily damaged.

The race was run in two 32-lap heats and a 44-lap final for the top six finishers in each of the heat races. Wimille won the first heat in wet conditions and Farina took the drier second. Here, in the final, Wimille pursues Farina closely as they battle for the lead. Their contest was interrupted when Wimille came up to lap Nuvolari’s Maserati and the Italian pushed him off the road where he stalled temporarily, rolling downhill to restart, but allowing Trossi to get by. The stewards black-flagged Nuvolari who simply ignored them and the final order was Farina, Trossi and Wimille. Nuvolari could perhaps be excused as he was already ill and weak from the long-term effects of prewar exhaust fumes. His physical condition would continue to decline over the following few years.

This is one of those rare Klemantaski color images from the prewar and immediate postwar years. Very few magazine publications were then able to print color. so it was a bit of wasted effort. As Klemantaski said, every color shot from those years was one that could not be sold.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

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One comment

  1. Jim Sitz · · Reply

    Thinking that Wimille was best driver in the immediate
    post war era, would have been world champion if one
    has been organized before 1950.
    His winning Alfa Romeo has been developed from a voiturette
    with modest output of just 180 HP and finally achieved over
    400 later on,
    Color photography was not common among professional,
    I do remember my good friend Dean Batchlor paying a visit
    to George Monkhouse who discarded his own pre-war images
    since there was no market for their reproduction,
    Such a shame, Dean was sorry he had asked !

    I always preferred the BW medium but when making the
    long and expensive trip to Florida for Sebring event in 1956
    felt i had better record it in color, Fortunately it still looks
    damn good,,(Anscohrome was the choice for natural color)
    faithfully

    Jim sitz

    Like

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