Le Grand Prix de Reims

Maserati, Luigi Villoresi, Reims, klemcoll

Here is a marvelous photo of the famous Italian driver Luigi Villoresi at full speed in a Maserati 4CL along the main straight at the Reims-Gueux public road circuit on July 6, 1947, the first Grand Prix event held there after the War. These days were before helmets were required and Villoresi just has a cloth cap to provide his head protection. Reims-Gueux in early July was normally the circuit for the French Grand Prix but this year that race would be held in September at its 1914 location near Lyon. So the race we are looking at was titled Le Grand Prix de Reims along with another series of races held at Reims-Gueux under the title Grand Prix de la Marne.

Villoresi had been entered by Scuderia Ambrosiana, named for the patron saint of Milan. Villoresi’s great friend and pupil Alberto Ascari was in another Ambrosiana Maserati 4CL. As was sometimes the case, this Italian team arrived after practice so their drivers were relegated to the back rows of the grid, but not as for back of some British drivers who also had missed practice.

On pole for the start was the prewar Mercedes and Auto-Union driver Christian Kautz who was from Switzerland and entered by the Swiss team of the driver Enrico Platé who would also drive a Maserati 4CL. In the early going there was a battle between Ascari, Kautz and Villoresi. But first Ascari at half distance and then Villoresi suffered motor failures primarily because Reims with two very long straights put great stress on engines.

Maserati, Cristian Kautz, Reims, klemcollThis left Kautz to win overall as shown in this finish line photo. There were only six other cars running at the end of the Grand Prix.

Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collecti0on – http://www.klemcoll.com

To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx

 

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