Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Not Quite Told Story of The First Hungarian Grand Prix

1986 was a great year in Formula 1's history. As a breakthrough of F1 media campaign, Hungary is to organise the first Grand Prix race behind the iron curtain. Not the first GP in the country, though...

1936. Hungary's straight headed to WWII. After a horrific loss of territory and dignity in WWI, Hungary is making alliances with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in seek for revenge. Zeppelins cruise in the skies, the propaganda is getting stronger and stronger.

As a part of this propaganda, a Grand Prix race is getting organised for the people to see all the legendary racing drivers of the time and their cars. On June 21st, the audience is to witness the battle between such racers as Bernd Royemeser, Tazio Nuvolari, and even the Romanian Petre Cristea is allegedly among the entrants with the same specially built and tuned Ford V8 with which he participated on the Monte Carlo Rally earlier.

The circuit is set in Népliget ('people's park').

Beautiful backdrops, spectacular city at the time and bad advertisement (the church on the image below is in Szeged, not Budapest - photo from imageshack).

Dennis Davis describes the event as:
In the previous year the cars from Mercedes-Benz dominated the Grand Prix scene and captured nine of the eleven major events they entered. These victories included the Monaco, French, Belgian and Swiss Grands Prix and resulted in the crowning of the original regenmeister (rainmaster), Rudolf Caracciola as European Champion. Of their losses last year, none was more painful than Tazio Nuvolari’s legendary victory in the German Grand Prix driving a Scuderia Ferrari entered Alfa Romeo.
(photo credit:
The starting grid looked so:

Auto Union

Auto Union

Alfa Romeo


Auto Union



Alfa Romeo

L Hartmann

A Dobson
Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo

The flag dropped and Rosemeyer surged into the lead, followed by von Brauchitsch, Caracciola and Nuvolari. Caracciola then stole the lead and held it for the next 16 laps before he was forced to retire with engine failure.
While von Brauchitsch and Nuvolari were involved in a war of nerves Rosemeyer who had started behind the leading pack assumed the lead. Von Brauchitsch never the calmest driver in the field began to wilt under the pressure exerted by the Italian. Coming into a corner too fast only to spin out, von Brauchitsch was narrowly missed by the Alfa Romeo. It was now just after half distance and Nuvolari had his eyes set on the race leader Rosemeyer. Each earlier call for his retirement would now serve to fuel Nuvolari’s efforts. Slowly he reeled in his young rival and on the 33rd lap Nuvolari made his move and passed the Auto Union for the lead. Nuvolari continued to extend his lead until the end thereby avenging his defeat of one week ago. Von Brauchitsch, the last Mercedes still in the race spun again two laps from the finish and suffered terminal damage to his car. Alfred Neubauer, the Mercedes team manager flung down his control flags in disgust. 

Finishing results:
1. 24 Tazio Nuvolari Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C-35 3.8 S-8 50 2h14m03.5s =
2. 16 Bernd Rosemeyer Auto Union AG Auto Union C 6.0 V-16 50 + 14.2
3. 14 Achille Varzi Auto Union AG Auto Union C 6.0 V-16 48
4. 28 Mario Tadini Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C-35 3.8 S-8 47
5. 12 H. Stuck / /E. von Delius Auto Union AG Auto Union C 6.0 V-16 46
6. 4 Austin Dobson A. Dobson Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 3.2 S-8 45
7. 10 László Hartmann L. Hartmann Maserati 8CM 3.0 S-8 44
DNF 22 Manfred von Brauchitsch Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W25K 4.7 S-8 40 crash
DNF 6 Charles Martin C. Martin Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 2.9 S-8 32 rear axle 35 laps?
DNF 18 Rudolf Caracciola Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W25K 4.7 S-8 26 engine (crash?)
DNF 20 Louis Chiron Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W25K 4.7 S-8 19 engine/supercharger

50 years later a new race was organised under new rules, new circumstances, at a new place. The former track is still available to the public partly in car traffic use, partly as a recreational green area. 2011 sees the 75th anniversary of that legendary race and the 26th Grand Prix of Hungary.

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