Belgrade, Yugoslavia

The Belgrade Grand Prix took place in 3 September 1939.  Only one champhionship event was held and won by Tazio Nuvolari.  The Belgrade G. P. was held on a bumpyand slippery street track, with cobblestones and tram lines as extra hazard.

The circuit was around Kalemegdan park, through Francuska street down to the Belgrade Zoo, along the Danube river coast and then turning the street up crossing by the Saborna church.  The whole lengh of the track 1.74 miles (2.79km) with 50 laps.

The race was supported and sponsored by the young King Peter II of Yugoslavia and the regent Prince Paul.
It generated major interest among the Belgraders as more than 100,000 came out to see the world famous racers such as Tazio Nuvolari.

Up to the end of the race there was a duel between Nuvolari Auto Union and Manfred von Brauchitsch Mercedes Benz.  Von Brauchitsch spun in front of the French embassy, returning to the track against the traffic and he almost collided with Nuvolari, who just managed to squeeze by and won the race.

When Nuvolari made his pit stop for fuel and tyres on lap 39 the mechanics pushed the car to a start against the rules.   Alfred Neubauer the Mercedes Benz team manager decided no to protest as Manfred also had broken the rules by racing against the traffic. The only Yugoslav driver in the race was Bosko Milenkovic with a  Bugatti that managed to finish all 50 laps.

The Belgrade Grand Prix also holds distinction as the only Grand Prix event to be held during the World War II, wich had began two days before with Germany’s invasion of Poland.  It also significant for being the very last win of the great Tazio Nuvolari illustrious career.  He was 46 at the time.

Considering it capable of showing the King in good historial light, Yugoslavia’s post-war communist authorities did their best to erase this race event from collective national memory.  As a result, later generations in Serbia, even the most ardent Formula One fans among then, have almost no knowledge about this major event in not-too-distant local history.

Posted in MEMOIRS.

Emilio Lezcano

Journalist - Editor - Photographer
Professional Race Car Driver

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