Berne, Swiss

The “I Grober Preis Der Schweiz” (The first Swiss Grand Prix) was held at Bremgarten circuit near Berne, Aug. 22, 1934. The enthusiasm in the city of Berne was great and the organizers succeeded in making the Grand Prix race to an instant classic. The Comminges Grand Prix was run in France the same day so some teams like Ferrari split their effort and started in both races.

Manfred von Brauchitsch, (Mercedes Benz W25), the german driver was out from hospital after his Nürburgring accident and turned up for the Swiss GP. He had to be helped in and out of the car in considerable pain and had a pillow to support his back when driving.

 fter the “Prix de Berne Voiturette” race won by Richard  Seaman it was time for the GP class. Stuck (Auto Union A), took an early command of the race followed by Nuvolari (Maserati 8CM), Chiron (Alfa Tipo B) and Dreyfus (Bugatti T59). Chiron was struggling and was passed by Dreyfus. Nuvolari had to change plugs on lap 28, stopped again on lap 30 to add water but he finally retired on lap 36 with engine troubleSoon . On the demanding circuit the “Flying Mantuan” was able to show his great talent, chasing the Auto Union lap after lap with his clearly inferior Maserati until he got a misfire and had to retire with engine trouble. Hans von Stuck (Auto Union) won the race.

The track seemed not to suit the Ferrari Alfas and for the first time that year they found themselves really outclassed. The race was also a disaster for the Mercedes-Benz team, their cars suffering from brake trouble and problems with the fuel pumps. Von Brauchitsch was soon out with engine trouble, Caracciola gave up with brake problems and handed over the car to Geier on lap eight and Fagioli run a low six.

With Nuvolari out the hopes for a good Maserati finish was also gone because the rest of the privateers were struggling far back in the field. It was instead Dreyfus’ Bugatti that took over the second place. He was not to hold it, however, for near the end of the race he had to make a stop for water and Momberger passed him to give Auto Union a 1-2 result.

On the last lap there was a tragedy, as team Straight driver Hugh Charles Hamilton, (Maserati 8CM), probably because of a defective tire, slid off the road and into the wood, hit a tree and ricocheted into another tree.  Hamilton, perhaps the top British driver at that time, died instantly.

The Bremgarten circuit had more than its share of accidents.  Aquille Varzi and Christian Kautz died there in 1948, the former in practice and the latter in the race.  Caracciola’s crash in the 1952 Prix de Berne sports car race ended his career.

Appart from the Grand Prix, the most important event was the Prix de Berne, for 1-5 litre cars from 1934 to 1939, for F-2 in 1948 and 1950, and for the sports cars in 1952.  Lap record: Juan Manuel Fangio (Mercedes Benz W196); 101.97 mph (162.56kph); 2 min 39.7 sec in 1955. 




Posted in MEMOIRS.

Emilio Lezcano

Journalist - Editor - Photographer
Professional Race Car Driver

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