Велика је штета што је један значајан догађај, који се одиграо пре сам почетак II Св. рата у Београду, скоро тотално пао у заборав. А значајан је, јер су 03. септембра 1939. године у Београду вожене прве и једине трке тадашњих болида Формуле 1!
Трке су вожене на стази око Калемегдана, а организоване су у у част рођендана краља Петра Другог Карађорђевића.
Колико је ово био значајан догађај за Београд, али и целу тадашњу Југославију, је податак да је тог дана на улицама Београда било између 75.000 и 100.000 људи! Ово је значајан број чак и за данашње појмове, а камоли пре 74 године!
У трци која је одговарала свим стандардима Формуле 1, на стази дугој 2,794 м, вожено је 50 кругова. Била је то последња ГП трка планирана за ту такмичарску сезону, а пошто је практично већ био започео рат, после трке око Калемегдана дошло је до прекида такмичења који је трајао пуних седам година.
Тога дана Београд је угостио неке од највећих имена тога времена као што су Тацио Нуволари, Манфред Фон Браухич, Херман Ланг... Нажалост због претње рата, у Београд нису дошли Робер Мазо и Жорж Грињар, али ни Рудолф Карачола, који је био повређен.
На овој ГП трци је победио Тацио Нуволари, а колики је мајстор био, показује податак да је у Београд стигао тек дан пред трку и одвозио само један тренинг!
На крају трке, поредак је би следећи:
1. Тацио Нуволари (Ауто Унион) - 130,839 км/х,
2. Манфред фон Браухич (Мерцедес-Бенз) - 130,4 км/х,
3. Херман Паул Милер (Ауто Унион) - 129,8 км/х.
Иначе, добар пријатељ мога оца, рођени Београђанин, који је тада имао свега 11 година, причао ми је како се добро сећа тог догађаја. Сећао се гужве која је пратила цео догађај, али и људи уплашених од несносне буке мотора која је одзвањала Београдом. Неки су чак у паници мислили да су почела ратна дејства и бомбардовање...
Нека овај кратки текст и ове фотографије буду мало подсећање на тај изузетни догађај, са жељом да се не заборави.
Владимир Јовицки Јовис
Ауто Унион Тyпе Д какав је возио Нуволари се и данас сматра за један од најлепших болида Формуле 1.
RACE/BEOGRAD GP BEOGRAD CITY PARK
50 laps x 2.794 km (1.736 mi) = 139.70 km (86.8 mi)
2 Hermann Lang Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W154 3.0 V-12
4 Tazio Nuvolari Auto Union AG Auto
Union D 3.0 V-12
4 Ulrich Bigalke Auto Union AG Auto Union D 3.0 V-12 DNS - reserve #8?
6 Manfred von Brauchitsch Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W154 3.0 V-12
8 Hermann Mьller Auto Union AG Auto
Union D 3.0 V-12
8 Hans Stuck Auto Union AG Auto Union D 3.0 V-12 DNS - did not practice
10 Walter Bдumer Daimler-Benz AG Mercedes-Benz W154 3.0 V-12 shared car #2
12 Bosko Milenkowitsch B. Milenkowitsch Bugatti T51 2.3 S-8
14 Raymond Sommer Alfa Corse? Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 3.0 S-8 DNA
16 ? Alfa Corse? Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 3.0 S-8 DNA
18 Luigi Villoresi Officine A. Maserati Maserati 8CTF 3.0 S-8 DNA
20 Paul Pietsch Officine A. Maserati Maserati 8CTF 3.0 S-8 DNA
Nuvolari wins Auto Union's final Grand Prix race.
by Hans Etzrodt, slightly edited by Leif Snellman
The second Belgrade City Race in
Yugoslavia was run despite the fact that WW II had already started. Nuvolari on Auto Union won the brief 81.3 mph battle between only five cars over this bumpy city circuit. Von Brauchitsch took the lead right at the start, only to lose it to Mьller's Auto Union after a spin on lap 16. When Mьller encountered tire problems on lap 30, Nuvolari inherited the lead, never to lose it again. Lang retired due to injury early in the race, when a stone smashed his goggles. Such was the pace of the 50 lap race that three drivers beat Brauchitsch's fastest practice time. The cause for the unusual tire problems may have been the strong grip on the small cobblestones in conjunction with the cars jumping high over the bumps. The cars from Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz had been evenly matched.
The Belgrade City Race was held in honor of the birthday of the young King Peter II. The 2.794 km road circuit, at the Sava and Danube river junction in
Belgrade, encircled a little mountain, crowned by the huge old Turkish fortress Kalemegdan. The course went counter clockwise, had eight left hand turns, one fast right kink and no straight worth mentioning to do passing maneuvers. For the most part, the cobblestone streets were narrow, slippery and bumpy, causing the cars to briefly lift off the ground and jump through the air. The drivers also had to cope with tram lines on this rather short circuit, a bit longer than Pau but shorter than Monaco. The 50 lap race lasted just over an hour and with only five cars at the start, the event gave the impression of a demonstration run instead a grand prix. A Yugoslavian Grand Prix it was not. (Note 1)
The international political atmosphere was extremely tense. A heavily armored Nazi Germany had seized
Austria on 12 March of 1938, followed half a year later by the occupation of Czechoslovakia on 3 October. Gasoline had been rationed in Germany in early August of 1939. Per car, only five liters of fuel were issued at a tank stop. The stress and uncertainty of the times were felt even at the Swiss Grand Prix, two weeks prior to the Belgrade race. Headlines in the newspapers raised the fear of a looming war. Then, early morning of September 1, German troops had marched into Poland, starting World War II. Two days later, when the Belgrade race was run, both Britain and France were at war with Germany.
Travel was not easy in these times of political tension and uncertainty. Somehow the German teams made it to
Yugoslavia, a three day trip from Germany over Vienna and Budapest to Belgrade. Mercedes-Benz arrived with only two cars and a large tanker truck filled with fuel. Team manager Alfred Neubauer was accompanied by Hermann Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Walter Bдumer as reserve. According to Neubauer, Rudolf Caracciola did not race because his leg had become worse again. Rudi also planned to drive only at the most important grand prix races in the future. Auto Union had H.P. Mьller, Tazio Nuvolari, Hans Stuck and Ulrich Bigalke as reserve driver. Why they needed four drivers for two cars had probably something to do with the uncertainty of these times. The only local entry came from Bosko Milenkovic with a 2.3-liter Bugatti T51, at least four years old. It had not been an easy decision for the Mercedes-Benz team to travel to Belgrade in times like these. Probably for the same reason, the expected Alfa Romeos and Maseratis did not show up.
The first practice session on Thursday, August 31, was from four to six in the afternoon. Because of the political uncertainty, the atmosphere in
Belgrade was very tense. Lang drove car W154-8 and did 19 laps, the fastest in 1m16.2s. Brauchitsch's best time with car W154-16 was 1m17.3s after 17 laps. Both cars were equipped with the altered fuel supply system introduced at the Swiss Grand Prix, to eliminate plug and piston ring problems they were plagued with in France and Germany. Only one Auto Union practiced, driven by Mьller. His fastest out of 16 laps was 1m18.3s with car 76011. Wild rumors about German troops at the Polish border and a possible war persisted all evening.
The following morning, the fears turned to reality. The
Belgrade newspapers sold special editions: " Germany at war with Poland." In all this excitement, a lot of foreign visitors left the hotels for their home destinations. The German teams were now undecided whether to race or immediately drive back to Germany. The organizers asked them to stay. Declining to start would have been a great financial loss for the promoter. The two hour practice started again at 4 PM. Lang improved his time to 1m15.4s after 10 laps, whereas von Brauchisch's best was 1m18.4s out of 10 laps. Mьller practiced again with car 76011, the fastest time of 1m18.2s. He pitted after 13 laps because oil and water temperatures were at 105 °C instead the 95 desired. Air and ground temperatures were 30 and 40 degrees respectively. Mьller did another seven laps without the front hood, resulting in a faster time of 1m17.2s. However, the temperatures remained the same. Since Nuvolari had not yet shown up, reserve driver Bigalke took out the second car, 76010, his best time was 1m37.0s. After five laps, he returned to the pits with fuel feed problems. Since a quick check revealed nothing, Mьller drove the car for nine laps, his fastest at 1m16.8s. The German preferred car 76010, with the stronger roller-bearing engine revving at 7200 rpm. It had been destined for Nuvolari, but since the Italian's arrival was still uncertain, the car was now assigned to Mьller. Later, after changing the final drive ratio on his five-speed transaxle, Mьller was able to use third gear only, for the entire circuit.
Saturday morning, Nuvolari and Stuck finally arrived in the capital with the same train. Since Auto Union had only two cars, the faster practice time was to decide between Stuck and Mьller to start next to Nuvolari. After some discussion, Stuck was asked to abstain from practice and the race. The reasoning was, that Mьller, with 45 laps already well familiarized with the circuit, would try anything to outdo Stuck's time. Stuck on the other hand, would have requested an equal amount of laps to approach Mьller's best time. Therefore, the engine would already have been stressed with higher rpm's during practice and this was not acceptable.
At 12:00 noon, the promoters had allowed a special practice session for Nuvolari. At the end of ten laps, his best time with car 76011 was 1m20.2s. After another six laps he was down to 1m17.2s. At the official training between 4:00 and 6:00 PM, lap times tumbled further. Both Mercedes-Benz cars were fastest again. Manfred von Brauchitsch (Note 2) did 1m14.2s and Lang could only improve to 1m15.0s. He promptly wanted to go out again to beat von Brauchitsch's time, but Neubauer objected, since Lang already occupied the front row. Within another six laps, Nuvolari bettered his time to 1m16.3s. His car had the weaker plain bearing engine, revving only at 6800 rpm. He then took his Auto Union out again for two five lap stints, to scrub in two sets of tires. Mьller got stranded with fuel feed problems, after having done six laps. Practice was interrupted to tow the Auto Union back to the pits. After the faulty carburetor was repaired, Mьller did another seven laps and lowered his time to 1m15.2s.
The 50,000 spectators, aware that
Germany had attacked Poland two days ago, knew since this Sunday morning, that Great Britain and France in support of Poland, were at war with Germany. The helpless German teams felt not inclined to race. After all, Alfred Neubauer returned from the German embassy with the news that they were going to race. In spite of all this, three races for motorcycles and four for sports cars were run since the morning, with the grand prix car battle crowning the day's events in the late afternoon. The cars lined up as follow
Auto Union Bugatti
At 4:45 PM, the race was on. Lang wanted to do a really quick start but had rear-wheel shatter, enabling von Brauchitsch to shoot into the lead. A furious Lang, who was keen to win what would surely would be the last race for a considerable time, tried to pass, only to be pushed onto the pavement. For the first six laps the order remained the same: von Brauchitsch, Lang, Nuvolari, Mьller, and Milenkovic. Von Brauchitsch was driving very wild, with Lang glued to his tail, looking for a chance to pass. Neubauer waved his house-flag, but Manfred maintained his wild style. On lap seven, Brauchitsch had taken one of the corners too fast, his car slid to the edge of the road and on acceleration, threw up dirt and stones. One stone shattered the wind-screen of Lang's Mercedes and both glasses of his goggles. Lang, momentarily blinded by the impact, ran off the road but recovered. He pulled into the pits with a bleeding eye. Dr. Glдser, the German team doctor, pulled the glass splinters out of both eyes. Bдumer, in the meantime, was ordered into Lang's car, which had fallen back two laps. He pulled out of the pits just before the leading Mercedes came by and hindered an angry Brauchitsch.
Still driving spectacular and needlessly going ever faster, von Brauchitsch led Mьller, who had gone by Nuvolari, followed by Bдumer, now three laps back. On lap 15, von Brauchitsch established a new lap record of 1m14.0s. He was 13.8 seconds ahead of Mьller who had Nuvolari glued to his tail. On lap 16, Brauchitsch had taken a right-hand uphill turn too fast, spinning his car around in front of the French embassy and stalling the engine in the process. The car faced the wrong way and he was able to re-start by letting his car roll downhill in the wrong direction. This was a rules violation, a maneuver not noticed by any of the officials. The moment Brauchitsch turned his car around the Auto Union tandem arrived in hot pursuit. As Mьller passed Brauchitsch tried to return to the race straight in front of Nuvolari, who, only by performing an exceptional run-around maneuver, avoided a collision with the Mercedes.
Mьller was now the new leader from lap 16 to 29, five seconds ahead of Nuvolari and eight ahead of Brauchitsch. Trying desperately to catch up with the Auto Unions, Brauchitsch spun again, and Bдumer in Lang's car went by. When Manfred caught up again with the other Mercedes, he tried to pass. Since Bдumer did not immediately moved over, Brauchitsch pressured him so much that the reserve driver went into the straw bales. On lap 22, Mьller equaled Brauchitsch's lap record of 1m14.0s.
On lap 30, Mьller had a large portion of the left rear tire breaker fly away and lost time to get back to the pits. Milenkovic had to make a lengthy pitstop because of overheating. His mechanic didn't manage to unscrew the radiator cap, so he had to do it by himself, losing additional time. Nuvolari was now the leader, five seconds ahead of von Brauchitsch. With no obstructions ahead, Nuvolari equaled the lap record set by Brauchitsch, who had to stop on lap 36 with totally destroyed rear tires. Nuvolari's advantage increased therefore to 50 seconds, until he also had to stop for new tires on lap 39. After refueling and changing tires in only 26 seconds, the mechanics push-started the Auto Union instead of using a portable starter. This was an obvious rule violation and Mercedes-Benz team manager, Neubauer, wanted to protest. But Wilhelm Sebastian from Auto Union, pointed to von Brauchitsch's illegal maneuver before. Nuvolari kept his lead, always eight to six seconds ahead of the Mercedes.
After just 64 minutes it was all over, with Nuvolari 7.6 seconds clear of von Brauchitsch and 30.6 seconds ahead of Mьller. Milenkovic, driving 19 laps behind, was flagged off. The Prince Regent, Paul, presented Nuvolari with the cup of King Peter II. It was to be Auto Union's last grand prix victory and also the last grand prix of 1939 for the 3-liter supercharged formula, which carried on until after the war in 1946. The Belgrade City Park Race had concluded the era of The Golden Thirties.
Neubauer organized a caravan of all the German trucks. Off they went trying to reach the German border. With rumours that all fuel would be confiscated in
Hungary the caravan instead chose to take some dirty country roads through Slavonia, Croatia and the mountains of Slovenia into Austria. To see through the dust the trucks had to leave a one mile gap between each other. Finally reaching the factory gates the trucks were confiscated by the German army. The great GP teams were no more.
Auto Union AG
Manfred von Brauchitsch
Auto Union AG
H. Lang / W. Bдumer
crash by Bдumer
Fastest lap: Mьller & Nuvolari (Auto Union) and v. Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz) all in 1m14.0s = 135.9 km/h (84.5 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 130.8 km/h (81.3 mph)
Pole position speed: 135.6 km/h (84.2 mph)
Weather: warm, sunny.
1. Contemporary magazines like Motor und Sport as well as books by Herzog, Kirchberg, Tragatsch and others refer to this race as the Belgrade City Park Race or Belgrade Grand Prix. Therefore, this event will not be adopted here as the Yugoslavian Grand Prix, as it is referred to in many publications after WW II.
2. According to Mercedes-Benz team manager, Alfred Neubauer, Brauchitsch attempted to quit and fly to
Switzerland on Saturday morning. Only quick-witted action by Neubauer prevented this from happening, when he pulled the escapee off the plane.
3. Several sources place Milenkowitsch to the left on the grid. However, film evidence shows Milenkowitsch to the right on the grid at the start.