Wednesday 30 March 2011

Ettore Bugatti - Le Patron

Ettore Bugatti, often referred to by staff as “Le Patron”, was born in Milan, Italy in 1881.

He apprenticed at a bicycle factory, where he designed his first motorized vehicle. Subsequently, he worked as an automobile designer for the Dietrich and then the Deutz car companies.

Blue Bugattis at Eau Rouge - 1934 Belgian Grand Prix
 Pen&ink, markers, Prismacolor white pencil and pencil on archival white stock 11.75”x 9”
© Paul Chenard 2010
Limited editions available.

In 1910, he started on his own in Molsheim, France, where he designed the Type 19 for Peugeot, called the “Bébé.”

At the same time, Bugatti was successfully racing a Type 13 “Brescia,” built for competition. This little racer carried the famous “horseshoe” radiator that became an earmark of Bugatti quality.

From the early 1920s to the early 1930s, he developed ever more refined and successful racers, such as Types 18, 35, 35B, 35C, 35T, 37, 37A, 39, 51, 54,and 59, as well as road cars, such as Types 40, 41, 50, 55, and 57.

There is a legend that the shades of blue of the Bugatti racecars were based on blue of the 1930’s Gauloise cigarette packages. Madame Bugatti would pull out her Gauloise package and compare it to the colour being used and have it “adjusted” to match the package.

Bugatti’s son Jean was a dynamic catalyst for change and development within the company. With his death in 1939 in a testing accident, and the ruin of the Molsheim factory during the Second World War, the company fortunes started to diminish.

Philippe "Phi-Phi" Etancelin on his way to winning the 1930 French Grand Prix in Pau, driving his 2-litre supercharged Bugatti Type 35C.
 My first scratchboard illustration 7"x 5" (17.8cm x 12.7cm)
© Paul Chenard 2010

This illustration is available.

Ettore Bugatti passed away in Paris in 1947 at the age of 65.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Alfred Neubauer

Born on March 29 1901, Alfred Neubauer fell in love with the automobile as a young boy.

After WWI, he became a racecar driver for Astro-Daimler. He then moved with Ferdinand Porsche to Mercedes, where he would find his life-long professional home. By 1926, it was apparent that Neubauer was a much better manager than driver. He was soon recruiting quality drivers such Rudolf Caracciola to the team.

While manager of the race team, he brought into play various ways to communicate to the drivers during the races, such as hand signals and pit-boards, presenting them with useful information like race position, laps remaining, when to pit for fuel, etc. These communications methods have been adopted for races worldwide.

As a large man with a booming voice, Neubauer commanded attention and respect from his team and the officials. He was strict but fair on the track, and incredibly entertaining as a dinner host.
He led his team to great success before and after WWII, with Mercedes winning the Mille Miglia (1931, 1955), the Targa Florio (1955), six European and Grand Prix Championships (1935, 1937, 1938, 1954, 1955), along with wins at Le Mans (1952) and La Carrera Panamericana (1952).

Neubauer retired as race team manager in 1955, and passed away in 1980.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Grand Prix de France 1934

The French Grand Prix in Montlhéry, just south of Paris, signaled the return of Rudolf Caracciola with the Mercedes Team, having spent the last fourteen months recovering from a serious accident.

Auto Union was present, along with the Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos and a couple of Maseratis. Tazio Nuvolari was invited to try the Bugatti Type 59 by Ettore Bugatti.

At race start, Louis Chiron driving for Scuderia Ferrari quickly took the lead from Caracciola, Luigi Fagioli (Mercedes) and Hans Stuck (Auto Union). Stuck than pushed hard past the Mercedes drivers to take the lead from Chiron.

Nuvolari experienced gearbox trouble in the Bugatti so he handed it off to Jean-Pierre Wimille. Fagioli was instructed to push harder to catch the lead cars.

The high pace of the race started taking it’s toll on the new German cars, and one by one they dropped out, Caracciola with fuel-feed problems, Fagioli with a broken brake-line, von Brauchitsch with supercharger woes, the persistent Stuck with engine problems, and Momberger with a steering break.

The other teams also dropped out, Bugatti with mostly engine and transmission issues, and Maserati with axle and engine breaks.

Trossi, Chiron and Varzi, race-ready for Scuderia Ferrari
Pen&ink, markers and pencil on white archival stock 12”x 9” (30.5cm x 22.9cm) © Paul Chenard 2010
Original sketch available, as is the limited edition.

This led to a clean sweep for the Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos with Chiron first, Varzi second and the Trossi/Moll duo third.

The 80,000 spectators were thrilled with Chiron’s win over the Germans teams. This win hid the fact that all the German cars, though still being very new, fell out of the race for fairly minor reasons, and that with better preparation, they would have clearly matched the opposition.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Circuito Di Modena Grand Prix 1934

At the beginning of the season, Tazio Nuvolari was recovering from a crash in Alessandria. Once he was back in form, Ettore Bugatti offered him the Type 59, which Nuvolari disliked (poor brakes and acceleration). He chose instead to take his skills to the Maserati team, driving their somewhat under-classed 8CM.

This car did not do well for him, finishing very few races he started.

For the Italian Grand Prix, Nuvolari debuted a promising new model, the 6C-34. It ran a 3.7 litre supercharged straight-six cylinder engine giving it 270 bhp, good for 155 mph (250 kph).

Unfortunately for Nuvolari, the mechanics forgot to refill the break-reservoir so that he raced without his breaks, yet he still finished 5

For most of the remainder of the season, the Maserati team worked very hard to find reliability in the new car, with little success.
Pen&ink, markers and pencil on white archival stock
© Paul Chenard 2011

The true potential of the 6C-34 came to the front at the Modena Grand Prix. Nuvolari came against the full might of the Scuderia Ferrari team, passing each one to finally take the lead from Varzi, and merrily thumbing his nose at Ferrari as he won.

Nuvolari would follow this up with another win at the Circuito di Napoli race. This was the last official race of European racing season.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Artist Nicolas Cancelier

In the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet all kinds of people with the same passion for art and motor sports history as I have.

One of these is Belgian artist Nicolas Cancelier. 

His artwork is absolutely stunning, and it ranges from simple pencils sketches to mixed media, acrylic, watercolour, and oils.

The energy and life he brings to his subjects is masterful, whatever medium he chooses.

In the past year, we’ve become very good friends, and we’ve decided to share vendor space at the very prestigious Goodwood Revival in September. I hope that if you are there, that you’ll drop in and see us.

You can see Nicolas’ work on his website and his blog. Very much worth a look!