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1908 Grand Prix season

Sports season

Top 10 1908 Grand Prix season related articles

1908 Grand Prix season
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The 1908 Grand Prix season was the third Grand Prix racing season. An international economic recession affected motor-racing with fewer races and smaller fields. However, in consequence, it also saw an increase in the number of smaller cars and voiturette racing. This gave close racing between the teams from Lion-Peugeot, Sizaire-Naudin and Delage. Both the major races in Europe, the Targa Florio and French Grand Prix, had precursor voiturette races, and along with the Coupe des Voiturettes, the honours were shared between those three manufacturers. This year’s Targa Florio had a small, but quality, field. Vincenzo Trucco won for Isotta-Fraschini with better mechanical reliability, after a close duel with the FIATs of Felice Nazzaro and Vincenzo Lancia.

The French Grand Prix had a big field and this time Christian Lautenschlager in a Mercedes again denied the French a victory in their own race. Felice Nazzaro won the Coppa Florio for FIAT

Jean Porporato at the 1908 Targa Florio
George Robertson winning the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup

1908 Grand Prix season Intro articles: 5

Major Races

Sources: [1][2][3]

Date Name Circuit Race
Winning driver Winning
26 Jan I Corsa Vetturette Torino Turin Voiturette 180 km 4h 01m Giosue Giuppone Lion-Peugeot Report
10 May II Corsa Vetturette Madonie Madonie Voiturette 300 km 6h 31m Giosue Giuppone Lion-Peugeot Report
18 May III Targa Florio Madonie Targa Florio 445 km 7h 49m Vincenzo Trucco Isotta Fraschini Report
28 May I Copa Catalunya Sitges Voiturette 250 km 4h 23m Giosue Giuppone Lion-Peugeot Report
6 July I Grand Prix des Voiturettes Dieppe Voiturette 770 km 5h 45m Albert Guyot Delage Report
7 July XI French Grand Prix Dieppe AIACR 770 km 6h 46m Christian Lautenschlager Mercedes Report
15 Aug I Coupe de Normandie Caen Voiturette 350 km 2h 49m Marius Barriaux Alcyon Report
6 September IV Coppa Florio Bologna 530 km 4h 25m Felice Nazzaro FIAT Report
7 September I Targa Bologna Bologna 420 km 4h 01m Jean Porporato Berliet Report
27 Sep III Coupe des Voiturettes Compiègne Voiturette 400 km 5h 14m Louis Naudin Sizaire-Naudin Report
24 October IV Vanderbilt Cup Long Island Motor Parkway AAA 260 miles 4h 01m George Robertson Locomobile Report
26 November I American Grand Prize Savannah AIACR 400 miles 6h 11m Louis Wagner FIAT Report

1908 Grand Prix season Major Races articles: 29

Racing regulations

At the end of 1907, at a meeting in Ostend, the AIACR (forerunner of the FIA) had set down new regulations for motor-racing. In barely 10 years, top speeds had dramatically increased fourfold. More power had usually come from bigger and bigger engines – now approaching 20 litres, on chassis getting dangerously light and flimsy. So, the AIACR derived an international racing formula based on a maximum cylinder bore-length: 155mm for 4-cylinder engines and 127mm for 6-cylinders. A minimum weight of 1100kg (not including tyres, tools and liquids) was also applied to enforce structural integrity. They also opened the voiturette class up to 4-cylinder engines to further encourage development of smaller cars.[4][5] For the voiturettes, the corresponding bore-length limitations were 65mm (4-cyl), 80mm (2-cyl) and 100mm (1-cyl) respectively.[6]

1908 Grand Prix season Racing regulations articles: 2

Season review

The Targa Florio opened the season with a small field of 9 entrants. In a close race across the rough Sicilian roads, the FIATs of Nazzaro and Lancia led initially, but when they had to stop at the pits it was Vincenzo Trucco close behind who took the lead. He held it to the finish to give Isotta-Fraschini its first major victory.[4][7]

The French Grand Prix was once again held on the 77km circuit on the northern French coast at Dieppe. Although this was only the third annual Grand Prix, the organising body, the ACF, numbered it the 11th French Grand Prix – by retroactively including the earlier inter-city races to add more faux-prestige.[8] The track was well-provided for. Teams had service places built in a divided trench, from whence, subsequently, came the term “pits”.[9] A big field of 48 cars arrived, of which half were French manufacturers. Challenging the established Renault, Richard-Brasier, Clément-Bayard and Mors were FIAT and Itala from Italy, and Benz, Mercedes and Opel from Germany. Otto Salzer, in his Mercedes, led the first lap. Then as he fell back with engine issues it was Nazzaro and Wagner (FIATs), Lautenschlager (Mercedes) and Hémery (Benz) who diced for the lead. The French cars dropped out with mechanical problems, as did the FIATs. Hémery was caught by a stone thrown up that smashed his goggles and put glass splinters in his eye. Despite the injury, he pressed on, closing in on the Mercedes. Even though Lautenschlager had to ease off to save his tyres he took the victory from Hémery, with René Hanriot third in another Benz. The partisan French crowd was left very disgruntled.[10][5][7]

The day before, a huge field of 64 mostly French cars had entered for the inaugural Grand Prix des Voiturettes. Albert Guyot had enough fuel in his Delage to run the near 6-hour race without stopping. So when the leading pair of Sizaire-Naudins had to pit he could carry on to a comfortable 16-minute victory. Naudin was second followed by the Lion-Peugeots of Jules Goux and Georges Boillot.[4][11] Later in the year, at the "Coupe des Voiturettes" run at Compiègne, the Sizaire-Naudins had bigger fuel-tanks so now they could also run non-stop. Naudin won ahead of his co-owner Sizaire, with Goux coming third.[11][6]

Following its sponsorship of the great race from Peking to Paris in 1907, this year French newspaper Le Matin organised an even longer one from New York to Paris – travelling across the United States to Alaska before getting a boat to Japan, and Vladivostok. Six cars started in Times Square on February 12th. After much controversy, the American team in a Thomas Flyer was declared the winner.[12]

In the United States, there had been a schism between the AAA (Automobile Association of America) and the ACA (Automobile Club of America). The former ran the Vanderbilt Cup races, but these had been plagued by poor crowd control, and the 1907 race had been cancelled accordingly. It was reinstated in 1908 to the AAA’s own rules. This upset the European teams, who boycotted the race, and so the ACA took the opportunity to launch their own race: the American Grand Prize run to the AIACR regulations and held on Thanksgiving Day, a month after the Vanderbilt Cup.[4]

American Grand Prize trophy

The race was held on a 25-mile course outside of Savannah, Georgia. The roads were in good condition and on race-day were lined with armed police and soldiers to maintain crowd control. The twenty entrants included the best European drivers. FIAT had Nazzaro and Wagner, with a third car for Italian-American Ralph DePalma. Hémery and Hanriot were sent by Benz, as was Ferenc Szisz (Renault), Arthur Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich) and Alessandro Cagno (Itala). DePalma thrilled the local crowd by taking the initial lead. The French and American cars lost ground leaving it to be a contest between FIAT and Benz. Hémery crossed the line first but it was Wagner who won by a minute on corrected time.[10][13]

After the American Grand Prize, Henry Ford (on the ACA committee) declared that American manufacturers could not compete with European cars unless they also started building specialist racing cars. However, he could not do so himself, as he had just started tooling up for mass-production of the Model T.[10]

Although French cars dominated voiturette racing, they did not win a single race in the larger grade this year. With the economic downturn and seeing the writing on the wall, Renault had decided to quit motor-racing. At the end of the year, a dozen other French and German manufacturers followed, in a letter pledging to abstain from motor-racing for the next three years because of the rising costs. It was enforced with a FFr100,000 bond on each, forfeited for those that broke the agreement.[14] So, at the start of 1909, with only nine entrants the ACF was forced to cancel the Grand Prix.[10][13][15]

  1. ^ "Golden Era of Grand Prix Racing". Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  2. ^ "GEL Motorsport Information Page". Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  3. ^ Monkhouse 1953, p.232-79
  4. ^ a b c d Rendall 1993, p.54-5
  5. ^ a b Rendall 1991, p.65
  6. ^ a b Venables 2009, p.28
  7. ^ a b Cimarosti 1997, p.31
  8. ^ Monkhouse 1953, p.2
  9. ^ Georgano 1971, p.87
  10. ^ a b c d Rendall 1993, p.56-7
  11. ^ a b Rendall 1991, p.69
  12. ^ Cimarosti 1997, p.32
  13. ^ a b Rendall 1991, p.67
  14. ^ Ludwigsen 2009, p.32
  15. ^ Venables 2009, p.26

1908 Grand Prix season Season review articles: 24


  • Cimarosti, Adriano (1997) The Complete History of Grand Prix Motor Racing London: Aurum Press Ltd ISBN 1-85410-500-0
  • Georgano, Nick (1971) The Encyclopaedia of Motor Sport London: Ebury Press Ltd ISBN 0-7181-0955-4
  • Higham, Peter (1995) The Guinness Guide to International Motor Racing London: Guinness Publishing ISBN 0-85112-642-1
  • Legate, Trevor (2006) 100 years of Grand Prix Kent: Touchstone Books Ltd ISBN 0-9551-0201-4
  • Ludwigsen, Karl (2008) Racing Colours - Italian Racing Red Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing Ltd ISBN 0-7110-3331-5
  • Ludwigsen, Karl (2009) Racing Colours - German Racing Silver Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing Ltd ISBN 0-7110-3368-4
  • Monkhouse, George (1953) Grand Prix Racing Facts and Figures London: G.T. Foulis & Co Ltd
  • Rendall, Ivan (1991) The Power and The Glory – A Century of Motor Racing London: BBC Books ISBN 0-563-36093-3
  • Rendall, Ivan (1993) The Chequered Flag – 100 years of Motor Racing London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd ISBN 0-297-83220-4
  • Venables, David (2009) Racing Colours - French Racing Blue Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing Ltd ISBN 978-0-7110-3369-6

External links