The Automobile Grand Prix of Algeria: (1928 - 1937)

During the French colonial period which lasted from 1830 to 1962, Algeria organized 8 Grand Prix Automobile (6 in Algiers and 2 in Oran) and 1 Grand Prix Automobile Sport, from 1928 to 1937.



The Algiers Grand Prix: Circuit de Staouéli (1928, 1929, 1930, 1937)

The first GP of Algeria took place on the Staouéli circuit located about twenty kilometers west of the capital Algiers. The urban type circuit laid out for the occasions is 7.2km long and the races included 50 laps for a distance to be covered of 360km.



- G.P.Sport of Algiers 1928


On the sidelines of the 1st G.P.A. of Algeria, is organized a G.P.A. of Algeria Sport which opposed Sport cars under the same conditions as the 1st G.P.A. from Algeria, the race happened the day before the G.P.A.



Also, on the same day of the G.P.A. Sport is organized the Motorcycle G.P.



- 1st G.P of Algiers 1928


In front of more than 20,000 spectators and notables, the 11 cars selected, mainly Bugatti and Amilcar, took the start at 1:25 p.m. in the Algerian Grand Prix over 50 laps of the Staouéli circuit. The cars were placed in front of the grandstand in order of cubic capacity. The engines were started and the drivers behind the wheel waited for the starting signal. More than 1,000 horses were spinning, eager to begin their race. The moment was really impressive according to those present.

Local hero Lehoux led the race in his Bugatti from start to lap seven, completing the first lap in 3m42s at an average of 116,900km/h. On the third lap, heavy rain fell and the slippery circuit caused Masse (Salmson) and Bucciali (Buc) to crash. When Lehoux stopped on lap seven, Meyer (Bugatti) took the lead. The three Amilcars of Jaquin, Cloître and Dupont battled throughout the race. Meyer retired on lap 37, when Lehoux regained the lead. After 50 laps, Lehoux finished several laps ahead of Cloître and took a lap of honor, Dupont and Jacquin. The Bugatti Drouet and Mrs. Peltzer drivers gave up as well as Clairac (Derby) and Seyfried (Salmson).


- 2nd G.P of Algiers 1929



The 1929 edition took place in slightly rainy weather, but with a larger audience than the first edition with 50,000 spectators. Out of 12 cars entered, nine showed up at the start of the Algerian Grand Prix over 50 laps on the Staouéli circuit. Local hero and former winner Lehoux led the race in his Bugatti from start to finish. Miquel crashed his Bugatti early on, while Avon retired his BNC after nine laps. Dupont (Amilcar) held second place until his car broke down on lap 18, when Eberhardt (Bugatti) inherited second place until his engine failed a few laps before the end. Jaquin (Amilcar), Bouville (Bugatti) and Cloître (Amilcar) took third place on several occasions. In the end, Lehoux finished several laps ahead of Cloître, Jacquin and the last classified Desvaux in the slowest of the Amilcars.



- 3rd G.P of Algiers 1930



A race with a Formula Handicap and Formula Libre.

Winner Philippe Étancelin on Bugatti Type 59.



- 5th G.P of Algiers 1937


Back to the Staouéli circuit (read the previous Algerian G.P. below) for this ultimate Algerian G.P. The much shorter course for a sports car race.

Wimille won his third consecutive victory in Algeria. He rode his Bugatti T59 to victory in moto one and finished second to René Carrière's Delahaye 135CS in moto two.



The Oranie Grand Prix: Circuit ARCOLE (1930, 1932)


Just a few weeks before the G.P. of Algeria the layout of this was drawn, a rivalry between Algiers and Oran is felt for this new G.P. which will do for the French under the “centenary of French Algeria”.

A long circuit of 9,046km and 35 laps has been completed for a total distance of 316.6km with a layout with straight lines favoring speed with good asphalt except for a part which will put the shock absorbers to the test.



- 1st G.P of Oranie 1930



Thus, for this anniversary, it is useless to talk about the publicity made around this event unlike the previous ones, it is therefore in a particular atmosphere that this GP will take place.

The Oran Grand Prix was contested in three classes, with the two largest classes being made up entirely of Bugattis. The first part of the race was dominated by Lehoux, Etancelin and Zehender, but one by one the favorites gave up and halfway through the race the top three positions were held by the Amilcar cycle cars with Dupont in head of the race. The withdrawals continued and finally there were only 7 competitors left out of 19 starters. One lap from the finish, Dupont had to make a pit stop because of a puncture and Maleplane (Bugatti) who had fallen back at the start of the race became the surprise winner followed by Dupont and Doré in a 1.5 liter Bugatti. .



Thus, for this anniversary, it is useless to talk about the publicity made around this event unlike the previous ones, it is therefore in a particular atmosphere that this GP will take place.

The Oran Grand Prix was contested in three classes, with the two largest classes being made up entirely of Bugattis. The first part of the race was dominated by Lehoux, Etancelin and Zehender, but one by one the favorites gave up and halfway through the race the top three positions were held by the Amil cycle cars. The race included a sports car race on Saturday April 26 and a Grand Prix race on Sunday April 27. A circuit was chosen near the town of Arcole (Bir-El-Djir) to the east of Oran. The approximately 9 kilometer long circuit was made up of four sections of road together forming an irregular rectangle. Of the roads, according to the Auto, one was excellent, two were passable while the last one was frankly very bad and presented a challenge for the chassis and suspension. The sports car race lasted 30 laps, the Grand Prix 35 laps for a total of approximately 316.6 km.

Besides the overall victory, the competitors were also battling for one of three class wins. Classes were 1100cc, 1101-1500cc and over 1500cc. The prizes for the whole race were 50,000, 30,000, 15,000, 10,000, 8,000, 5,000 and 3,000 Fr. for the first seven places.

For the centenary of Bugatti, release of the special series limited to 4 copies, it is the centenary model 16.4 composed; 1 per racer color. because with Dupont leading the race. The withdrawals continued and finally there were only 7 competitors left out of 19 starters. One lap from the finish, Dupont had to make a pit stop because of a puncture and Maleplane (Bugatti) who had fallen back at the start of the race became the surprise winner followed by Dupont and Doré in a 1.5 liter Bugatti. .


Lehoux takes the lead of the race while Czaykowski and Joly miss the start and move away a few seconds from the others. Lehoux did the first lap in 4m22s to lead the race followed by Etancelin, Zehender and de l'Espée. De l'Espée was however quickly taken out of the race with a broken engine, as was Joly with a magneto problem. On the next lap, both Gaupillat and Count Czaykowski had to retire with broken pistons.

De Maleplane joined the fight for the lead with Lehoux, Etancelin and Zehender and for the first four laps there was no change in order between the four Bugatti drivers. Etancelin took the lead from Lehoux on lap five, but on the following lap Lehoux came back into the lead. Fifth in the race, Dupont in his Amilcar.

On lap 12 a tire burst on Etancelin's Bugatti and the car overturned at the St Jean Baptiste bend. Fortunately, Etancelin survived the crash with only minor back pain.

Lehoux takes the lead of the race while Czaykowski and Joly miss the start and move away a few seconds from the others. Lehoux did the first lap in 4m22s to lead the race followed by Etancelin, Zehender and de l'Espée. De l'Espée was however quickly taken out of the race with a broken engine, as was Joly with a magneto problem. On the next lap, both Gaupillat and Count Czaykowski had to retire with broken pistons.

De Maleplane joined the fight for the lead with Lehoux, Etancelin and Zehender and for the first four laps there was no change in order between the four Bugatti drivers. Etancelin took the lead from Lehoux on lap five, but on the following lap Lehoux came back into the lead. Fifth in the race, Dupont in his Amilcar.

On lap 12 a tire burst on Etancelin's Bugatti and the car overturned at the St Jean Baptiste bend. Fortunately, Etancelin survived the crash with only minor back pain.

Lehoux takes the lead of the race while Czaykowski and Joly miss the start and move away a few seconds from the others. Lehoux did the first lap in 4m22s to lead the race followed by Etancelin, Zehender and de l'Espée. De l'Espée was however quickly taken out of the race with a broken engine, as was Joly with a magneto problem. On the next lap, both Gaupillat and Count Czaykowski had to retire with broken pistons.

De Maleplane joined the fight for the lead with Lehoux, Etancelin and Zehender and for the first four laps there was no change in order between the four Bugatti driv approached during the last part of the race and Dupont had to stop to refuel, it seemed certain that the Amilcar driver would win the race in sensational fashion. But on the 34th lap Dupont returned to the pits with a flat tire and during the tire change Maleplane overtook him to take the lead one lap from the finish. It was therefore Maleplane who emerged victorious while a disappointed Dupont who took the flag 1m26s later had to settle for the class victory and 2nd position overall. Michel Doré's Bugatti is third, already overtaken by the leader. The race continued for the remaining cars to complete the full distance. Fourth-placed Lelio Pellegrini's Amilcar completed lap 35 more than 30 minutes later with Jean d'Hiercourt not far behind. Mrs. Anne Itier is sixth and the last to arrive, Bychawski on Bugatti, completes his 35th lap more than an hour after Maleplane.ers. Etancelin took the lead from Lehoux on lap five, but on the following lap Lehoux came back into the lead. Fifth in the race, Dupont in his Amilcar.

On lap 12 a tire burst on Etancelin's Bugatti and the car overturned at the St Jean Baptiste bend. Fortunately, Etancelin survived the crash with only minor back pain.



- 2nd G.P of Oranie 1932


In 1932, the second Grand Prix d'Oran took place on April 24, the same day as the Grand Prix de Rome at Littorio.

The event included a rally with 53 competitors, a 1:15 race for motorcycles and a 2-hour touring car race with 20 competitors on Saturday, and a 3-hour Grand Prix for racing cars with three classes, 1 ,1 liter, 1.5 liter and unlimited, racing together. on Sunday.


Newcomer Moll (Bugatti) quickly takes the lead but then pulls back to retire and Wimille (Bugatti) takes command of the race followed by Gaupillat (Bugatti). There were several withdrawals including two accidents where Mrs. Mareuse and Delorme were slightly injured. When Gaupillat also retired, Wimille dominated the rest of the race to win ahead of Zehender (Alfa Romeo). Falchetto (Bugatti), who started the race 22 minutes late, was the fastest on the track advancing through the field to finish sixth.



The Algiers Grand Prix: Circuit de Bouzaréa (1934, 1936)


The next Grand Prix of Algeria did not take place until 1934. A new circuit, used only once, was laid out on the roads of Bouzaréah, north of Algiers. The extremely demanding course has been dubbed a miniature Targa Florio with a multitude of ups and downs and tight, twisty turns. The road was also very narrow, which made overtaking difficult.



A G.P. which is achieved in 2 rounds of 15 laps x 8.1 km = 121.5 km



- 4th G.P d'Alger 1934

An end-of-season event organized alongside the European winter. The race was held over two 15-lap heats with the heat results added for the final standings. Note the presence of a pilot, Hellé Nice.

The first round was won by Wimille (Bugatti) followed by Brivio (Alfa Romeo) and Straight (Maserati). Chiron (Alfa Romeo) had to pit while leading and finished fourth while local hero Lehoux (Maserati) went wide and crashed. Brivio entrusted his Alfa to Chiron for the second race. Chiron held the lead until he had to slow down with a broken shock. Straight, who was second for most of the heat, had to retire on the very last lap with a broken gearbox. So the second round was won by Wimille ahead of Chiron and Soffietti and that was also the overall result.

After the race, some drivers went to the Maison-Carée cemetery in Algiers to visit Guy Moll's grave.



- 4th G.P de Bouzaréa 1936



This Grand Prix will not be counted among the official G.P., it will be renamed Targa Bouzaréa, whatever the case, big names in motor sports participated in it as for the other G.P.



Conclusion


As you may have noticed, all editions of the official Algerian G.P. were won by Bugatti cars, and the G.P. stopped in 1937 due to WW2, however, after World War II, car racing sports would make sporadic returns to Algeria. Pierre Boncompagni would win a three-hour race in 1953 at Staouéli in a Ferrari 340 MM. 1955 saw Louis Rosier take a Ferrari 750 Monza to win a Grand Prix de Bougie held at Bougie to the east of Algiers. Fernand Tavano won in 1959 in a Ferrari 500 TRC again at Staouéli, but that is another story that we will tell you about in future publications.