(LAT)

What a magic Pau Grand Prix vista on April 5, 1964.

Jim Clark’s one-litre Formula 2 Lotus 32 Cosworth SCA leads Peter Arundell’s F3 Lotus 27 Ford Cosworth MAE during the 80 lap, 220km race held around the streets of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques city in France’s southwest.

The yellow nose car in third is Richard Attwood’s Lola T54 SCA. Clark won from Attwood and Arundell in a stellar field which included Paul Hawkins, Tony Maggs, Frank Gardner, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Maurice Trintignant and Denny Hulme.

Jim Clark right up Paul Hawkins’ clacker during the 1964 GP. Hawkeye was seventh aboard John Willment’s F3 Alexis Mk4 Ford Cosworth MAE. There were nine or ten Ford Cosworth MAE, and Renault Gordini engined F3 cars in the F2 race, doubtless to keep numbers up in the first year of the new 1-litre F3 and F2 (LAT)
Dickie Attwood during the ’64 F2 race, Midland Racing Partnership Lola T54 Cosworth SCA. Past Saint Martin Church perhaps, help please Frenchies? (LAT)

It amused me, flicking through some Pau GP photographs that numbers two and four also loomed large the year before, in 1963, when the F1 Lotus 25 Climax V8s of Clark and #4 Trevor Taylor (below) finished one-two from Heinz Schiller’s Porsche 718.

(LAT)

The 1930 French Grand Prix was held on a triangular 15.8km road circuit at Pau. It was won by Philippe Etancelin’s Bugatti T35C, this toe-in-the-water for the town led to the Pau GP’s inauguration as an annual event in 1933.

Marcel Lehoux’ Bugatti T51 won that snowy February race from Guy Moll’s similar car.

The 1930 grid including #10 Lehoux Bug T35B, #44 the winning Etancelin Bug T35C, the #28 or 38 Bugatti of De Maleplane or De L’espee, while towards the top is the #42 Daniel T35B. 25 cars started this race (unattributed)

Happily, the race is still held around the 2.769km Circuit de Pau de Ville.

The Pau GP is up-there in a list of global continuous events. Down the decades it’s been held for GP cars until 1963. It then morphed thru F2 (1964-1984), F3000 (1985-1998), F3 (1999-2006), World Touring Car Championship cars – an unfortunate aberration – (2007-2009) then back to F3 (2012-2012), Formula Renault (2013), then F3 again (2014-2019) until this year (2022) when Vladislav Lomko, a Russian (oh dear, how very passé and politically incorrect) won the May race aboard a Dallara 320 Euroformula (F3 variant) machine.

Far-canal I HATE all the global one-make shit, it’s so fuggin boring. I don’t want to sound like a silly old tugger, but it is boring isn’t it, the lack of variety? And don’t give me the economics lesson, I just don’t give a shit…

Tazio Nuvolari on the way to victory at Pau in February 1935, he is closely followed by Rene Dreyfus, both driving Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo P3s (unattributed)
Alberto Ascari in the fabulous Ferrari 375 during the ‘51 Pau GP, DNF transmission from Q2. His teammate, Gigi Villoresi, won from pole in another 375. Ascari won in 1952-53 aboard Ferrari 500s (unattributed)

The list of drivers who have won around the demanding track includes many of the gods; Tazio Nuvolari, Jackie Stewart and Lewis Hamilton won once, while JM Fangio, Alberto Ascari and Jack Brabham were victorious twice, Jochen Rindt won thrice during his King of F2 reign, with Jim Clark a four-time winner.

This wonderful poster for the 1963 event shows 1962 first lap action. Jo Bonnier’s Porsche 718 leads Ricardo Rodriguez’ Ferrari 156 and Jim Clark’s Lotus 24 Climax, #8 is Lorenzo Bandini’s 156. Maurice Trintignant’s Lotus 18/21 Climax won from Rodriguez, and Jack Lewis’ BRM P48/57

Throughout motor racing history France has held god knows how many car races on road circuits. It would be a great idea to tour France and tick a few off, for me Pau and Clermont Ferrand are top of the list. Doubtless that’s a function of my age, ten years older perhaps the top-two would be Reims and Rouen…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille aboard his self constructed Elf 2J (nee Jabouille 2J) Renault 2-litre F2 car, from Jacques Laffitte, Chevron B35 BMW during the height of the F2 era in 1976. First to fourth were Frenchmen; Rene Arnoux, Martini Mk19 Renault, Laffitte, Jabouille and Jean-Pierre Jarier, Chevron B35 BMW (DPPI)

The 2-litre F2 and F3000 period of incredibly quick, spectacular racing cars stretched from 1972-1998, any of you who saw the race during that period had a special treat.

Every winner of the Pau classic in that period raced in F1 with the exception of Jorg Muller, who was a test driver for Arrows, Sauber and Williams but never quite got a race-steer.

Mike Thackwell’s Ralt RH6/81 Honda during the June 1981 race won by his teammate, Geoff Lees, Thackwell was sixth (MotorSport)

Red Bull Supremo, Christian Horner raced at elite level including F3000. He is shown below at Pau in 1997 aboard his Lola T96/50 Zyrtec-Judd leading Marcus Friesacher.

It was after following Juan Pablo Montoya for a few laps the following year that Horner realised his future was better devoted to racing outside the cockpit! Still, his management capabilities are enhanced by the knowledge of exactly what his drivers are dealing with.

(MotorSport)
Pau modern era F3 race (unattributed)

Etcetera: 1952 Pau GP…

A couple of days after publication, Australian enthusiast/restorer/vintagent Chester McKaige got in touch and provided these wonderful colour images taken during the 1952 race by his father, George McKaige.

George was doing what we Colonials have always done, the Grand European Tour enroute to the UK. There he worked for the de Havilland Aircraft Company for a couple of years, on his weekends and holidays he attended many British and European racing events taking along his trusty camera.

Twenty years ago Chester printed two volumes of George’s photography in Europe and Australia, my copies of ‘Beyond The Lens’ are among my favourites of that golden-age.

Alberto Ascari in typical race attire, and Ferrari 500 in 1952. Note the stub exhausts fitted at this stage (G McKaige)
Toulo de Graffenried, Plate Maserati 4CLT-48, sixth and final car classified, Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

The XIII Grand Prix de Pau – also the first round of the Grands Prix de France F2 Championship – was won convincingly from pole by Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari 500, chassis #0003 it seems, not #0005, the car in which he won so many races in 1952-53 before passing into the hands of Australians Tony Gaze and Lex Davison.

Sharing the front row with him were Gigi Villoresi’s similar works car, and Lance Macklin’s HWM Alta. Second and third placings in the three hour, 280km race were Louis Rosier’s Ferrari 500 and Jean Behra Simca Gordini T11.

Johnny Claes’ Simca Gordini T15, DNF transmission. Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

By that early stage of the season Ascari had also won the GP di Siracusa. In a year of complete dominance he was also victorious in the GP de Marseille, a heat of the GP di Monza, the GP de Comminges, the GP de la Baule plus the championship Grands’ Prix of Belgium, France, Britain, Germany, Holland and Italy; not to forget the drivers World Championship!

Lance Macklin, HWM Alta, running at the end but unclassified, Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

Credits…

MotorSport Images, LAT, Jean Philippe Gionnet, DPPI, F2 Index, George and Chester McKaige

Tailpiece…

(JP Gionnet)

Lewis Hamilton pinging his F3 Dallara F305 Mercedes through the Esses in May 2005.

He had the perfect weekend, two poles, wins and fastest laps early in the season on the way to winning the F3 Euro Series with victories in 15 of the 20 races – and F1 beyond.

Finito…

Comments
  1. Chris Blanden says:

    Mark, Pau is a fabulous place to visit in a great part of the world. The thing that strikes you about the track (all of which can be driven) is how incredibly tight and narrow it is. Recommend the Hotel Parc Beaumont which is actually on the track. Lots of nice mountain roads in the Pyrenees nearby as well.

  2. Stephane Pedeutour says:

    I stumbled across this page by chance looking for Alexis cars pictures, once again wonderful work, thank you Mr. Bisset. As I’m living in Pau, I can answer the question about the church in the third picture: it’s not Saint-Martin church but the chapel of the convent of the réparatrices ( I don’t know how to translate réparatrices, it was a women’s monastic community which goal was to provide health care for the poor). The chapel and the convent still exist today but they have been deconsecrated since this photo and are now part of a regional conservatory. The Saint-Martin church is on the other side of the circuit not far from the Château de Pau.

    • markbisset says:

      Perfect, many thanks Stephane,
      Do you race an Alexis?, not too many in France I imagine? Hoping to get to Pau when in Europe again next year.
      Mark

      • Stephane Pedeutour says:

        Unfortunately, I don’t have a car to race but I would if I could afford it. I’m a simple motorsport enthusiast since my father took me with him to see the Grand Prix de Pau in June 1976, it was in the middle of the great era of Formula 2. Alexis is one of the brands that everyone has heard of but that few people actually know like Crosslé, Merlyn, Royale, Dastle or Grac in France.

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