Remembering: Belgrade Grand Prix - 3rd of September 1939
Since even before the start of Formula 1 as we know it today, racing was taking place under the banner of the Grand Prix Motor Racing. One of the races was driven around the "Kalemegdan Park" circuit in Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia (today the capital of Serbia).
Back then, racing calendar would have around as much as 15 races, but only four counted towards the championship. At that time of motor racing history, Auto Union (predecessor of Audi) and Mercedes-Benz dominated the sport.
Since the Belgrade race did not count towards the championship, and also more and more talks about war breaking out in Europe, eight cars were at the circuit of the Belgrade Fortress, but only five started the race.
The Grand Prix itself was organized for the upcoming 16th birthday of the King Peter II. It was organized by the Automobile Club of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, while the patrons were the Queen mother, Maria and the "Politika" newspaper.
The circuit itself was 2.790 kilometres long and the race was run over 50 laps, and the great Tazio Nuvolari of the Auto Union was the one to win the race, after starting at the back of the grid in his Auto Union Type D.
Another legendary driver, Manfred von Brauchitsch, who started on the pole-position ended the race second, 7.6s behind Nuvolari, driving his Mercedes-Benz W154, after losing control of his car on lap 16 in the last corner.
Third place was won by another German driver Hermann Paul Müller, 31.6s behind Nuvolari in another Auto Union Type D. Serbian racer, Boško Milenković, who was driving a Bugatti T51, who was 19 laps down, but completed a race in 4th place.
In 17th lap, Mercedes-Benz W154 that was driven by both Herman Lang and Walter Baumer (the latter substituted in the car for the former), ended the race in an accident.
This race will and should be remembered since some very interesting milestones were achieved:
- Since the war started, this is the only race that was driven in Europe during a war.
- It is the only Grand Prix race ever to be held in Belgrade.
- The last major win in Tazio Nuvolari's career (He was 46 years old)
When remembering this, one could think that maybe this sort of race can be revived, since Formula E uses only street circuits, and this one undulates a bit, maybe it could be an interesting place to stage an E-prix in the future, since it would bring back highest level racing to Serbia.