Through Toulouse editorial workplace
Published on 11 Jul 21 at 16:08
“You have to imagine the effervescence in the Saint-Gaudens region in those years. Each year, the spectators who came by the thousands to attend the car and motorcycle events of the Circuit du Comminges, vibrated to the noises of the engines which emanated everywhere from the workshops and local garages. This is this extraordinary atmosphere that we try to restore in our museum, through photos, posters, programs, amateur and professional films and other objects related to these 34 Grands Prix ”.
Tourism and mass sport
Michel Rivet, the president of the Association of Friends of the Circuit du Comminges, is inexhaustible on this little-known half of the native heritage. With him, we return to the starting of the Nineteen Twenties and meet a sure Eugène Azémar, professor of philosophy and president of the Syndicat d’Initiatives de Saint-Gaudens (Haute-Garonne), at the origin of this circuit.
“He understood that tourism and emerging mass sport were going to be vectors of development for the Comminges. In 1922, he conceived a first project which combined motor sports with the discovery of thermal spas and prehistoric sites: the Rallye des stations thermales. About forty cars and motorcycles are invited to a 200-kilometer loop, starting from Saint-Gaudens and passing through Boulogne-sur-Gesse, Larroque, Salies-du-Salat, Aspet, Bagnères-de-Luchon. Three years later, other sporting events were added including the Speed Grand Prix ”.
In entrance of 60,000 to 80,000 spectators!
The success was such that the Automobile Club de France (ACF) in 1928 selected the circuit (27, 664 kilometers lengthy) for the group of the French Grand Prix for sports activities automobiles, who noticed the Englishman William Grover Williams on Bugatti win.
A duel that electrifies the crowd
Over the years, the common attendance is estimated at 60,000 to 80,000 spectators. The organizers (*30*) the occasion by lowering the size of the circuit to 11 kilometers and by constructing arduous stands. During the 1939 version, the memorable mano à mano between René Le Bègue and Jean-Pierre Wimille, electrifies the crowd. The first to beat the lap report with a mean of 163.500 km / h, wins at the end, for 2 tenths of a second.
The look of the first Formula 1
After a seven-year hiatus, the Grand Prix was reborn in August 1947 and was contested for the profit of the Red Cross and prisoners of conflict from Haute-Garonne. “This year marks the entry into the running of the first Formula 1 : Talbot-Lago, Maserati… who will compete three years later for the first world championship ”underlines Michel Rivet. In 1952, the Circuit, shortened to 4.4 kilometers, saw the success of the Italian Alberto Ascari on Ferrari.
And Saint-Gaudens threw in the towel
Following Pierre Levegh’s fatal accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1955, all speed races were canceled. The new security guidelines are drastic. Saint-Gaudens who does not have the means to undertake new work and throws in the towel, death in the soul.
Phone: 05 61 79 34 25. www.museeducircuitducomminges.fr
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