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The final season before the outbreak of World War II began at Pau with victory for Mercedes-Benz and Hermann Lang. Making his senior debut in that 1939 race was Marcel Balsa whose out-of-date Bugatti T35B retired at quarter distance.
Racing as an amateur
War prevented another such outing but Balsa raced again as soon as peace was restored. That was in the Bois de Boulogne on September 9 1945 – retiring his Bugatti from the Coupe de la Libération but finishing fifth in the Coupe des Prisonniers.
Balsa then invested in a more modern Lago-Talbot T150C for 1946 but he was driving a BMW 328-powered special in local F2 events by the start of the new decade. The 1950 meeting at Cadours was marred by Raymond Sommer’s fatal accident so Balsa’s victory in his heat and third-place in the final with a Jicey-BMW was all but forgotten.
Grand Prix driver for a day
Having raced in national events so far, it was perhaps surprising that the now 43-year-old Frenchman entered his BMW Special for the 1952 German Grand Prix. His world championship one-off lasted just five laps of the Nürburgring before he retired.
Balsa won the following year’s amateur-only Coupe de Printemps at Montlhéry and raced at Cadours again in 1954 but was seldom seen thereafter.