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The 1933 Monza Grand Prix was a disastrous event that ranks alongside Imola 1994 as one of GP racing’s worst moments. Three of the top stars of the day – Giuseppe Campari, Baconin Borzacchini and Stanislas Czaikowski – all lost their lives in accidents.
Background and early career
Czaikowski was born in Holland to aristocratic Polish parents and the family moved to Paris in 1914. Although Stanislas took French nationality a year later, he is remembered as Poland’s most successful GP driver prior to Robert Kubica. Blessed by wealth and position, he lived life to the full and began racing a Bugatti T37A in 1929. His GP debut a year later was with his works T35C finishing fourth in the French GP on the roads outside Pau.
He continued with the car in 1931 and finished sixth at Tunis and last in Monaco. A new Bugatti T51 was available for the Casablanca GP and Czaikowski shadowed local favourite Marcel Lehoux before scoring his first victory of note when his rival pitted for fuel. He crashed at Geneva and although Czaikowski escaped with a broken rib, a spectator was killed in the accident.
New German Chancellor Adolf Hitler was guest of honour at the 1933 Avusrennen but witnessed a 1-2 for Bugatti. Achille Varzi’s works car was just 0.2sec ahead of the impressive Czaikowski's new T54 and the event prompted Hitler to invest in the German racing industry. Czaikowski won the British Empire Trophy on Brooklands’ Outer Circuit in what proved to be the final victory of a fine amateur career.
He drove the T54 in the 1933 Monza GP and won the opening qualifying heat. By the time he lined up for the final both Campari and Borzacchini had been killed in the second race. Czaikowski led the final from the start but also lost control while entering the south banking for the ninth time. The Bugatti crashed over the wall and Czaikowski died in the burning wreckage – adding to an unwelcome toll on an unhappy day.