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1954 French Grand Prix

Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France

Sunday, July 4, 1954
Dry and overcast at the start, rain later
Fastest Lap:
Herrmann, 2m32.9
1954 season:

From the Motor Sport Archive

All The Winners. — Fangio in Mercedes-Benz No 18 which won the French G.P., Kling in Mercedes-Benz No. 20 which finished second, and Alfred Neubauer, who controls the cars from Stuttgart.

Once again the Automobile 'Club du Champagne organised a veritable feast of speed for a night and a day, and as last, year the form was a 12-hour sports-car race, from midnight Saturday to midday Sunday, and after a lunch break the French Grand Prix for Formula I cars. Under the direction of Raymond Roche the club continued to improve the amenities of the circuit, providing more stands, restaurants, a row of shops and one of the best refuelling systems yet seen. This last addition was a welcome sight, for last year there was a great deal of nonsense over refuelling during the sports-car race, as the organisers left everything to the competitors. The new installation comprised a vast tank behind the pits, like a water tower, with pipelines running underground to each pit, where a flexible hose and quick-action nozzle was hung, there being a very efficient-looking filter and stop-valve in each pit.

To avoid the danger of spilling when the hose was not in use each one had a box in front of the pit-counter into which the nozzle was inserted. Not content with improving the amenities to the circuit the club also altered the circuit once more, this time at the Thillois hairpin that leads into the finishing straight. The original road was a very tight right-hand hairpin that dropped in level rather suddenly and had a cobbled surface. Some ten yards before the hairpin a new section of road was built in a gentle sweep round the inside of the old road, which resulted in an easier and faster corner at Thillois; the old road remaining for anyone who overshot the braking point. For four consecutive years now the Reims circuit has been altered, so that each year a new set of records has to be inaugurated, but it now looks as though things have become stabilised and that the records established this year can be considered in future races.

The location of the Reims circuit on RN 31, which is the main road to Soissons and a local road to the village of Gueux, is such that the closing to normal traffic entails only a minor detour, so that practice periods were arranged for the late afternoon and evenings of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday preceding the races. The first session was for the sports cars and a very large proportion of the entry turned out. In most respects the 12-hour race was going to be a repetition of Le Mans, for nearly all the cars running had competed there, and in some ways it was a pity that the Reims race could not have been first as it would have made an excellent try-out for the more important 24-hour event.