The scene is set in 1921. It brings together a large crowd, local personalities of the time and even a preacher. Ten crews will compete in the events leading to Corte, Cateraggio, Folelli, among others. An unknown episode narrated by Didier Rey in his book
101 years ago to the day, Thursday, April 21, 1921, from the early morning hours, the crowd was close to the village of Casamozza. Hundreds of people had arrived from Bastia on special trains. Others had made the journey by cart or on foot. Some had even crossed the Mediterranean, such as Yves le Troquer. The Minister of Public Works wishes to preside over the great popular and sports celebration that will also bring together the deputies Landry, Moro-Giafferi, Caïtucoli, Senator Sari and all local personalities or almost.
The excitement of taking part in something new and crazy together is floating. In this euphoric atmosphere and in a cheerful disarray, the soldiers, the gendarmes in collaboration with the officials of the Bridges and Chaussées and the representatives of various sports companies have a lot to do. They have to multiply the warning messages, ensure the strict application of some basic instructions in the field of roadside placements.
Finally it is 8.30 am when the first car roars across the starting line. Nine more will follow. Full speed ahead to Corte, then Cateraggio-Aleria before returning along the eastern plain to Casamozza. The Corsica Grand Prix, the first in history, has begun.
And now it is this event which, with astonishing vibrancy and in the light of a wonderful series of historical photographs, brings to life Didier Rey, university professor, University of Corsica, in a book published by Piazzola, The race track of Corsica. Apr 21, 1921†
A little over six hours
Experienced pilots set the pace. They are cut from the fabric of †athletes with eclectic activities, eager to practice, and often with a prestigious track record, forged on European or even American circuits and roads.” notes the academic. They are fearless. They love everything that rolls and flies, that is, everything that embodies modernity and the extreme in the eyes of the world. Like Henri-Louis Rougier, the talented dean of the Corsican league, at Turcat-Mery. †He is a fan of bicycles, cars and aviation. He distinguished himself in the air by taking home the altitude and distance prize at the Berlin meeting in September 1909.says Didier Rey.
On land, he competed in the Paris-Madrid race, at the French Grand Prix before winning the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix. Engineers, a few barons and marquis “dilettantes”former officers who distinguished themselves in combat a few years earlier during the First World War also stormed the dusty roads of the island aboard their Bignan-Sport, their Rolland-Pilain, their Chenard and Walcker, their Turcat-Mery or their Bugatti.
The participating vehicles have more or less the same characteristics: a three-cylinder engine, a minimum curb weight of 1,600 kg, rigid front and rear fenders of at least 0.22 meters wide. A hood on the engine is required, while the muffler to the ground is prohibited.
At the wheel of his funny machine, Albert Guyot is the one who draws the greatest achievement. The Corsica circuit is completed in just over six hours and in †completing the last lap in 1 hour 57 minutes and 32 seconds†† This is the best time on the track, with an average speed of just over 72 km/h. But the winner has many other achievements to his name. Years, months earlier, he successfully took on other automotive challenges at Dieppe, Indianapolis. Between two races, it caused a sensation in the skies of Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
Along the RT 50
Still, on the island, Guyot celebrates just minutes into his dazzling win. Because motorsport is a dangerous sport, because the circuit was robbed by the death of Pierre Delaunay, 31, military medalist, military cross with palms, returned to civilian life in Algeria, where he took a “truck house”†
Six kilometers after Corte, direction Cateraggio, †was following a nice three kilometer straight in a straight line when the (tyre) burst occurred, the car swerved into a ditch to the right of the road”reports The little newspaper in its issue of April 23, 1921. Delaunay is thrown against a wall. He won’t survive. The mechanic escaped alive despite serious injuries. Bastia gives Delaunay a moving funeral attended by thousands of peoplenotes Didier Rey.
A monument has been erected in memory of what is today RT 50. Thus ends forever the “Circuit de Corse”, “fleeting moment and final failure”† The Napoleonic memory, the commemorations of the centenary of the emperor’s death, quickly overshadowed motorsport. The subject permanently fascinates the entire press, including the international ones.
The race track of Corsica. April 21, 1921. Didier Rey, 129 pages, editions by Alain Piazzola.