Eugen Bjørnstad

Eugen Bjørnstad

12/12/1909 - 0/0/1992

Bjørnstad drove Bugatti, Alfa-Romeo and ERA on the circuits of Europe winning a number of Grands Prix. He also competed on ice tracks and hill climbs. Possibly the top Norwegian driver before Petter Solberg.

Eugen Bjørnstad was a good natured and highly respected Norwegian car dealer who started racing with a Bugatti 35C. In late 1932 he bought the ex-Caracciola Alfa-Romeo 8C-2300 Monza (2111041) which he converted to single seater configuration and in which he enjoyed considerable success.

In 1933 he won the Lemberg GP through the streets of Lwów. He had fitten an additional fuel tank and completed the race non-stop. The following year he won the Finnish GP at Eläintarharata.

1936 was probably his best year with wins at Horkenloppet, the Swedish Winter GP, the Norwegian GP and the Finnish GP.

In 1937 he bought the ex-works ERA (R1A) but Bjørnstad's business was running into trouble and after returning from racing his ERA at Torino, he decided to go after the more substantial prize money in the USA. He was great friends with Pete Sanstol, the then undisputed Bantamweight World Champion who came from Oslo in Norway. In March 1937 Pete was living in New York and he used his American connections to arrange for Eugen to participate in the Vanderbilt Cup at Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island. Thus Eugen took 2111041 to New York for the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup where he was entered as the 'The Scandinavian King of Speed'. Racing under the colours of Balmacaan, a Scotish hunting estate owned by the Bradley Martin twins, Alistair and Esmond, he qualified 20th and retired on lap 60 with transmission failure. It is possible that he had the idea of selling the car over there. However the car returned to Norway, where it was sold to Tore Berg of Sweden. Apparently the ERA remained unpaid for and was eventually taken back by the factory.

He retired in 1938 to concentrate on his business.

Bjørnstad was known for his aggressive and spectacular driving style developed from many years of ice racing. His used to try and get the lead early on and then defend it with every means available. This prompted nummerous accusations of jumped starts and deliberate baulking.

Later he moved to USA. He died in the summer of 1992.

 

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