Count Stanislaus Czaikowski

10/6/1899 - 10/9/1933

Record updated 27-Jun-23

Count Stanislaus Czaykowski was a Polish aristocrat based in Paris. An accomplished gentleman racer he was killed in the Gran Premio di Monza on Black Sunday. Count Czaykowski

Count Stanislaus Czaykowski was born in The Hague, Holland on June 10th 1899. His parents, who were both Polish, moved to France and settled in the South. In July 1914 when he was 15 he took French citizenship, presumably with the rest of his family, and enlisted in the French Army as soon as he was old enough.

By 1929 he was based in Paris and started racing with a Bugatti 37A which he bought from Ernest Friederich's dealership in Nice where the Count still had family. According to Rene Dreyfus, who worked in Friederich's dealership, Czaykowski raced for fun as a privateer. Finishing 4th in the Comminges GP that year.

In 1931 he won the Casablanca Grand Prix on the Anfa Racecourse in his Bugatti 37A. In the August at the La Baule Grand Prix he was fifth behind Waldthausen in fourth, and the Bugattis of "Williams", Lehoux and Falchetto.

Then in September, the GP de Brignoles was held on a road course that included two bridges and a railway crossing, which necessitated stopping all road and rail traffic for the whole day. René Dreyfus won the Grand Prix in his Bugatti while Czaikowski finished 3rd overall and won the over 2-litre class.

Grand Prix de l'ACF at Pau in 1930

In May 1932 he won the Provence Trophy Nîmes in a Bugatti T35B. At Le Mans that year, he drove with Ernest Friderich. At dawn their Bugatti was running a surprising third behind the Alfa's of Franco Cortese and Raymond Sommer. The lead Alfa had numerous problems and Czaikowski and Friderich steadily closed in until on the 180th lap a piston broke ending their race. He also entered the the BRDC 500-Mile Race at Brooklands and brought his 2-litre Bugatti which was the sole entry in Class E.

With the T55 at Le Mans in 1932.

In May 1933 he was second in the Avusrennen driving his Bugatti T54 and also broke the one-hour speed record at the Avus track averaging 213.842 Kph. He won the British Empire Trophy at Brooklands with his Bugatti T54 and two weeks later he was third in the Grand Prix de Dieppe in his Bugatti T51C. He also had a number of uncharacteristic DNFs that year that year but that was nothing compared to what lay in store as the teams headed to Monza for the Italian Grand prix and the Gran Premio di Monza, both on the 10th September.

On his was to second in the Avusrennen driving his Bugatti T54 in 1933.

Czaykowski skipped the Italian GP and thus lined up for the first heat of the Gran Premio di Monza. Premoli took an early lead but was soon passed by Czaykowski, followed by Count Felice Trossi. Then on the last lap Trossi’s Indianapolis Deusenberg coughed up it’s guts and liberally treated the Curva Sud to a luxurious coating of well matured motor-oil leaving Czaykowski to take the win from Guy Moll, Felice Bonetto and Whitney Straight.

Some effort was made to clean it up, but the crowd were getting restless with the delay and so it was decided to get on with the next heat. To help things along, it now began to rain. At the start of the second heat, Campari and his old partner Borzacchini tore off into the lead, leaving everyone else floundering in their wakes, but as the two cars rushed into the Curva Sud on the first lap, Trossi’s oil was waiting for them. Both drivers were pitched off the road, two portions of dust were served up and bitten with immediate effect.

As the news of the fate of two of Italy’s best drivers, including their most favoured son of all, passed around the crowd, Monza was never quieter. But the decision was taken for the racing to carry on and, after a half-hearted attempt to shift some more of the oil, the 3rd heat drivers were released and to everyone’s relief, met their obligations without any further drama.

And so it came to the final and after such a terrible afternoon what more could possibly go wrong! Well…. Seemingly having learnt nothing from the experiences of his colleagues, Czaykowski shot off the line to show the thoroughly disenchanted crowd what he could achieve at the dreaded Curva Sud. Then on the 16th lap his engine let go, fracturing a fuel line and igniting the petrol blowing back over the unfortunate Count. Unable to see and before he could slow down, his left wheels slipped over the edge of the banking in the Curva Sud and the Bugatti went over the side, landing upside down and on fire. Czaykowski, trapped under the car, didn't stand a chance and died at the scene. Almost unnoticed, the race was eventually won by Czaykowski’s team-mate, the Algerian-born Frenchman Marcel Lehoux.

After much debate a judge ordered the demolition of the Circuito Sopraelevato. He ruled that the track was too dangerous because of the speeds being reached by the cars. Work started on pulling it down the day after the 1938 Gran Premio d'Italia and the track would not be replaced until 1955, when a new, highly banked oval was built.

News of Czaykowski's death was heard on the radio at Molshiem and it is said that he was deeply mourned by the Bugatti family and factory workers. His one hour world record was broken by George Eyston in a Panhard on 6th February 1934 and that afternoon he drove to Houville-la-Branch near Chatres to placed a wreath on Czaykowski’s grave.

It wasn’t the worst day in motor-racing history, there have been some extravagant audience-participation numbers against which this pales into complete insignificance, but in terms of the destruction of Grand Prix drivers, this was the most thorough single day’s work ever accomplished.