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The return of the Silver Arrows

Something quite extraordinary has been announced.

An event that no motor racing enthusiast can afford to miss, that nobody ever dreamed would actually happen. Beg, borrow or steal the cash to be there.

The Silver Arrows will race again. Yes, the real ones, the original Silberpfeil, not the cars that are painted silver and described as ‘silver arrows’ by creative marketing departments these days. We are talking pre-war Auto Unions and Mercedes-Benz, last seen in action in the 1930s when men were men and motor racing was horribly dangerous.

history events  The return of the Silver Arrows

The last time we in Britain saw an Auto Union race a Mercedes-Benz was in October 1938 when Tazio Nuvolari (above), in an Auto Union D-type, won the Donington Grand Prix from Hermann Lang (below) in a Mercedes-Benz W154 with Dick Seaman third in another W154. These cars made their final race appearance at the Yugoslavian Grand Prix in September 1939, the day after war broke out in Europe.

history events  The return of the Silver Arrows

True, Mercedes was back in 1954 with the W196, but the Auto Unions had gone and Juan Manuel Fangio, having forsaken his Maserati 250F in mid-season, won the World Championship for Mercedes-Benz, a feat he repeated in 1955 before winning two more in ’56 and ’57 with Lancia-Ferrari and Maserati respectively. But that is another story for another day.

Your chance to see the Silver Arrows driven at race speed on a circuit comes in September when the Goodwood Revival will stage a ‘demo’ race for which both Merc and Auto Union have entered their priceless cars. This is surely a sight not be missed, even if the drivers are advised that an all-out, fully fledged race would be a step too far for such valuable racing cars. Competition in this demo race will come from the more frequently seen cars of Maserati, ERA, and Bugatti. A mouth-watering prospect, no?

history events  The return of the Silver Arrows

We will see Auto Union types C and D, and from Mercedes the W25,W125, W154 and W165. We are still waiting for details of who will have the privilege of being in the cockpits, but you can be sure they will be tried and trusted friends of the Merc and Audi museums. Surely Hans Stuck Jnr will be in the frame for one of the Auto Unions. Goodwood, just as it was in its heyday, will be the perfect place to see these mighty machines in action, howling down the straights or drifting through the long, sweeping corners of this genuinely unspoilt racing circuit.

I make no apology for waxing lyrical about this extraordinary happening. If you’re not sure what I’m raving about, there are films of these cars racing in period on the internet. Alright, we won’t see cloth caps and shirtsleeves, but these cars are a handful however the drivers may be dressed. Word is that the Silver Arrows will have their own special place in the paddock so that we, the fans, can get a really close look at some of the most exciting Grand Prix cars ever made. You may have seen them run on the Goodwood hill at the Festival of Speed but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

history events  The return of the Silver Arrows

When the Silver Arrows came to Donington (above) the crowd, more used to watching Rileys, MGs and ERAs, was astounded by the power and speed of the German cars Built with little regard for cost, the silver cars dominated Grand Prix racing from 1934 to the outbreak of war in 1939. More recently, when a BRM V16 raced at an early Revival, grown men were reduced to tears. It’s going to be that kind of occasion. And, depending on the outcome, this may well be the first, and last, time you will ever see an Auto Union race a Mercedes-Benz on British soil. Start saving your pennies now.

Add your comments

9 comments on The return of the Silver Arrows

  1. dave cubbedge, 8 February 2012 16:55

    I sense an English vacation coming in 2012. I’d rather be at Goodwood than at Austin for the US-Tilkedrome GP….

  2. rob widdows, 8 February 2012 17:23

    I just hope you can get there Dave because this may be the only time the museums and private owners allow the cars to be driven at speed on a circuit. And yes, if you’ve never seen the Revival before, then it will certainly provide you with more fun than the GP in Austin. If you do decide it’s possible, I suggest you try to book a ticket early on-line as I think it will be very busy!
    Is everything on schedule in Austin? We hear conflicting reports over here. Many people seem to feel that the New Jersey race, if it goes ahead, will be the one to go.

  3. Lewis Lane, 8 February 2012 19:55

    I’ve only ever missed two revivals. I CAN NOT let this year be number three. Once in a lifetime doesn’t even begin to describe this…

  4. Rich Ambroson, 8 February 2012 20:33

    I have to agree with Mr. Cubbedge regarding the choice between Goodwood and the BCE show in Texas!

  5. George Allegrezza, 8 February 2012 21:05

    Wow . . . unbelievable. What would Bill Boddy have thought of this?

    To answer Rob’s question, and I don’t live in Texas, but they continue to move lots of dirt. Whether the development pause last year will have made it impossible to finish the track on time, only time will tell. I assume the pit building has to be finished for the race to come off, and they’ll most definitely have to have the main grandstand in place, given the rather expensive PSLs they’re selling.

  6. rob widdows, 13 February 2012 12:04

    So, will we have two GPs in the USA? What is happening in New Jersey guys? Seems to me that NJ will be the one to go to – it’s closer, for Brits, and racing with a New York skyline behind has to be a draw. F1 does need to be back in the USA and right now, it’s far more exciting than it was when last at Indianapolis.

  7. George Allegrezza, 15 February 2012 15:04

    Being from the NYC area, I have my doubts about the NJ thing. If they pull it off, fine, but obstructionist politics is the bread and butter of people down there. I assume we will see the emergence of “The Friends Of Peace And Quiet On The Hudson” and carefully written pieces in the New York Times questioning the relationship between local officials, Leo Hindery, and a certain diminutive British billionaire who has skirted a couple of bribery scandals. Given that 2013 is an election year for state offices in New Jersey, it could get ugly.

    Having said that, Jersey appreciates a good bagman, so Bernie might be all right after all.

  8. Andy Roberts, 29 May 2012 08:58

    This is a must-attend event.
    I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of these machines at a number of events, but particularly memorable was John Surtees at the Richard Seaman Memorial event at Donington in ’99. The sound, then sight, of a W154 blasting sideways through Goddards (and a good quarter of the way down the pit straight) is something I won’t forget in a hurry.

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