Auto Union stars at Shelsley Walsh

by Paul Lawrence on 18th July 2016

The annual Classic Nostalgia weekend at Shelsley Walsh delivered an unforgettable spectacle when Hans Stuck took to the hill in an Auto Union Type C.

Not since the the famous hillclimb course's centenary celebration event back in 2005 has such a big crowd lined the steep sides of the Teme Valley. They were not disappointed.

Stuck and the Auto Union were in rural Worcestershire to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Stuck’s father competing there in a very similar car as he chased the European Hillclimb Championship. Sadly terrible June weather in 1936 prevented the German ace from challenging the record of Shelsley specialist Raymond Mays and his ERA.

Eighty years on the sight and sound of Stuck junior (now 65-years-old) hustling the mighty Silver Arrows machine up the steep 1000-yard climb will long live in the memory of the packed crowd present. From the packed paddock the roar of the 6-litre 520bhp Auto Union was wonderfully clear all the way until the German star cut the engine over the finish line.

The experience was just as memorable for Stuck, who had never seen Shelsley Walsh before. “It is a very precious moment,” he said. “Imagine what this car could do in its day. A very good gearbox and engine, it was fantastic. It is an amazing piece of engineering.”

From a rolling start rather than a standing start on Shelsley’s uphill startline, Stuck was over the finish line in around 40 seconds, a time similar to that achieved by his father in practice in 1936 before the rain arrived on the day of the competition.

“I think I’m far away from what he did in 1936 but still to drive the car means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m totally overwhelmed by the place and the event; I wish there was something like this in Germany.”

The Auto Union was only part of a very special weekend and Audi featured prominently in a demonstration of Group B rally cars to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of rallying’s most crazy era. David Llewellin took to the wheel of a Sport Quattro S1 and thrilled the fans by hurling the monstrously powerful car up the narrow ribbon of asphalt.

Aside from the display of German engineering two full days of competition pitted a raft of pre-1980 cars against the 111-year-old hill. Notable was Nic Mann in the remarkable Mannic Beattie, who set fastest time of the day on Saturday. Mann hurled the four-wheel-drive, turbocharged sports-racing car to the top in just 25.47s to set a new personal best, barely three seconds adrift of the current outright record.

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