CONTINENTAL NOTES AND NEWS, April 1938

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CONTINENTAL NOTES AND NEWS

By AUSLANDER A Touch of Melodrama The Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union trials of new cars and drivers at Monza have been conducted in an atmosphere of a motor-racing story in one of the more

lurid schoolboys’ papers A system of barricades and sentries was used by the Mercedes people to keep out unwanted rubber-necks, who were thus unable to get near the cars while they were stationary and had to glean all the information they could from glimpses of the cars as they slowed for corners during practising.

At all events, it is agreed that the cars have twelve-cylinder engines, based on the non-formula cars which raced at Avus last year and were used for recordbreaking ; that they have the most earsplitting exhaust note ever heard, being a combination of super calico-tearing and high-pitched blower howl ; that they hold the road perfectly, both at speed and while braking and accelerating ; and that they go like ten thousand scalded cats. I don’t think there’s much doubt that this is going to be a Mercedes year.

They have the strongest team of drivers in Caracciola, Lang, Von Brauchitsch and Seaman, with some up-and-coining cadets in Hugo Hartmann, Heinz Brendel, Walter Baumer, and Edwin Bauer. The last-named, however, blotted his copybook and was sent to the bottom of the class by Professor Neubauer for crashing his car at Monza. The cadets, incidentally, were mounted on de-tuned G.P. cars of yesteryear.

Brendel has graduated to car-racing from that excellent training machine, the motor-cycle, while B aucr also comes from a good school, no less than the Mercedes-Benz factory, whence emanated that brilliant driver, Herman Lang. The Auto-Union people adopted different tactics in order to preserve their secrets. They camouflaged their cars. It has been known for some time that they have been experimenting with a

twelve-cylinder engine, but all the cars at Monza had sixteen exhaust stubs protruding from their bonnets. When the engine of one of them was started, however, it Was seen that smoke only issued from twelve of the pipes, even though the engine was firing evenly . .

Altogether, it seems that Dr. Porsche and his associates are far from having made up their minds as to what form the Auto-Union racing-cars are to take. One of the cars at Monza had a different chassis, with outside fuel tanks and a more rearward seating position for the driver, but this cannot be taken as a final decision. An unblown 41-litre engine was also tried out, and there is still talk of a front-eugined car making its appearance later in the season.

Part of their difficulty is caused by a serious lack Of drivers. They have lost their three best men in Rosemeyer, Delius and Stuck, the last through his retirement, and their present first and second strings are Hasse and Muller, neither of whom is in the same class as Caracciola, Lang, Von Brauchitsch, or Nuvolari, Varzi, Trossi and Wimille. Things got to such a pitch that there was actually some discussion as to whether it would not he better to cancel all the team’s plans to race this year, and to confine their activity to perfecting a design for the new formula, and to training a team of drivers. Since then, there has been another move in the announcement of Stuck’s refusal, after careful consideration, of Harry Miller’s offer of a blown 3-litre front-drive Miller for Indianapolis and a programme of European Grand

Prix. The obvious inference is that Stuck has received an appeal from the Auto-Union management to stand by them in their hour of need, and it will not surprise me in the least to find the handsome Hans at the wheel of a Porschewagen once more. I, for one, would be glad.