MERCEDES BREAK NURBURG RECORD
BRAUCH1TSCH FIRST AND SECOND IN GERMAN GRAND PRIX CARACCIOLA AND VON
TO the victors the spoils 1 After a lapse of six years, Mercedes-Benz carried off the honours in the Grand Prix of Germany, defeating the rival Auto-Unions and winning first and second places. The race, held at the Niirburg Ring on July 25th, was remarkable for the number of crashes. The most serious was that in which von Delius and the British driver, Seaman, were involved, and, as a result, von Delius unfortunately died in hospital next day. Seaman was not badly hurt.
The weather was fine throughout, and Caracciola in the winning MercedesBenz put up a record average for the twenty-two laps of the race. Rosemeyer’s Auto-Union was third, after many adventures, and that greatest of drivers, Nuvolari, secured fourth place for Alfa-Romeo. The British driver, Kenneth Evans, was placed ninth.
The biggest race of the 1937 Grand Prix season is about to commence. The cream of the European drivers are lined up before the crowded grandstand at the Niirburg Ring. Both the great German firms, Mercedes-Benz and AutoUnion, have five cars in the field, and though sixteen Italian cars, including the three Ferrari Alfa-Romeos, also face the starter, it is long odds this year against the trophy, presented by Herr Hitler himself, leaving the home country. There is one British entrant, Kenneth Evans with his Alfa-Romeo, a solitary green car amongst the white and scarlet of the Germans and Italians. The practice period has left Rosemeyer, the Auto-Union first string, with fastest
lap at close on 87 m.p.h., an unofficial record for the circuit, which measures 14.1 miles, and twists and turns through the pine-clad Eifel mountains. Mercedes have a new supercharger system. No more is the famous high-pitched scream heard. For the first time in their history, the cars have the supercharger in normal fashion between the carburetter and the engine—a system actually tried out in the recent races at the Roosevelt Raceway, U.S.A., and. at Spa. The Mercedes are reputed to be faster and to have better road holding
than ever before. But there is always Rosemeyer to reckon with Von Brauchitsch and Lang, with Mercedes, and Rosemeyer (Auto-Union) are in the front rank. In the second rank are Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo) and Caracciola (Mercedes). Behind are Seaman (Mercedes), Muller (Auto-Union), and Hasse
(Auto-Union). Behind them again, the brave array of cars stretches, drivers sitting tense at the wheel, all eyes on the starting signal, while a muttering thunder of exhaust rises and falls. Bang goes the maroon ! Wave upon wave of cars sweep forward, red and white intermingled, but with a solid bunch of white in the van. Lang and von Branch itsch head the field, with Rosemeyer close on their heels. Twenty-six cars scream past the stands, past the crowded terraces, into the South Curve, and back past the opposite side of the pits. One is left gasping and breathless at the spectacle. The long thread of cars, for al
ready the leaders are well ahead, snakes rapidly down the valley to the Hatzenbach turn, where they go out of sight amid the dark green pine trees. Announcers dotted round the course in high observation towers take up the tale. We hear of a wild dash down the Fuchsriihre, a steep hill leading to an abrupt rise and the ” sky-line ” corner of Adenauer-Forst. Through more wicked corners Lang leads the field to the Breidscheid, at the foot of the steep descent to Aden.au. Up goes the winding
course again into the mountains, up to the famous Karussell banked hairpin. Here Lang still leads, but Rosemeyer is second ! Now they dash down to Brtumchen, and rapidly up again to the
sweeping curve of the Swallow Tail. Another announcer tells us that Caracciola is now third 1 Now they enter the twomile straight, and speeds go up to nearly 170 m.p.h. ! Here they are at the end of a breathless first lap ! Lang goes by in a blur of speed. Rosemeyer — Caracciola — von Brauchitsch — Muller — Delius (AutoUnion) — Hasse — here’s Nuvolari, holding his own manfully, though outmatched for speed I
Rosemeyer gets round at 85.6 m.p.h. on the second lap, and takes the lead ! He has won the last three races at the Niirburg Ring, and is all out for a fourth victory. Now he leads Lang by 9 secs. and the Mercedes trio are closely bunched
behind. The order otherwise does not change, but both Kautz and Seaman with their Mercede.s manage to pass Nuvolari. Fiercely as he drives, Rosemeyer cannot get clear of the pursuing Mercedes, which he can see in his mirror pressing THE GERMAN GRAND
behind. Anxiously we await the arrival of the cars at the end of the fourth lap.
Sensation ! ” Zuioyr ! (Twelve !) ” A great shout goes up as Caracciola tears by the Stands. Rosemeyer has disappeared. Fifteen seconds pass. Two more Mercedes! Lang and von Brauchitsch are second and third.
All eyes are turned towards the long straight. Here comes the Auto-Union. Rosemeyer’s near-side rear tyre is in ribbons, and he stops at his pits Flying seconds go by, lengthen into minutes. They cannot get one of the rear hub nuts off ! Rosemeyer, we hear, has taken one risk too many, and has skidded into a ditch, clouting a wheel badly, so that the thread of the hub cap is damaged. He is wild with disappointment. He dances up and down, then. jumps right over his car in his excitement, while the mechanics fumble desperately. At last the nut is off, new wheels are rammed on, and Rosemeyer departs. He has lost no less than 2 mins. 26 sees. on the stop !
Auto-Union fortunes ebb, for Stuck glides slowly past the pits, and enters the retired bay. Supercharger trouble is the cause. However, Delius is fourth, followed at less than a second’s interval by Seaman’s Mercedes, which has passed Hasse’s Auto-Union during this lap, and is picking up rapidly after a slow start.
Caracciola holds his lead next lap, while von Brauchitsch moves up to second, in front of Lang. Here is Seaman, a second ahead of Delius, instead of just behind him I News comes through that Miller’s Auto-Union has crashed at the Breidscheid, hitting the stone parapet of the bridge where the entry road from Adenau passes under the track. The driver is not hurt. This leaves Merc&les in the firFt four places, with only Delius and Hasse, fifth and sixth, to challenge them, for Rosetneyer is far behind, and Nuvolari, lying eighth behind Kautz’s Mercedes, is outmatched at present for sheer speed.
The sixth lap sees no material change, though Kautz moves up a place, to consolidate the Mercedes position. But here is the seventh lap and hete is Caracciola making for his pit I Scarcely have his wheels come to rest before von Brauchitsch comes in too ! It is merely a routine stop for change of rear wheels and refuelling. But what, a sight The skilled Mercedes mechanics leap to the work. Nuts are spun off, wheels slide on, and the cars go off almost together, ” Caratsch ” having stopped for :19 secs., and von Brauchitsch for only 31 sees. Then Kautz comes in, and his stop takes 46 secs., while Hasse, at the Auto-Union pit, takes 5 sees. less for the wheel change and refuel. Excitement crowds on excitement ! Watching the pit stops, we have missed Seaman and Delius. Have they come through ? Excited spectators turn to one another. Some say ” yes,” some say ” no.” The order goes up on the board. They are both missing ! Then the announcer, his voice lower than usual, gives out the news. On the long straight, Delius has managed to get by Seaman, but, jumping at the Dottinger I-16he bridge, has landed sideways, and skidded in front of the Mercedes Seaman, on the narrow road, cannot get through. He
has hit the skidding Auto-Union, which has leapt clean over the hedge, breaking only the topmost branches, to turn over and over on the grass outside the track! Delius is badly injured, Seaman has a broken arm and cuts on the fate, but is able to walk about.
Lang leads the race, and with all these momentous events occurring, Nuvolari is actually second for a brief space of time ! But at the end of the eighth lap Caracciola and von Brauchitsch, in spite of their stop, are back in second and third places, with the Italian maestro fourth. The tension holds I There is something going on. down in the valley at the Hatzenbach I Figures are seen running— yes, there are two red cars in the ditch. Some, peering through field-glasses, say
that one bears Number 22. That is
Nuvolari I But two white-overalled drivers appear, and Nuvolari is clad in his customary yellow jersey, and so can.not be involved. The cars are the Maseratis of Cortese and Seven.
On the ninth round Caracciola regains the lead, having lapped at 84.4 m.p.h., and on the tenth lap Lang, whose tyres have so far lasted marvellously, comes in at last. At the same time, in comes Nuvolari, who has just put in a lap at 83.5 m.p.h., only 6 secs. slower than Caracciola ! Another duel for the pit mechanics. A fountain of fuel springs up from Nuvolari’s filler cap as the pressure is released. But Nuvolari has to change all four wheels, and whereas Lang gets away in 30 secs., the Italian’s stop occupies a clear minute. This allows Rosemeyer, who has been coming up again fast, to enter the picture once more, and he arrives fifth, behind the three Mercedes and Nuvolari, on the eleventh lap. But see I Rosemeyer’s rear tyre is again in ribbons, and it is said that again in his desperate efforts lie has run off the road. This time,
however, his stop takes only 84 secs. At half distance the order is :
1. Quark-4111a (Mercedes-Benz), 83.3 m.p.h.
2. Von Brauehitseh (MercedesBenz), 30s. behind.
3. Lane (Mercedes-Benz), Int. 448. behind.
4. Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo), 2m. 208. behind.
5. Rosemeyer (Anto-Union), 2m. 398, behind. 0. Hasse (Auto-Union), 21n. 47s. behind.
Already the retiring bay is full of cars, in addition to those which have crashed. Eight cars stand sadly in double file, amongst them Trossi’s Ferrari Alfa, with a broken differential. Kenneth Evans, whom we have forgotten in the excitement, is actually tenth, and going well, and after eleven laps makes his first pit stop for an orderly refuel. The Mercedes team, running to orders, slow down a little, and the ever-watchful
Nuvolari snatches back 10 secs. of his arrears behind Lang. At thirteen laps Caracciola makes his second routine stop, and von Brauchitsch takes the lead. Next lap, he too comes in, and only just in time ! His rear tyre tread has stripped, but he has not lost the lead. A great cheer goes up for the Mercedes pitwork, for only 31 sees. is taken for a change of both rear tyres and a refuel. Caracciola regains first place, and Lang passes von Brauchitsch just as he accelerates away from his pit toward the South Curve. Nuvolari is still fourth, but Rosemeyer has caught up a lot, and as the cars go out of sight on the Hatzenbach, down in the valley, the silver Auto-Union is close behind the scarlet Alfa.
By the Karussell, Rosemeyer has got by the dogged Nuvolari. When the cars reach the stands after sixteen laps, the Mercedes trio are running easily, 25 sees. ‘covering the three. Rosemeyer is 57 secs. behind, and Nuvolari only 8 sees. behind the Auto-Union. Six laps remain. Can Rosemeyer by his daring make up that lost time behind the leaders ? Continued at foot of next page
Caracciola and von Brauchitsch duly arrive. Lang is due. No, it is Rosemeyer who appears, and he is making for his pit. All four wheels are changed in 52 secs., and the Auto-Union roars off. Nuvolari has gone by, but where is Lang ? Here is Hasse-ah, the Mercedes at last. Slowly it limps in, with a rear tyre not only stripped but” flat I The tyre has burst just after the Karussell, and Lang has done well to get here at all. The bonnet is opened, too, and plugs are changed. The stop costs over 3 mins., and now it is one Auto-Union against two Mercedes, with Nuvolari holding an outside chance. At eighteen laps Nuvolari holds his place, but at nineteen laps he has to stop for tyres, and Rosetneyer resumes the third position. Caracciola stops on this lap too, and a really miraculous change of both rear wheels is seen, the
stop taking only 23 secs. I Hfihnlein himself, leader of German motor sport, is moved to admiration, and claps his hands. Nuvolari’s stop has not improved his chances, but Farina with the remaining Ferrari Alfa has succeeded in passing Hasse’s Auto-Union to take fifth place.
Next lap, however, Farina disappears, so Nuvolari fights his usual lone battle. With only two laps to go, only some fearful calamity can weaken the Mercedes supremacy. They have speed in hand, and Rosemeyer cannot make up his lost time. The twenty-second lap runs its course, and Neubauer, the Mercedes manager,
casts his flag beneath the wheels of his two drivers as they cross the line amid frantic applause. Mercedes have won the Grand Prix of Germany at last ! Nuvolari gets a great reception, everyone rising to clap the Italian’s fine drive, and Hasse is fifth. Mercedes have lost only one car, in Seaman’s crash, for Kautz and Lang finish sixth and seventh. RESULT
1. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz), 82.7 m.p.h. 2. Von Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz), 46s. behind
3. Rosemeyer (Auto-Union), lm. 2s. behind.
4. Nuvolari (Mfa-Romeo), 4rn. 4s. behind. 6. Hasse (Auto-Union), 6m. 25e. behind.
6. Kautz (Mercedes-Benz), 6m. 10s. behind.
7. Lang (Mercedes-Benz), 1 lap behind.
8. Ruesch (Alfa-Romeo), 1 lap behind.
9. Evans (Alfa-Romeo), 3 laps behind.
10. Festeties (Maserati), 3 laps behind.
11. Marinoni (Alfa-Romeo), 4 laps behind.