Recalling the 1935 German GP

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One of the nicer aspects about editing Motor Sport is being on the receiving end of a fairly regular flow of unexpected items of information and history that our thoughtful and enthusiastic readers send in. These are very interesting, especially to one who finds off-beat facets from the motoring past as fascinating as more established material. In this context I am grateful to Mr. H. J. Thomas, writing from Holland, for letting me see a copy of a wall-plaque which he noticed while staying at the Hotel Eitler Hof at the Nurburgring for a recent motor-race. This plaque names the distinguished guests who stayed at this hotel during the period of the 1935 German Grand Prix. The persons listed are is graphic reminder of this great race. I confess, however, that I do not recognise all of them, and any enlightenment anyone can provide might well lead to further interesting memories…

Let us go through the list, however, and see where we stand, The first name is that of Walb, who was, I think, an Auto-Union technician, in a race in which Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union started five and font cars, respectively, but were trounced by Nuvolari in a 3.2-litre Alfa Romeo inspite of his refuelling-stop going wrong and causing a 2 min. 14 sec. delay, dropping him from 1st to 6th place a dramatic motor-race indeed. Nuvolari, on this occasion of one of his greatest triumphs, apparently stayed elsewhere. But there is Herr Neubauer’s name, in room 28, the Mercedes-Benz Racing Manager next to his ace-driver Carraciola (room 27) he was to finish 3rd, ahead of the second Auto Union and Fagioli (room 29), another M-B driver. Then we find the aristocratic Manfred von Brauchitsch close to Caracciola (room 26). These drivers are flanked by Sibbitt and Schmitz (rooms 25 and 30), who were, I assume. M-B engineers.

Sommer was in room 61, presumably looking after Alfa Romeo interests, as he wasn’t driving. Brivio, who was to retire his Alfa Romeo on the very first lap with transmission failure, was in room 15, next to Raymond Mays except that Mays had three rooms and more likely took the one next to Humphrey Cook or did he? Chiron, whose Alfa also succumbed to transmission failure in the race, was there, likewise the Autounion drivers Varzi, Stuck, who was to finish 2nd behind Nuvolari, Rownityer and Pietsch, their rooms close to those of A-U designer Dr. Porsche, and Doctor Glaier, the A-U doctor. Ruesch (Alfa Romeo). Etaticefin (Maserati) and Zehender (Maserati) who were driving and von Delius who would have been had he not bent his ERA in practice, were also using this convenient hotel. But it looks as if ex-mechanic Lang, being given a trial-drive by Mercedes-Benz, was not yet expected to stay among the elite (in the race his engine expired after 16 laps). Nor, it seems, did the Maserati drivers Hartmann and Gherrit, the lone Bugatti driver Taruffi, or the Alfa pilot Balestrero, book in at the Eitler Hof, although it might have been useful for the last named, when he crashed on the opening lap or the race. Mays, by the way, was rather optimistically racing his 2-litre ERA. He was to hold 5th place momentarily, before the more powerful cars swept by, he and von Delius retired after doing 12 of the 22 laps, when the green car’s oil-pressure disappeared.

What of the rest of those who occupied this biotic of 42 rooms on this important occasion? Dr. Werlir, Mollenhauer, Lundt, Ulgolini, Grafs, Hucke and Ricordi may have been associated with the teams that were there to race. But what of Biener (Baurat), Frischer, Krompring Wilhelm, Geyer who shared room 43 with Bernet, and Dellachi? I note that Harker was in room 21, where he might well have bid goodnight to Etancelin (written as Etancien) and Mays, who had been booked in in adjacent bedrooms – I assume he was the W.E. Harker who made his name at Brooklands with a fast Ulster Austin and his V8 Harker Special, and Capt. Rhode may well have been another visitor from Britain.

Altogether, an unexpected reminder of an historic occasion, when the skill of Tazio Nuvolari destroyed the promise of the new German teams. The night after this Grosser Preis von Deutschland cannot have been a very jolly one for Neubauer and his drivers…. –W.B.

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