A week after their stunning and dominant 1-2-3 finish in the Le Mans 24 Hours, Audi were at Mondhery on 24/25 June to show off their winner, the R8, and the equally sensational Auto Union streamliner, a replica of the 1937 car which Bernd Rosemeyer raced at Avus in May that year and then drove with great success in the Rekordwoche that October.
As the banked North Turn at Avus no longer exists, the Montlhery speedbowl was the ideal place to show off the fabulous Silver Arrow, which has been recreated so superbly by Crosthwaite and Gardiner, together with bodywork specialist Keith Roach. Le Mans winners Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela took turns to drive the can Supervised by Thomas Frank, head of Audi Tradition, the Auto Union did several laps of the circuit on both days.
Rosemeyer’s son, Bernd Junior, was present as a guest of Audi and was fascinated to see the streamliner on the circuit. “It was a real time warp — just as if my father was in the car,” he said. “It gave me a very touching and emotional feeling which I wouldn’t have thought possible before I came here. When Emanuele Pirro sat behind the wheel, I saw my father there.”
Pirro had already driven the Auto Union grand prix and hillclimb cars, but the streamliner was a new, and very different, experience. “This is very special because it was made for very high speeds [Rosemeyer was doing 230-240mph on the six-mile Avus straights], so it is less agile than the others through the corners,” he explained. “However it is very, very aerodynamic and goes through the air so easily compared with a modem racing car, where downforce gives you lots of drag. When you back off the throttle on a modern car it slows dramatically, whereas this Auto Union just keeps sailing smoothly along.” Chris Nixon