The GP that never was
THE ANNIVERSARY OF ME 1939 DONINGTON
Grand Prix that was never held, because war had intervened, was remembered by a news item from the Donington GP Collection, reminding us that but for Hitler this important race would have been held on September 30th 1939.
By August 20th Max Seiler, head of the Mercedes Benz racing organisation, had sent in entries for three of the 2962cc V12 W163 Mercedes Benz to take part in the Donington race, the drivers being Rudi Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Hermann Lang. Mercedes had accepted 1,400 starting money for the three cars, the 15 guineas entry fees not invoked. Later Seiler wired to ask if he could enter a fourth car, for 1,500 starting money, or was this the fee per car? And who would the fourth driver have been? Probably Paul Pietsch. No doubt Mercedes-Benz was anxious to turn the tables on Auto Union, whose cars, driven respectively by Bernd Rosemeyer and Tazio Nuvolari, had won the event in 1937 and 1938. What is so interesting is that visitors to the Donington GP Collection at the Donington Park race course can see
the entry forms sent to England from Stuttgart, and the subsequent telegram. It was very much to the credit of Fred Craner, Secretary of the Derby & District MC in those pre-war times, that he persuaded Mercedes and Auto Union, the fastest and most impressive of GP cars of that period, to compete in the 1937 and 1938 races. Donington held its first GP in 1935, not quite the first ever in Great Britain, because the RAC Grand Prix was held at Brooklands in 1926 and 1927.