17th Eifelrennen Meeting

Nurburgring, May 23rd.

The annual Eifelrennen meeting on the Nurburgring track in Western Germany saw events for sports cars and Formula III cars, as well as motor-cycle races and a vast entry produced a very full day of racing. After two events for “series sports cars that were both dominated by a large collection of Porsches, the two most important events of the day took place, the first for racing/sports cars up to 1,500 c.c. and the second for Formula III cars. These two events were run concurrently, the sports cars starting first, followed after a short interval by the Formula III field. This arrangement of running two races concurrently on the same circuit is possible at Nurburgring by reason of the length of one lap, which is 22.8 kilometres; both classes had to cover five laps.

The racing/sports class invariably produces a battle between the two 1 1/2-litre German makes, Borgward and Porsche, but this time the race was enlivened by the addition of another German make with two E.M.W. cars from Eisenach. These cars were entirely new and built by the firm who have taken over the old B.M.W. works, that firm having moved its activities to Munich. These E.M.W.s were fitted with new six-cylinder engines with 2 o.h.c., each camshaft driving a six-cylinder magneto, mounted at the rear, there being two plugs per cylinder. Carburation was by six carburetters of German make, somewhat similar to the Amal motor-cycle carburetter and a six-branch exhaust system led into a short stub pipe protruding from the side of the body. A four-speed gearbox. with a long central lever, was coupled directly to the back of the engine and the transmission drove to a differential mounted on the chassis frame. This frame was composed of two large diameter tubes, with sundry cross-members, and the front suspension was by double wishbones with the top ones connected to long thin torsion bars, parallel with the frame. At the rear the suspension was of orthodox de Dion layout with links connecting the hub carriers to longitudinal torsion bars. Knock-off hubs were used in conjunction with wire-spoke wheels while the bodywork was a masterpiece of panel-beating, enclosing all the wheels, and the driver’s left-hand seating position having a head fairing. So closely did the bodywork fit the mechanical components that long bulges were required in the bonnet top to clear the camshaft covers, these bulges being continued into the scuttle, the right-hand one finishing in the rear-view mirror and the left-hand one finishing in the flair below the aero-screen. The resultant car was extremely low and very pretty to look upon, but the lowness of the driver’s seat produced a rather ungainly looking driving position. These two E.M.W.s were driven by Barth and Rosenhammer and entered by the factory, and in opposition were three factory-entered Borgward 1 1/2-litre cars, of the type used in last year’s Mexico race, with four-cylinder engines and all-enveloping bodies with short stumpy tails. The three drivers were Hartmann, Brudes and Bechem. Porsche had their Mille Miglia car with the four-camshaft engine (which will not fit into a normal Porsche saloon, in spite of what some Rally people think), and tried numerous drivers during practice, including Hermann Lang, but finally Hans Hermann was prescribed fit enough after his crash with the Formula I Mercédès-Benz, and it was he who drove the car in the race. From Italy came Giardini, Francois and Brandi with three standard two-seater 1,452-c.c. Oscas, beautifully finished in deep red and the rest of the field consisted of private-owners with various versions of the Porsche push-rod cars. Trenkel and Vogele had “Glockler” versions, with the engine in front of the rear axle, while Merkel had a standard Porsche 1,500 with an open two-seater body. Last in the list, but by no means least, was Colin Chapman with the new ultra-streamlined Lotus-M.G. What with one delay and another, Chapman eventually arrived at the Nurburgring after practice had finished and naturally the organisers refused him permission to start in the race, for the Nurburgring is not to be taken lightly and calls for a great deal of practice. However, they compromised by agreeing to let the car run if an experienced driver could be found for it. Obvious choice was Stirling Moss, who was there with a Cooper 500, but as his race was running at the same time as the sports-car race he could not help out. Eventually a German driver, Erwin Bauer, was found who agreed to drive the Lotus. He was reserve driver for the Osca team and had a great deal of experience of the Nurburgring, so the choice was a wise one.

On race day the front row consisted of the German rivals, Borgward, Porsche and E.M.W., with Porsche and Osca cars in the second row. The Lotus, looking very sleek and efficient in racing green, had to be content with being on its own in the back row, with 18 cars in front of it, as it had done no practice. From the start Hermann leapt into the lead with the four-cam Porsche and by the time the cars reached Adenau, barely half-way round the first lap, he had built up a lead of 15 seconds over the next man. Then a rare occurrence took place, the Porsche split the rubber universal joint in its steering column and Hermann had to limp slowly round for the rest of the lap and retire. This left Bechem with a Borgward in the lead, followed by Giardini and Hartmann, with Rosenhammer fourth on the first of the E.M.W. cars. At the end of the second lap the order was the same for the first three but Bauer had swept the Lotus right through the tail-enders, past both E.M.W.s, two Oscas and a Borgward and was now in fourth place, though a long way behind the leading cars. On lap three Hartmann caught and passed the Osca of Giardini, so that Borgward were now first and second, while the Lotus was going quicker than ever as Bauer became used to it so he soon left the rest of the field behind and began to close up on the Osca lying in third place. The remaining laps saw no change in the order of the race so far as the first four were concerned and while it was a resounding victory for Borgward the Lotus-M.G. had made a great impression and everyone regretted that Chapman had been too late to qualify to drive it. The two E.M.W. cars ran true to “new car” form and after going well for two laps petered out, but not before showing good promise.

The Formula III race was started shortly after the sports-car race and an excellent entry lined up at the start. The German driver Theo Helfrich had a new Cooper-Norton Mark VIII, as did Adolf Lang and the Australian driver Hunt. Moss was driving the Francis Beart special Mark VIII Cooper, while C. A. N. May had his Cooper-J.A.P. Two cars were entered by the Cooper factory and driven by Lewis-Evans and Leston, and Alan Brown had a new model. There were other earlier model Coopers from Holland, Belgium and Germany, all painted their national colours; in opposition to all these Surbiton products were the Kiefts of Parker, Walker and the Belgian Texidor, while Loens and Fenning had Erskine Starides, all these using Norton engines. The ex-Instone Mezzo-litre, driven by Byrnes, looked very Grand Prix with its forward-mounted engine and neat bodywork amidst all the normal 500 layouts.

During practice Alan Brown put himself out of the event by looping his Cooper in a careless moment, fortunately with nothing more severe than bruises and a severe twisting; Helfrich succeeded in recording fastest practice lap and the front row of the start saw him in company with Moss, Evans and Parker, with Hunt, Lang and Leston in row two. The start was first-class, the four green cars of Moss, Evans, Leston and Loens rushed away into the lead, it being a most heartening sight to see them leave behind the red, orange, white, yellow and blue cars of the various countries competing. If only a similar occurrence could take place in Formula I, motor-racing would take on a new interest. At the end of the first lap Lewis-Evans was firmly in the lead and Moss and Parker were wheel to wheel for second place, followed by Leston, Helfrich. Hunt and Lang. Walker came slowly into his pits with the entrails of his rear suspension dragging behind him, the back of his Kieft having broken its rubber bands. On lap two Lewis-Evans was even farther in front and Moss was still trying to deal with Parker while Leston had dropped two places. Loens was hanging on to the leading bunch, but a flooding carburetter was losing him valuable speed. After another 22-kilometre lap Lewis-Evans was nearly a half minute in front of Moss who was now on his own as Parker’s clutch ceased to function so he retired at his pit. So fast was Lewis-Evans driving, and smoothly at that, that there was now a big gap before Helfrich, Leston, Hunt and Lang came by in that order, while May had now caught up with Loens, who was slowing. Shortly after this these two became mixed together with the result that May went hedging-and-ditching and Loens stopped. At the end of the five laps everyone was awaiting the arrival of Lewis-Evans when Moss streaked across the line instead. Evans had passed the last signalling post, so could not be far from the finish and after a short time he appeared over the brow of the hill leading up to the finishing area pushing his car, the engine having suddenly cut out completely for no very apparent reason. With barely 100 yards to go he paused in a very weak condition and Helfrich swept by into second place, while Lang, Hunt and Leston were fast approaching. Seeing the chequered flag so near Evans made a last big effort and amid applause pushed his car over the line in third place, the moral winner of the event.