Achievement and tragedy
The whole sporting fraternity has been struck with a sense of grievous loss by the sudden death of Bernd Rosemeyer, one of the three greatest road-racing drivers in the world.
The accident which cut off the champion Auto Union driver in his prime occurred on the Frankfurt-Darmstadt autobahn, scene of his triumphs during the record week last October. Earlier in the day Rosemeyer had seen his 253mph record handsomely beaten by his friend and rival, Caracciola of Mercedes-Benz. It was in an attempt to regain the honours that he met his death
The astonishing formula cars of 1934-37 have become almost too fast for any track. Rosemeyer’s speed records were hailed as an unparalleled achievement, set up as they were on a road designed only for ordinary motor traffic. The autobahnen are divided into two strips, each less than 30 feet wide. It was only a short time ago that a broad stretch of sand, several hundred yards wide and many miles in length, was considered essential even for 200mph. Rosemeyer and his colleagues added 50mph without turning a hair, on a road narrower than the Barnet Bypass.
In the October record week there was an incident which might have resulted in disaster, when Caracciola’s car tried to lift at the nose, and it was a treacherous gust of wind which brought Rosemeyer to his doom. The spectators witnessed his Auto Union swerve, saw Rosemeyer fighting madly for control. Then, like a flash, it was over. The car hit the stone parapet of a bridge over the autobahn and leapt hurtling over the heads of the crowd to lie a tangled mass of metal at the foot of an embankment. Ambulance men rushed forward, but Rosemeyer had been killed outright.