MERCEDES ITBER ALLES
ASTOUNDING SPEEDS IN THE AVUSRENNEN : C. F. C. MARTIN (F.R.A.) WINS 1,500 c.c. RACE FOR ENGLAND
God Save the King I 880,000 Germans stood rigid with right arms uplifted in salute at the Avus Track, Berlin, while the British National Anthem blared impressively from the ‘loudspeakers. Charles Martin, the only English driver in the 1,500 c.c. race, had scored a splendid victory with his E.R.A., at an average speed of no less than 119.6 m.p.h. for more than eighty-four miles. He had defeated drivers from five other countries, and the opposition had included a strong fleet of the fast Italian Maseratis.
The 1,500 c.c. race was only the curthin-raiser for the big event of the day, for the Grand Prix cars. This race was run under “free formula,” without any restrictions as to engine size or weight limit, and both Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union had strained every nerve to produce the fastest cars that any race in the world had ever seen. The event was :run in two heats and a final, the heats over seven laps, as in the case of the 1,500 c.c. cars, and the final over eight laps, or approximately ninety-six miles.
Over this distance, Hermann Lang, the rising star of the lVferades-Benz team, and victor in the Grand Prix of Tripoli, held a few weeks previdusly, averaged the prodigious speed of 162.5 m.p.h., while Rosemeyer had in one of the heats put in a lap at 171.6 m.p.h. with his AutoUnion !
It was unfortunate that the Italian team of Alfa-Romeos did not start. In such a race of pure speed, the Italians had felt discretion to be the better part of valour, and, not wishing to be butchered to make a German holiday, had not come to the Avus.
The sun blazed down upon the vast crowds assembled round the track. High above them towered the new banking of the north turn, rising sixty feet high, with a brick surface sloped at an angle of nearly 1 in 1. The Avus consists of two parallel and almost straight roads, each about six miles in length, and joined at either end by a loop. The north loop has just been entirely reconstructed, for formerly it was only banked very slightly.
Now speeds of about 115 m.p.h. are possible on the towering banking, as the.cars swoop by above the heads of the crowds. The south loop is still banked at only a slight angle.
A huge new grandstand, packed to its capacity (4,500 people), was ranged alongside the exit from the north turn. Two tunnels communicated with the arena, below the banking on the inside of the track, and here thousands upon thousands stood in serried ranks, those at the railings wedged close, those behind perched on footstools, chairs, or improvised ladders, while many sought a better view by means of periscopes. Further down the track, where the parallel roads ranged in either direction, there were more stands, all crowded to the limit. Here the old pits were still in use, unfortunately out of sight of the main grandstand. As the new work had only just been completed—indeed the massive new restaurant whose towers loomed
behind the banking of the north turn had only been made serviceable by frantic last-minute work—there was no scoreboard either opposite the big stand. However, there were loudspeakers at frequent intervals, and it is never difficult to follow the progress of a scratch race on the Continent.
The first race on the programme was. for motor-cycles, and meanwhile the 1,500 c.c. cars were got ready. When they were wheeled to the starting grid, a_ green car was seen in the front rank. It was Martin’s E.R.A., which he had bought only just before the race, and with which he had lapped at 128.1 m.p.h. in practice. Charles Brackenbury was in attendance,. and during practice had had to remove the head of the car to replace a bent valve.. Next to Martin’s E.R.A. was I’late’s Maserati, and, behind, a brave array of brightly coloured cars, eleven in all. As the starting maroon exploded, Martin leapt ahead, and disappeared down the right hand road with his engine screaming
furiously. Six minutes later, the characteristic tote of the English car was heard rapidly approaching. Then Martin appeared, high on the banking, having covered a standing lap (12.1 miles) at 120.8 m.p.h. ! He was round the north curve and away before his next rival, Cortese with his Maserati, came into view. Close behind Cortese came the Norwegian driver, Bjorristadt, driving the .other E.R.A. in the race, and, at a short interval, three more Maseratis.
Next lap the two E.R.A.s led the field.
Martin was able to decrease his speed slightly, but Bjornstad,t made desperate efforts to catch up. Then on the third lap the Norwegian was missing’ ! He had burst a tyre in his efforts near the south turn, and stopped there to change wheels. An interesting feature of the races was that a second Set of pits, chiefly for tyre changes, was situated at the far side of the course, in addition to the main pits near the north side. So Cortese with his Maserati took up
the battle, and actually gained on Martin considerably. Martin was driving cleverly to save his tyres, for the heat was intense, and at the terrific speed any unnecessary stress had to be avoided. After five laps the Italian was only one
second behind, but now Martin began to draw away again, and at the sixth lap had a lead of four seconds, though Cortese had put in a lap at 121.4 m.p.h.
It was the Italian who cracked, for the red. car did not come round again, and Martin with a final lap at 122.7 m.p.h., fastest of the race, ran out an easy winner.
Bjorn.stadt burst another tyre on his E.R.A. during the sixth lap, and did not complete the distance.
1,500 e.e. Result
I. C. E. C. Martin ( E. It. A.), 119.6 m.p.h.
‘2. ,Castelbareo (3las(rati), 3m. 52s. whin I.
3. Plate (Maslerati). him. 17s. behind.
4. Uboldi (Maserati), tni. 34s. behind.
5. nag (lingatti), 5in. 2s. behind. Thus the vast crowd had had a taste of speed, but the 1 , 50() c.c. event was only the preliminary for the real thrills of the day. In spite of the absence of the AlfaRomeo, a battle royal was promised between the two great German firms,
Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union. Mercedes had not won a big race on German soil since Caracciola’s victory in the Eifelrennen of 1933. Last year they were dogged by ill-luck and now, after a fine start in the Tripolis race, were determined to wrest the victory before their own people. They had no fewer than three specially built streamlined Cars, as well as two others with the orthodox Grand Prix body. Von Brauchitsch had a twelve-cylinder streamlined car, of a type similar to that with which Caracciola set up records at nearly 230 m.p.h. Zehender was also to have driven a ” twelve,” but this was not ready in time. Auto-Union had four cars entered, two of ultra-streamlined pattern, with all the wheels enclosed by the fairing of the nose, as in the case of the Mercedes Stronitinienwagen also. These were to be handled by Rosemeyer and Fagioli, but Rosemeyer’s was the only car in the race on which the wheels were totally enclosed by side-shields. On the Mercedes streamlined cars the side-shields had been
left off, in order to assist in the cooling of the tyres. Six cars started. in the first heat, quite enough in view of the colossal speeds which were to be attained. Caracciola’s Streamlined Mercedes hesitated at the start, and it was Von Delius Who took the lead for Auto-Union, followed by
Seaman with his MereRIL-s. The first foar cars in each heat were to run in the final, and none of the drivers were disposed to extend their cars at first. They were loitering round at about 148 m.p.h.
After two laps, Rosemeyer moved into the lead, with Delius still second. Caracciola bided his time in fourth place, just behind Seaman. On the fourth lap he came throug:i to second place, 3 secs. behind Rosemeyer, but on the fifth lap a great shout, rising in volume as the cars got nearer, showed that the Mere kles champion was in fron.
The spee.1 W.:13 rising steadily. On the sixth lap 10;2rn2yer flung his car into the north curvz, leading Caracciola by a length. but as the strange-looking monsters hurtled round the banking. Caracciola was drawing up ! Just past the stands Mere ‘d’es took the lead once more. Both drivers w..!re now properly roused, and Rosemeyer made a desperate effort in the last lap which he accomplished at 171.6 m.p.h., the fastest of the day. Not even this pace was enough, however, and Caracciola fiaished secs. in front, at an, average sp;*ed of 155.5
m.p.h. Delius was third and Seaman fourth six seconds .covering all four drivers. The second heat did not provide such a close struggle, but there were several sensations. Fagicili led off for AutoUnion at about 157 m.p.h. This was too slow for Lang, who, as he said afterwards, did not think it fair not to give the crowd
their money’s worth I Even when Von Brauchitsch pushed the speed up to 160 m.p.h. with the twelve-cylinder Merclds, Lang was not satisfied, and with a lap at 167 m.p.h. he took the lead. Almost at once disaster overtook him, and he had to change a tyre at the south turn depot, while on this same fifth lap, Fagioli who had responded to the increase in speed and was only sec.. behind Lang, had sonic serious trouble with the AutoUnion and Stopped altogether near the south turn. This left Von Brauchitsch in the lead, with Hasse’s Auto-Union second, half a minute in .-.rrears, and Lang third, lapping at 169 m.p.h. in an endeavour to catch up. Fourth, a long way
behind, was Hartmann’s privately owned Maserati, whose sporting effort was cheered as he pursued his lone way.
Since Fagioli could not get going again, this order prevailed to the finish, Von Brauchitsch winning at an average speed of 160.3 m.p.h. Fagioli’s trouble had been given out as ” tyres ” but a representative of the tyre manufacturers inspected the car and protested, as the tyres were in order ! Later it was given out that the gear-lever had jammed.
The tyre manufacturers then tested the temperatures of the various tyres; and it is interesting that those enclosed on the streamlined cars were actually cooler than those on the open Grand Prix. models. However, the streamlined cars’ tyres were worn far more than those of the other cars, which presents a pretty technical problem.
A long delay now occurred while Pagioli’s car was removed from the course, and meanwhile Rosemeyer discovered that an oil pipe had broken in a peculiarly inaccessible position on his AutoUnion. It was thought that he would not be able to run in the final, but eventually repairs were effected, and after a test lap he pronounced himself satisfied.
Long shadows were drawing in over the track as the cars vere arrayed once more for the final. This time Caracciola had a good start, and for the first two laps Rosemeyer followed him closely. During the third lap Rosemeyer noticeti a logs of oil pressure, and rather than risk his engine stopped for a moment’s inspection of the mended pipe at the south turn depot. The mend proved still intact. but Rosemeyer had. lost vital seconds. Caracciola’s average after three laps was 163 m.p.h., and Lang was now second and Seaman third-a promising position for Mercedes, though Von Brauchitseh had retired with clutch trouble.
On the fourth lap, however, Caracciola had to retire owing to oil finding its way into the clutch and causing slip, while next lap Seaman had to stop for tyres at the main depot. With miraculous speed two wheels were changed in 40 secs. and Seaman set off just behind Rosemeyer, to whom he stuck like a leech.
Lang now led the race, and this time his tyres lasted. The superior speed of the streamlined Mercedes enabled him to keep ahead of Delius :and Hasse, with the ” open ” Auto-Unions, while Rosemeyer could not get within striking distance. IVIercedes had a great day, winning both heats and. the -final, each time with a different car and driver.
1. H. Lang (Mercedes-Benz), 162.5 m.p.h.
2. Vo3 Thlius (Auto-Union), 2s. behind.
3. B. IT usse-(Aitto-Union). 368. behind.
4. R. It )setney; (Auto-Union). lin. 7s. behind.
5. lt. Seam La (Meree&.A-Ilenz). lm. 20s. behind.