Return to splendour

The announcement that the VSCC hopes to have an Auto Union actually racing at its Richard Seaman Trophies Meeting at that so appropriate circuit Donington Park, is exciting news which should draw in the spectators. The car is one of the D-type Auto-Unions found in the USSR by Mr and Mrs Karassik, and bought recently by a new owner, after restoration by Crosthwaite & Gardiner in 1993. It would be the first Auto Union to race in this country since the war, although Neil Corner drove his D-type up Shelsley Walsh in the '80s. If it races again it will rather overshadow the demo by a Mercedes-Benz W196, at Monaco. So far the proposed driver of the Auto Union has not been named. If the 180mph car is in a scratch race at VSCC Donington on May 21 and is in anything like the shape it was when new, even driven circumspectly, it must surely win?

Ah, those evocative Auto Unions at Donington pre-war! I remember drivers Hasse and Muller and Dr Feuereissen arriving at Croydon in 1937 in a Sabena tri-motor Junkers, while Rosemeyer came later in a Dutch Air Lines' Douglas and was driven to London by Herr Hermann of Auto Union sales, going on to Donington by train. I remember how we thought Mercedes must win, but how Rosemeyer took the lead from von Brauchitsch's Merc, to win by 37.8sec, at 82.86mph. It was England's greatest race ever at that time. I remember how the winning 6-litre V16 Auto Union (or Type 22 Horch) was driven away by a mechanic as Rosemeyer, limping, sore, and covered in perspiration, had his ripped overalls taped up before receiving his award.

I remember the victorious Auto Union later being modestly displayed in the London showrooms, where a party was held for Rosemeyer. This VSCC initiative should recapture some of the exciting atmosphere of those days.