It was supposed to be a walkover for the Silver Arrows, a home win at the Nürburgring in front of 300,000 spectators and Nazi party brass. Except someone forgot to tell Tazio Nuvolari. His 1935 German Grand Prix win is widely touted as being the greatest upset in the sport’s history; an almost satanically brilliant drive where it’s all too difficult to separate myth from reality. While clearly outgunned aboard his Alfa Romeo P3, you couldn’t fault the Mantuan’s powers of persistence. After being swamped by the German cars and his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate Louis Chiron at the start, he was nonetheless lying second behind Mercedes’ Rudolf Caracciola by the ninth lap. His good work was then undone by a disastrous two-minute pitstop, which dropped him down to sixth place.
What happened next is beyond legendary. In one otherworldly lap he took Hans Stuck, Caracciola, Luigi Faglioli and Bernd Rosemeyer (whose Auto Union was pit-bound) to reclaim second place. By lap 12 Manfred von Brauchitsch held a lead of 1 minute 9 seconds. The German then proceeded to extend the gap, only for his tyres to wear faster than those of his pursuer. Nuvolari chased down his prey but von Brauchitsch, who had won the Eifel Grand Prix the previous season, clearly wasn’t going to give up without a fight: he managed to claw back three seconds on the penultimate tour, but the W25’s left rear let go as he headed into Karussell for the final time, and the supercharged Alfa swept by to claim an unlikely triumph. Nuvolari was followed home by Stuck, Caracciola and Rosemeyer.
Not expecting a red car to finish first, the organisers were caught on the hop – they only had a recording of Deutschland über Alles to hand. No matter, Nuvolari had a copy of the Marcia Reale on him.