CROSS-COUNTRY TRIALS IN GERMANY
ORGANISATION ON NATIONAL BASIS: SOME STRIKING NOVELTIES COMPARED WITH ENGLISH EVENTS
NEARLY every week-end, somewhere in England, enthusiasts are engaging in the sport of reliability trials. Abroad one hears more of racing than of trials. The International Alpine Trial is well known, but that is not quite the same thing as a trial in England. News seldom percolates to this country of the smaller ” cross-country ” events, and quite a number of readers of MoToR SPORT might be surprised to learn that in Germany, at all events, this form of sport is extremely popular. National organisation is the basis of German life in most of its aspects, and it is the same with German “reliability
trials,” or cross-country events. The story of any branch of motoring in Germany has been radically altered since 1933, when the first Pour Years Plan came into operation. Before 1933, there were numbers of private motor clubs, as in England, but now all events are organised under semi-official control.
The D.D.A.C. (Der Deutsche Automobil Club) is largely a touring organisation. It organises certain rallies, but in most of its activities is somewhat similar to the A.A. in Great Britain. The governing body of motor sport in Germany is the O.N.S. (Oberste Nationale Sportbehorde), and at its head, as dictator of the entire realm of German motor sport, is Korpsfithrer Hiihnlein, a well known figure at most of the Grand Prix races abroad.
Closely allied with the O.N.S. is the N.S.K.K. (Nationale Socialiste Krastsahrer Korps), of which Korpsfiihrer Hiihnlein is also chief, and from which his title of ” Korpsfithrer ” is derived. It is perhaps easier to refer to him as ” General ” Hiihnlein. Since the General is not only, as it were, chief of the R.A.C. Competitions
department, but also, in a sense, Minister of Transport, and close in the Councils of Herr Hitler himself, the Government control of German motor sport is explained.
Many visitors to Continental motoring events have imagined that the N.S.K.K. men, in their brown shirts with swastika armlets, black breeches, and field boots, are in some way connected with the military. Certainly they have a very
soldierly appearance, but there is no ccnnection with the army. In a way they have a political significance, inasmw-h as ultimately they are under Government control, and the organisation of any motoring event is greatly helped by their presence, in large numbers, lining the course with all the authority of the police in England.
The shortcomings of more or less amateur marshals are thus entirely obviated. The N.S.K.K. is divided into sections, by towns, or districts. It is these sections which organise the German cross-country events, all referring back in the end to the central control and General Hiihnlein. The 0.N.S., on the other hand, has no sections, but undertakes the organisation of the big International races, as at the
Avus and the Nfirburg Ring. The O.N.S. is, in fact, the R.A.C. of Germany, without the touring aspeLts of the British organisation.
Participation in the cross-country events is not confined to members of the N.S.K.K. Anyone residing within the area under the control of a particular section may compete in that section’s events, but must hold a licence from the O.N.S. This is quite apart from an International Competition Licence, which is a different thing altogether, and applies only to the same type of events in Germany as it does in England. The. ordinary N.S. licences are of
two kinds, for experts or novices. In big events, such as the three-day trials, or those where the course is difficult, novices are not allowed to take part. They have their own sections in many other events, and there are also events organised for novice licensees only. Novices can apply for an expert licence when they have gained three first-class awards in their own events. The big events themselves are subdivided into sections for standard and special cars, and sometimes another class is incorporated for the spzcial army cross-country vehicles. It would certainly be very interesting to see some of the army experts in England demonstrating their skill against the well known trials drivers. Usually these events where army vehicles take part are of considerable difficulty, and. only the most expert of the experts compete. Perhaps there is a chance here for th?. organisers of the Lawrence Cup Trial, in England,
which is held on army testing grounds, to provide a striking novelty.
The fixed axle creates little controversy in Germany, for locking differentials (of the type used on the Grand Prix cars, where one wheel can only spin a few turns apart from its fellow before the differential locks) are allowed, but only in the class for special Cars.
The same applies to competition tyres, but here there is a difference, for in the German events it is of primary importance to maintain the set average time, which may be as high as 40 m.p.h., over a difficult cross-country course, observed hills included. It is held that those with extremely ” knobbly ” tyres are automatically handicapped by not being able to maintain so high a speed. It is true enough in England that a car with ” knobbly ” tyres does not hold an ordinary road so well at speed, but with a speed limit in force, and a much greater volume of ordinary traffic, speeds are never high enough to make the handicap felt. The problem of the trade-supported driver is present in Germany, too, but the private owner is aided by the fact that there are no principal awards. As in a number of English events, competitors have to reach a certain standard to gain first or second-class awards. Where the courses are very difficult and likely to damage cars, private owners do not
compete. It frequently happens that there is, in fact, a winner of the various classes in these difficult events, for out of a total of 429 starters in a recent threeday event, sixty won gold medals, but only fifteen lost no marks. It is apparent that there is no lack of entries. Teams are a prominent feature, and here there are some striking novelties to English events. Team members are allowed to help one another as much as
possible. In a number of events, the members of a team may stand on a hill ready to push their comrade if he is in danger of stopping. If a car breaks down, team mates may tow it to the finish. However, the governing factor of average speed must not be forgotten, and those who wait to help others may lose on time. These cross-country events are tegarded as useful training for big races. Several of the cadets in the Merc6des-Benz team,. such as Hugo Hartmann or Heinz. lirendel, constantly take part in the ” trials,” and have gained many successes_