On Germany's rise to supremacy in motor racing
THERE can be no doubt whatsoever, now that war has come, that Germany participated in International motor racing during the years 1934-1939 as a means of putting over very valuable world propaganda in respect of her engineering supremacy, and of reminding her own countrymen of her prowess in this field in a very convincing manner. Shortly after Herr Hitler's rise to power, we find Mercédès-Benz and Auto-Union State-aided, and ordered to compete in all the classic Grands Prix run under the International rules of the A.I.A.C.R., and to build cars capable of sweeping all before them in such races. The result has been some of the greatest motor racing that has ever happened—Mercédès-Benz versus Auto-Union ! What a great period of racing history and what astonishing racing-car progress that portrays! I do not suggest that her motor-racing victories are going to help Germany materially from an engineering standpoint in the present war. An article in the January issue of MOTOR SPORT outlined the essential differences existing between the racing-car engines and the engines used in Germany's military aircraft. But there is no doubt but that motor racing, on the scale on which Germany played it for six seasons before the war, was used as world propaganda by a war-seeking nation, and we might have heeded this warning had we harked back to 1914, when German Mercédès-Benz cars finished in the first three places in the French Grand Prix, following very careful preparation and very confident boasting of victory on the part of Germany before that race. In the future, politicians must realise that widespread backing of teams of G.P. racing-cars by a nation indicates that the nation concerned is anxious to flaunt its engineering abilities before the world at large. In striving to keep the peace after the next armistice, Great Britain would do well to encourage International motor racing, and to build a team of cars able to beat the rest of the world, apart from maintaining a strong navy, a mighty air force and a vast mechanised army—and she should take careful note of who is her runner-up in this motor racing. Even though the development of world-beating racing-cars does not imply equal supremacy in aero-engine design and construction, in detail it must greatly enhance the efficiency of the mechanised military power of a nation, while it represents a very powerful weapon of propaganda throughout the world, and, ere war breaks, is a means of capturing valuable world trade that helps to swell the national war-coffers. So it behoves powerful nations to encourage motor racing in times of peace, gaining the advantages that accrue from International supremacy and regarding any serious challenge to such supremacy as a measure, a subtle indication, an undercurrent as it were, of the way the political situation is developing. Many years ago, in this paper, Major Oliver Stewart suggested that in years to come the destiny of nations might be decided, not by wholesale warfare, but by the outcome of a single, properly-staged inter State air race. That thought was an optimistic one, but the idea of using the racing-car as an envoy of national strength in keeping world peace after the war is not anything like so fantastic, for victory in classic Grand Prix contests would be as carefully observed, learned, and inwardly digested by vanquished dictators as less desirable methods such as mass flights of fighting aircraft over their cities or the frequent appearance of warships off their coasts. It should also be a deal cheaper.
Many of us deeply regret the change that has come over full-scale motor racing, so that from being a friendly contest between the automobile-producing nations in Gordon Bennett times, to a struggle for supremacy between individual manufacturers of good cars in the days of the French Grand Prix, it has become a means of passively proclaiming the technical efficiency of the Dictator States, a staged demonstration over which no expense is spared, endeavouring to impress upon the civilised peoples of the world that the participants possess the greatest designs, engineers, technicians and organisers in the world. A portent, in fact, that war is on the way . . . .
Unpalatable as this fact is to the ordinary, peace-loving motoring enthusiast, it is one which we should have done well to have faced, remembering how history repeats itself, and taking our minds back to Lyons in 1914, when Lautenschlager, Salzer and Wagner dominated the finish of the greatest motor-race in Europe. It was not only Germany's sudden, growing list of successes we should have heeded. It was the immense effort she was putting out to dominate International racing, the tremendous sums of money spent in preparing the cars and transporting the teams to every country where Grand Prix races were held, her intense care and skill in their operation, and the ambitious design of her cars, which enabled them not only to beat their opponents but to out-perform them so thoroughly that literally a new era of motor-racing commenced. Nineteen thirty -four-thirty-nine--Mercédès-Benz versus Auto-Union. Quite why the German Reich put two unquestionably rival teams into the field is debatable. Possibly they were so greedy for assured success that they were afraid to place all their eggs in one basket. Perhaps they hoped, and indeed it seems that, if so, they largely succeeded, to disguise their use of motor racing as a means of powerful propaganda by letting two well-known concerns, manufacturing production cars, appear as rivals desirous only of upholding the reputation of their commercial products. At all events, both Mercédès-Benz and Auto-Union were State-aided to carry Germany's colours. Why did not Great Britain and France strive to meet this challenge when it arose? Say, if you will, that it was not until 1937, when the German teams raced before tens of thousands of British spectators in Donington Park, that any appreciable number of Britishers realised what a great undertaking the German racing organisation was-realised, from the astonishing convoy of cars and lorries, the minute attention to detail in practice, and the shattering performance of the cars on the course, the immense store that Nazi Germany set on success in motor racing. The answer to that is that it is the job of a Government, not of racing enthusiasts to heed these things, to catch at these not so unobvious straws-in-the-wind. The British Government once subsidised our aircraft industry to compete in the Schneider Trophy seaplane race without, I assume, receiving a request to do so from the folk who used to watch a King's Cup Race—they withdrew the subsidy just when outright victory was in sight, and the late Lady Houston had to come gallantly to the aid of British prestige . . . After that, we began the reduce-armaments game, and the Government never noticed what was happening in the great motor races of four or five years ago. It is not at all ridiculous or far-fetched to believe that, had Great Britain hastened to prepare a team of world-beating G. P. cars and with them met and beaten the German cars, Herr Hitler might have had more respect for Neville Chamberlain when he flew to Munich in September 1938. Equally, it is not at all ridiculous or farfetched to imagine that, had the Government decided that it would rather buy twenty-five bombers or the equivalent, it might still have had the satisfaction of starting the armaments speed-up much earlier had it taken note of the warning offered by International motor racing. It had only to listen to those Sporting Englishmen who used to attend Continental races at their own expense and who came home with tales of Germany's intense effort to ensure victory, of the publicity afforded to the drivers, of the Storm Troopers sent to guard the roads, of the exhibitions of the racing-cars in public streets and before influential audiences, and of the general mingling of military with sporting aspects in German racing; not forgetting those telegrams bidding them "Win for Italy," which Bonito Mussolini used to send to the drivers of his State-aided Alfa-Romeos in even earlier times—and not because he was a rabid racing enthusiast . . . But these comments went unheeded, like those of other enthusiasts, who spoke uneasily of the careful study which Mercédès-Benz had made of the Lyons circuit and of their detailed attention to pit work and similar things, after returning from the 1914 Grand Prix, a few weeks before that other European war. Here I may digress to observe that at that time it seems that propaganda went hand in hand with research, for the engines of the victorious cars had much in common with the six-cylinder aero motors subsequently used in German fighting aircraft. It is rumoured that Rolls-Royce, in typically British fashion, paid royalties to Mercédès after the war for every "Hawk" aero-motor they made, this being based on the 1914 G. P. Mercédès engine, one of which was stripped at Derby after war broke out; Bentley and Straker-Squire, too, owed something to it when they came to manufacture fast cars. Clearly, in 1911, it was the German Government which had prompted this return to racing of a concern which had not achieved a big success for some six years. Those who witnessed a repetition of such things of recent years could have pretty well told our Government of the inference to be drawn, as early as the middle of 1934, and as we were quite unprepared for war at the time of the Munich Conference, and are only now catching up on Germany's rate of aircraft production, I cannot but feel that such warning would have been most valuable—even if it could not have resulted in Mr. Chamberlain going, not to Munich with his umbrella, but to Nurburg with a crash-helmet, to warn Herr Hitler that we meant business by soundly beating the Mercédès-Benz with a British-Government-subsidised Grand Prix car. On that note I will leave you to the review which follows, which was written not out of any desire to boost German successes, but because the period of racing history covered is intensely interesting, and because it may serve as an eye-opener for some politician able to think along modern lines, suggesting to him the desirability of serious British participation in racing when the war is won. This period of racing history is tremendously interesting, not to say enthralling, but there is nothing particularly fantastic about it. The German cars show a tremendous advance on previous technique only because they were built regardless of expense and under a new thoroughness of preparation to a Formula which accentuated immense performance. Had these cars not been State financed, would they have been equally fast, but so unreliable as to be a complete failure, or would they have been of much more conservative performance? Would they have been built at all? As it was, they were of advanced, but not freakish design. Moreover, Neubauer, Uhlenhaut, von Eberhorst and Feureisen, were quite human souls, and the drivers were well known and associated with other great marques, while Mercédès-Benz and Auto-Union engaged in perfectly genuine rivalry. So the years 1934-9 saw racing which his quite normally into the complete picture of racing viewed down the years, yet Which, thanks to its political significance, was something quite remarkable, the like of which we shall probably never see again.
MERCÉDÈS-BENZ versus AUTO-UNION. SOME OF THE GREATEST RACING EVER, AS A PRELUDE TO WAR
The year 1934 saw the introduction of the new International Formula, which stipulated a maximum weight limit of 750 kg. for G.P. cars, with their wheels in place, but without tyres, fuel, oil or water, and also imposed minimum body dimensions of 850 x 250 mm, at the seat. The A.I.A.C.R. thus hoped that engine size would be restricted to something around 2½-litres, and dangerous maxima of 150 m.p.h., then being reached by leading G.P. cars, materially reduced. It is now history that the science of metallurgy and the entry into racing of German as well as Italian State-aided teams had just the reverse effect to that intended but the formula nevertheless remained in force until 1987. When it became known that Germany would have cars in the field, rumour ran riot. Herr Hitler was said to have decreed that only German drivers could handle the new cars, but others reported Nuvolari to have visited Stuttgart. Auto-Union were rumoured to have built 3.2-litre rear-engined ears designed by Dr. Porsche, referred to either as Porsch-wagon or P-wagens, and, they said, Stuck, Leiningen, Momberger and Sebastian had been urgently called to Nurburg for tests without even being aware that the cars existed. By January it was known that Mercédès-Benz would race straight-eight 2.9-litre cars, and had picked Fagioli, von Brauchitsch, Henne and Bernet as drivers, and that the Auto-Union team would be Stuck, Sebastian, and Prince Leiningen. There was much comment on Luigi Fagioli's inclusion in the Mercédès team, in view of the intense wave of nationalism that was sweeping Germany. We did not then realise what a specialised job driving these cars was. The Auto-Unions were tested over the Milan-Varese autostrada, being reported to reach at least 155 m.p.h., at Avus and at Monza. On March 6th, much sensation was stirred up when the first car constructed was taken back to Avus, and, driven by Stuck, set up a new World's Hour Record, watched by ex-Crown Prince Willie. The car had to be heavily braked to negotiate the turns at the end of the straights, but reaching about 165 m.p.h. on these straights, the Auto-Union averaged 134.608 m.p.h. This beat Eyston's record set up at Montlhery with the Panhard by 0.99 m.p.h. and the World's 100 miles and 200 kilos records, also held Eyston, were broken, the former at 134.46 m.p.h. In the April issue, MOTOR SPORT was able to give a description of the Mercédès-Benz cars, and announce the drivers as Fagioli, Caracciola, Brauchitsch, Henne, Broschek and Bernet. Fagioli was only expected to deputise for "Caratsch" until he was fully recovered from a recent accident. Henne held the World's Motor-cycle Speed Record for BM W., Broschek won a class race in 1928 with a Horch at Nurburg, and Bernet had long-distance trials success with a Wanderer. Mercédès had carried out tests on the Milan-Varese road as Avus was ice-bound, and Alfred Neubauer was said to be quite satisfied. At the Berlin Motor Show, at the celebration of the Gottlieb Daimler centenary, Herr Bradenburg for the Ministry of Communications and Herr Huhnlein of the Automobile Corps attended, and that evening Lautenschlager, Salzer and Sailer were amongst those who broadcast from Stuttgart. In the May issue of MOTOR SPORT the Auto-Union was described and illustrated, the engine being given as a 45º V16 of 3,080 c.c. The drivers were now quoted as Stuck, Leiningen, Sebastian or Burggaler, and possibly Momberger. Willi Walb was given as team manager.
The first appearance of these sensational new cars was scheduled for the Monaco Grand Prix, but a very great disappointment was in store for the spectators, for Mercédès-Benz were not ready, and the Auto-Unions were considered too long for the "round-the-houses" course. However, Caracciola, still limping, was present, and opened the course with one of the Mercs. and Dr. Porsche watched the race, which Gay Moll's Alfa-Romeo won, at 55.86 m.p.h.
The German cars made their debut at the Avus G.P., and Berlin almost regarded the event as fit subject for a national celebration, while some 200,000 people thronged to the course. In training, Caracciola, driving for the first time since his accident, had lapped at the phenomenal speed of 143 m.p.h. Alas, the race started without the Mercédès-Benz cars, which all suffered petrol pump trouble. To meet the German opposition Ferrari had specially faired one of its Type B Alfa-Romeos and bored the engine out to 3.2-litres. Varzi was offered this car, but declined to drive it, so Moll took it instead. After a delay to let the road dry, the flag fell, and Stuck's Auto-Union set up a nice lead. After a lap, he was one minute ahead of Chiron's Alfa-Romeo. Leiningen retired his Auto-Union early with mechanical trouble, but Stuck held his big lead until, on lap 10, he came in for fuel and tyres, allowing Moll to pass. The Auto-Union then developed clutch-slip, and after a few more stops, retired. Moll went on to win at 127.56 m.p.h., Varzi was second at 125.43 m.p.h., and Momberger brought the only remaining Auto-Union in third at 125.0 m.p.h., ahead of Howe's Maserati.
Germany had failed in her first race, but the next week-end both marques came out for the Eifel race at Nurburg. A vast crowd spectated. As the flag fell, Brauchitsch got his Mercédès-Benz clean away from the field, but Fagioli caught him before the end of the first loop, and after a lap Fagioli led from Brauchitsch with Stuck's Auto-Union third. The scream of the Mercs. sang round the ring, and the new racing era can be said to have commenced. Fagioli was early signalled to ease up and let his German team-mate lead, but he only did so reluctantly. At the refuelling stop, Fagioli vented his displeasure at being held back, and later stopped deliberately to renew the discussion. A lap later he parked his car by the roadside and walked away—an unhappy accentuation of the Rome-Berlin axis! This let Stuck into second place, and he ultimately finished 1 min. 20 secs. behind Brauchitsch, who took 2 hrs. 47 mins. 30 secs., an average of 76.12 m.p.h. This was faster by 13 mins. 23 secs. than Nuvolari's Alfa-Romeo victory in 1933, over what I believe was a somewhat shorter course!
Auto-Union gained some compensation for this defeat by breaking the course record at the Kessleburg Hill-Climb, when Stuck clocked 3 mins. 44 secs., beating Brauchitsch and the Mercédès-Benz by 5 secs. The German cars came out again for the French Grand Prix at Montlhery. At the weigh in, the Mercédès registered 739.5, 739, and 737 kg. respectively, and the Auto-Unions 740.5 and 738.5 kg. Mercédès went to the course a fortnight before the race, but Auto-Union arrived on the first official practice day. On his very first lap Stuck equalled Nuvolari's lap record, and, taking over Momberger's car, he improved this to 5 mins. 7 secs. Next day, Chiron managed 5 mins. 6.2 secs. with a Ferrari Alfa, but Brauchitsch responded for Mercédès with 5 mins. 5.6 secs., equal to 92 m.p.h. Auto-Unions had to get fuel pump maladies corrected and Mercédès used appalling quantities of tyres and suffered steering trouble on the straights. On the Sunday, an immense French crowd filed by every available means to the course, so a German victory was most desirable! Leiningen's Auto-Union was a non-starter, but Stuck was beside Varzi in the front row. As the tricolour fell, Caracciola and Varzi led a pack from which Chiron had stolen a march by creeping up ere the flag fell—typically Continental! He led lap one and two, but Stuck lapped at 89.74 m.p.h. and held third place behind Caracciola. On his third lap, accomplished in 5 mins. 9.4 secs., Stuck passed Chiron. near the Biscornes, to lead. Incidentally, it was rumoured that whichever team won was to receive State support from the Reich— which suggests that European race goers were at least waking up. After eight laps, Fagioli, in third place, was speeded up, and set a race lap record at 91 m.p.h. Brauchitsch stopped for inspection of his supercharger, but on lap 10 Fagioli again broke the lap record, at 91.8 m.p.h., and passed Chiron's Alfa to take second place. The Auto-Union came to its pit and Mercédès Benz was left unchallenged. After 12 laps rear tyres were changed, and fuel put in in 2½ mins., letting Chiron lead. Momberger's Auto-Union was out with steering trouble. Then intense excitement, for Chiron came past alone, and it was some time before news came through that Fagioli had left the road and damaged his brakes, retiring with a broken pipe line. Caracciola stopped to refuel, and then retired at the far end of the course and the German debacle was completed when Brauchitsch retired with a return of his supercharger trouble. The German commentator, relaying his comments from the Water Tower for broadcast throughout the Fatherland, promptly dried up! Stuck was still in third place, but after refuelling on lap 21 the engine proved obstinate to restart. He stopped again for fuel on lap 31, after which three mechanics working on the handle only just started the engine, and a lap later the sole remaining German car retired with a defective water pump. Chiron finally won for Ferrari at 85.55 m.p.h., 3 mins. 17 secs ahead of Varzi's Alfa-Romeo, with Trossi and Moll (Alfa-Romeo) third. Mercédès-Benz now suffered another blow, when Brauchitsch overturned his car coming out of a corner in practice at Nurburg and was taken to hospital with a broken arm and five broken ribs— foretaste of the potency of these modern G.P. cars.
The Germans certainly had their revenge on Ferrari on their home ground. Before the Genrman G.P. Geier and Gaertner of the Mercédès factory were tried out to replace Brauchitsch and Henne who was ill, and Geier was given a wheel1 for the race. In the Auto-Union team, Burggaller replaced Leiningen, who was still ill in Paris. Chiron, Varzi and Moll represented Ferrari and there were nine entries of Alfa, Maserati and Bugatti drivers. Chiron actually tried a Mercédès during practice and had a narrow escape when a cowling became detached, locking a brake. A crowd of some 150,000 came to Nurburg for the race. Chiron shot into the lead at the start, but after a lap the order was Stuck, Caracciola, Varzi, Chiron. By five laps, Varzi was out with gearbox trouble, Chiron had lost third gear, and Fagioli was up in third place. Moll lost his box of gears on lap 12, and Momberger's Auto-Union had caught Nuvolari's Maserati. Caracciola changed tyres without losing second place, but this gave Stuck a 2 mins. lead. He refuelled in 1 min. 30 secs. and found Cararciola only 8 ,secs behind. "Caratsch" now pulled out all he had, set a lap n cord of 10 mins. 44 secs beating Brauchitsch’s old figure by 10 secs., and passed Stuck at Le Canourel. However, this effort sent the Merc. sick, and he had to retire. Burggaller made the grave error of using all the gears except bottom, whereas Stuck only used fourth and top (five speeds), and when his box of ratios protested, he withdrew. Stuck now held an immense lead and set the lap record to 10 mins. 43 secs. He won in 4 hrs. 38 mins. 19 secs., at 75.14 m.p.h., 2 mins. 7 secs. ahead of Fagioli's Mercédès, with Chiron third, Nuvolari fourth, and Geier sixth, Momberger having retired. The prizes were presented in an atmosphere of national self-esteem, but the German sports chief paid tribute to Chiron's performance. It seems that organisation was not yet working to full capacity in the Mercédès or Auto-Union factories, for Auto-Union were not ready in time for the G. P. de la. Marne, and Mercédès wired to say they were unready and Auto-Union that their drivers wanted a rest, after 180,000 francs duty was demanded on 3,000 litres of special German fuel before the Belgian G.P.
In the Klausen Caracciola went up first, in 15 mins. 22.2 secs. to win the day for Mercédès, for Stuck slid broadside on one corner and his Auto-Union was 3.2 sees. slower. This was a new record for the hill. Things got going again for the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara. Caracciola got clear as Minister Scarara dropped the flag, and after an immense first lap, Stuck was second and Varzi third. Caracciola did this initial lap in 12 mins. 18 secs. and led for seven laps, when he crashed very seriously, but without injury. Stuck had retired on lap six, and Fagioli stopped for tyres while in the lead after the other Merc.'s crash. Now Moll led, with Henne's Mercédès second. Chiron's Alfa lit up and burnt itself out at its pits, and ere half distance there had been nine retirements. Varzi led when Moll refuelled, and as he stopped for a rapid wheel-change, Fagioli went ahead. Poor Moll now set off to catch Fagioli, who was about a minute ahead, but when overhauling two other cars he skidded on a patch of road made slippery by a local shower, and his Alfa-Romeo hit a house, Moll dying soon after removal from the wreckage. Fagioli went on to win in 3 hrs. 58 mins. 56 secs., at 80.26 m.p.h. with Nuvolari 's Maserati second and Brivio's Bugatti third. Sebastian's Auto-Union was fifth. The Swiss G.P. followed, and Berne went entirely motor-conscious, even to sugar cakes of racing-cars in the windows of the patissiers-confiseurs, and 50,000 attended. Stuck's Auto-Union led from start to finish, winning in 8 hrs. 37 mins. 51.6 secs., at 87.21 m.p.h. Leiningen's Auto-Union retired with ignition trouble after 20 laps, and Momberger would have lost second place to Dreyfus's Bugatti had the French car not had to stop for water right at the end. Mercédès had a bad day, Caracciola suffering fuel pump trouble and handing over to Geier, who brought the car in last. Fagioli and Brauchitsch both experienced weak brakes, the former finishing sixth behind two Alfas. The Auto-Unions had mirrors so set that their drivers could see the condition of the rear tyres.
So to Monza for the Italian G.P. In practice, Stuck set a lap record of 71.22 m.p.h. As the cars came to the line drivers gave the Fascist salute to the official stand, and the band played the national anthem appropriate to each group—French, German or Italian. Henne crashed his Mercédès at the first hairpin, hitting the tail of Trossi's Alfa, and he soon retired. Stuck early got ahead of Caracciola, and did one lap at 72.59 m.p.h. After 11 laps, Fagioli was out with engine trouble, and Leiningen was third and Momberger fourth by 19 laps. Momberger dropped back when he came in for brake adjustment and to hand over to Sebastian, and Stuck, leading comfortably, was nevertheless slowed by weakening brakes. Stuck's refuelling stop cost him 2 mins. 43 secs, but Fagioli, now in Caracciola's Mercédès, took only 2 mins. 12 secs. Leiningen ran out of fuel and retired, and Stuck handed over to him, when over 2 mins, were lost restarting the engine. It was a race of brakes, and Caracciola's right leg was almost useless at the end! Stuck was nastily scorched by oil sprayed over his leg. In the end, the Caracciola-Fagioli Mercédès-Benz won in 4 hrs. 45 mins. 47 secs., at 65.37 m.p.h., 1 min. 38.2 secs. ahead of the Stuck-Leiningen Auto-Union. Trossi and Comotti were third with an Alfa-Romeo. The Momberger-Sebastian Auto-Union was seventh. At the Mont Ventoux hill-climb Stuck set a new record for Auto-Union in 13 mins. 38.6 secs., and at Fribourg he clocked 8 mins. 6 secs., against Caracciola 's 8 mins. 32 secs.
As the political situation cleared in Spain, the A.C. de Guipuzcon decided to hold the cancelled G.P. of Spain, over the Lasarte circuit. Practice was enlivened by Stuck's lap record of 6 mins. 36 secs., beating the old record of 97.2 m.p.h. held by Nuvolari, and Tazio's appearance at the wheel of an Auto-Union. Then Dreyfus lapped in 6 mins. 27 secs. with his "3.3" Bugatti, and Nuvolari later equalled his speed, also with a Bugatti. A stream of cars converged on San Sebastian all night in readiness for the race. Stuck started before the flag had properly fallen, and averaged 152 k.p.h. for the standing lap. Caracciola was second, and Wimille's Bugatti third, and the Bugattis at last seemed on form, as fast as the German cars and faster than the Ferrari Alfas. On lap four, Stuck stopped with a broken oil pipe, and Mercédès led. When Leiningen brought his Auto-Union in in a state of collapse, Stuck took over this car. Momentarily Nuvolari passed Fagioli, only to be as quickly repassed. Caracciola set the lap record to 6 mins. 24 secs., (101 m.p.h.), and led Wimille by a mile, when Fagioli speeded up. He passed Wimille, lapped in 6 mins. 23 secs., and came within a few yards of Caracciola. At the pit stop the latter took 1 min. 2 secs., Fagioli only 58 secs. On lap 18, Fagioli took first place. Fagioli won in 3 hrs. 19 mins. 40 secs., at 97.13 m.p.h., 48 secs. ahead of Caracciola., with Nuvolari third. Wimille lost time over his refuel, and then over a broken carburetter union. Stuck drove very fast at the end, setting a final lap record at 6 mins. 20 secs., to finish fourth. Over a timed kilometre, when the cars were still accelerating, Fagioli was clocked to do 137 m.p.h.
The final round was fought at Masaryk. The German teams arrived first, and practice saw some unusual happenings. Thus Nuvolari lapped at 14 mins. 15 secs, with an Auto-Union, and Stuck handled a Mercédès-Benz to clock 14 mins. 5 secs. Stuck set a lap record of 13 mins. 45 secs. with an Auto-Union. The Czechs made a national fete of the race-day, and 100,000 persons were officially estimated to have attended. Stuck led for a while, then Fagioli went ahead. Quite early Caracciola broke a wheel on the poor road surface at Ostrovacice and retired. The German cars were finding independent springing a great advantage and two Alfas retired with broken petrol and oil pipes. Fagioli dropped back when he stopped to refuel, but caught Stuck on lap 11. He passed right in front of the excited spectators in the stands. Three laps later, the white Mercédès-Benz had another short pit-stop and the silver Auto-Union went by. Fagioli lapped in the record time of 13 mins. 16.2 secs. (over 83 m.p.h.) but he could not catch Stuck, who won by 2 mins. 56.1 secs. at 79.11 m.p.h. in 3 hrs. 53 mins. 27.9 secs. Nuvolari's Maserati was third. Leiningen was fourth, Henne sixth.
The German marque rounded off the season with some astonishing record breaking. Auto-Union sent out Stuck with an Auto-Union at Avus, where he took the 50 Kilo, 50 Mile and 100 Kilo records at 150.21, 151.54 and 152.18 m.p.h. respectively, beating the old figures by over 11 m.p.h., and this on a course which Varzi's 4.9 Bugatti could only lap at 135 m.p.h. because of the unbanked corners. Stuck then did an absolutely shattering standing kilometre at 101.37 m.p.h., smashing our E.R.A. figure by 11.64 m.p.h. Caracciola then took a special Mercédès-Benz to Gyon. It was a G.P. car with the front brakes removed, a new front cowling fitted, and coupe top added to the cockpit. The engine size was 3,992 c.c. and a slight supercharge effect was obtained by running at a ventue which is actually below sea-level. The World's Standing Start Mile Record was broken at 117.23 m.p.h. and the International Class C Flying Kilo and Mile records at 197.35 and 196.78 m.p.h. respectively. One way a speed of almost 200 m.p.h. was reached.
So ended the first season of the German cars' appearance in Grand Prix racing. The "score" was : Mercédès-Benz four wins and three second places ; Auto-Union, three wins, three second places and a third. Fagioli won three times, once partnering Caracciola, and Stuck three times, while Brauchitsch gained one win, Stuck two seconds (one in partnership with Leiningen), Fagioli two seconds, Momberger a second. Caracciola a second, and Momberger a third place. Thus the first season had not been entirely successful, but it had established a new standard of performance in Grand Prix racing, as can be judged by some speeds logged over a flying kilometre in the Coppa Acerbo, when Caracciola's .Mercédès-Benz did 179.6 m.p.h. and Sebastian's Auto-Union 171.1 m.p.h. German domination of International racing had begun . . . .
[The second part of this article will appear in the October issue.]