Madness on Wheels
A new TV documentary captures the ferocity and danger of one of rallying's most extreme…
MERCEDES-BENZ versus AUTO-UNION
Some of the Greatest Racing Ever, as a Prelude to War Continued from the January issue. The 19:37 Season RUMOURS of 1937 Grand Prix season commenced almost as soon as the last big race of 1936 had been run. It was said that Fagioli was leaving Alereedes-Benz and Varzi quitting AutoUnioa, and that Itrivio and Trossi would till the gaps. Mercedes held early trials LL Aloliza of the 1 I C Nie V12 car and Diek Seaman and Kautz had their DOW wellremembered trials in the German ears. . SCaInfift had sold his victorious 11-litre Deltige in preparation l’or joining the German team, but Kautz, after making best time, with Seaman, in the initial test, in 10m. 52s., crashed during the second trials, where Stuck came to grief in Septell 11 le r 1936. Seaman seemed at the top of his always polished form. By February, 1937, were :oiii?ainced the Alereedes I cam as taraesiola, Lang, Seaman, with Zehender as first reserve and Baumer, Brendel and Dart-mann as cadets. Brauchitsch was said to be haggling over terms. Auto-Ullion were putting up Rosemeyer, Von Delius and Hasse, and trying hard to persuade Stuck not to become an independent. -Mercedes were i [(Tending on the new V12 onOnc, already proved in record work, in a hushhush new chassis said to obviate the
road-elisging Isithers of 1936. Kautz I der took a pfkee in the team. AutoUnion were expected to race ears unaltered in general design. Greater harmony was a feature of the new Mercedes team and the M, arms tests went well. A most astounding event preceded the of asiing of the Berlin Show, when 41 miles of the main streets were dosed and lined With thousands of stornatroopers that Mere(des-Benz and Auto-Union ravingcars could drive from the witheimplatz to the show building I In his opening speech Hitler made much of the industry’s seem at lour-year plan, of the Vellesseassen, of the aatabak nen-where are they now ? This rots 1-I ireaking Mercedes-Benz, a G.p. Aws.si ass,’ and Henne’s B.NISIV. motor-eyele WC re exhibited. As the begianing i,f vet another season approactas I, rumours crystallised. The respective teams turned out to be : Caines.tola, lanes., Seaman and 13rauehitsell, tor ,Nicrecites, Nvith Bunnies, Wendel, Ilartneum, Kautz mud Zebender reserves,
and Itin,etilevcr, tit lick, Fogioli, and Delius for Auto-t-aion, Hasse as reF,el’Ve. lasgioli in an A. I’. ! Mercedes now had
(’till frOld Ste:pef :,jon and tIn”?i011 hIll’s at the rear Ili’ a HON , (1Val-tilhe tratne, :Old t•-htre V ts! motors, NNitik Alitu-i ‘111(ill had :.ii.gtred hi i:2littes. stilt V16. with four specds in place 4 live and simply huge ilear tyres. Al farther trials at Aliniza :seaman inverted a Mercedes. Rumour and inactivity ceased -with the Rood G.P. on Januar). lath, when Delius Timed an Auto-Uidoo victory tit Tilt311u. 14saveraging 80.37 ni.h
o.. for Lock 212 miles. Roseinever was second, ahead of Howe’s E.R.A. Then eame the great Tripoli G.P., and I.011;2: effectively turned the tables by winnina for Mavis l’s, at 13142 m.p.h., ahead of Roseinever and Dehus. I us rasaatime was 21i. 27m. 57.6s. The first big race on German soil was the Avusrennen, watched under a hlazirig sun by 380,000 German motor-sports fans. The Alfa-Romeos did not run, but Mercedes put in three fully-faired ears and NVO IlOrtnal G.P. jobs, while Auto-linion replied with two ultra-streamlined cars and two G.P. halides. The Mercedes Strornli nienwagen hail eliclosed front turd rear wheels, with side panels removed to assist tyre-cooling and open cockpits, and Roaemeyer’s Auto-Union had totallyenclosed cockpit and wheels. Six cats started in the first heat, the leading four IA) run in the final. Lapping at about 148 m.p.h., Delius led from Seaman, until Rosemeyer went ahead on lap 2. Caraeeiola picked up places gradually, to lead from lap 5. Rosemeyer repassed, hut led by a hare length, and Carueeiola overtook him passing the stands. The Auto-Union driver made a great bid on the last lap, clocking 171.6 but the Mercedes won by .R8. at 155.5 m.p.h., Delius third and Seaman fourth, all home NN Rhin 6s. of the winner I At first Fagioli led the second heat, at about 157 m.p.h., lint Brauchitseh went ahead at 160 m.p.h., and then Lang lapped at 167 m.p.h. to take first place. However, a tyre went back on him at the 8out1m turn, and here Fagioli, when in second position behind Lang, retired with serious trouble. Brauehitseh went on to win at 160.3 m.p.h. from Hasse and Lang, the latter unable to make up for his stop, although tail dng at 169 m.p.h. Hartmann’s Maserati was fourth. Fagioli’s retirement was first blamed on the tyres, but when the maker’s representative protested, a jammed gear-lever was given as the true cause I Tyre temperatures were tested and much leaping up and down followed the discovery that those on the faired-in wheels ran cooler than those exposed, yet had worn to a greater extent. A broken oil-pipe was replaced on Rose
meyer’s Auto-Union and tin’ final began. Caraecioht led the opening lap,Iloseineyer Q11 his tail, until low oil-pressure brought
the Auto-Union in fin. a brief check-over. The NIcicedes averaged 165 for the three initial laps and with the AutoUnion’s stop Lang and Seaman were second and third. Brauchitsch was out with clutch trouble. However, Came eioht now retired on account of oil entering the clutch and setting up slip, while Seainan lost 40ti. having two tyres changed-excellent pit work. 1.aug ran on, however, and again the coy( N on the ea closed car stood up to the immense si wed. The Mercedes %IR Ill at 162.61 m.p.h. in 33m. 32.9s., 2s. ahead of Delius’s “ open Antsa Union, which was 36s. in 11.4111 liasse’s normal Auto-Union. lioseineyer was fourth and Seaman fifth. alereedia were atoning I
Rosemeyer then took out a speeial, fully-enclosed Auto-Union on the Frankfurt-Darmstadt-Ileidelbera road and established some of the most astonishing records of all time, taking, in all, eight records, including the Class B Ls. mile at 242.5 m.p.h. and kilo at 243.5 m.p.h. Came the Eifelrennen, at the Nurburg Ring. Adenau was stormed by some 300,000 enthusiastic raeegoers, and accommodation at the Eifelerhof, at the Krone, indeed everywhere in the village, was soon completely booked and tens of thousands spent the night in the open round the Ring. Auto-Union did not feel very gay, for Stuck was in South America, Fagioli sick, while Delius had crashed in
pnietim suffered slight injuries.
was driving his first race, so the eyes Of every A.U. fan were on Rosemeyer, who had set up the fastest practice lap in Urn. 57s., equal to 85.4 m.p.h. Rosemeyer got a tiny lead front Caracciola at the start, but the Mercedes led after the first lap by a bare second. However, Rosemeyer got past on the second lap, whereupon ” Caratseh ” very soon reversed things again ! Seaman had meanwhile retired on lap 2 with ignition trouble, and Kautz was badly troubled. by considerable Oil-leaks. Rosemeyer did his third lap in 9m. 59s. and slipped past Caraceiola, who had eased up somewhat, and Brauchitsch was a good third. As the pits expected, Caracdola’s tyres came in bits after .e0 miles, as did Braueltitseh’s, the changes occupying 38s. and 36s. respectively. Rosemeyer had his wheels changed on the next lap, but had been able to motor in rapidly, as the covers .were intact. He was stationary for a mere 30s. and continued with Li 45s. lead. Rosemeyer (trove on to his greatest -vietory, speeding up slightly at the end to .gain a 50s. advantage over the MercedesBenz. He had taken 1h. 42m. 11.2s. and averaged 82.95 m.p.h. Caraceiola was in 50.6s. later and Brauchitseh was 55s. after MM. Hasse just got fourth place, jerking his car off the jack as a tyreash:ilige was
hastily deferred, the rear wheels all but lighting up as 1111′ Auto-Union got away, actually to catch Nuvolari’s Alfa-Romeo, which caused all the fun, on the run back past t he pits, ” Nuvers ” waving I lasse on. The Al fa emu? in ahead of I sing and Muller, while Rueseli’s Alfa beat Kautz. Roserneyer’s best hip was at 85.13 m.p.h. The next Move in the Auto-Union- Mercedes-Benz struggle was the capture by Roserneyer, on the Frankfurt-Heidelberg autobahn of eight new Class 13 records, including the flying mile and kilometre records, at speeds of 243.6 and 243..5 resliecti rely, an achievement that will live down the years, for the car, which was enclosed, had a capacity ot only 6 litres. Reverting to mere racing, Rosemeyer set seal to his fame by going over to Amernat and winning the 300-mile Pan-Ameticau Clip t tI ths Roosevelt Speedway at 82.5 m.p.h., in 31i. 3811., from Seaman’s Mereedes-Benz and Ilex Mays’s Alfa-Romeo. Yet allother Auto Union victory resulted at. the Belgian G.1′. at Spa, where lIasse won in 3h. mi. 22s., at 104.43 m.p.h., from Stuck, third place going to Lang’s Mercedes. Incidentally, before either of these two events, Auto-Union had sent, Hasse to uphold prestige at Milan, but he was soundly beaten over the short, twisty
Circuit by the Alfa-Romeos of Nuvolari, Farina, and Ruesch-a decided reply to those persons who were of the opinion that a German car had only to start to inevitably win its race. Nuvolari averaged 64 m.p.h. So to Nurburg, for the German G.P. Mercedes seemed to be making .a decided attempt to break their rival’s run of success, with better road-holding and a supercharger system in which the blower was placed between the carburetter and engine for the first time in the marque’s history. But in practice it was Rosemeyer who set the fastest lap, at the record speed of almost 87 m.p.h. Lang led lap one from Rosemeyer and Caracciola, but in lap two Rosemeyer went ahead, lapping at 85.6 m.p.h. Then, on the fourth lap, with Lang close behind it, the Auto-Union threw a rear tyre-tread and, at the pits, 2m. 26s. was lost because the wheel-huh had stuck I Next, Stuck went out with blower trouble. Caracciola now led from Brauchitsch, Lang third, and, when Muller crashed into the stone bridge at Breidscheid, wrecking his car, Seaman became fourth. Mercedes got through their pit-stops really well, ” Caratsch 7′ leaving in 398., Brauchitsch in 31s., while Kautz lost 46s., Hasse’s Auto-Union 41s. Sensation followed, for Seaman hit Delius’s Auto-Union after the latter had SN‘ ling sideways in negotiating the humped Dottinger Hohe bridge. Both cars left the road, and while Seaman suffered from a broken arm and badly cut lace, poor Delius was fatally injured. Due to replenishments, Lang led for a time, with Nuvolari second, but on lap nine Caracciola went out ahead, and a lap later Lang made his first tyre-change-after 140 miles I He left in 30s., and Nuvolari had all wheeLs replaced in 60s. Rosemeyer moved up, but soon lost another tyre, the change occupying 34s. Caracciola made his second stop after 180 miles, and Brauchitsch came in next round, for a mere 31s. I That included refuelling. Rosemeyer had four wheels changed in 52s., but the unfortunate Lang had to crawl in with a cover in shreds, so that a plug-change was also necessary and over 180s. were lost. Caraeciola had yet a third stop for tyres before the end, which took only 23s., applauded by Huhnlein himself. So Mercedes went on to win a most arduous race, Caractiola crossing the line after 311. 46m. 0.18., at 82.7 m.p.h. Brauchitsch was 46s. behind and Rosemeyer third, Nuvolori fourth, Hasse fifth, Kautz sixth and Lang seventh
-the first Mercedes victory for six years in this race.
The scene moves to Monaco, where Mercedes Ber.z entered Brauchitsch, Caracciola, Kautz and Zehender, while Auto-Union replied with Rosemeyer, Hasse, and Stuck. Seaman was still in Ardenau Hospital. In practice Brauchitsch did a staggering lap in 1 m. 50s. and then Caractiola achieved lm. 47.06s. (66.168 m.p.h.). When the flag fell Caracciola led away, followed by Brauchitsch and Rosemeyer. Hasse crashed and suffered slight injury in the first lap. Then, after only nine laps, Rosemeyer retired with seized steering-gear. Stuck needed brake adjustments after 20 lapsit was not an Auto-Union day. Brauchitsch, working really hard, clocked a lap in lm. 4920., but Caracciola replied with lm. 48s. for the sinuous round-thetown course, and at 30 laps led, by 10.4s. He made his routine pit-stop just before half-distance, so that Brauchitsch then led by almost 2 MiT1S. Auto-Union lost a minute putting Rosemeyer into Stuck’s car. ” Caratsch” lost 2m. 15s. on his pitstop, as a plug had to be changed, whereas Brauehitsch, when he stopped, was stationary for only ltn. 30s. “Caratsch” was now doing all he knew, lapping in lm. 47.9s., then in the record time of I tn. 46.2s., or at 66/ m.p.h. On his 80th lap he again took the lead, by a mere of a secand. Two laps later he again called at the pits, and Manfred von Brauchitsch won by 1m. 24.3s., at 63.27 m.p.h., taking 3h. 7m. 23.9s. Caracciola was second, in 3h. 8m. 48.2s., and Kautz third, two laps behind, while Roserneyer was fourth and Zehender, on his first race for Mercedes, sixth.
The Acerb() Cup race in Italy followed, which Rosemeyer won for Auto-Union, covering the 412 kilos in 2h. 55m. 39s., an average of 88.12 m.p.h. Brauchitsch was second and Muller’s Auto-Union third. Seaman crashed in practice, due to a locking brake. The following week-end Caracciola turned the tables by winning the Swiss G.P. at 99.3 m.p.h., covering the 227-mile course at Bremgarten in 2h. 17m. 30, Lang second and Bram chitseh third. So we come to Monza, and the Italian G.P., which Caracciola took at 81.5 m.p.h., or 360 kilos in 21i. 44m. 54s. Again Lang was second, but Roseineyer’s Auto-Union was now third. The G.P. of Masaryk was yet another victory for the great ” Caratsch,” who won for Mercedes in 3h. 9m. 25.3s., or 86 m.p.h. for the 271 miles of the Brno
circuit. Brauchitsch was second, the Muller-Rosemeyer Auto-Union third. The last Grand Prix of 1937 was the great race at Don ington, which every Britisher who saw it must still remember vividly. Brauchitsch had a tyre-failure while hard in pursuit of Rosemeyer, and the latter won in 3h. im. 2.2s. at 82.86 m.p.h., Brauchitsch second and Caracciola third. The first two men tied for fastest lap at 85.62 m.p.h., a record. So ended the last season of Formula Libre-weight minimum racing, the scores being : .Caracciola four firsts, two seconds and one third ; Rosemeyer three firsts, two seconds and three thirds, one shared with Muller ; Lang two firsts, two seconds, and one third ; Brauchitsch one first, four seconds and two thirds ; Nuvolari one third ; Howe one third ; Farina one second ; Ruesch one third ; Kautz one third ; Muller two thirds, one shared with Rosemeyer ; Stuck one third ; Hasse one first and one third ; and Delius one first. one second and one third. Marque score .: Mercedes : seven firsts, eight seconds and five thirds ; Auto-Union : five firsts, three seconds and seven thirds ; Alfa : one first, one second and one third ;
: one third. The year was not quite over for the German teams. Richard Seaman demonstrated the Mercedes-Benz at the Crystal Palace circuit during the closing meeting and at the German record-week at the Frankfort autobahn some remarkable records were established. Rosemeyer took the Auto-Union out and captured the Class B s,s. mile record at 138.674 m.p.h., flying kilometre at 252.47 M.p.h. and flying mile at 252.45 m.p.h. AutoUnion also went for Class C records, taking the s.s. kilo at 105.515 m.p.h., s.s. mile at 123.966 m.p.h., flying 5 kilos at 213.089 m.p.h., flying 10 kilos at 212.232 m.p.h. and flying 10 miles at 211.80 m.p.h. Later he took the flying kilo, Class C, at 218.83 m.p.h., and the mile at 219.51 m.p.h. The Class B flying kilo was later set to 117.14 m.p.h., this, like the s.s. mile, also constitutitig a world’s record. A flying 5 kilo record was set at 251.4 m.p.h. The bodywork was as at Avus, with the wheelfairings removed for s.s. records and closed
cockpits were used for the flying-start runs. This car was actually quicker than the short-chassis, specially-lightened job. Mercedes came along with a 12-cylinder three-speed twin-blower car which blew its nose cowling in and became unstable at around 21.3 m.p.h. Caracciola probably wasn’t trry when a lorry took it back to Stuttgart.
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