“German Racing Cars and Drivers” by Gunther Molter. (190 pages. Floyd Clymer, 1268, S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles, 6, California. $2.)
This book in some ways is rather a bombshell. We have been given an excellent insight into the pre-war Mercedes-Benz racing activities by George Monkhouse (“Motor Racing with Mercédès-Benz”) and our Laurence Pomeroy has told in his classic work, “The Grand Prix Car,” of the intimate mechanical features of the German G.P. cars. So at first sight this Clymer book by a German author, Gunther Molter, seems superficial. It purports to be a history of Grand Prix and other racing in Europe but is nothing of the sort. Its chapters, for instance, cover only the last German Grand Prix, certain world’s records, and one hill-climb, the remainder of the book being devoted, with one exception, to post-war racing in Germany.
But this one chapter named as an exception draws attention to the merit of this book – for it deals with the 1-1/2-litre Mercedes-Benz cars. And Molter gives us some entirely new information about these legendary 1-1/2-litres, which I don’t think Pomeroy or Monkhouse have revealed. We read, rather too luridly it is true, of the trials of these “hush-hush” 1-1/2-litres in Lang’s own words. He gives the speed as an easy 144 m.p.h. He tells of the race plan at Tripoli – Lang to go as fast as possible without driving unreasonably and to change tyres halfway, Caracciola to go more carefully to obviate a tyre-change and to take the lead if Lang packs up. Lang tells how he asked which starting signal, Marshal Balbo’s flag or the light-signals, counted, was told by Neubauer to watch the lights and beat everyone when the Marshal faltered for a moment in dropping the flag. We learn that his pit stop for fuel and tyres was brief and didn’t lose Lang the lead, and, particularly interesting, that Lang’s car had an over-drive top, Caracciola’s had not. Very rare pictures of these 1-1/2-litre cars are published, too.
There are other first-hand accounts by Lang, and by Dr. Feueriessen of Rosemeyer’s fatal crash. Details are given of the careers of the pre-war Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union drivers. The latter part of the book deals comprehensively with the revival of the sport in Germany (360,000 are said to have seen the first post-war race, at Hockenheim), such personalities as Lang, Caracciola, Stuck, Brauchitsch, Leonhard Joa, Kling, von Hanstein, Brutsch, Ulmen, Loof, Meier, Dietrich, Polensky, Falkenhausen and others being described and pictured. Cars like the E.B.S., Mono-pol, Veritas Meteor, H H 48, Volkswagen sports, and the exciting A.F.M. get copious references in text and picture and there is also a chapter, again copiously illustrated, of German 500-c.c. and 750-c.c. cars. The photographs, except for a few pre-war Mercedes-Benz “hand-outs,” were taken by Kurt Worner’s Leica and are as good as any we have seen.
If this book had not lost much in the translation from German to American and if it were better produced, it could worry British publishers quite a bit.
Matters of Moment, August 1964
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