A former fighter pilot who flew Messerschmitt 109s during World War II, Hans Klenk enjoyed a short racing career as engineer, driver and navigator.
Grand Prix start
He first raced in a self-built "Eigenbau" (Special) but he bought a Veritas Meteor from Karl Kling. That was 1951 and he entered German Formula 2 races with Klenk finishing fifth in the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring and fourth at the Grenzlandring.
The decision to run the 1952 World Championship to F2 rules gave an international opportunity to a number of national racers and Klenk’s Veritas lined up for that year’s German Grand Prix in eighth position. He ran in the midfield to finish 11th and he was a career-best second at the Grenzlandring and Avus in national events.
Sports cars with Mercedes-Benz
However, it was with the Mercedes-Benz sports car team that he enjoyed his greatest success in 1952. He was Kling’s navigator on the Mille Miglia and prepared a book of notes for the route – a forerunner to today’s rally pace notes. Their Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupé led comfortably when the field reached Rome but a botched tyre change and fading brakes slowed the Germans. They eventually finished second behind Giovanni Bracco’s Ferrari. They retired in the ninth hour at Le Mans.
The season closed in Mexico with the 1,923-mile Carrera Panamericana road race. However, their chances seemed slim after an incident on the opening day. They were travelling at top speed when a vulture collided with the car, killing the bird and knocking Klenk out. The windscreen was smashed and three tyres punctured but they continued on to an unlikely victory once Klenk had regained consciousness and repairs had been affected.
Klenk’s Veritas finished second again in the 1953 Avusrennen but he broke his thigh and knee when testing a Mercedes 300SL at the Nürburgring later that summer. Forced to quit racing, he ran a car preparation business in Stuttgart into the 1970s before retiring to live in Vellberg.