Paul Pietsch

Born:
20th June 1911
Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Wurttemberg
Died:
31st May 2012 (Aged 100)
Titisee-Neustadt, Baden-Wurttemberg
Nationality:
German
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Paul Pietsch was a journeyman driver during the 1930s who was unwittingly associated in the downfall of one of that era’s great stars. Although he raced again after World War II, it was as a magazine publisher that he would earn his fortune.

Pre-war career

He began competing with an ex-H.J.von Morgen Bugatti T35B in 1932 – mainly in hillclimbs but he also retired from that year’s German Grand Prix on the opening lap. He swapped the Bugatti for an Alfa Romeo 8C "Monza" in 1933 and raced in the far-flung outposts of the sport. He won on the ice of Sweden’s Lake Hjalmaren a month before finishing seventh in Tunis such was the variety of his schedule. That season ended with Pietsch running second at Brno before crashing.

He began 1934 with another ice race victory at Vallentuna and Pietsch’s Alfa Romeo then finished fourth in the Eifelrennen. However, his season was interrupted by a multiple leg fracture sustained when he crashed heavily on the Gabelbach hillclimb.

Fit again, Pietsch joined Auto Union as a junior driver for 1935 after a successful test that winter. His best result came in the Italian GP when Bernd Rosemeyer took over his car and stormed through the field to finish third. However, that period was marred as Pietsch’s wife Ilse was wooed by star team-mate Achille Varzi. By the end of the year, Pietsch was estranged from his wife and without a drive. The separation may have been a tragedy for the German but Varzi fared worse – descending into a world of drug dependency and morphine.

Third in the German Grand Prix

Pietsch returned in 1937 and drove a private Maserati for the next three seasons. Concussed and lucky to escape more serious injury after crashing in the 1937 Masaryk GP at Brno, Pietsch starred in the 1939 German GP with a works Maserati 8CTF. He qualified well and stunned the home crowd by leading after two laps. Soon passed by the faster German cars, he spun before finishing in a fine third position. There was some talk of a Mercedes-Benz drive for the following season but by then Europe was at war.

Press baron and Formula 1 driver

He founded Motor Presse and Auto Moto und Sport immediately after the war and the magazine quickly became Germany’s leading car title. However, success in business was not enough for Pietsch resumed racing in 1950.

He made his debut in the new Formula 1 world championship in that year’s Italian GP but his Maserati 4CLT/48 retired on the opening lap. He drove a Veritas Meteor in 1951 and won the Eifelrennen against local opposition. Invited to join the all-conquering Alfa Romeo team for that year’s German GP, he qualified seventh after just three practice laps but crashed spectacularly in the Nürburgring’s North Curve during the race.

He continued with the Veritas in 1952 and again retired early from the German GP. A fifth place finish on the Grenzlandring marked the end of Pietsch’s racing career. Success in publishing continued and Pietsch reached the age of 101 and 11 months before his death in 2012.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1952 F1 World Championship
Motor-Presse-Verlag
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1951 F1 World Championship
Alfa Corse
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1951 West German F2 Championship 1st -
1950 F1 World Championship
Paul Pietsch
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1939 European Championship
Officine Alfieri Maserati
2 0 1 0
0% win rate
0
1938 European Championship
Paul Pietsch
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1937 European Championship
Paul Pietsch
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1935 European Championship
Auto Union
4 0 1 0
0% win rate
0