Remembering Rosemeyer: Germany's first wunderkind
Bernd Rosemeyer would have been 100 years old on October 14. Edd Straw looks back at the meteoric Auto Union racer and explains why just three years in the limelight was enough time to create an everlasting legend
June 14 1936. Rain has drenched the awesome 23km Nurburgring Nordschleife as 14 roaring grand prix cars from Auto Union, Mercedes Benz and Alfa Romeo line up to take the start of the Eifelrennen. They are piloted by some of the greatest drivers that the world has seen. None of them, not Tazio Nuvolari, not Hermann Lang, not Achille Varzi, not Manfred von Brauchitsch, know that the 26-year-old sitting in the number 18 Auto Union Type C is about to turn in one of the great drives at grand prix level. Nor do they know that 19 months later, Bernd Rosemeyer, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday today, will lie dying alongside a stretch of autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt in Germany after a doomed speed record attempt. Not that it would have come as a complete surprise.
Rosemeyer packed more success into a fleeting three-season career – that included 10 major race wins and the 1936 European Championship – than most could achieve in three decades. Rudolf Caracciola, ironically the man whose record Rosemeyer was gunning for when he was killed in January 1938, put it best. "Bernd did not know fear," he said. "We actually feared for him in every race. I never thought a long life was on the cards for him."
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