Posted 10 January 2002 - 19:53
Posted 10 January 2002 - 20:05
Posted 10 January 2002 - 21:53
No announcement on 1936 Auto Union driving personnel was made before the annual try-out for new drivers at the Nürburgring in November 1935. Among those invited to show their talents this time was 23-year-old Ernst von Delius, who had started with small BMWs five years before and, after showing further promise at the wheel of a Monza Alfa in 1934, had proved virtually unbeatable in this year's German sportscar events with a 2-litre BMW. Also given a chance were 25-year-old Ulrich Bigalke and 29-year-old Rudolf Hasse, both of whom had also done well in cross-country trials and sportscar races. Hahn and Simons were also reappraised, the latter following a nice letter from Dr Goebbels reminding the Auto Union management of the Bugatti driver's work for the Party...
In addition there were the usual motorcyclists - and why not, after Rosemeyer's spectacular transition from two wheels to four? The gentlemen in question this year were Arthur Geiss and 28-year-old Ernst Loof.
And finally came two company employees, Rudolf Heydel and one Scheeff. Heydel, a Horch test driver, had apparently been loaned to Stuck as a chauffeur at one stage during the year, and so impressed the Bergmeister that he had promised to put in a word for him.
Stuck's judgement proved sound indeed when it was Heydel who ended up fastest of all in the Nordschleife test, with a time of 11min 11.3sec. Then came von Delius at 11'20.0, Scheeff at 11'24.2, Hasse at 11'29.1 and Simons at 11'29.3 - these five all being inside the best time set in the previous year's trial. Hahn had an accident though - he was not invited back a third time.
In February Auto Union announced that Varzi, Stuck and Prince zu Leiningen would form the 1936 team, but that was presumably to hurry Rosemeyer into signing a contract, for by the time the season started the ex-motorcyclist's name had indeed replaced that of Leiningen who, gratefully it seems, went back into retirement. Junior team driver Pietsch meanwhile announced his retirement from racing, on "personal grounds", his motivation no doubt having something to do with the fact that his wife had run off with Varzi. Pietsch did in fact return to the international arena after a year's absence and, after some particularly fine drives in Maseratis, was invited to join Mercedes for 1940.
Also in February (1936), Heydel, von Delius and the bespectacled Hasse were confirmed as members of a "junior team" for the year (management apparently had reservations about Scheeff's attitude).
Then it was off to Monza, where the three new recruits were to be given further training. Stuck warmed the car up, then Heydel took it out. One lap, two laps - he never completed the third. The inexperienced Heydel lost control of the difficult car on one of Monza's fast curves, crashed it and was killed.
Posted 11 January 2002 - 02:02