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Dick Seaman and Auto Union


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#1 Holger Merten

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Posted 01 December 2002 - 16:04

Activated by the other Dick Seaman thread, I'd like to open a new one about the connections between Seaman and Auto Union.

In my sources "The findbook Auto Union" which is related to the "Sächsisches Staatsarchiv", where you can find all Auto Union documents, there is a short chapter about driver contracts, from 1937 to1940. And here I found also the name of Seaman, next to the other AU-drivers.

Does anybody know, if Seaman may wanted to change the team, or was AU interested in Seaman?

In Chris Nixon's "Auto Union Album", p. 127, you can see Seamann sitting arround with the drivers team of AU and Prof Porsche on the terrace of the "Nürburgring's Sporthotel", and with him Christian Kautz who later joined the AU team.

May I post that picture here?

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#2 Holger Merten

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Posted 03 December 2002 - 15:11

Brun told me that all documents about Dick Seaman are not accessible. Beyond that further documents about person Auto union had to do with are also not accessible until 2019. The end.

#3 Holger Merten

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 10:08

I read on an German Interntpage, that Prof. Porsche want's to sell a works 36 Auto Union to Seaman for the 1937 saison. Unfortunetly was Seaman at the same time in contact with Neubauer, so he became Nachwuchsfahrer in the MB team, while AU's teammanger Dr. Feuereissen was also interested in Seaman, when he heard about the MB-Seaman connection.

#4 Doug Nye

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 15:36

I have also found reference to Seaman having contacts with A-U seeking a test drive or the hire of a car in 1936 BEFORE the Daimler-Benz approach. He had been in contact with the Porsche Buro about various matters, up to and including creation of a World Land Speed Record car.

I am certain that there were later approaches shared between Seaman and Auto Union but from 1937 forward he was essentially a Daimler-Benz man through and through and saw no reason to change horses. Had he been dropped by DB that would have been another matter. As it was, he did not regard it as fair play to bite the hand that fed him which is one of the reasons why he did not publicly criticise anything about DB, or The New Germany. Remember he had been trained in life as a proper chap, straight bat, fair play and all that.

He would NOT defect from one team to the other without good reason - nor, I believe, would he have entered into any serious discussions with A-U without DB approval or after they had advised him his services would no longer be required.

DCN

#5 Holger Merten

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 20:31

Thanks DCN, I tried to buy your book about Dick. But it's not available on Amazon. And it's also very expencive on "motorbooks". Must check, if I get it one in Hong Kong in my favorite book store on my next business trip.  ;)

And Porsche must have been a hardseller in those times, later on he engaged Stuck to drive the T 80. So for his interest, everything was okay.

BTW: Have a look on the beetle history.

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 27 February 2003 - 00:43

... Mercedes could afford to retain a driver of Seaman's class and race him but four times in the year ... Auto Union were perhaps paying heavily for vacillating with Seaman two years before [ie 1936, two years before 1938]


Court, Power & Glory page 248

:)

#7 Anorak Man

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Posted 27 February 2003 - 05:11

Originally posted by Holger Merten
Thanks DCN, I tried to buy your book about Dick. But it's not available on Amazon. And it's also very expencive on "motorbooks". Must check, if I get it one in Hong Kong in my favorite book store on my next business trip.  ;)

Doug's book *IS* available in our Amazon.co.uk bookshop Holger.
In stock too!
Click here and you'll see

AM

#8 Holger Merten

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Posted 27 February 2003 - 05:12

Thanks Richard, that's great to know. :up:

#9 Holger Merten

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Posted 27 February 2003 - 06:51

Originally posted by Anorak Man

Doug's book *IS* available in our Amazon.co.uk bookshop Holger.
In stock too!
Click here and you'll see

AM


AM, I have seen, thank you.

#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 11:00

Obviously Court knew something about this, from his comment above, but there's no direct clue in his text for 1936, which closes with a short passage about Seaman joining Mercedes to replace Fagioli for 1937. (page 237)

However, the emphasis is somewhat different to what Nixon says in "Shooting Star":

"And it wasn't only Mercedes-Benz that were interested in Seaman. News of his restrained but impressive performance at the Ring [in testing for Mercedes] was soon all over the German motoring world and he was quickly approached by Auto Union, enquiring after his services for 1937."

So, who approached who? It's well documented that Seaman had previously written to Mercedes in an attempt to hire a car for the 1936 Donington GP and Brooklands Mountain Handicaps: although he was rebuffed at that point, within a few weeks he was being invited to test at the Ring. This seems to confirm what Doug wrote above about him corresponding with Auto Union and/or Porsche. Was he perhaps playing off one against the other? Nixon again:

"Dick was a great fan of Professor Porsche and his remarkable, mid-engined racing car and was well aware, of course, that Rosemeyer and the Auto Union had been almost unbeatable in 1936 ..."

Nixon goes on to say that Seaman was advised by Ramponi to join Mercedes rather than Auto Union.

#11 Holger Merten

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 11:20

Richard, this is brilliant, thanks for your investigation in this case. Very interesting. :clap:

#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 12:05

Reading further in Nixon, he quotes Rodney Walkerley in The Motor (Dec 1st). Seaman had been at Monza since Nov 20th, testing for MB and "greatly gladdening the heart of Herr Neubauer". [Were AU at Monza at that time too, I wonder?]

Seaman returned to Britain on December 2nd, leaving for South Africa two days later.

On December 15th Walkerley was reporting that Seaman had still not signed for MB, as our old friend Huhnlein had not yet given permission. Nixon says it wasn't Huhnlein's decision to take, but Hitler's. Hmmm .... did Hitler have to give permission for Varzi, Nuvolari, Chiron and Kautz too?

#13 Brun

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 13:24

Originally posted by Vitesse2
On December 15th Walkerley was reporting that Seaman had still not signed for MB, as our old friend Huhnlein had not yet given permission. Nixon says it wasn't Huhnlein's decision to take, but Hitler's. Hmmm .... did Hitler have to give permission for Varzi, Nuvolari, Chiron and Kautz too?


That I don't know, but it's a subject I briefly mentioned on the 1939 Championship thread. The AU archives quote them asking permission from Hühnlein to let Nuvolari race for AU in 1940. If I recall correctly, Hühnlein denied this, with the exception of races on Italian soil. Given the immens propagandistic value that the racing successes offered, the Nazis were more and more reluctant to let foreigners win races in their cars. So it wouldn't surprise me if Hühnlein was reluctant to take responsability himself and left such decisions to the Führer...

#14 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 13:42

Just realised something .....

One of the German teams made the long trip to South Africa in January 1937. Auto Union.

Seaman was in South Africa in January 1937.....

edit:

Seaman returned early from South Africa, citing unfair handicapping (in private) and damage to his car (in public) as his reasons. He was supposed to take part in three races, but only did one. He was home on January 25th, having still not yet signed for MB, despite a full-page report in "Speed" saying he had. His draft MB contract and confirmation of Hitler's permission arrived in February.

Is it too fanciful to suppose he might have tested an Auto Union in South Africa?

Doug?

#15 Holger Merten

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 17:42

Richard, once again an interesting idea. But I think you have the better sources by the moment, so I won't speculate ;)

#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 21:27

Originally posted by Vitesse2
.....did Hitler have to give permission for Varzi, Nuvolari, Chiron and Kautz too?


I don't know the answer to this, but I have met a member of the Chiron family...

He says he is Louis' nephew, though he's relatively young, and that Louis was not spoken of in the family in his lifetime. He knew very little about Louis before I loaned him my Monkhouse-King Farlow and Neubauer books.

When Louis Chiron crashed at the Nurburgring, I would imagine that he felt that he was at the end of his life. He would have seen his attachment to the M-B team as shaky, known that many people in France would ostracise him and that his family had virtually disowned him.

Had he had to apply to Hitler for permission to put himself in this parlous position would have been the ultimate indignity...

#17 Doug Nye

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 23:02

Originally posted by Vitesse2
...Is it too fanciful to suppose he might have tested an Auto Union in South Africa? Doug?


Sorry - only just spotted this. Yes, I think it is probably too fanciful. It would never have been kept secret, I am sure, and 'Lofty' England who ran the Delage for Seaman would certainly have known about it, and would I am pretty sure have mentioned it when we later nattered at length on various occasions about Seaman and about that trip. Kay Petre was photographed in one of the Auto Unions there, and subsequently I think did not altogether deny the notion that she had driven the car there, but I am 99% certain that she did not. AU were at Monza during the period Seaman was testing there. But the two rival camps kept themselves to themselves as far as I know.

DCN

#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 23:11

Oh well .... :

Thanks anyway Doug! :)

#19 masterhit

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 01:41

Sorry to lower the tone and I'll go away after I say this, but.. what a name! The poor chap...

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#20 Doug Nye

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 11:03

Tch! It had to happen... :rolleyes:

While the tone has been lowered may I report that when I worked on 'Motoring News' we had a chap there who was fired or fell out with the management in some way and walked out. His last (stroke of genius) act before departure was to spike the following week's issue at the printers. There was a report published on the VSCC Seaman Trophies meeting at Oulton Park, which had been run in extremely hot and humid weather conditions. Matey headlined the report:

"Hot sticky Seaman at Oulton Park"

DCN

#21 fines

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 12:53

... while we're at it:

From Austin Powers, part III

Dr. Evil about his new sub: "It's long, hard and full of seamen...." :o

#22 Brun

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 14:26

It's amazing! Took me three posts in this thread to understand the punch line. I'm ashamed, seems I'm about to lose my dirty mind at the age of 31...

#23 Doug Nye

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 20:56

Just for interest here are some restoration shots (just rediscovered in the mire) revealing some detail of what the Paul Karassik 'D-Type' - OK, or whatever it should really be called - Auto Union is like beneath the skin...

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Photos: The GP Library

#24 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 21:43

Doug - Thank you much. Very nice. Reminds me of years long past when I rebuilt PORSCHE and Mercedes components. :D

#25 Brun

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 22:13

Wow, thanks for the pictures!

#26 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 March 2003 - 22:25

Originally posted by Doug Nye
.....when I worked on 'Motoring News' we had a chap there who was fired or fell out with the management in some way and walked out. His last (stroke of genius) act before departure was to spike the following week's issue at the printers.....


Similarly, a Sydney Morning Herald soon to be ex-employee inserted a poem into the paper on the day of his departure...

The first letters (Acrostic?) of the lines spelled out a message to 'get' something or other.

#27 Alan Lewis

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 10:08

Several years ago, a colleague was giving a presentation to a group of we software developers at BA, with the usual overhead projector slides and the like (this was the days before Powerpoint and so forth).

At the end, up came the obligatory summary slide, illustrating the areas covered as bullet points. After a few seconds several of us started looking across at each other and trying to suppress rising mirth.

There were eight bullet points on the slide, the initial letters of which spelt out;

B-O-L-L-O-C-K-S

And yes, he still works for BA (and is a reasonably senior manager in the IT department).

APL

#28 Vitesse2

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 13:02

When Robert Maxwell (the Bouncing Czech) was floating one or other of his dodgy companies on the stock market in the mid-80s, one financial journo, a long-time opponent of the old fraudster, headed his report:

Can't
Recommend
A
Purchase

:clap: :lol:

Inevitably, Maxwell sued him - I believe this was one of a large number of libel suits unresolved at the time of his death.

#29 Dennis David

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Posted 03 March 2003 - 05:54

Acording to Prince Chula it was exasperation with Auto-Union's "uncertainty and hesitation as to when their test would be held that drove him to except MM provisional contract." According to Chula AU approached Seaman.

#30 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 March 2003 - 12:07

Mention of the repulsive Robert Maxwell reminds me of a wonderful unconscious comment made by the Editor (I believe) of Maxwell's leading British national newspaper 'The Daily Mirror', the morning after he had vanished from his private yacht and was presumed drowned.

When asked by the BBC TV News reporter how had Mr Maxwell seemed when the fellow last saw him he replied: "Oh, quite all right - he seemed his normal buoyant self...".

DCN