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Novices Killed Testing 1930s GP Cars

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#1 Barry Lake

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Posted 14 September 2000 - 16:24

I think it was Roger Clark's post about Tonino Ascari and his wondering whether his memory was playing tricks that brought this one back to mind.
I am quite confident I read a story once about Daimler-Benz or Auto-Union (I think the former) testing a number of drivers, including some raw novices in their GP cars at the Nurburgring and the test was called off after one or two of them were killed in crashes.
As I have bought books on the subject I have searched for any mention of this and have failed to find any.
Did I imagine I read it? Was it a work of fiction? Had some magazine journo got it all wrong? Perhaps it was in a novel (I have read quite a few motor racing novels).
Can anyone help? It is a memory that comes up from time to time and puzzles me. It would be nice to put it to rest once and for all - one way or the other.


#2 Dennis David

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Posted 14 September 2000 - 16:36

I also remember an incident that I thought involved Mercedes during the time when Seaman was testing for the team. When I have time I'll try to find out more unles someone else beats me to it!

#3 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 14 September 2000 - 20:41

As far as I know, Daimler-Benz conducted driver tests in late fall of 1936 after they finished racing. There were quite a few crashes and one driver killed himself. Look up Leif's Website at

#4 Leif Snellman

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Posted 15 September 2000 - 06:44

8 - 22 OCTOBER 1936: Mercedes-Benz held a "driver school" at Nürburgring with 30 drivers, of which the top 10 tried the GP car. Johann Wolf had a fatal crash. Seaman and Kautz were selected as junior drivers for 1937.

I think you have read it in Neubauer's Männer Frauen und Motoren (Speed was my life)

SPRING 1936: The promising new Auto Union junior driver Heydel had a fatal accident during spring tests at Monza.

#5 Barry Lake

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Posted 15 September 2000 - 16:40

Thank you all very much. I can relax now!
I think Leif is right; I would have read it in Neubauer's book. It is many years ago now.
My catalogue says I bought that book in June 1977 from Charles Mortimer in England.
I would have read it then - or very soon afterwards.
It is surprising, though, that these things are not written about in some of the histories of the GP teams and cars of the time.

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 September 2000 - 12:26

Neubauer's treatment of the subject gives the impression that there was a serious attempt on to find a star from nowhere, to turn out with a new national hero who hadn't come up through the ranks.
The other part is his attitude to the one who died. He seems to dismiss him as a moron, then include him because it suited the numbers. I think he as killed in a sedan, by the way, they didn't get into the good gear until they proved themselves, I guess.