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Do you know Hanns Geier?


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#1 alfredaustria

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 18:45

Who knows Hanns Geier? Hanns Geier crashed in practice for the Swiss Grand Prix 1935, held at Bremgarten on August 25, 1935, ending his driving career. Perhaps anybody has further information about his life and career? When was he born? When has he died? Any racing successes?
Thanks for your help.
Regards Alfred

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#2 lil'chris

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 19:18

Hello Alfred.

According to Leif Snellmans great site he was born in 1902 and died in 1986.

http://www.kolumbus....snellman/dg.htm


There's a short biography in Chris Nixons Racing the Silver Arrows on page 67 -8 as well as a contemporary article by Raymond Mays describing the accident at Berne.


Chris

#3 raoul leDuke

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 08:22

There is a longer bio on historicracing.com


Started racing motorcycles but switched to cars. He became a Mercedes test driver in 1932 and drove in a number of Grand Prix in 1934 and 1935. He crashed badly in the Swiss GP in 1935. He recovered and returned to Mercedes as a timekeeper and assistant team manager until 1955.

Geier started racing motorcycles in 1920 when he was 18. Later he switched to racing cars, first with an Amilcar and later Bugattis together with Bubi Momberger, who joined the Auto Union team in 1934. Together they drove in the first ever race on the Nurburgring, winning their class.

He was friends with Gretal Schwab but when she offered to arrange for him to test for Mercedes, he did not believe her and instead went to work as a salesman for F. K. Mettenheimer in Frankfurt, selling American cars.

However in 1932 he did become a Mercedes test driver, working on the supercharged 3.8 litre Cabriolet and, in 1934, he got his chance as a Grand Prix driver. He was demonstrating the 500K when he received a call from Unterturkenhein to leave the car where it was and to travel to the Nurburgring for the German Grand Prix as von Brauchtitsch had broken his arm in a crash. He practiced in the ex-Caracciola Monza Alfa and then in the race drove the Mercedes W25 finishing 5th. He was signed as reserve driver for the rest of 1934 and for 1935.

His first race in 1935 was in the streamline Mercedes with the enclosed cockpit, which had been used the previous year for World Speed Record attempts. He failed to finish in the final and the car never raced again in that configuration much to the delight of Geier as the canopy could only be opened from the outside!

His next race in '35 was the Swiss Grand Prix at Bern. Geier crashed badly in practice after loosing control at 150 mph (240 Kph) coming out of the curve before the pits. The corner was banked and Geier, who was flat out, was running too high. The tail of the car broke away and hit a wooden fence in front of the grandstand.

Geier fought to control the car but it crossed the track and hit a large tree breaking into four parts. The front of the car ended up on the opposite side of the track. The cockpit and centre section of the car lay in the middle of the track. The engine was neatly deposited on the grass verge along with the rear section of the car.

Geier was thrown out and ended up under a car in the car park! He suffered terrible injuries. Incredibly there was no ambulance and Geier was taken to hospital in the sidecar of a motorcycle combination with the Mercedes doctor, Dr Glaser, riding pillion and administering to the stricken Geier!

He broke both legs, one ankle, his shoulder and the base of this skull. His spine was damaged and he was unconscious for eight days but amazing he survived. He spent four months in hospital.

On his release he returned to the Mercedes team, not as driver but as a timekeeper and assistant team manager to Herr Neubauer until 1955.

#4 alfredaustria

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 11:40

Thanks friends. This was very helpful. Best regards from Vienna - Alfred

#5 ensign14

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 11:58

There is an interview with Geier in "Racing The Silver Arrows", and Geier is photographed wearing the cap Dick Seaman asked him to look after just before Spa 1939...

#6 raoul leDuke

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 09:12

Geier at the 'Ring in 1977

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historicracing.com

#7 Paul Taylor

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 15:46

The wreck of Geier's car after his 1935 accident, copyright unknown:

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#8 Mig007

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 19:09

Can you post again the Geier's crash photo please?

And do you have more info, please? I've finished my article about Bettega, I am concentrating on stats now, and I have done an article about Hans Geier. Can you provide some info? About his family, parents, beginnings of the career, life after the crash and date of death?

#9 David McKinney

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 20:28

Google will answer a lot of those questions

Come back after you've done some checking of your own

#10 Mig007

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 20:39

I've already done that

#11 Mig007

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:41

* Geier, Hanns (D):
b. 25/02/1902 (Waldalgesheim) – d. xx/xx/1986 (??)


1920-1930 – Motorbike Racing;
1930-1931 – Car Racing (Bugatti/Amilcar)
1932-1933 – Mercedes test driver and salesman;
1934 – GP (Works Mercedes-Benz W25), reserve driver:
Germany (19th) 5th
Switzerland (---) NC, took Caracciola’s car when he had to stop;
Czechoslovakia (---) 6th, replaced Henne as he got sick
1935 – GP (Works Mercedes-Benz W25), reserve driver:
AVUSrennen 7th ret/3/carburetor
Germany (19th) 7th
Switzerland DNS, suffered an horrific crash at practice, ending his career as a driver.


That's what I could put in a DB entry for this driver. Anyone has more info please?

Edited by Mig007, 26 October 2011 - 12:42.


#12 cheapracer

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 13:25

FWIW, and probably not a lot, here is a recreation lap of the Bremgarten track in a game simulator (1930's track but '65 cars) ..


Edited by cheapracer, 26 October 2011 - 14:11.


#13 ReWind

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 20:20

One wonders where Hanns with double-N came from? In his passport the name is clearly spelled "Hans" as is his signature.
Posted Image
Source

Edited by ReWind, 26 October 2011 - 20:20.


#14 Mig007

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 20:43

I also don't know, but there's way it appears on many sources.

#15 Mig007

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 23:31

That's the article I wrote about him - please someone can tell me not only about the accuracy but also about the grammar, as I have learnt english for myself, so it could have some mistakes, sadly.


Hans Geier was born at Waldalgesheim, near Mainz, at the 25th of February, 1902; on those times part of the German Empire.
Passionate of speed since he was young, Hans started his racing career with eighteen years old in 1920, at a devastated country, defeated and destroyed by the war and humiliated by the Versailles Treaty. With the fall of the Prussian monarchy, the Weimar Republic was ravaged by insurrections of Bolsheviks and far right; both none of this socio-political troubles prevented the young Geier to start riding in motorbikes. It was only a matter of time for Hans to have some success, and he turned rapidly in one of the most promising motorcycle riders in Germany and his career was improving, which led Geier to try out car racing, like many other promising motards of his era, like Achille Varzi, Tazio Nuvolari, Bernd Rosemeyer and so on.

Geier started his four wheel career with an Amilcar, that later changed for the omnipresent Bugatti, that gave him the first glimpse of fame when he and Ernst “Bubi” Momberger (later an Auto Union driver in 1934) won their class at the first race disputed at the Nürburgring, in 1927. These results had been taken into account by one of his friends, Mrs. Gretal Schwab that, conscious of Geier’s abilities, offered herself to get him a test with the Mercedes-Benz works team; which had, on those times, drivers like Rudi Caracciola, Hans Stuck, Manfred Von Brauchitsch, Otto Merz and Adolf Rosenberger, driving the fearful Mercedes SSK. Sadly, Geier didn’t believe, and continued racing occasionally his private Bugatti, while became a salesman of American cars at Frankfurt for F.K. Mettenheimer.
But times were changing, inside Germany but also worldwide. The Great Crash of Wall Street in 1929 sent the USA economy and, then the World one into a spiral of chaos, and the fragile Weimar Republic was hit hard by the crisis and unemployment, famine, political troubles, bankruptcies; became part of the daily life. Obviously, car races decreased, and Mercedes-Benz retired their works team, keeping only a semi-official assistance for their main drivers, while Rudi Caracciola joined the Italian Alfa Romeo team in 1932. But Geier had luck, as he was employed by Mercedes as salesman and test driver, working on the 3,8L-turbocharged Mercedes Cabriolet, while racing occasionally at Sport events.

Hitler’s NSDAP was gaining ground, fed by the crisis, and with the help of demagogy, intimidation, the promise of stopping the Bolshevik danger and restore the German pride, so damaged by the Versailles Treaty; and the Nazis won the 1933 legislative election. Hitler became German Chancellor, and implemented a plan to recover the economy with a massive industrial investment (one of the industries that fuelled the German growth during the thirties was the weaponry). At the same time, more and more dictatorial measures were approved and, less than a year later, when the old President Paul von Hindenburg, an old military glory of the Empire and the WWI died, Hitler didn’t lose time: through a plebiscite, he merged the offices of President and Chancellor and became the Führer, beginning the III Reich, under the banner of the Nazi Party. Germany became one of the greatest military powers worldwide, and to demonstrate the German greatness, Hitler decided to turn his attention to the sport. And the motor racing was one of the most interesting points.

With economical and political aid, Mercedes and its arch-rival, the Auto Union conglomerate (nowadays, only Audi survives) were relaunched and, in 1934, started an era of domain by the Silver Arrows, a Golden Era for the motorsport lovers, that triggered the fame of names such as Rudi Caracciola, Achille Varzi, Tazio Nuvolari, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hermann Lang, Hans Stuck,…
But, in 1934, Geier was only a Mercedes-Benz test driver, racing occasionally on two and four wheels, till the day that, while demonstrating the Mercedes 500K, he received a call from the main factory at Untertürkheim, Stuttgart; and he was told to leave the test and to go to the Nürburgring, the place of the German Grand Prix. One of the main drivers, Manfred von Brauchitsch, had an accident and suffered many fractures, and the reserve driver, Ernst Henne, was ill. Mercedes needed a replacement and called Geier, but first they lent him the old Alfa Romeo Monza of Rudi Caraccioola, to let him learn the track, before putting his hand on the wonderful Mercedes-Benz W25. Geier didn’t disappoint, and finished a great fifth at the “Green Hell” – it was a promising start for Hans. Nowadays, you’ll certainly think that debuting into F1 with 32 years old wasn’t certainly a great thing, but on those times, it was the average for the drivers, so Geier was at the young promises’ allotment. The mythical manager Alfred Neubauer signed him to be test and reserve driver for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team for what left of 1934 and 1935. In 1934, Geier was again behind the wheel of a Mercedes at Switzerland, when he replaced a tired Caracciola, broken by the fight with the flawing brakes of his Mercedes (finishing tenth, but not classified), and at Czechoslovakia, again replacing a sick Ernst Henne, but this time at the middle of the race. Again, he drove well and finished a positive sixth.

1935 was promising, and his first race was the AVUSrennen, at the daring track designed at a highway near Berlin. He was charged of driving the enclosed body Mercedes, used the year before to break speed records. AVUS was basically composed by the two lanes of the highway, connected by two medium/slow speed corners (the well-known banking was first used in 1937), which made it a high-speed track. The race had two heats, and Geier finished in a good fourth place in his heat, but had to retire at the final due to a carburetor failure. Happily for Hans, the enclosed body’s car was never used again, as the cockpit canopy could only be opened by the outside, and the downforce generated by the car was such that the car had a ruthless speed, but also tended to lift the front wheels from the track, depending of the airflow, that generated some terrifying and potentially fatal experiences, like the one that Hermann Lang had some years after.

As a reserve driver, Geier was present at the Grand Prix, and occasionally tested the cars at the practice, but wasn’t called to drive till the German GP, again, when he finished at the seventh place with a year old Mercedes. But his big opportunity came at the following race, the Swiss GP, when he was entered on the fourth Mercedes. With a fast and reliable car, Geier could dream with a good result at the Bremgarten circuit, but the bad luck struck him. During the practice, while entering at the slightly banked turn before the pitlane, Geier lost the control of his car at 240 Kmh at the highest part of the turn. The rear of his car broke due to the impact with the wood barriers in front of the main stand and Geier was sent to the other side of the road, where he crashed into a tree and then with a timing station. The Mercedes was completely destroyed, broken into four parts, with the front axle on the opposite side of the track, the cockpit and central section at the middle of it, and the engine and the rear axle lying at the grass, at the point of the impact.

And the poor driver? Geier was thrown off the cockpit and found on the car park near the pitlane, under a car! He was alive but, as expected, with horrible injuries and unconscious, but there were no ambulance on the track – security concepts of the thirties, no comments….; and Geier was transported to the nearest hospital by sidecar (!!!), with the Mercedes doctor, Dr. Glaser driving sideways, while looking on the poor Hans. When they arrived at the hospital, the survival chances of the driver were very low, as he had broken both legs, an ankle, a shoulder and also suffered a basilar skull fracture (also known as internal decapitation, and an usual cause of death of drivers, not only in motorsport, and the main reason why the HANS device was introduced and became mandatory after the Dale Earnhardt’s death). Hans Geier was in coma for eight days, but he amazingly survived without any major problems, after four months in hospital and some physiotherapy. And his driving career, it was over. Mercedes lost one of their greatest promises, and Geier would be replaced as a reserve driver by an unknown mechanic and motorcycle racer, Hermann Lang.

When he finished his recovery, he returned to Mercedes, this time as a timekeeper and deputy team manager to Alfred Neubauer, till 1955, when Mercedes stopped all competition efforts after the Le Mans tragedy. He, then, kept a calm life till his death in 1986, with 84 years old. For someone that survived two World Wars and drove at one of the most dangerous eras in motorsport, in the end, Geier had good luck.

Sources:
http://www.historicr...m?fullText=2796 ;
http://www.kolumbus.fi/leif.snellman ;
http://www.autodiva....p...550&start=0 ;
http://forums.autosp.....ghlite=+geier ;



#16 David McKinney

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 05:03

If you're going to supply the political background, Mig, you might say "Germany became one of the greatest mililtary powers worldwide, in defiance of the Versailles Treaty"

Also, as has been explained before, there is a difference in English between "myth" and "legend". Alfred Neubauer was not mythical, though he was legendary

#17 Mig007

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 11:06

If you're going to supply the political background, Mig, you might say "Germany became one of the greatest mililtary powers worldwide, in defiance of the Versailles Treaty"

Also, as has been explained before, there is a difference in English between "myth" and "legend". Alfred Neubauer was not mythical, though he was legendary



Thanks for the help with the english. And I decided to put some political context, although it's not my habit; I try not to mix the sport with politics, but for the thirties it's difficult.