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The 'Silver Arrows' and the Indy 500


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#1 duby

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 18:44

Hello all

the silver arrows was the cars to beat in the 30's.
why they didnt race at the INDY-500 ?

it suppose to be a great propognada for the Nazi's back then.


duby

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#2 Automobiliart

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 18:55

Hello all

the silver arrows was the cars to beat in the 30's.
why they didnt race at the INDY-500 ?

it suppose to be a great propognada for the Nazi's back then.


duby



Good question.
The Silver Arrows raced in the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup race, and Bernd Rosemeyer won in an Auto Union.
Cheers!
Paul

#3 duby

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 19:16

so this make the question even bigger...

#4 Tim Murray

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 19:31

Well, obviously the cars built for the 750 kg formula were not eligible to compete at Indy (where would they have put the riding mechanic? :lol: ). However, following the formula change on both sides of the Atlantic for 1938, there's no reason why the German 3-litre cars should not have entered. Perhaps if the war had not intervened, and following the success of the Maserati 8CTF, they might have done so.

#5 RStock

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 19:33

When you say "Silver Arrows" do you mean Mercedes, Auto Union, or both? There is a story here about Mercedes involvment at Indy, or lack thereof.

http://www.atlasf1.c...n03/okeefe.html

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 19:38

The Indianapolis Contest Board issued their own regulations, usually 10-11 months before the race: these were essentially the same as those for the AAA Championship, but until 1937 the important point to remember is that those regulations specified two-man cars with riding mechanics - not something easily achievable with a W125! There were also supercharger bans and fuel consumption rules which the European cars would have found difficult to meet.

They got round this for the Vanderbilt Cups by issuing supplementary regulations, so that single-seaters were eligible: the two-seater American cars were also not required to carry mechanics.

The American adopted the International Formula in 1938, but I don't think either German team gave much thought to Indianapolis for that year. Mercedes Benz might have been ready, but Auto Union certainly wouldn't have been: without checking, I think the date was also very close to the (eventually cancelled) Eifelrennen. I have seen a German press report from December 1938 suggesting they intended entering in 1939, but that also claims they'd been invited to race at Brooklands, so quite how much credence you can give it is difficult to judge. There is also the issue of obtaining foreign currency, which seems to have been very difficult by 1939 - Eberhard Reuss touches on it when discussing the T80 record car, which MB had some hopes of running at Bonneville.

#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 20:23

For 1938, the crowding of the calendar was probably a major factor:

Apr 10 Pau
Apr 23 Cork
May 13 Tripoli
May 30 Indianapolis
Jun 12 Eifelrennen

As I already pointed out, Auto Union weren't ready - which is why the Eifelrennen was cancelled. It's also known that Mercedes Benz (and others) wanted the Irish to move the date of the Cork race. I doubt they'd have wanted to pass up the big prizes at Tripoli either.

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 23:12

The American adopted the International Formula in 1938, but I don't think either German team gave much thought to Indianapolis for that year. Mercedes Benz might have been ready, but Auto Union certainly wouldn't have been: without checking, I think the date was also very close to the (eventually cancelled) Eifelrennen. I have seen a German press report from December 1938 suggesting they intended entering in 1939, but that also claims they'd been invited to race at Brooklands, so quite how much credence you can give it is difficult to judge. There is also the issue of obtaining foreign currency, which seems to have been very difficult by 1939 - Eberhard Reuss touches on it when discussing the T80 record car, which MB had some hopes of running at Bonneville.

According to Karl Ludvigsen's Quicksilver Century, Daimler-Benz came within a few centimetres (his phrase) of entering Indianapolis in 1938. Specific cars were allocated to Caracciola, von Brauchitsch and Lang, spares were packed and space was booked on a transatlantic sailing.

The trip was called off at the end of April due to the high oil consumption of the M154 engine, Daimler-Benz wrongly believed that refills during the race were prohibited.

In 1939, the race was on Neubauer's desired list but plans were never as advanced as the year before. They also planned a W154 entry in 1951 but this was abandoned after the failure of the Argentine campaign. In 1956 D-B conducted design studies into the possibility of running a 3-litre W196 at Indianapolis.

Edited by Roger Clark, 05 April 2011 - 23:14.


#9 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 23:20

When you say "Silver Arrows" do you mean Mercedes, Auto Union, or both? There is a story here about Mercedes involvment at Indy, or lack thereof.

http://www.atlasf1.c...n03/okeefe.html

Interesting to learn that Jenatzy's 1903 Gordon Bennett winner was built by Benz.

Edited by Roger Clark, 05 April 2011 - 23:22.


#10 fbarrett

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 23:49

Friends:

To round out the story a bit, Neubauer went to Indy in 1949 to plan a factory entry for 1951. After much preparation, including the design and testing of some unusual but effective moveable vertical airfoils, that entry was cancelled, mainly due to the age of the W154/M163 design, which had put up only a middling show in February tests in Argentina.

By the mid-1950s, DBAG had a newer, proven, and highly dependable car, the W196, powered by an exotic 2.5-liter engine featuring Hirth roller bearings and desmodromic vave gear. Serious thought and engineering effort went into using the streamlined version, possibly even with four-wheel-drive, for a 1957 attempt at the 500. DBAG had built a special 3.0-liter version of the engine for a Formula Libre race in Buenos Aires, and they felt that it could be supercharged and otherwise adapted to meet the Indy rules. This effort again came to nothing due to more pressing priorities and DBAG's 1955 withdrawal from racing.

I wrote the above in 1994, after watching the Penske-Mercedes win. The history of Mercedes-Benz at Indy ran as a five page article in the July/August 1994 issue of The Star, the magazine of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America.

Frank

#11 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 00:04

According to Karl Ludvigsen's Quicksilver Century, Daimler-Benz came within a few centimetres (his phrase) of entering Indianapolis in 1938. Specific cars were allocated to Caracciola, von Brauchitsch and Lang, spares were packed and space was booked on a transatlantic sailing.

The trip was called off at the end of April due to the high oil consumption of the M154 engine, Daimler-Benz wrongly believed that refills during the race were prohibited.

In 1939, the race was on Neubauer's desired list but plans were never as advanced as the year before. They also planned a W154 entry in 1951 but this was abandoned after the failure of the Argentine campaign. In 1956 D-B conducted design studies into the possibility of running a 3-litre W196 at Indianapolis.

I do wonder about some of the logistics and/or truth of this. Ludvigsen quotes an exact date of May 11th for the cars' voyage. The German liner Europa did sail from Bremerhaven on that date, docking in New York on the 17th. The drivers, OTOH, would have been starting from Tripoli and would likely have taken the same ship as Nuvolari, who sailed from Genoa on the Conte de Savoia on the 18th, arriving in New York on the 25th. The Bremen sailed from Germany on the same day, but that would seem to be a long way further to travel for the same arrival date.

The drivers would therefore not have arrived until the 26th, giving them just three days of running at most (the 29th was a Sunday, so the track would have been closed). With that short time frame, does it really seem likely that they could have got three drivers through rookie tests and then been sure of qualification? Admittedly the cars could have been qualified by other drivers before Caracciola, Lang and von Brauchitsch arrived, but they'd still have had to take the rookie test before doing competitive runs.

The confusion over oil seems strange too - the AAA had announced its adoption of the 1938-40 International Formula in January 1937, so for 1938 there were no supplementary rules at Indianapolis. If Neubauer was - as alleged - unsure about this, surely one telegram (framed by Uhlenhaut, whose English was perfect) could have provided an answer?

"Männer, Frauen und Motoren" (1980 edition) is quoted in the bibliography of "Quicksilver Century": could some of this be another of Don Alfredo's little fantasies? I don't have the German edition, but it's not in my 1958 copy of "Speed Was My Life".

#12 Roy C

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:23

AFAIK the only pre-war Mercedes "Silver Arrow" to race at the Indianapolis 500 was the "Don Lee Special" (W154/39) in 1947.

Edited by Roy C, 07 April 2011 - 07:23.


#13 Tim Murray

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:35

... and 1948.

#14 Roger Clark

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:39

Karl Ludvigsen had complete access to Daimler-Benz archives in writing Quicksilver Century and the earlier Mercedes-Benz Racing Cars and I would always give him the benefit of any doubt on matters relating to these cars. He is certainly too good an historian to lift stories from Neubauer's book.

It is well documented that the M154 had heavy oil consumption in 1938. Ludvigsen says that Daimler-Benz believed that there was a limit on tank size and a ban on replenishment during the race. In a footnote he says that they were wrong about the tank size. It would be interesting to know whether this was so. I don't think that Neubauer was unsure - just wrong - so no reason to enquire.

The drivers' schedule does seem tight!

#15 David McKinney

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 09:44

They would presumably have planned to repeat what they had done in 1937, sending some drivers to race in the US and keeping others back in Eruope for, in this case, Tunis and the Eifelrennen

#16 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 10:55

I know you mean Tripoli there, David. And I did wonder about splitting the team as in 1937, but in early 1938 the only other drivers they had were Seaman and the untried Bäumer: Dick's abilities aside, would that be the face they'd want to show the Italians in the first major race of a new Formula?

The return from America would have been easier: the Europa left New York on June 2nd and as passengers could also disembark at Cherbourg, that would probably have been a quicker route to the Nürburgring.

Roger: I wasn't casting aspersions on Karl's research, although I see it could be read that way. But I do find it odd that a famously efficient company like MB could make such an elementary mistake - on the same level as "the paint being too heavy"?



#17 David McKinney

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 13:21

Lang and Seaman for Indianapolis, Caracciola and von Brauchitsch to stay at home
In addition to Bäumer, I believe Hartmann and Brendel could also have been available

#18 jj2728

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 13:26

1948. From my father's archives.

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#19 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 13:47

Lang and Seaman for Indianapolis, Caracciola and von Brauchitsch to stay at home
In addition to Bäumer, I believe Hartmann and Brendel could also have been available

Specific cars were allocated to Caracciola, von Brauchitsch and Lang, spares were packed and space was booked on a transatlantic sailing.

Brendel and Hartmann were - as you say - theoretically available. But I seriously doubt they'd have been given a drive.

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#20 D-Type

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 14:17

Notwithstanding their legendary efficiency, Mercedes did leave things to the last minute on occasions. Remenber that they had to finish the W165s on the ship going to Tripoli. Could it be that they originally planned an earlier date but it took them so long to solve the oil consumption problem and May 11th was their "drop dead" date?

#21 cpbell

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 17:27

Notwithstanding their legendary efficiency, Mercedes did leave things to the last minute on occasions. Remenber that they had to finish the W165s on the ship going to Tripoli. Could it be that they originally planned an earlier date but it took them so long to solve the oil consumption problem and May 11th was their "drop dead" date?


Wasn't that due to the incredible feat of getting new cars designed and built in time for Tripoli being so great that even D-B found it a hard task? Surely checking the rules of a race, finding that your existing car is eligible, and sending a couple is a somewhat easier task? Anyway, I agree with Vitesse - the idea of D-B wanting to enter a race but yet not making it their business to know the rules so that they thought their cars were ineligible even when they were seems incredible to me. If it had been anyone other than Ludvigsen that had written this down as historical fact, I'd have dismissed it.