Many years ago, I heard a story of a two-stroke engine in a Formula 3 car that won the Championship. Despite my surprise, in those pre-internet days, I parked the information. These days I'm researching a history of the post-war two stroke engine and in doing so much more meat has been added to the above bone.
Daniel Zimmermann was a German engineer who shone like a Supernova for a short time in German motor racing folklore. It was his misfortune that after WW2, he established his own small engine reconditioning shop in his home town of Luckenwalde which was in the Russian Zone. In 1948, the Russian Zone became East Germany. Racing gradually returned to East Germany after the Hitler war and in 1949, Zimmermann spectated at his first race event, around-the-houses races at Wittenberg in 1949. Combining car and motorcycle racing was extremely common in Germany and Wittenberg wanted a slice of this extra action. So the 1949 event included a demonstration 'race' for the new F3 500cc racing car class. But Zimmermann came away disappointed that most of the racing motorcycles relied on West German or British engines. He was determined to build his own F3 car and his own F3 racing engine and he started the project in the winter of 1949-50.
The chassis was not particularly noteworthy but its engine was a water-cooled 500cc twin cylinder disc-valve two stroke. It incorporated rotary disc valves (which Zimmermann later patented) which allowed asymmetric intake timing. His engine included roller bearing big and small end bearings, Schnuerle type loop scavenging and a Kuechen style 'third' boost port.
Zimmermann first raced the car himself at Dessau in October 1950 and scored a DNF. He must have realised that he was better at spanners than behind the wheel because for 1951, he employed a local driver, Werner Lehmann (not to be confused with Willy Lehmann the East German F3 Champion for several years).
Werner Lehmann racing the Zimmermann F3 car in 1951
Daniel Zimmermann in his 1951 500cc Two Stroke F3 car
On 21st April at Round 1 of the East German Championship at Halle-Saale, Werner Lehmann crashed severely and almost broke the car in two. Zimmermann rebuilt it in time for Round 2 on 20th May at Leipzig where the car finished in 2nd place, a feat Lehmann repeated at Dresden (Round 3) on 16th June. His two 2nd places out of four races made Championship leader Lehmann virtually unassailable.
In the three months gap in the Championship between Rounds 3 and 4, Daniel Zimmermann returned to the car's driving seat for some non-Championship events. On 1st July he raced his powerful two stroke car in front of 1/3 million spectators at the international races at AVUS in Berlin. He finished 11th in his heat and 11th overall in the final but was the first East German F3 driver to finish. This was a great result against the likes of Pim Richardson, Ian Burgess, Eric Brandon and Toni Kreuzer driving Cooper Nortons, Keift JAPs and Scampolo BMWs. Some reports say that Stirling Moss was in the same race.
Daniel Zimmermann also drove his car at the non-Championship events at Stralsund (15th July) and at Schwerin (26th August) but the results are not known.
His own confidence and driving skills boosted, Zimmermann decided to drive at the final Round 4 of the East German F3 Championship on 29th September. As with the AVUS races, that at the Sachsenring was a mixed race including many West European drivers. Zimmermann finished 5th overall in the Final and was the first East German driver to finish.
The overall results were enough to crown Werner Lehmann the East German Formula 3 Champion and, thanks to his sole victory at the Sachsenring, Daniel Zimmermann had accrued enough points to rank equal 3rd in the same Championship! This must be one of the very few occasions where two drivers sharing the same car have each finished on the overall Championship podium.
But the financial cost, the time and the lack of attention to his family and his bread-and-butter business cost Zimmermann dearly. So he disposed of his car. The buyer may have been a man called Karl-Georg Reinhardt from Herzberg (Elster) because he is listed as driving a Zimmermann 'Eigenbau' (self-built) car in three Formula 3 races in 1952; Rostock on 20th April where he DNF'd, Halle-Saale on 8th June when he finished 9th and Schwerin on 22nd June when he Did Not Arrive (DNA).
And that's the end of this car's story...but...
- What happened to the Zimmermann car after its last public appearance on 8th June 1952?
- Can anybody add any extra details to this story?
- Are there any technical articles on this interesting little car?
- What photos exist (I have a few but all are small and blurred)?
- Precious little is known of the technical details of Zimmermann's 500cc twin cylinder two stroke engine. Has that survived somehow?
Edited by Sergio, 18 September 2013 - 16:33.