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Hans Ruesch


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#1 raoul leDuke

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 16:41

I have been communicating with Hans Ruesch over the past few months and just though that I'd mention that sadly he is not in the best of health. He has almost completely lost his sight and at 94 is probably the last remaining pre war Grand Prix winner.

A truly interesting character who had three very different careers, first as a racing driver, then a writer and producer and finally as one the foremost animal rights activists.

I will be posting a piece about him on www.historicracing.com in the next few days based our conversations and the material that he has sent me.

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#2 bradbury west

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 21:19

Thank goodness that someone has had the good sense and the drive to go and see him. He represents a very good link with those special days. The Anno Domini effect has been all to prevalent in recent years with many of these people. It is very important that they record their memories of events, even if coloured by the passage of time.

Well done

Roger Lund.

PS Please post on here when you have put the article on your site . RL

#3 raoul leDuke

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 10:05

Somewhere in my genes there is a desire to chronicle things for posterity. This is particularly annoying for my wife as she fails to see the point and thinks that time could be much better spent on other things.

I will post the finished piece here as soon as it is complete.

In passing if anyone would like to add any interesting anecdotes, I'd be most pleased to read them.

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#4 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 19:30

Nothing to add, except add me to the interested list. I see the point, but then I would :lol:

A quite amazing life, judging by the Google hits on him. Just a shame he falls outside the remit of my WATN - he would've been perfect.


I also think it's so important to gather stories etc whilst the subject is still alive. Too often it's done the other way round. Although, sadly, judging by your comment that he is in ill-health, I wonder if Hans will be around for much longer. :(

#5 raoul leDuke

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 09:41

Nothing to add, except add me to the interested list. I see the point, but then I would

A quite amazing life, judging by the Google hits on him. Just a shame he falls outside the remit of my WATN - he would've been perfect.


Hi Richie, when I started out with historicracing.com I too had a set of criteria that I intended to stick to. However I kept coming across interesting drivers all over the place and didn't want to miss them out. I now have over 2200 drivers listed and I'm less than halfway plus I keep adding drivers to my 'to do' list faster that I can research them.

It is a constant source of amazement and inspiration to me to see the level of knowledge, passion and dedication to this sport and its heritage amongst the members of TNF.

Keep the spirit alive.

#6 raoul leDuke

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 14:39

Hans Rüesch was born in Naples on the 17th of May 1913 of an Neopolitan speaking Swiss mother and a German born father. He spent the first 13 years of his life in Naples where his father was an industrialist/archeologist specialising in Pompean Art.

Hans spoke German with his father's side of the family and Italian with his mother's. He spent five years at boading school where he added French to his list of languages. After a brief spell studying law at University in Zurich, he quit in 1932 to go racing, his first competition being in an MG at the Klausenrennen however he got serious later in the year when he drove an Alfa Romeo to third in the 1.5 litre class in the Brno Grand Prix (Masaryk-Ring) and took wins in Switzerland in the hillclimbs at Jaunpass, Klausen and Rheineck-Walzenhausen.

In 1933 he set a new standing start kilometer record at Montlhery in a 3 litre monoposto Maserati at 88.33 mph. In hillclimbs he won at Gometz-le-Châtel, Rheineck-Walzenhausen, Gaisberg and Semmering, the last two in Austria.

He raced a private Maserati 8CM in 1934 winning the Eisrennen or ice races at Titisee and Eibsee, both in Germany. The Titisee event was held on a short 1.5 km oval marked out on the frozen lake. Ruesch covered the 10 laps at the average speed of 85 kph. Two weeks later he won the at Eibsee, near Garmish-Partenkirshen. He also won the 500 Metres Lances Nice and the hillclimb at Rheineck Walzenhausen.

In 1935 he raced a Maserati 4CS. He won the Grand Saconnex and the Kesselberg hillclimbs, and came second in the Circuit De L'Eifel and third in the Norwegian Grand Prix held in Oslo.

In 1936 acquired the ex-Nuvolari Scuderia Ferrari straight eight Alfa Romeo 8C-35. He brought it to England and entered the hill climb at Shelsley Walsh finishing second in the over 3 litre class. He then entered it into the British Grand Prix sharing the drive with Dick Seaman. Ruesch took the first stint taking the lead on lap three and holding it with some ease, though he did have a slight brush with Bira's Maserati, until handing over to Seaman on lap 60. Seaman proceeded to cruise to the finish three minutes up on Charlie Martin's 3.2 litre Alfa in second.

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He won the Grand Prix du Bremgarten, the Course de Gyon as well as the Course du Kilometre de Gyon in Hungary. He took wins in the hillclimbs at Lapize in France, Harmashatarhegy in Hungary and came second at Develier-les-Rangiers. In France he finished third in the GP at Albi and the Coppa Acerbo in Italy.

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He entered the Mountain Championship at Brooklands, a scratch race over 10 laps. Raymoned Mays got away quickest and Ruesch seemed to take a while to become familiar with the circuit. He speeded up as the race progressed and crossed the line in second. He later lodged a protest that Mays had jumped the start but this was not upheld, though Charlie Martin and Austin Dobson were and were thhus duly penalised one minute.

Ruesch returned to Brooklands in 1937 this time winning the Mountain Championsip by over 22 seconds. He also took part in the 1937 South Africa series. He won the Grand Prix de Bucarest, the Grand Prix de Frontieres, the Circuit d'Elaintarhanajo in Finland, the Grand Prix du Bremgarten and the Coupe de Vitesse. That year he also came third in the Circuit de Milan and won the hillclimb at Rheineck-Walzenhausen in Switzerland for the fourth time.

In 1939 with the political situation in Europe deteriorating, he sold the 8C-35 Alfa Romeo to Robert Arbuthnot and moved to Paris, where he began writing, something that he had a passion for when he was younger. He had made a scouting trip to America in 1938 and with the Germans one day away from Paris and the borders closed, he headed for Spain armed only with a transit visa. He was arrested in Madrid but, with the help of a female friend, managed to get released and continued on to Lisbon where he stayed for six weeks before travelling to the America. He remained in New York until 1946, studying and writing.

Often compared to Conrad and Jack London, he wrote a number of books including The Racer in 1953 that became the film of the same name staring Kirk Douglas and the million selling Top of the World that was made into the film The Savage Innocents staring Anthony Quinn and Peter O'Toole.

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He married Maria Luisa De La Feld in 1949.

In 1953 he made a brief return to racing in a Ferrari 4.1-litre 340 MM Spider sports car in the Gran Premio Supercortemaggiore, a sportscar race held on public roads in the area of Bolzano. He qualified in 10th but in the race, which was won by Juan Manuel Fangio, he spun just outside the town of Merano and ran into a small crowd. Two were Carabinieri and one of them, Aldo d'Egilio, was killed instantly, the other policeman, Ezio Saltori and the two spectators Domenico Avi and Enrico Jui were seriously injuried but survived. Hans didn't race again.

An animal lover since his childhood, in the 1970s became an activist against animal experiments and vivisection. He switched from writing fiction to writing exposés of the animal experimentation industry, catalogued in his books the Naked Empress, The Great Medical Fraud (1982) and the Slaughter of the Innocent (1983). He is also the founder and director of Civis, The International Foundation Report Dedicated to the Abolition of Vivisection.

Hans now spends his time in Switzerland and is suffering from failing eyesight.

www.historicracing.com

#7 Alan Cox

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 19:09

Very many thanks for this fascinating biography, Raoul. I'm sure others on this forum will appreciate this.

#8 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 23:29

Raoul - thanks for your interesting and illustrated abstract of Hans Rüesch.

He is author of the following books:
Top of the World (life in the far, far north), 1950
The Racer, Ballantine Books, 1953 Hardback
Rennfahrer, Hamburg, Rowohlt, 1955
The great thirst, Hutchinson, 1957
Der schwarze Durst, Ullstein, Berlin 1959
The Savage Innocents, 1960
The Stealers, London: Hutchinson, 1962
Back to the Top of the World, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973
Iglus in der Nacht, Fischer, Frankfurt/Main, 1974
Arab, New York: Ballantine, 1974
Slaughter of the Innocent: Animals in Medical Research, New York, Bantam, 1978
Naked Empress or The Great Medical Fraud, CIVIS, 1982.
Die Pharma Story, München, Hirthammer, 1985
1000 Doctors Against Vivisection, Massagno, Switzerland, 1989. (self: Jun 9, 2002 @ TNF)

#9 ReWind

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 07:35

Originally posted by raoul leDuke
Hans Rüesch was born in Naples on the 17th of May 1922

1913

#10 raoul leDuke

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 07:49

Quite correct. Sorry for the typo, that's what happens when trying to write up more than one bio at a time!

#11 raoul leDuke

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 08:12

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A few more pictures for 1937

#12 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 19:53

Well done Raoul, a very interesting read. :up:

#13 Tomas Karlsson

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 09:42

Great! :up:

The first and third of the last three pictures are from his victory in Helsinki in 1937.

The Norwegian GP in '35 was an ice-race held at the lake Bogstavannet. He also raced at lake Vallentuna outside of Stockholm the week after, but left the track after a puncture while lying third.

#14 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 17:22

Somewhat surprised that nobody has mentioned that Ruesch has died. :cry:

At the grand old age of 94 - but with his passing, goes a massive block of racing history.

I do hope he gets a proper English language obituary soon, he certainly was a fascinating man.

#15 bradbury west

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 17:36

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins

At the grand old age of 94 - but with his passing, goes a massive block of racing history.
I do hope he gets a proper English language obituary soon, he certainly was a fascinating man.


RIP

It is to be hoped that someone managed to arrange an interview with him about his racing.

I hear that his Alfa is now in new hands, no longer with Peter Giddings.

Roger Lund.

#16 Alan Cox

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 20:14

I heOriginally posted by bradbury west
I hear that his Alfa is now in new hands, no longer with Peter Giddings.


Still in America, but now with Peter Greenfield, I believe. He brought it over to the UK last year.

#17 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 09:15

Did Hans Ruesch just call his "team" by his own name or did he have a "Team name" ??

#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 18:03

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins
Somewhat surprised that nobody has mentioned that Ruesch has died. :cry:

At the grand old age of 94 - but with his passing, goes a massive block of racing history.

I do hope he gets a proper English language obituary soon, he certainly was a fascinating man.


There's one in today's Indie:

http://news.independ...icle2976650.ece

#19 Tim Murray

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 18:44

There was also one by Richard Williams in last Saturday's Guardian:

http://www.guardian....2169635,00.html

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#20 dretceterini

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 22:04

Originally posted by Alan Cox
Very many thanks for this fascinating biography, Raoul. I'm sure others on this forum will appreciate this.


I'l second that! :)

#21 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 16:44

Great biography Raoul ! :up:

#22 Dennis Hockenbury

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 00:21

A bit late in coming across this news. Sad to say as others have noted that the passing of Hans Ruesch marks perhaps the final end to an incredible era of motorsport.

RIP Hans.

#23 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:11

So, does anyone know his funeral details then? :confused:

#24 GIGLEUX

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:35

Originally posted by Bjørn Kjer
Did Hans Ruesch just call his "team" by his own name or did he have a "Team name" ??


He entered his cars under his name.

#25 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 15:44

Times obituary today:- http://www.timesonli...icle2500299.ece

#26 raoul leDuke

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:22

The Memorial Service for Hans Ruesch was held on Monday, September 17th, 2007, at the cemetery in Massagno, next to Lugano, in his native Switzerland, where Hans had lived for the last decades of his life.

The Service, organized by his three children, began at 4 pm, at the cemetery gates, where those in attendance followed the hearse containing Hans' casket, in light-colored wood and adorned with a large bouquet of, mainly, gold and fuchsia-striped sunflowers. This seemed appropriate for Hans, as sunflowers are more a symbol of life and fecundity, rather than death. And Hans was a master of every activity that he undertook in his long life, as well as an amazingly prolific writer, whose last book, true to his vow to do nothing else but fight vivisection until it would be abolished, was published against vivisection last year, in Italy.

At the chapel in the cemetery the casket was transported by Hans' sons and friends onto the ornate, enclosed funeral bier in front of the benches where the congregation sat down. The first person to speak was Hans Ruesch Jr, followed by Hans' daughter, Vivian Ruesch Mellon. They both spoke in Hans' mother tongue, Italian, so I do not know what they said, except that I could make out that both referred at length to Hans' anti-vivisection work. Vivian Ruesch Mellon introduced her husband, an American who spoke to the assembly in English, and very eloquently, about his father-in-law. Mr Mellon has promised us a copy of his address, and when we have it, we will post it, and even have it translated into French for those who do not read English.

After Mr Mellon, Madame Pratesi, of the Hans Ruesch Foundation, spoke, again in Italian, and then the ceremony ended with a recording of Bach's Jésu Joy of Man's Desiring.

After the ceremony, and on the steps of the chapel, we congregated for quite some time, exchanging Hans Ruesch anecdotes. The upshot of these was the confirmation of the observations that Mr Mellon had made in what he had said earlier: that Hans' first love was animals, and that he believed in God and, therefore, in an afterlife. And we, outside the family, discovered that Hans' children were never, as Hans had so often imagined, against his anti-vivisection work. On the contrary, they are each very sincerely proud of all their father's work.

In fact, I had been worried that Hans' children might be bourgeois, snobbish and frosty people. On the contrary, they were warm and unpretentious, as well as handsome and dignified, and they spoke with great admiration of their father, despite the hardships of being a child of such a difficult, often coldly intellectual, and exclusive man.

Hans' daughter told me that her father's remains would be cremated, and then she would carry them to Geneva, where they will be buried at Hans's father's grave, since Hans had always loved his father so deeply, despite losing him at sixteen.

#27 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:55

Raoul
I have pm'd you.
Paul