Bernd Rosemeyer

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Bernd Rosemeyer
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2007-1205-500, Bernd Rosemeyer, Elly Beinhorn, Ferdinand Porsche.jpg
Bernd Rosemeyer (left) with Elly Beinhorn and Ferdinand Porsche
Born (1909-10-14)October 14, 1909
Lingen, Germany
Died January 28, 1938(1938-01-28) (aged 28)
Frankfurt-Darmstadt Autobahn, Germany
Occupation Racing driver
Spouse(s) Elly Beinhorn (1907–2007) (m. 1936)

Bernd Rosemeyer (October 14, 1909 in Lingen, Lower Saxony, Germany – January 28, 1938 on the Frankfurt/Darmstadt Autobahn) was a German racing driver.

Career[edit]

Bernd Rosemeyer 1937 at the Nürburgring

His father owned a garage and repair shop where young Bernd Rosemeyer worked on motorcycles and cars. Having started by racing motorbikes, Rosemeyer became a member of the Auto Union racing team with hardly any experience in normal race cars. This was later considered a benefit as he was not yet used to the handling of traditional layout race cars. The mid-engined Silver Arrows of Auto Union were hard to drive, and only he and Italian Legend Tazio Nuvolari truly mastered these 500 bhp (370 kW) beasts.

In only his second ever Grand Prix, at the daunting Nürburgring, Rosemeyer took the lead from the great Rudolf Caracciola and was almost in sight of the finish line when he missed a gear and was over taken. However in subsequent years he made up for this mistake by winning three consecutive races at the Nürburgring, one famously in thick fog. Later in 1935 he won his first Grand Prix at the Brno Masaryk Circuit in Czechoslovakia.

Whilst on the podium he was introduced to the famous aviatrix Elly Beinhorn. Their celebrity relationship was too good an opportunity to miss for the Nazi Party and Heinrich Himmler chose to make him a member of the SS, an 'honour' he would have been unwise to refuse. All German drivers were required to join the National Socialist Motor Corps, but Rosemeyer allegedly got away with never wearing a uniform.

Several sensational Grand Prix motor racing victories in 1936 and 1937 (also in the Vanderbilt Cup in the USA) made him popular not only in Germany. He won the European driving championship in 1936.

His marriage to young flying ace Elly Beinhorn added even more celebrity hype. It also made it possible for him to learn to fly a private plane, something which many race pilots of later generations would do also. Before a testing session, he once used a now defunct airfield next to the Flugplatz section of the Nürburgring as a landing strip, and rolled his plane to the pits via the race track - in opposite direction.

His son Bernd Jr was born in November 1937, but only ten weeks after his son's birth Rosemeyer was killed during a world speed record attempt.

Rosemeyer considered 13 to be his lucky number. He was married on July 13, 1936. 13 days later he won the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. His last Nürburgring victory came on the 13th June 1937. His last race victory came at his 13th start of the 1937 season at Donington Park.

Fatal record attempt[edit]

Bernd Rosemeyer with the Vanderbilt Cup (1937)

Bernd was killed during a land speed record attempt on the Autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt on January 28, 1938.

Competing for the record on the same day against Rudolf Caracciola, Rosemeyer went later in the day and set a new record[clarification needed] of 432 km/h (268 mph) [From a 1938 report. The actual speed was in fact 429.6 km/h, 1 km/h faster than Caracciola earlier that day]. Rosemeyer went out next in his Auto Union streamliner, despite a report that wind was picking up. After two preliminary runs he was on his third and final attempt at 11:47 a.m., when the car suddenly went out of control. Whether caught by a gust of wind or by an unforeseen aerodynamic effect, it skidded to the left onto the median and, perhaps after over-correcting, it swerved to the right and off the highway, where it went airborne and collided with a bridge embankment. Rosemeyer was thrown out of the car as it somersaulted through the air; he died at the roadside.[1]

Memorial[edit]

The Rosemeyer memorial is south of Frankfurt at the Rosemeyer layby (German: "Bernd-Rosemeyer-Parkplatz") on the southbound side of A5 motorway at kilometer marker 508. At the south end of the layby a footpath leads west into the forest, where the memorial is located at 49°58′25″N 8°36′11″E / 49.97361°N 8.60306°E / 49.97361; 8.60306.

Audi honoured the 100th anniversary of Rosemeyer's birth by placing a wreath at the memorial.[2]

Audi built a concept car, the Audi Rosemeyer, which combined elements of modern design with styling strongly resembling the former Auto Unions "Silver Arrows" Grand Prix racers, namely their 16-cylinder car driven by Rosemeyer, after which the car is named.

There is also a bronze memorial situated next to the entrance to the Donington Park Museum in Leicestershire.

Bernd Rosemeyer is buried in the Waldfriedhof Dahlem on Hüttenweg in Berlin.

In his birthplace of Lingen (Ems), Bahnhofstrasse, where the racer grew up, was renamed in his honor as "Bernd-Rosemeyer-Strasse". In addition, the city is the home of Motorsport Club "MSC Bernd Rosemeyer Lingen e.V. im ADAC", founded in 1964. The namesake "Autohaus Rosemeyer" at Lindenstrasse 7 closed its doors on 30 November 2003.

Major career victories[edit]

Complete European Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Entrant Make 1 2 3 4 5 EDC Points
1935 Auto Union Auto Union BEL GER
4
SUI
3
ITA
Ret
ESP
5
5 25
1936 Auto Union Auto Union MON
Ret
GER
1
SUI
1
ITA
1
1 10
1937 Auto Union Auto Union BEL
GER
3
MON
Ret
SUI
Ret
ITA
3
7 28

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meinhold Lurz, "Denkmäler an der Autobahn—die Autobahn als Denkmal", in: Reichsautobahn: Pyramiden des Dritten Reichs. Analysen zur Ästhetik eines unbewältigten Mythos, ed. Rainer Stommer with Claudia Gabriele Philipp, Marburg: Jonas, 1982, ISBN 9783922561125, pp. 155–92, pp. 166–68 (German).
  2. ^ AUSringers.com - Happy 100th to Bernd Rosemeyer

Publications[edit]

  • Chris Nixon & Elly Beinhorn Rosemeyer: "Rosemeyer!", Transport Bookman Publications 1989, SBN 0851840469

External links[edit]

Sporting achievements
Preceded by
Rudolf Caracciola
European Drivers' Champion
1936
Succeeded by
Rudolf Caracciola
Preceded by
Hans Stuck
German Mountain Climb Champion
1936
Succeeded by
Hans Stuck