Georg Meier

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For the chess player, see Georg Meier (chess player). For the German philosopher and aesthetician, see Georg Friedrich Meier.
Georg Meier
Nationality German
Born (1910-11-09)9 November 1910
Died 19 February 1999(1999-02-19) (aged 88)
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Isle of Man TT career
TTs contested 2 (1938-1939)
TT wins 1
Podiums 1

Georg "Schorsch" Meier (9 November 1910, Mühldorf am Inn – 19 February 1999) was a German motorcycle racer famous for being the first foreign winner of the prestigious Senior TT the Blue Riband race of the Isle of Man TT Races in 1939 riding for the factory BMW team and the first motor-cycle racer to lap a Grand Prix course at over 100 mph.[1]

Biography[edit]

Meier was born in Mühldorf am Inn, Bavaria, Germany and after leaving school at the age of 14 years, Georg Meier became an apprentice at a local motor-cycle repair shop in Mühldorf am Inn in Bavaria and became known as "Schorsch" (the Bavarian diminutive for Georg) Meier. After hearing that the Bavarian State Police were creating a motor-cycle section, at the age of 19 years, Georg Meier applied to join and was accepted in 1929. A trainee period of three years had to be completed before Georg Meier was able to transfer to the motor-cycle police section in 1932.[2]

Racing career[edit]

After becoming a member of the Bavarian Police Team, Georg Meier competed in 1000 km endurance trials that where popular at the time and seen as good training for motor-cycle dispatch riders. In 1934, Georg Meier attracted attention of the German Army motor-cycle team after finishing a 1000 km enduro an hour ahead of schedule and also riding an unpopular 400cc single-cylinder BMW R4 with a pressed-steel frame and out-moded trailing-link front forks.[3] With fellow competitors in the German Army team, Fritz Linhardt and Joseph Forstner they won so many enduro events that Georg Meier became known as "Der Gusseiserne Schorsch".[1] (Ironman Georg).

1937 International Six Day Trial[edit]

After many success at the 1000 km enduro events, Georg Meier was selected for the German Trophy Team for the 1937 International Six Day Trial to be held in Wales. Along with team-mates Joseph Stelzer and Ludwig Wiggerl Kraus who competed in an 600cc BMW sidecar outfit, the German Trophy team now used 500cc flat-twin BMW motor-cycles. At the end of the six day trial the British and German Trophy teams where level on points. The event was to be decided on speed-test and the new Castle Donington race circuit. The British Trophy team used 350cc machines and due to the handicap system the 500cc BMW motor-cycles had to complete an extra-lap to win the 1937 International Six Day Trial. Also, two of the British riders had extensive road-racing experience with Vic Brittain riding a Norton and George Rowley riding an AJS motor-cycle. Despite having no road racing experience, Georg Meier won the Donington speed-trial, but the German Trophy Team lost the event to Great Britain Team by 10 seconds on the handicap system. The German Team officials were impressed by Georg Meier's performance that they suggested to BMW that he should be given a trial for their race-team.[2]

Racing for BMW Works Team 1937-1939[edit]

The works BMW motorcycle team were looking for a replacement for Otto Ley who was about to retire from racing. At a race at Schleiz in 1937, Georg Meier was give the opportunity to try out one of the new supercharged BMW motorcycles during practice. After a few laps, Georg Meier pulled into the pits and reputedly told the BMW racing manager that "Road Racing is far too dangerous for me."[4] The BMW team were able to persuade Georg Meier to continue and finished the practice session with fourth fastest time, but did not start the race as he was not officially entered by the BMW works team. After replacing Otto Ley in the BMW motorcycle team for the 1938 season, Georg Meier began 1938 by winning the Eilenriede Race at Hanover, setting race and lap records after a poor start which had left him in last place".[1]

During the 1938 racing season Meier rode a BMW RS 255 Kompressor to both European and German Championships.[5] For the 1938 Isle of Man TT, Georg Meier was entered by the BMW team along with Jock West and Karl Gall. First the BMW team suffered a setback when Karl Gall was injured in a crash during an unofficial practice and was found in a ditch above the Gooseneck and was unable to race. On the startline for the 1938 Senior TT Race, one of the BMW mechanics changing a spark plug stripped a cylinder thread on the engine of Georg Meier's Type 255 motorcycle.[6] Despite starting the 1938 Senior TT Race on one cylinder, Georg Meier retired on lap one at the bottom of Bray Hill.[7] The race was won Harold Daniell riding for Norton at an average race speed of 89.11 mph and Jock West riding the works supercharged BMW finished in 5th place at an average race speed of 85.92 mph. In 1938, Georg Meier went on to win the 500cc Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, the 500cc Dutch TT, the German Grand Prix at the Hohenstein-Ernstthal or Sachsenring course and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The 500cc 1938 Ulster Grand Prix was won by BMW team-mate Jock West and Georg Meier became the 1938 500cc European Motor-Cycle Champion.[8]

For the 1939 racing season, despite being a Sergeant-Instructor with the Military Police, Georg Meier continued racing for the factory BMW team during his periods of leave. Also for the 1939 season Georg Meier along with fellow motorcycle racer Hermann Paul Müller drove as reserve drivers for the German Auto-Union Racing Team. During practice for the 1939 Isle of Man TT Race, Georg Meier's BMW teammate, Kall Gall crashed at Ballaugh Bridge and later died of his injuries and the effects of pneumonia in hospital.[9] After considering withdrawing from the Isle of Man TT Races, the BMW management decided that Georg Meier and Jock West would compete in the 1939 Senior TT Race and Georg Meier led from start to finish winning at an average race speed of 89.38 mph and Jock West finished in second place.[10]

1939 Senior Isle of Man TT (500cc)[edit]

16 June 1939 - 7 laps (264.11 miles) Mountain Course

Rank Rider Team Speed Time
1 Nazi Germany Georg Meier BMW 89.38 mph 2:57:19.0
2 United Kingdom Jock West BMW 88.22 2:59:39.0
3 United Kingdom Freddie Frith Norton 87.96 3:00:11.0

Two weeks after becoming the first foreign winner of the prestigious Isle of Man Senior TT Race,[5] Georg Meier won the 500cc 1939 Dutch TT at Assen. This was followed by a win at 500cc 1939 Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and the first motor-cycle racer to lap a Grand Prix course at over 100 mph.[1] Despite missing the French Motor-Cycle Grand Prix, Georg Meier competes instead for Auto Union driving to 2nd place in Grand Prix De L'Automobile Club de France at Reims-Gueux. Returning to ride for the BMW motor-cycle for the Swedish Grand Prix, Georg Meier falls twice after chasing Dorino Serafini riding for Gilera and suffers a back-injury which stops him from racing for the rest of the 1939 racing season. With further wins at the 500cc German, Ulster and Italian Grand Prix races, Dorino Sefafini wins the 500c class for the 1939 European Championship.

Auto Union Team 1939[edit]

1938 Auto-Union V12 type D saved from being cut up for scrap metal.

The 1939 Eifelrennen was the first race of the season for the Auto Union team. Along with fellow motor-cycle racer Hermann Paul Müller acted as reserve drivers for the Auto Union team. After qualifying for the 1939 Eifelrennen, Hans Stuck injured his foot playing skittle and the place was taken by Georg Meier, however did not start the race after a technical failure of the Auto Union Type D that he was driving. The 1939 Eifelrennen was won by Hermann Lang driving the Mercedes-Benz W154 after Tazio Nuvolari driving for Auto Union tried to run the race non-stop. For the 1939 Belgium Grand Prix, Georg Meier again deputised Hans Stuck in the Auto Union team. The race held in heavy rain and poor visibility was dominated by the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows of Dick Seaman and Hermann Lang. On lap 14, Georg Meier driving the Auto Union Type D was forced into a ditch by the privateer Adolphe Mandirola driving a Maserati 6CM at Blanchemont on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and then retired. The 1939 Belgium Grand Prix was again won by Hermann Lang, but was domininated by the death of Dick Seaman in a crash at La Source hairpin. The 1939 French Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux was dominated by Auto Union after the retirement of the Mercedes-Benz drivers, after Rudolf Caracciola crashed on lap 1, on lap 17 an engine failure for von Brauchitsch and Hermann Lang on lap 36. The race was won by Hermann Paul Müller for Auto Union and Georg Meier finished in 2nd place after a pit-fire burnt his arm.[11]

1939 Race Results Auto Union Type D[edit]

Rank Race Circuit Distance Time
DNS ADAC Eifelrennen Nürburgring - Nordschleife 10 laps - 228.10 km ——
DNF Grand Prix de Belgique Spa-Francorchamps 35 laps - 507.50 km ——
2nd Grand Prix De L'Automobile Club de France Reims-Gueux 51 laps - 398.60 km - 1 lap
DNF Großer Preis von Deutschland Nürburgring 22 laps - 501.82 km ——

War Service[edit]

After the crash at the Swedish Grand Prix in August 1939, Georg Meier spent two months recovering from a serious back-injury. This led to Georg Meier being declared unfit for military service and spend the war as a motor-cycle instructor for the German Military Police and as a driver to Wilhelm Canaris head of the Abwehr, the German military intelligence service, from 1935 to 1944.[1]

Post War Racing[edit]

Georg Meier riding the 1939 BMW Type 255 Kompressor at the 1989 Isle of Man TT Race

After the war Germany was excluded from motor sport competition, including the world championships until 1951.[12] Between 1947 and 1953, Georg Meier won the German 500cc championship on a modified pre-war supercharged BMW motorcycle for six years out of seven. In 1952 he narrowly missed out to young teammate Walter Zeller and became German Sportsman of the Year in 1949 the first time a motorcycle racer had won the prize.[13] Also, Georg Meier formed the BMW Veritas Team and won the German sports car championship in 1948.

After regaining the German Championship from Walter Zeller in 1953, Georg Meier retired from racing to concentrate on his BMW motorcycle business. In 1983 Georg Meier appeared in the BMW campaign to celebrate 60 years of motorcycle production and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1939 Senior TT Race win, Georg Meier demonstrated the BMW Type 255 Kompressor in the Lap of Honour during the 1989 Isle of Man TT Race.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Daily Telegraph dated 21 February 1999
  2. ^ a b Classic Racer no 78 - pp 70 Mertons Motor-Cycle Media Group plc
  3. ^ Classic Racer no 78 - pp 70 Mertons Motor-Cycle Media Group plc
  4. ^ Classic Racer no 78 - page 71
  5. ^ a b Williams, Greg (September–October 2012). "The BMW RS 255 Kompressor: Making History Going Fast". Motorcycle Classics 8 (1). Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  6. ^ The Classic Motor-Cycle July 1999 pp8 Mertons Motor-Cycle Media Group plc
  7. ^ Keig, Stanley Robertson (1975). The Keig Collection: six hundred photographs from the Manx House of Keig of T.T. riders and their machines from 1911 to 1939, vol 1. Bruce Main-Smith & Co. pp.50 ISBN 0-904365-05-0
  8. ^ pp151 Guinness Motorcycle Sport Fact Book by Ian Morrison - Guinness Press Ltd ISBN 0-85112-953-6
  9. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times dated 17 May 1939.
  10. ^ Goodwood Festival of Speed - Official Programme 1999 pp116
  11. ^ [1] Kolumbus.fi Georg Meier (Retrieved 7 February 2007)
  12. ^ Classic Racer no 78 - pp 72 Mertons Motor-Cycle Media Group plc
  13. ^ German Racing Motorcycles by Mick Walker pp17 (1st Edition) (1999) Redline Books ISBN 0-9531311-2-2

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jimmie Guthrie
500cc Motorcycle European Champion
1938
Succeeded by
Dorino Serafini
Awards
Preceded by
Germany Gottfried von Cramm
German Sportsman of the Year
1949
Succeeded by
Germany Herbert Klein