VI GROßER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND
Nürburgring (D), 17 July 1932.
Group I: 25 laps x 22.810 km (12.173 mi) = 570.25 km (354.34 mi)
Group II: 23 laps x 22.810 km (12.173 mi) = 524.63 km (325.99 mi)
Group III: 19 laps x 22.810 km (12.173 mi) = 433.39 km (269.30 mi)
Caracciola superior at the Nürburgring
by Hans Etzrodt
A huge field of 30 drivers from 10 nations raced simultaneously at the 1932 German Grand Prix, which counted as the third event in the European Automobile Championship.
The cars were divided into three groups. The focus was on the grand prix cars of Group I, although the remaining cars, Group II of 1500 cc and Group III of not more than 800 cc,
are also mentioned because all cars were continuously intermingled during the entire race. From 16 grand prix cars entered, only nine appeared at the start. Caracciola was the
predominant Alfa Romeo team driver and his only challenge came from his teammate Nuvolari, who surprisingly obeyed team orders but at the same time was deliberately delayed at his
pit stop to assure the German's victory. The only Bugatti challenge by Chiron was short-lived since the Frenchman encountered various problems ending with early retirement. The
Maserati works entered Ruggeri, who also retired very early. The four private Bugatti disappeared early except Dreyfus' car, which lasted the entire distance and managed fourth place.
After seven laps the Alfa team and one privately owned Bugatti were the only cars running in the unlimited class, and it became a
dull race without any battles taking place. Caracciola was a deserving victor in record time with Nuvolari in second place. This overwhelming victory by Alfa Romeo was another
demonstration of their superior cars and excellent organization.
The AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland) organized the international Grand Prix of Germany on the 22.810 km North Loop of the Nürburgring; which was considered the most difficult race
circuit after the Targa Florio. The racecars were divided into three groups. Group I contained all the cars that were contesting the European Championship, without limitation of the
engine size and were therefore free formula cars; they had to drive 25 laps or a total distance of 570.25 km. Because the other cars did not have to drive 25 laps, they did not qualify
for overall victory or for the European Championship. Group II cars with engines over 800 cc and up to 1500 cc had to drive 23 laps or 524.63 km. The little cars of Group III with
engines over 350 cc and up to 800 cc had to drive 19 laps or 433.39 km. No riding mechanics were allowed. There were no limitations and regulations regarding engine design, car weight or fuel.
The total prize money offered was 30 000 RM (Reichsmark) plus prizes for each class winner. The winner of Group I received the winning trophy and 8000 RM, the second 5000 RM, the third
3000 RM and the fourth 1500 RM. Altogether 17,500 RM were offered in this group. The Group II winner received 4000 RM, the second 2000 RM and third 1000 RM, altogether 7000 RM for this
group. In the third group the winner received 3000 RM, the second 1500 RM and third 1000 RM, with a group total of 5500 RM in cash prizes. Special prizes were offered for the
fastest car with a two-stroke engine and the fastest car with front-wheel drive. Besides those prizes each first place finisher of the three Groups would receive the golden Nürburg ring
to wear on their hand and each driver who started with the exception of the winner would be presented with a standard memorial cup.
Entries were received from Austria, Belgium, Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The first Group I entry was placed in March and came from
last year's winner with Mercedes, Rudolf Caracciola, who would start this year with Alfa Romeo. The second entry was received from the independent Berliner Bugatti driver Heinrich-Joachim von
Morgen in a 5-liter Bugatti. An entry was received on May 17 from the independent driver Hans Stuck with Otto Merz as reserve driver in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL. The Armenian Prince Djordjadzé,
the winner of the Mont des Mules hill climb at Monte Carlo with his Mercedes-Benz SSK, was also one of the early entries. Due to the hard economic times the Daimler-Benz factory had withdrawn
from racing for 1932. Currently the predominant team came from the Alfa Romeo works with the feared Equipe of Nuvolari, Caracciola, Borzacchini and Campari. The official Bugatti Equipe entered
Chiron, Varzi and Divo with Bouriat as reserve. The third works team came from Maserati in Bologna with only one 3.0-liter car for Ruggeri, though it was not quite clear if a 2.8 or 3.0-liter
engine was installed in the type 26 chassis. When I asked Richard Crump for his opinion, he wrote that "the factory had squeezed a 3.0 litre engine into this car and it was the first time they
had used it. Apart from that I can offer no positive reason for the retirement. The car was a rent-a-drive by Ruggeri who did not actually own a type 26 or 8C 2500/2800/3000, so when he had so
much power from the antiquated type 26 chassis he had a problem." Another Factory entry was the entirely new 1.1-liter 4-cylinder Maserati monoposto for Count di Cerami, but it was driven
by Ernesto Maserati. An independent 2.5-liter Maserati was entered by the American Whitney Straight. The independent Bugatti drivers were Dreyfus and Lehoux from France, Longueville
from Belgium, Hartmann from Hungary and the German PiLeSi Bugatti team of Pietsch and Lewy with 2.3-liter cars and Simons, who started with the small Bugatti in Group II.
The Group II cars of up to 1.5-liter engine capacity comprised 27 drivers mentioned in the magazine previews but only 15 appeared for the start. Earl Howe would bring his 1.5-liter 1927 Delage.
Fane with a green Frazer-Nash and Siday with a red one, both supercharged, completed the share of British entries. Since the Italian Count di Cerami had fallen ill, Ernesto Maserati was to drive
the latest 1100 cc 4-cyl. Maserati monoposto works entry. Täuber with his small Alfa Romeo arrived from Switzerland, Zigrand in a Bugatti from Luxembourg, Madame Rose-Itier with a Bugatti,
Scaron with an Amilcar and Félix with a Lombard from France, Hartmann in a Bugatti and Count S. Gyulai with an Alfa Romeo, both from Hungary and the Germans Seibel, Wagner, Burggaller and Simons
-already mentioned- with their Bugattis.
The seven tiny cars of up to 800 cc in Group III comprised the Germans Macher with his unique DKW, Bäumer with an Austin, Hedderich and Kohlrausch in BMW Wartburgs, which were of Austin Seven origin,
Czechoslovakian Urban-Emmerich in an MG Midget and in a similar car British drivers Hamilton and Marquis de Belleroche in an Austin.
Already two weeks before the race, the Hotels of Adenau at the Nürburgring were busy with people from all countries. Several drivers had been here during the week prior of the race. Official
practice was scheduled from Wednesday to Saturday between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM and unofficial activity had started on Monday. Caracciola arrived with the new 2.6-liter Alfa Romeo monoposto on
Tuesday morning and drove his first laps. The racecars entered by Bugatti were standing in the paddock for several days, while Chiron, Varzi and Divo arrived on Tuesday to begin the Wednesday
practice. Thursday and Friday were the peak practice days. Nuvolari established the fastest lap in 11m02s at an average speed of 123 km/h. Two accidents happened during practice, one involved
Earl Howe's Delage, the other involved the Amilcar of Scaron, who crashed at the same place. During practice most drivers had made the observation that tires would last about seven to nine laps
in hot weather. The tires would be the biggest problem unless the weather would cool down for race day. Eight drivers did not start. Heinrich-Joachim von Morgen had been killed seven weeks
before at the Eifelrennen. Whitney Straight, Willy Longueville, Guy Bouriat and Giuseppe Campari did not arrive. László Hartmann preferred to start in Group II and Hans Stuck practiced with his
white Mercedes-Benz but withdrew from the start because he considered that he had no chance with his old Mercedes-Benz SSKL.
Ettore Bugatti made every effort to avoid another beating from the shockingly exceptionally fast Alfa Romeos. However, it was not really a question of whether Alfa Romeo would win this race as
they had been victorious in almost all major events that year, and had shown during practice that the Alfa Romeo monoposti were quickest. The question was really which of the three Alfa drivers
had the best chance. The greatest expert of this circuit was evidently the calculating Caracciola, a triple victor with Mercedes-Benz. Borzacchini was racing at the difficult Nürburgring for the
first time and only the canny daredevil Nuvolari could pose a threat to Caracciola. However, an important factor was team discipline at Alfa Romeo, where team orders were known to be strictly
followed, except not always by Nuvolari. It was obvious that team orders would ensure that the German Caracciola would be victorious in Germany and he went on to win. However speculation was that
Caracciola would have been victorious even without team orders. Regrettably, the team orders applied by team manager Aldo Giovannini prevented a true battle between Nuvolari and Caracciola from
taking place, which otherwise might have been exciting to watch.
The German Grand Prix was the last race of the European Championship in which Alfa Romeo was leading with two points while Maserati had nine points and Bugatti ten. The drivers classification
showed Nuvolari in first place with two points; Borzacchini second with five points; Caracciola and Fagioli nine points; Chiron and Dreyfus ten points; Campari seventh with 11 points; Varzi, Lehoux
and Divo 12 points, and Williams, Ghersi, Ruggeri, Siena, Premoli, Zehender, Félix, Howe, Castelbarco, Wimille, Etancelin, Gaupillat and Fourny all with 13 points.
On Sunday morning the weather was foggy, cold and windy with lowering clouds in the gray sky but it did not rain and the circuit remained dry. Crowd estimates ranged from over 120 000 spectators,
130 000, 140 000 and 150 000; take your pick. Varzi was missing from the 10:00 AM start as he had suffered an eye injury from a piece of glass two weeks ago at the French Grand Prix and was forced by
a doctor to abandon the start at the last minute. The Autocar reported that neglect had aggravated what had first been a minor injury. In Class II Count Arco von Zinneberg was missing and in Group III
Hans Rüesch had preferred to start at the Jaunpass event, a Swiss hillclimb.
The 31 cars assembled on the starting grid in numerical order, the nine cars of the unlimited class first because they were most important and presumably faster. Behind them were the 15 cars of the 1500 cc
class and last the 7 cars of up to 800cc class.
At 10:00 AM when the flag fell, all 31 cars were released simultaneously. Caracciola, last year's winner with a Mercedes, immediately went into the lead from the front of the grid, followed by Nuvolari,
Borzacchini, Chiron, Dreyfus, and Lehoux; three Alfas and three Bugatti were at the front. Caracciola finished the first lap seven seconds ahead of Nuvolari with a similar gap to Borzacchini, followed by
the three Bugattis of Chiron, Dreyfus and Lehoux. Then Täuber's 1.5-liter Alfa appeared with Earl Howe's Delage almost alongside. Lewy entered his pit to retire with stomach cramps. At the end of lap
one Pietsch also retired his Bugatti with clouds of steam emitting from its radiator. Mechanics pushed the car past the pits into the space between the tracks. Pietsch took over Lewy's PiLeSi Racing
Team Bugatti for lap two.
After completing two laps near the very end of the field, Ruggeri headed for his pit to change a rear wheel but because of spark plug or other engine problems the Maserati was also pushed into the
'cemetery' next to Pietsch's Bugatti. The large cars were already down to seven. On lap two Chiron went past Borzacchini, who was racing for the first time at the demanding Nürburgring. But Chiron
could not hold that position for long since his Bugatti developed ignition trouble and he stopped on the next round to test plugs and wiring. After eight minutes he discovered that the problem was in
Lehoux had to give up after three laps with a broken rear axle. Caracciola was able to establish an early advantage ahead of his teammates Nuvolari and Borzacchini. On lap four Caracciola was drawing
away further from Nuvolari, who did not drive at his usual speed. Borzacchini held third place followed by Dreyfus who could not catch the Alfa. After repairing his distributor problems, Chiron did one
more lap before stopping again, this time for medical aid, after hot oil from a cracked pipe had squirted into one of his eyes.
After five laps Caracciola led at an average speed of 122.051 km/h and had established a good lead.
|1. Caracciola (Alfa Romeo)||56m04.0s|
|2. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||56m58.0s|
|3. Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo)|
|4. Dreyfus (Bugatti)|
|5. Lewy/Pietsch (Bugatti)|
|6. Chiron (Bugatti)|
Pietsch had progressed with Lewy's Bugatti in brilliant style, climbing from ninth to fifth place, but during the decisive sixth lap going for fourth place, he drove too fast through the South Turn. The
Bugatti slid, then its inside wheels lifted and the car overturned three times, ejecting Pietsch into the inside meadow." Amazingly, Pietsch remained uninjured apart from a few contusions and abrasions.
The car was no longer raceworthy and Pietsch walked back to the pits. Some reports mentioned one front tire had burst.
After a stop for new goggles and eye treatment, Chiron did two more laps in sixth position and then had to abandon his Bugatti on the circuit at km 19 with broken rear axle with only six laps completed.
Caracciola, who had been in the lead since the beginning, had established a good advantage and started to ease up, possibly 20 seconds per lap, which was enough for Nuvolari in second place to reduce the
German's advantage. As of lap seven, Nuvolari was visibly closing on Caracciola. On lap eight he was faster than the German with a time of 11m10s. After lap nine the race changed when Nuvolari drove his
fastest lap in 10m49.8s at 124.6 km/h average and took the lead on lap 10. Caracciola was quite surprised when the other Alfa passed him. Nuvolari arrived at the grandstand ahead of Caracciola and stopped
at his pit for fuel, oil, water and tires, which took 2m40s. Count Lurani described this pit stop, "Here, however, the directors of Alfa - who wanted to avoid internal strife likely to prejudice the final
results of the race, arranged matters to delay the little man unduly." So, a deliberate delay had taken place which angered the little man from Mantua.
After 10 laps Nuvolari was briefly in first place, heading for the pits:
|1. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||1h53m30s|
|2. Caracciola (Alfa Romeo)||1h53m34s|
|3. Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo)||1h56m26s|
|4. Dreyfus (Bugatti)||1h57m40s|
Caracciola stopped on the next lap for tires, fuel, oil and water in 1m35s. He changed goggles, took a drink, spoke calmly with Giovannini, the Alfa Romeo team manager, and knew that he would win the race.
Borzacchini was in his pit for only 1m15s . W.F. Bradley wrote in the The Autocar report, "From this time on there was no more competition, and with the exception of a stop of 20 seconds on the part of
Nuvolari to verify his oil level, the three Alfa Romeos went through without interruption and without at any time being seriously threatened by their rivals.
After 15 laps Caracciola was in first place and the field of cars remained the same.
|1. Caracciola (Alfa Romeo)||2h52m08s|
|2. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||2h53m12s|
|3. Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo)||2h57m02s|
|4. Dreyfus (Bugatti)||2h59m45s|
After 20 laps Caracciola was still in first place:
|1. Caracciola (Alfa Romeo)||3h49m18s|
|2. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||3h50m16s|
|3. Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo)||3h55m47s|
|4. Dreyfus (Bugatti)||4h00m04s|
It is assumed that Nuvolari's 20 seconds stop to check his oil level took place near the end and positions did not change. Surprisingly, this second stop of Nuvolari could not be verified and was nowhere
else reported except by those who many years later copied from The Autocar report.
The final result after 25 laps saw Alfa Romeo in the first three places, Caracciola as popular victor in 4h47m22.8s = 119.3 km/h, followed half a minute later by Nuvolari in 4h57m53.8s = 119 km/h, then
Borzacchini in 4m54m33.0s = 116.3 km/h and Dreyfus in 5h01m05.0s = 113.7 km/h. These four drivers were the only finishers. With this victory Alfa Romeo was victorious in the European Championship of
makes and Nuvolari became European Champions of drivers.
The 1500 cc class, consisting of 15 cars, had started simultaneously with the grand prix machines. The well known Swiss Alfa Romeo driver Henry Täuber was in great form and finished the 23 laps
with a magnificent victory. At the start Täuber was behind Earl Howe's faster Delage who held the lead, but he caught up with him in the twisting parts of the circuit, eliminating the advantage Howe had
gained on the straight stretches. Gyulai was in third place. Täuber's conduct appeared tactically similar to that of Caracciola, by driving all out in the opening laps and on lap eight he put in a lap
at an average speed of 106.8 km/h . After six laps Howe was no longer able to stay with Täuber and came into his pit with ignition and fuel pressure problems. Since the fuel pump would not work, Howe
had to maintain the fuel tank pressure by hand. After 10 laps Täuber remained first, followed two minutes later by Gyulai in second place and Hartmann third another four minutes behind. After Howe's pit
stop Count Gyulai held second position for a long time, until he retired his Alfa before lap 15 with a defective cylinder block. After 15 laps Täuber was leading Hartmann by six minutes and after 20 laps
Täuber extended this lead to 10 minutes followed by Ruggeri a further 19 minutes behind. During the battle of the 15 cars, five retired; first Burggaller in the new 8-cylinder Bugatti, who had problems
with spark plugs on the first lap and was soon to retire with a broken rear axle. Then both Frazer Nashes retired after numerous pit stops, first Fane with a broken transmission then Siday at his pit
after 12 laps with a leaking fuel tank. Then Gyulai (Alfa Romeo) and Félix (Lombard) retired near the end. The positions of the remaining drivers changed very little during the race. Täuber held the
lead until the end, over 12 minutes ahead of Hartmann with his slower Bugatti. The 1100 cc Maserati monoposto initially driven by Ernesto Maserati followed over six minutes behind in third place. It
had been taken over by Ruggeri after he had retired in the large class. Howe had fallen back due to his various pit stops, but then made up time near the end, finishing in fourth place. Wagner,
Ziegrand, Scaron, Seibel, Simons and Madame Rose-Itier brought up the rear.
The small car field comprised seven Group III racecars up to 800 cc, which started simultaneously with the larger cars and had to complete only 19 laps. Just two cars finished, Hamilton with his
neat little black MG Midget held first place from lap two and could not be dislodged from the lead. Kohlrausch in the BMW Wartburg fell from first and followed Hamilton constantly to finished second.
Marquis de Belleroche retired his Austin on lap two with a broken front axle and Macher's DKW broke a piston the following lap, Hedderich had to stop on lap eight with a broken crankshaft and
Urban-Emmerich's MG retired on lap ten. After 10 laps Hamilton in first place was followed by Kohlrausch over eight minutes behind and Bäumer a further 13 minutes behind in third place. After 15 laps
Hamilton was still eight minutes ahead of Kohlrausch with Bäumer another 11 minutes behind. Bäumer held a good third place during the race, but retired his Austin on lap 17 with a broken front axle.
Hamilton was first in 4h33m29.0s = 95.0 km/h with Kohlrausch, the only other driver to finish, in 4h46m00.8s = 90.8 km/h.
|1.||2||Rudolf Caracciola||S.A. Alfa Romeo||Alfa Romeo||B/P3||2.6||S-8||25||4h47m22.8s = 119.3 km/h|
|2.||10||Tazio Nuvolari||S.A. Alfa Romeo||Alfa Romeo||B/P3||2.6||S-8||25||4h47m53.8s = 119.0 km/h|
|3.||12||Mario U. Borzacchini||S.A. Alfa Romeo||Alfa Romeo||B/P3||2.6||S-8||25||4h54m33.0s = 116.3 km/h|
|4.||32||René Dreyfus||R. Dreyfus||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||25||5h01m05.0s = 113.7 km/h|
|DNF||18||Louis Chiron||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||6||rear axle|
|DNF||16||Hans Lewy / Paul Pietsch||Pilesi Racing Team||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||5||crash|
|DNF||8||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||3||Rear axle|
|DNF||26||Amedeo Ruggeri||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8C 3000||3.0||S-8||2||engine|
|DNF||30||Paul Pietsch||Pilesi Racing Team||Bugatti||T35B||2.3||S-8||1||radiator|
Fastest lap: Tazio Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) in 10m49.4s = 124.6 km/h|
|1.||46||Henry Täuber||H. Täuber||Alfa Romeo||6C 1500||1.5||S-6||23||4h54m46.8s = 106.8 km/h|
|2.||50||László Hartmann||L. Hartmann||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||23||5h07m22.4s = 102.3 km/h|
|3.||58||E. Maserati / A. Ruggeri||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||4 CM||1.1||S-4||23||5h13m46.0s = 100.2 km/h|
|4.||36||Earl Howe||Earl Howe||Delage||15S8||1.5||S-8||23||5h15m03.8s = 99.9 km/h|
|5.||52||Carl Wagner||C. Wagner||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||23||5h15m44.8s = 99.6 km/h|
|6.||66||Joseph Zigrand||J. Ziegrand||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||23||5h17m37.4s = 99.1 km/h|
|7.||62||José Scaron||J. Scaron||Amilcar||MC0||1.3||S-6||23||5h20m16.0s|
|8.||40||Willi Seibel||W. Seibel||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||23||5h21m32.2s|
|9.||42||Hans Simons||Pilesi Racing Team||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||23||5h29m11.6s|
|10.||56||Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier||A.-C. Rose-Itier||Bugatti||T37A||1.5||S-4||23||5h33m52.0s =|
|DNF||70||Pierre Félix||Armand Girod||FG Lombard||1.1||S-4||17||did not finish|
|DNF||60||Stefan Gyulai||S. Count Gyulai||Alfa Romeo||6C 1500||1.5||S-6||13||defective cylinder block|
|DNF||44||Eric Siday||Frazer Nash H.J. Aldington||Frazer Nash||12||fuel pressure|
|DNF||38||Archi Fane||Archibald F.P. Fane||Frazer Nash||10||engine trouble|
|DNF||74||Ernst Günther Burggaller||E.G. Burggaller||Bugatti||T51A||1.5||S-8||4||broken axle|
Fastest lap: Henri Täuber (Alfa Romeo) in 12m21.8s = 110.8 km/h|
|1.||84||Hugh Hamilton||Captain Noakes||MG Midget||Type C||.75||S-4||19||4h33m29.0s = 95.0 km/h|
|2.||88||Bobby Kohlrausch||R. Kohlrausch||BMW||Wartburg||.75||S-4||19||4h46m00.8s = 90.8 km/h|
|DNF||82||Walter Bäumer||W. Bäumer||Austin||.75||S-4||16||broken front axle|
|DNF||78||Hugo Urban-Emmerich||H. Urban-Emmerich||MG Midget||Type C||.75||S-4||9||mechanical|
|DNF||86||Fritz Hedderich||F. Hedderich||BMW||Wartburg||.75||S-4||8||broken crankshaft|
|DNF||76||Gerhard Macher||G. Macher||DKW||Eigenbau||.78||S-2||2||broken piston|
|DNF||80||Marquis de Belleroche||Marquis de Belleroche||Austin||.75||S-6||1||broken front axle|
Fastest lap: Hugh Hamilton (MG) in 13m29.0s = 101.5 km/h|
Weather: cold, dry, overcast
Tazio Nuvolari, winner of the Grands Prix of Italy and France and second in the German Grand Prix became European Champion of the drivers. Based on the three Grands Prix of Italy, France
and Germany the following order ensued. 1. Nuvolari 4 points, 2. Borzacchini 8 points, 3. Caracciola 10 points, 4. Dreyfus 14 points, 5. Chiron and Fagioli, ex aequo, 16 points.
The French driver René Dreyfus, who figured in sixth place after provisional results from the French Grand Prix, had advanced to the 4th rank after the German Grand Prix. Alfa Romeo as
the winning constructor received a cash prize of 150 000 Francs.
W.F. Bradley was the only one who mentioned a rather obscure point about the German Grand Prix in The Autocar report, "why the race, which was supposed to be run under the international
five-hour rule, should have been decided on a distance basis." An explanation to Bradley's question could not be found in the contemporary press. It is possible that the German
promoters did not want to deal with the bizarre calculations of a 5-Hour race, as seen by the ACF race at Reims. The promoters probably figured that 25 laps would generate sufficient
distance to take the victor over 5 hours to complete. Thereby they would have complied with the minimum 5-Hour regulation established by the AIACR, they might have thought. The
promoters likely must have been in shock, realizing that the race was already over in 4h47m22.8s, and as a result they were not complying with the minimum 5-Hour regulation established
by the AIACR. In hindsight, this was an inexcusable blunder by the AvD promoters, who had wrongly calculated the required distance at 25 laps, but 27 rounds would have been sufficient
to comply with the 5-hour rule. Anyway, nobody protested the results.
Comments about the 'Less than 5 hours 1932 German Grand Prix' by Tony Kaye|
The regulations for the 1932 European Championship called for races of five hours. Since the three leading Alfa Romeos completed the German Grand Prix in less than five hours, by definition
the race should not have counted towards the championship. It simply wasn't a 5-hour race. But there were no protests and the results were duly scored as if the race had met the official requirements.
But how did this situation arise in the first place? It would have been a simple matter for the organizers to copy the regulations of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest for the Le Mans 24-hour
sports car race. Effectively, each year that race ends for each car when it crosses the finish line after the 24 hours are complete. All the AvD had to do was to replace 5 hours for 24 and
there would have been no problem.
Instead they decided to stipulate a certain distance, in this case 25 laps. Why 25? Well, the 1931 German Grand Prix, which was also run on the Nordschleife, had been won at 67.3 mph.
After 5 hours at that average speed, the leading car would not have completed 24 laps. Knowing that speeds rose each year, 25 laps would have seemed a reasonable target for the race in 1932.
However they failed to take into account the incremental performance of the Alfa Romeo Tipo B.
Seven weeks before the Grand Prix was due to be run, the annual Eifelrennen took place, also on the Nordschleife circuit. The winning average was 70.7 mph, which, if maintained over 5 hours,
would have seen the leading car complete its 25th lap seconds before the race was due to be over. Clearly the writing was on the wall, but presumably the regulations containing the critical
25-lap distance had been issued long before the Eifelrennen was run. Possibly they could have altered the regulations at short notice, but instead they decided to ignore the implications
(and pray for rain?). It is even possible that they referred the matter to the governing body in Paris asking for their advice. Whatever their reasoning, they decided to proceed with the
regulations as initially formulated.
As it happened, Nuvolari's reluctance to accept team orders forced Caracciola to drive somewhat faster than was necessary to obtain the victory and his resultant average was a new record of
74.2 mph. He crossed the finish line at the end of his 25th lap about twelve and a half minutes short of five hours. At that speed he could have been on his 27th lap when the 5-hours were up,
though he might have had to top up with fuel to get that far.
In today's litigious world the results would have been protested by all and sundry. However, in 1932 common sense prevailed and no-one complained. Of course it didn't hurt that even if the
race had been over 27 laps it probably wouldn't have made a lot of difference to the results, either to the race or the championship.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
ADAC Motorwelt, München
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
AZ - Motorwelt, Brno
Der Nürburgring, Adenau
Freiburger Zeitung, Freiburg i. Breisgau
Mercedes-Benz Archiv, Stuttgart
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
The Autocar, London
The Motor, London
Wuppertaler General Anzeiger, Wuppertal