AVUS - Berlin (D)
Length: 19.573 km, with a 831 m start line.
In 1937: 19.286 km with a 545 m start line.
Location: Berliner Forst Grunewald, Berlin, Germany
Used: 1921 - 1998
The initials AVUS stands for "Automobil Verkehrs und Übungs Strasse", a name that can be translated to something like "car traffic and practice street". The idea to build a race and test track in Berlin was first proposed as early as in 1907. Initial work started in 1913 only to be interrupted by the war and the track remained uncompleted until 1921 when the necessary funds were raised to complete the track.
The track consisted of two parallel lines 8 meters wide with an 8 meter grass field between them that run through the Grunewald wood from Charlottenburg to the Nikolaisee railway station. At the northeast end the lines were joined in a wide radius loop, and in the southwest end with a huge hairpin. The lines were not exactly straight, there was (and still is) a bend to the south between the 2 km and 4 km near the Grunevald shunting yard. In north the parallel tracks went on all the way to the Nord Tor (North gate). Near the 17.5 km point there was a side road to the right that took the cars into the Nordschleife. The Nordschleife itself was 254 m long and 9 m wide and was banked in an angle of 1 to 11.6 (4.93°). The Südschleife was 166 m long and 20 m wide with a banking of 1 to 10 (5.71°). The exact length of the track was according to German records 19,573.05 m !
As the start took place near the North gate while the finish line was further south the first lap became 831 m longer than the other ones (except for the 1935 race that started at the finish line).
With three grandstands both in the Nordschleife and near the Südschleife and with a huge complex opposite the finish line and with several standing areas the track was able to take a huge amount of spectators, 400.000 has been mentioned.
The first race was held in September 1921. To make the track pay it was incorporated into the highway net as a toll road. In 1926 the first German Grand Prix was held on the rack. Run in terrible rainy conditions the race included a series of accidents that clamed the lives of several people. The race was finally won by a junior Mercedes-Benz driver named Rudolf Caracciola, who also proved himself victorious at the 1931 Avus-Rennen in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL. In 1932 another German driver made himself famous at the track as von Brauchitsch took the victory at the Avusrennen with his private cigar shaped Mercedes-Benz SSKL
In 1933 Otto Merz lost his life in another streamlined SSKL when he lost control during a rainy practice session and Varzi in a Bugatti stole the victory away from the Germans in front of a crowd including Adolf Hitler. In 1934 Auto Union made their GP debut at the track but the race was won by Guy Moll (Alfa Romeo). In 1935 the race was split up into two heats and a final with Fagioli winning for Mercedes-Benz.
In 1935-36 there were huge rebuilding in the area including the Olympic stadiums and the exhibition halls. The need for a new access road meant that the AVUS Nordkurve had to be moved further south. Instead of merely replicating the old turn, an entirely new type of Nordschleife was built. The new north curve was built with a surface of red bricks and it had a banking of 43° (1 to 1.07) over a width of 12 meters. With the track turning up into a low vertical wall with no other safety arrangements on its high side any driver that went off could expect a long airborne ride. It is therefore no wonder that the curve soon got the nickname "The wall of death". The track length was reduced to 19.286 km and the starting lane to 545 m. During the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, AVUS was included in the tracks for the 50 km Walk on 5 August, the Marathon Run on 9 August and the 100 km Cycle Road Race on 10 August.
The Avus-Rennen were raced as "Formula Libre" or free formula race instead of the current 750 kg maximum just to admit the constructors to take advantage of the possibilities streamlined cars had. The Avus-Rennen of 1937 was a unique race, the fastest in the pre-war era. As a matter of fact no Formula 1 race has ever reached that lap speed and it was not until the early 70s that such speeds were seen in the Indy 500. However, the 1937 type of race was never repeated again. The track was boring for both spectators and drivers. Due to the alterations the track had become too fast and with the narrow track overtaking was now a delicate matter if not almost impossible. The death of Bernd Rosemeyer had made people conscious of the risks involved and the organizers did not want to take the responsibility of holding future events.
The Avus-Rennen also included Voiturette racing. Lewy (Bugatti) was fastest in 1931, Howe (Delage) in 1932 and Veyron (Bugatti) in both 1933 and 1934. There were no Voiturette race in 1935 but in 1937 the class was back to be won by Martin (ERA).
After the war the track was shortened to 8.3 km. It is not true however as often claimed that the southern end of the old track run into the Soviet zone. The old South curve had already been dismantled in 1939 as the track was connected to the Reichs-Autobahn. The track was probably shortened to cut the high repair costs, with the new turn built at the same place as a turn already used by motorcycles in the 1920s.
The Avus-Rennen was revived in 1951 through 1953 for Formula Two cars. The non championship Berlin Grand Prix F1 was held in 1954 and won by Kling (Mercedes-Benz).
In 1959 the German Grand Prix was held for the last time at AVUS. Due to concerns over tire wear, the race was run in two 30 laps heats. Brooks (Ferrari) was the winner of a event overshadowed by the death of Behra in a Porsche sports car.
In 1968 the Nordschleife was dismantled to give way to a highway crossing. The track, now a shadow of its former glory, continued to be raced by touring cars until 1998.
1931 INTERNATIONALES AVUS-RENNEN
Type: Purpose built road course
Length: 22.810 km
Location: Eifel Mountains, near the town of Mayen, western Germany near Belgian border.
Used: 1927 -
Nürburgring was the most remarkable of all the classic Grand Prix circuits. Plans for a race track in the area were proposed as early as in 1907 but those plans came to nothing until 1924 when the county governor, Dr. Creutz, tried to find a way to fight the high unemployment in the Eifel mountains, a district without any industries or tourism. He was not alone with his ideas and Hans Wiederbruck proposed that a local section of the German Automobile club, ADAC Adenau, should be founded to take care of the necessary arrangements. So also happened on 31 January 1925. Other influential men joined the case, Franz Xaver Weber, Hans Pauly and Dr. Erich Klausener and also the Mayor of Köln (Cologne), Dr. Konrad Adenauer. 15 million Reichsmark were needed for the project. The cities of Köln and Koblenz found most of the sum and the German government supplied the rest. On 27 April 60 men started the initial work, on 18 May the plans were ratified and on 27 September Dr. Fuchs, Oberpräsident of the Rhineland province laid the foundation stone at the start and finish area. For two years up to 2500 people worked on the project and finally on 18 June 1927 90000 spectators could enjoy the first race at the Nürburgring.
The track consisted of two parts, the 22.810 km long Nordschleife and the 7.747 km Südschleife (not shown on the map) joined at the 2.238 km Start- und Zielschleife (the short loop around the pit and grandstand area). The length of the full track was 28.265 km.
There have been discussions of how many corners there are at the Nürburgring. Numbers vary greatly and often quoted number were 88 left-handers and 84 right-handers for a total of 172. After the 1971 rebuild the numbers were (for the Nordschleife) 33 left-handers and 40 right-handers for a total of 73. But one could as well ask how many curves there are on a living snake because the ring was almost like a living being, a giant dragon in the mountains holding its own tail in the mouth with the body following the natural terrain of the pine woods as it surrounded the ruins of the twelfth-century Nürburg castle.
From the 20 metres wide start line (much of the road of the Ring is less than 7 metres wide) up on the high plateau the track leads into the wide sweep of the Südkehre and then back behind the pits to Nordkurve with its two left-handers and a bridge between them. Then it is downhill through the woods to Hatzenbach, three series of slow corners that lead to Hocheichen, yet another S curve. A bridge and a jump at the Flugplatz is followed by a really fast section including a dip through Schwedenkreuz to Aremberg. Passing under a bridge the track takes a deep step downhill through Fuchsröhre and then up again to Adenauer Forst, a sharp S curve. A left-hander at Metzgesfeld is followed by Kallenhard, Wehrseifen and a series of fast steep downhill curves to the Breidscheid bridge, the lowest point of the track. Going uphill through Ex-Mühle the track climbs past the Bergwerk, a key corner as it is followed by a long fast open terrain section down into a valley. At Klostertal there is a steep uphill connection to Hohe Acht, not used for racing but for brake testing. Instead the race track takes an almost 180° turn into the famous Karussell with its concrete-banked ditch. A steep incline leads to Hohe Acht, the highest point of the track. The track then dives down twisting and turning through Wippermann, then Eschbach, a downhill left-hander, and the gully-formed Brünnchen. It is followed by the fast Pflanzgarten downhill section with its big jump in the middle into Schwalbenschwanz, also known as the little carousel (Kleines Karussell). Then the track goes up to the Galgenkopf and Döttinger Höhe and on to the long straight between hedge rows leading past the castle up to Tiergarten before coming back up to the high plateau and the finish line.
The track became the ultimate challenge for the drivers. An additional hazard was the unpredictable weather in the Eifel mountains with rain and fog.
The full track was used for the 1927 Eifelrennen and the 1927-1929 German GP. The Südschleife was used for the 1928-1932 Eifelrennen and the 1960 GP (F2) while the Nordschleife was used for the rest of the races (Eifelrennen 1932-37 & 1939, German GP 1931-32, 1934-39 and all post war GPs except 1960.
Nürburgring was the place for some of the greatest races ever seen, Nuvolari's victory in 1935 and Fangio's in 1957 being two classics. Caracciola won the German GP at the track 5 times (1928, 1931, 1932, 1937 and 1939) and was also 4 times winner of the Eifelrennen (1927, 1931, 1932 and 1935). Rosemeyer led every time he raced on the track, taking three victories there in a row during his short career.
After the war racing resumed in 1949. In 1957 the track was resurfaced. In 1967 the "Hohenrain" curve was introduced between Tiergarten and the finish. In 1970-71 the track was completely rebuilt. A lot of the jumps and the hedges surrounding the track were removed and many corners were straightened. Barriers and run off areas were added. Niki Lauda's crash in 1976 meant the end of the old Ring as a GP track.
The first to go under 10 minutes was Rosemeyer with a lap of 9:56.3 at the 1936 German GP. The next year he bettered it to 9:53.4 (he did a 9:46.2 during qualifying). In 1939 Lang made a 9:52.2 at the Eifelrennen and 9:43.1 during qualifying for the German GP.
1927 NÜRBURGRING ERÖFFNUNGSRENNEN (full circuit)
Type: Road course/autodrome
Length: 7.725 km (1939-1965)
Location: Southwest Germany, near Mannheim and Heidelberg.
Used: 1932 -
Hockenheimring was built in 1932 for motorcycle racing. It consisted of two long straights connected by the Ostkurve and the Stadtkurve with grandstand, the latter curve being located at the edge of the town. Later it also became a test track for Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. Note that in those days the track was raced counterclockwise. In 1965 because of the new Autobahn would be cutting the track in two, Hockenheimring was completerly rebuilt and shortened. After Jim Clark's fatal crash in 1968 two chicanes were added and a third chicane was added efter Patrick Depailler's fatal crash in 1980.
In 2001-2002 Hermann Tilke destroyed Hockenheimring as a race track!
Type: Purpose built road course
Length: 10.0 km
Location: Eastern Germany between Dresden and Czech border.
Built 1932 -1940 for the German Grand Prix.
© 2015 Leif Snellman - Last updated: 30.10.2017