Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
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The first race at the Avus circuit in Germany was won by Fritz Von Opel driving an Opel. At the time of opening, AVUS was 19 1⁄2 km (12 miles) long – each straight being approximately half that length, and joined at each end by flat, large-radius curves, driven counter-clockwise. While the Grand Prix motor racing scene still evaded German tracks, the circuit from 1922 was also the site of motorcycle races. On 11 July 1926 the track played host to the first international German Grand Prix for sports cars, organised by the Automobilclub von Deutschland, the former KAC. The 1921 roadway turned out to be insufficient: already in the training two days before the young Italian driver Enrico Platé had been in a car crash, whereby his mechanic was killed. During the race in heavy rain two track marshals died when Adolf Rosenberger lost control and hit the indicator board and the timekeeper's box, a third employee succumbed to his injuries in hospital a few hours later. The Grand Prix was won by his fellow team-member, the so-far unknown Mercedes-Benz salesman Rudolf Caracciola from Dresden, driving a private eight-cylinder "Monza" Kompressor type. The fastest lap of 161 km/h (100 mph) was set by Ferdinando Minoia in an OM. From 1927 the German Grand Prix was relocated to the new and more secure Nürburgring circuit in the Western German Eifel range, while the AVUS received a new asphalt surface and served as an experimental track for rocket cars. On 23 May 1928 Fritz von Opel ("Rocket Fritz") achieved a speed record of 238 km/h (148 mph) in an Opel RAK2. Due to the Great Depression annual auto races were not resumed until 1931, when Caracciola again won in a Mercedes-Benz SSK, succeeded by Manfred von Brauchitsch in the next year, after Caracciola had switched to Alfa Romeo. The competition on 22 May 1932 saw further notable participants like the Earl Howe, Hans Stuck and Sir Malcolm Campbell. The Czechoslovak driver Prince George Christian of Lobkowicz died when his Bugatti Type 54 crashed in the southern hairpin. The following events were won by Achille Varzi (1933) and Guy Moll (1934), to the great annoyance of the new Nazi rulers, who declared the victory of German drivers and cars a matter of national pride. They strongly backed the construction of the new Silver Arrows (Silberpfeile) generation of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. In 1935 Luigi Fagioli won the race in a Mercedes-Benz W25; however, the track was no longer adequate for cars reaching average race speeds of far over 200 km/h (124 mph). In an effort to make AVUS the "world's fastest race track", the 1936 season was skipped and while the track hosted the cycling road race, the marathon and 50 km walk athletic events of the 1936 Summer Olympics, the north curve was turned into a steeply banked turn (43°) made of bricks. It became dubbed the "Wall of Death," especially as it had no retaining barrier so cars that missed the turn easily flew off it. The Silver Arrows raced only once on the banked version, in 1937. As the AVUS race did not count towards the championship, non-GP cars were allowed, which permitted the use of streamlined cars, similar to the cars used for high speed record attempts. This race was run in 2 heats; during qualifying for the second heat, Luigi Fagioli stuck his Auto Union Type C on pole position, with a time of 4 minutes and 8.2 seconds at an average speed of 280 km/h (174 mph)- which was the fastest motor racing lap in history until this time was bettered by 4 drivers during the 1971 Indianapolis 500. Mercedes driver Hermann Lang's average race speed of about 276 km/h (171 mph) was the fastest road race in history for nearly five decades, and was not matched on a high speed banked-circuit until the mid-1980s at the 1986 Indianapolis 500. No major race was held after 1937, as in early 1938 the popular German race driver Bernd Rosemeyer was killed in a land speed record attempt on a straight section of the Autobahn Frankfurt–Darmstadt (present-day Bundesautobahn 5), at which point the high-speed AVUS was considered too dangerous for the fast Grand Prix race cars. Furthermore, it was to be connected to the growing Reichsautobahn network in 1940 by extending it south towards the Berliner Ring, therefore the original hairpin at Nikolassee was demolished and replaced by a junction. A planned banked south turn was never built; the cleared grounds in the Grunewald forest were used as a proving ground ("Keerans Range") by the American occupation forces after World War II.
Avus circuit, Berlin