Bernd Rosemeyer  Germany

  • Full name Bernd Rosemeyer
  • Birth date October 14, 1909
  • Birthplace Lingen, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • Date of death January 28, 1938 (28 years 106 days)
  • Place of death Frankfurt-Darmstadt Autobahn, Germany
driver portrait

Bernd Rosemeyer was one of the unlikeliest members of the Silver Arrows, the Nazi-funded Auto Union team which, along with Mercedes-Benz, dominated the second half of the 1930s. The son of a garage owner, he gained his early knowledge of motors by working with his father, and after racing bikes he was drafted into the Auto Union team despite having almost no hands-on experience.

In his second grand prix at the Nürburgring in 1935 he was poised to win when he missed a gear and was pipped to victory by Rudolf Caracciola. Later that year he won his first grand prix at the Brno Masaryk Circuit in Czechoslovakia. His success brought him to the attention of the Nazi party and he was made an honorary member of the SS; it would have been foolhardy to refuse but he managed to get away with never wearing the uniform.

He won several more European grand prix in 1936 and 1937 as well as the Vanderbilt Cup in the USA, and in 1936 took the European Championship. His celebrity status heightened when he married young flying ace Elly Beinhorn.

Ten weeks after the birth of his son in November 1937, Rosemeyer was killed during a world speed record attempt on the Autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt when he lost control of his Auto Union Streamliner.
Martin Williamson

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