I’m guessing you’ve never heard of a German race driver by the name of Bernd Rosemeyer, unless you’re well on in years.
Not only was he a gifted and fearless race driver in the 1930’s, but he would also go on to achieve some astonishing high speed milestones, including a straight line speed of 380km/h in the super impressive, streamlined Auto Union Type C car.
He was also the first driver to smash through 400km/h on a public road, and to lap the Nurburgring in less than 10 minutes.
Bernd Rosemeyer would be turning 100 on October 14, had he been alive today, if not for his fatal record attempt at the world speed record on an Autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, in Germany on January 28, 1938.
Mercedes driver, Rudolf Caracciola had gone out early and set a new record with 432km/h in calm conditions. Rosemeyer then took his Auto Union Streamliner out for a run, despite reports that the wind was picking up.
On his third and final attempt while travelling at over 430km/h, the car skidded to the left and right, before becoming airborne. Rosemeyer was thrown from the car as it somersaulted through the air and died at the roadside.
He was one of Auto Union’s star drivers in Grand Prix races driving a Silver Arrows car with many wins in Europe, USA and Africa.
The Auto Union Silver Arrows cars were hugely powerful with 373 kW (500 hp) and difficult to drive. Only Rosemeyer and Italian driver, Tazio Nuvolari were said to have mastered these cars.
You’ll recognise the Auto Union circles on the side of the Silver Arrows work trolley, next to the car at this Goodwood Revival Festival, as Audi’s badge today.
Rosemeyer would also marry famous German aviator Elly Beinhorn (seen here with Bernd and Ferdinand Porsche), who among other achievements, was only the second female pilot to fly solo from Europe to Australia, after Amy Johnson.
It is tradition for Audi to lay a bouquet at the memorial located at a reststop (“Bernd-Rosemeyer Parkplatz”) on today’s A5 Autobahn.