If you look at the life of Alfred Neubauer, one may wonder how arises such a love to cars in general, and Mercedes-Benz in particular. Is it the lack of cars in the rural environment in which he was born in 1891, or the especially outstanding centers of 'automobilism' here?
Two can be identified without doubt. There was a villa with a large car garage, in which his father had to do contract work as a carpenter and the forerunner of the later Tatra company with the famous designer Hans Ledwinka. However, fate treated Neubauer unkindly. He was already an orphan at age 14.
His big sister, already married housed him and out of the bad became a good student. Of course, he remained faithful to the car and collected everything what there was toread about it. In his time in the military his talent was promoted with an apprenticeship at Austro-Daimler, where he incidentally met Ferdinand Porsche already in such a young age.
He will accompany his path of life yet a little longer, but first there was World War I with all its cruelties. The was almost over, as it succeeded Neubauer with the help of his bride, again to get into the automotive affine part of the army. His task: just to accept the mortar trains constructed by Porsche. Neubauer's change into civilian life then succeeded as 'Einfahrer' (a person who drove the new car for a time in order to discover still possibly defects) at Austro-Daimler.
It was the time of the relationship between Porsche and Count Kolowrat. It brings on the world the famous Sascha car and just this dwarf, who shall compete against the giants of racing, was Neubauer's first racing experience. It started with moving descriptions at the Targa Florio and engagements in Spain to the newly opened race track in Monza in 1922.
The latter ended with the first death seen by himself of a close colleague already at test drives. Not only this race was a disappointment, but all other activities at Austro-Daimler, too. At the end Porsche changed to Daimler (even before its merger with Benz) in Stuttgart and took with Neubauer. But even there, the situation was far from rosy. The compressor motor of Paul Daimler, son of Gottlieb Daimler and Porsche's predecessor, did not work yet as hoped.
It was a bad time. The economy went bad after the lost war and inflation was raging. It was not before 1924 that there was a kind of economic miracle that ushered the famous goldenenen twenties. Porsche succeeded to tame the compressor and thus more capable for racing. Neubauer raced for Mercedes, but had to admit more and more that he was not made for such a career.
The final blow came after his accident at Monza in 1924, the devastating judgment of his bride and the first official appearances of the young Rudolf Caracciola. He taught fear all the old racers crew of Mercedes. His successes coincided with the first Grand Prix of Germany on the AVUS in 1926 and somewhat later on the new Nürburgring.
There Neubauer had already passed his ordeal as race director. He introduced a sign language system, which was completely unknown hitherto. He had personally experienced how alone a racer can feel himself on the track without any information. With Neubauer, racers were as well protected as instructed. Also, the current system of sophisticated boxing technique originally came from him.
However, there came again a time of crisis, which was initiated by the stock market crash in the U.S. in 1929. Mercedes-Benz could no longer afford races. Just before Caracciola would had been enticed by a foreign team, Neubauer had the plan to found a tiny racing community, detached and with little support from the factory.
The greatest triumph was the victory at the Mille Miglia 1931. 1600 km long, in addition to the driver and front passenger with two other mechanics not even enough people were available for the three fuel stops. Just for comparison: Alfa comes with 17 trucks and ninety mechanics. Caracciola was the first foreigner to win the Mille Miglia and the only German among 97 participants.
But then it went further downhill. Neubauer could not keep Caracciola. The raced for Alfa during next year. Again very successful, but from an acclaimed became a disdained person in Germany. In the season 1933, many things changed: Porsche had set up his own business and was pushed to build a German racing car according to the new 750-kg formula.
As we already know, this became the famous 'Silberfisch' later, the Type C of Auto Union. Only with some delay Mercedes countered with the 'Silberpfeil'. Meanwhile, the Nazis were in power and procured the auto industry a fulminant boost with the abolition of road tax and state support of the race actions, bonuses for victories included, of course.
Two occurrences, however, were counterproductive to the plans of Mercedes-Benz. The one was a serious accident of Caracciola, the kept him away from racing cars for more than a year, with long-lasting consequences. And then there are the teething problems of the newly constructed car by Hans Nibel, the Mercedes brought the disgrace not to start in the AVUS race 1934.
In this year then also happened at the Eifel race, the famous and now also often doubted story of one kilogramme too much in weight control, that is equalized by nocturnal sanding the aluminum body. From the former racing colour white was silver. By the way, the impetus for this idea of Neubauer shall have given von Brauchitsch.
1935 was probably one of the best years for the again driving Caracciola, Neubauer and Mercedes at all. One superior won the European Championship of the Formula 1. But the race director had already forebodings, and indeed was risen a new star on the horizon, respectively at Auto Union, Bernd Rosemeyer.
The was a serious problem for the competitors and 1936 was its best year with corresponding gain in the reckoning of all Grand Prix, which can confidently called also World Cup. The competition continued with a better running season for Mercedes in 1937. Then the drama of the record attempts.
It was the Mercedes crew who had to witness in the fall, as their world record-car took off at a pace of 400 km. The result was: new tests in the wind tunnel and the idea with the dry ice for cooling that allowed to close the openings for the cooling air. Mercedes managed to make the highway blocked again for record attempts in January.
Caracciola succeeds to drive fabled 432 km/h in the early morning, whereupon in view of the forthcoming Motor Show one wanted to reply at the Auto Union in the course of the morning. You know the rest. It was the record attempt in which Rosemeyer had a fatal accident. Good, that thereafter it was over, because Mercedes would have had other irons in the fire.
After the shock of Rosemeyer's death it's over with the competition from Auto Union. According to Neubauer one won oneself 'to death', wherewith he meant, however, the Second World War. Of course it became even more difficult immediately after the war. To satisfy the demand for food and housing was more important than car racing. Nevertheless, one drove again with Mercedes vehicles races in USA 1946 and thereafter in Argentina.
However, the cars of the pre-war period proved to be no longer competitive. Based on the new 300 was created a new sports car, initially with carburetors. One had decided not to build a car for the Formula 1 regulations expiring until 1953, but to invest in the races for sports cars. The result was lightweight construction with tube frame and gull-wing doors.
The first major test was the Panamericana, described by Neubauer as "hell race" and probably therefore endowed with horrendous $ 500,000 prize money. Mercedes was the winner. There was the very often spread incident during this rally that the passenger Klenk through the bursting windshield was hit by an approximately 5 kg heavy vulture.
At this point it would be appropriate to speak of Neubauers care for 'his' racers. In South America, he noticed painfully not to be able to be present both at the start and the finish. He attached tremendous importance to personal care, knew also usually the personal discomfort of each individual. Proverbially his hats, the had to bite the dust under the front wheel after each win of one of his drivers.
Nicely, the story of how he was lulling Fangio with pleasantries, that the really signed yet for Mercedes. These were not words but deeds, such as repairing an Alfa with Mercedes parts or responding to his preferences. Neubauer had a big heart and quickly close to tears, for example when to him well known race driver had a fatal accident (Fig. 4).
Aber er kann auch brüllen wie ein Stier, wenn allzu viele Neugierige seine driver behindern. Ein Rennleiter muss auch fordern können. Z.B. wenn er zwei total erschöpfte driver für einen noch aussichtsreichen Rennwagen hat. Da gelingt es ihm, denen einen zu zwei sofortigen Runden zu more thanreden, während der andere fit gemacht wird, das Steuer danach zu more thannehmen.
But he could also roar like a bull when too many rubbernecks hindered his drivers. But a race director must also be able to demand. For example, in the case he had two completely exhausted drivers for an even more promising race car. Since he managed to persuade one to drive two laps immediately, while the other was made fit to take over the steering wheel afterwards.
The rest can be quickly told, because there is an end point. These were the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955, in which a Mercedes death brought to 74 people, but was not really to blame in the accident. The Mercedes team was just as successful the year as the one before, despite its race stoppage and so Mercedes ended virtually undefeated his participation in racing. 05/14