The story of Rudolf Caracciola ‘inventing’ the Nürburgring’s famous Karussell corner is one that I’d heard re-told many times. But until today, I didn’t have such a complete understanding of it. Or a source.
Enter Alfred Neubauer, and his biography “Speed was my life”, first published in English in 1960, with a foreword by Stirling Moss, no less. In Germany it was first published in 1958, as “Manner, Frauen, und Motoren”. But regardless of which language you find a copy in, the story of how the Nürburgring got its most famous corner is a good one.
If you haven’t squinted and read those paragraphs below, do so, please. They were sent to me by a fellow BTGer, Mel. Now, the description of a ‘ditch not much wider than a car’ probably needs a bit of context. It’s important to remember that a beautifully asphalted Nürburgring didn’t exist until the post-war era, and the very first races were held on a track that was a mixture of shiny concrete planks, rudimentary asphalt and even gravel. So whether this ditch was lined with concrete or just hard-packed dirt remains unclear.
What is clear, is that Alfred claims it was a “Sebastian” who first discovered the line, and checked ground clearance alongside his mechanic “Zimmer”, but it was Rudolf Caracciola who put the theory into practice in the most spectacular fashion during the 1931 German Grand Prix.
I found it very interesting to finally see this story written from the perspective of somebody who was actually there at the time. If you’d like to find a copy of this book for yourself, it’s just a google search away.
This is a controversial book, for many who read it are bound to question how certain incidents which Neubauer recounts could have happened as described. But this merely adds to the interest of a book written by one of the greatest and most knowledgeable motor-racing characters of all time, who commenced his own career as a racing driver in the 1922 Targa Florio at the wheel of a 1,100-c.c. Sascha (Austro-Daimler). Having read “Speed Was My Life ” it should be handed to your wife or girl friend, who will enjoy it probably more than you did, because technicalities will not be queried and this is a book packed with human interest.”
P.S. If you do enjoy my scenic landscape photos of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, including the aerial photography, You should also check out my Redbubble shop.