The Story Behind Grand Prix’s Biggest Starting Grid

#26 – Oswald Karch — Veritas RS – BMW
Grid: 34th / Race: Retired (10 laps)

(Source: Private Collection)
Born: 6th March 1917
Ludwigshafen, Germany
Died: 28th January 2009
Mannheim, Germany
Appearances: 1   (1953 German GP)

Biography

Along with Theo Helfrich, Oswald Karch was part of a comrade group of drivers from an area called the ‘Electorial Palatinate’ in the Southwest of Germany. In Helfrich’s company, Karch would be a frequent guest on the circuits in West and East Germany with his Veritas RS sports car. As far could be figured out, his first start was probably in 1949 at Hockenheim, which was not too far to travel from his home at Oggersheim. In contrast to what is repeated over and over again on the internet – including German Wikipedia – he seemingly didn’t make any starts (or entries) in the Formula 2 class before 1953, nor any reference to an ‘Eigenbau’ he allegedly drove (any information on this would be always welcome!).

During 1949 and 1950, his results were rather mediocre and he would not exceed a couple of fifth places before he came second in 1951 at the East German Sachsenring. In 1952, he won the sports car class at Leipzig, but there had only been four cars in the race. With a nice fourth place at the supporting sports car race for the 1952 German Grand Prix, his performance curve pointed slightly upward, which he confirmed with a further second place in another appearance at the Sachsenring.

Like many of his sports car driver colleagues, he had to switch to Formula 2 for 1953 in order to keep racing the Veritas and so he finally became a Grand Prix driver.

In that season he also made a long tour to Monsanto / Portugal to start in his first international race outside Germany, followed by a similar journey to Morocco for the 12 hour sports car race in December. When Formula 2 ended after 1953, Karch made a couple of starts with the Veritas in East Germany and bought a Cooper for Formula 3 which he raced until 1958.

1953 German Grand Prix, Oswald Karch (Source: 8W.forix.com)

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