Conquering West Germany’s Race Tracks
“As is known, the Nürburgring is one of the most difficult racetracks in the world: one lap is 23km long and it has 177 corners. When we got there, I was already more modest [about my abilities]. I rolled out for the start of practice and when I saw the big guns, like Stuck and the German champion of the small car class [Walter] Komossa, my courage almost left me! Well, with my third lap I had the second fastest practice time and took myself proudly to the start on the Sunday.
Everything went well at first: I was alone in fourth place in the race, and a minute later the other cars came by, mostly the old Nürburgring connoisseurs. Then my vehicle stopped, one of the carburetors had become starved of fuel. In desperation, I succeeded in partially fixing it, but by then, I had lost all hope after being stopped so long. I drove the remaining 15 kilometers to the pits and wanted to get out; but the mechanic and assistant, Master Henneberg, quickly repaired the thing with a few twists of the spanner, put in new parts and the hunt continued. I overtook everyone again and the ‘Eastzone Constructors’ ended up in fifth place. With this race at the Nürburgring, I passed the test.
Then came the Dessau Autobahn race, where my first clear victory came in ardent heat. By this race, I almost had the hang of this the 2-litre racing car. Many other races followed, like Hohenstein- Ernstthal; the Sachsenring, where I led categorically and drove to a secure victory. Then came a gearbox failure. At the Köllner course, which is now no longer used, I flew off at 150kph with a locked rear axle, spinning four times. But I picked myself up and drove to a fifth place with perfectly adjusted toe-in.
Over the winter season is when everything gets built and in the new year some new cars appeared. At the time, I was the lucky owner of a 2-litre BMW-Sportwagen Type 319/1, which was transformed into one of many so sought-after BMW 328 sports cars with 80 hp and a V-head. With this car I drove my first race in the Formula II class.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to play a part in every race I have participated in so far. There were front and midfield places, average and fastest laps and failures. Then followed races in which I was running at the front for a long time. It was not until the very end that some defect arose which forced me to give up, or threw me back a place. It is then always an easy thing for some know-it-all to criticise and make false judgements.