The Story Behind Grand Prix’s Biggest Starting Grid


#121 – Fritz Rieß — Veritas RS – BMW
Grid: 12th / Race: 7th

(Source: Revs)
Born: 11th July 1922
Nuremburg, Germany
Died: 15th May 1991
Samedan, Switzerland
Appearances: 1   (1952 German GP)


Like many of his colleagues, Riess was a successful industrialist, who combined money with talent. He started racing at the comparatively young age of 27.

In 1949, he entered an agreement with Herrmann Holbein to race his cars, the “HH 48” Formula 2 monoposto and the “HH 47” 2-litre sports car and was quite competitive right from the beginning. In the following year, he swapped his machinery for a brand-new AFM monoposto and a Veritas RS,  regularly entering both in national events, which usually comprised of separate races for different classes for Formula 2, Formula 3 and sports cars up to 1.1, 1.5 and 2.0 litres. He was immediately very successful and for this and the two seasons following, he became a kind of arch-rival for Toni Ulmen for the German championships in both classes. While in F2, Ulmen turned out slightly more successful, Rieß was still able to win three national F2 events (including the 1950 Schauinsland hillclimb and eight sports car races) to win the 1950 and 1952 titles in the big sports car class. Rieß was also travelling around to events in Switzerland and Italy (perhaps combining racing with holiday trips), but usually stood no chance against the works Ferrari, Maserati or Gordini teams.

In 1952, he was invited into the Mercedes-Benz team for their reactivated works team and immediately drove to overall victory at Le Mans partnering Hermann Lang. He was also member of the Mercedes crew at their home debut during the weekend of the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, so his one-off start in his old Veritas sports car in the Grand Prix may be regarded more as a distraction. Nevertheless, he became best-placed German in the event, which says a lot about how far the German privateers had fallen behind now.

After this Mercedes did not appear at races in 1953 to prepare on their Formula 1 debut for 1954, so Rieß joined Karl Kling to driver for Alfa Romeo´s sports car team, but then gave up racing for personal reasons.

Fritz Riess, 1952 German Grand Prix (Source: Revs)

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