1921 Avus-Rennen – The Complete Story


The first day saw well-over 100,000 people on their feet, eyes fixed and binoculars raised. The previous day had been dampened a little by the weather; the sky had darkened, it had become rather humid and there had even been a splash of rain. It was now well into the autumn and Sunday morning was quite chilly, but once the sun came out people shed their coats and jackets and soaked up the good weather.  Once more, swathes of people travelled in by car, train and horse to witness the final day of competition and it seemed that all seats were filled long before the signal came to begin the first race.

The drivers and their riding mechanics await the first start of the day

The First Race

The day was to start with the little sidevalve 6-Steuer-PS cars. There was an air of rivalry between the sidevalve runners and those running an overhead valve configuration. The latter was a newer technology and OHVs were seen as the ‘radical brothers’ of the sidevalve engines.  Indeed, they had proved themselves quite unreliable the day before.

The #1 Aga falters at the start

However, from the very beginning of their race on Sunday, the sidevalves got into difficulty as the #1 Aga stalled on the circuit at the start leaving the #2 Aga to lead away the rows of cars. The #1 car with Wilhelm at the wheel eventually appeared over 20 minutes later and drove five laps in the race, only to give up because of engine failure.

Heinecke’s Dixi also struggled to get going and was passed by Lehmann’s Selve on the first straight. The cars all set a very decent pace and stayed close to each other in the first lap.

On the second time around, Köster in the Selve smoothly overtook Heinecke’s Dixi, while Phillip managed to build upon a race-long lead that he would not be challenged.  The Heim was not on form and visibly lost ground as it lapped many minutes off the pace.

In the third lap, the Heinecke-run Dixi was able to re-pass Köster’s Selve, which was now running into technical difficulties. It was first overtaken by the Falcon of Hartlieb and then stopped for repairs for 12 minutes. Of course, the repair helped him very little, since he could never make up the lost time. The Selve-engined Heim was also not getting any better. He already had problems with the engine by the second lap and could only drag himself through to the fifth lap before giving up the struggle

The real excitement of the race was the close fight between the two Dixis and the Falcon. who turned in similar lap times for the duration and even matched each other on occasion. In the end, Braun would finish just one second behind his team rival.

At the end, the winner was the #2 Aga, who got through the whole race steadily and without any issues. Heinecke was not a potential challenger, finishing the six lap race over 6 minutes behind. Some misfiring that befell his Dixi did not occur until just before the end of the race, so it did no real harm, though it was a close call with Braun who completed the race just 1 second behind.

The two Selve cars were, as on the day before, unlucky. While they were both able to finish the race, they were no longer eligible as winners, having run lap times considerably slower than their fellow competitors. Meanwhile, Hartlieb, a newcomer, finished his race smoothly and steadily.

The established sidevalve cars had failed to show any good form, but they would have another opportunity at the end of the day

25th September 11:00am – Class VIA – 6 laps x 120km

 1  2  Otto Philipp	        Aga 6/20         1:03'23 (111.5kph)	
 2  4  Willy Heinecke	        Dixi 6/18        1:09'35
 3  7  Hermann Braun	        Dixi 6/18        1:09'36
 4  5  Gottleib Hartlieb	Falcon 6/20      1:10'12
 5  3  Ernst Lehmann	        Selve 6/24       1:15'10
 6  6  Willi Köster	        Selve 6/24       1:24'56

    1  Hugo Wilhelm             Aga 6/20         5 laps (Engine)
    8  Franz Heim               Heim 6/18        5 laps (Engine)

Sunday – Race 2  [NEXT]