Theo Fitzau: In His Own Words

The hardest race thus far

“Overall, I would have to say that the International Eifelrennen [1951] has been me and my stablemates’ most difficult race so far. We were already completely soaked at the start. I held fourth place for a long time, and that would have remained the case, but slowly more and more water came into the carburetor. This slowed me down and pushed me back a few places. The only cars following far behind comprised completely of foreign drivers. Arthur Rosenhammer secured fourth place. This is usually the case – you ultimately depend on your machinery and once “the worm is in the wagon”, then even the best driving skill is of no use.

Theo Fitzau, 1951 Eifelrennen, DAMW-BMW (Source: Revs)

I will not forget to mention that we have gained much respect for our success at the Ring, since we have shown that our cars are very fast even though they are still in development. They are quicker and quicker each time. Unfortunately, for the first time, I was not part of the Dresden race, because junior drivers were being trialled.

I hope to continue being able to climb into these cars, because these things are indeed first class. It is, of course, the endeavour of every driver to be in such a car, but even these “quick stags”, as the experts call them, must already have some experience. Of course, the work of the helpers and mechanics, including one’s own wife, is essential. What is a racing driver without the devoted work of the mechanics? These men, who work on the vehicles throughout the night, often repairing hopeless-looking practice damage, look tired and done-in the next morning, but with bright eyes present the restored car to the driver and are more than good comrades. Only a high level of dedication to the sport affords such benefits.

Unfortunately, there are people who say: “These are not racing drivers! Before, we had this and that, that was real racing!” They completely forget that today, the still-active racing drivers [from that era] are not faster than us now, because the formula has changed quite tremendously. At that time, we had three and six-litre superchargers, now we have two-litre naturally aspirated engines. These cars cannot go as quickly. The fastest cars in this 2-litre class will hardly reach a speed of 245kph, and in Germany these are the cars of Rieß, Helfrich, Pietsch and Stuck, not to forget our Kollektiv-Wagens from the DDR either.

Most of these cars, such as the Veritas, AFM, Meteor-Veritas, etc., are based on the well-known BMW-Sportmotor 328. However, one can dare to say that the potential for speed has increased enormously in relation to the cars of the pre-war era. Despite the fact that the all-time fastest lap on the Nürburgring was set at an average of 140kph in a 500bhp car, today’s makes are lapping at 122kph on the same track with 2-litre cars. And these 2-litre cars reach a maximum of 140bhp. Ultimately, the big cars lagged in the corners, then off they went, whereas today’s lap times are all driven in the corners.”

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