Bernd Rosemeyer was one of the most famous German racing driver before WWII
His wife Elli Beinhorn was one of the most famous German pilots.
Having started by racing motorbikes, Rosemeyer became a member of the Auto Union racing team.
The mid-engined Silver Arrows of Auto Union were hard to drive 500 bhp (370 kW) beasts.
In subsequent years he was winning three consecutive races at the Nürburgring, one famously in thick fog. Later in 1935 he won his first Grand Prix at the Brno Masaryk Circuit in Czechoslovakia.
Whilst on the podium he was introduced to the famous aviatrix Elly Beinhorn. Their celebrity relationship was too good an opportunity to miss for the Nazi Party and Heinrich Himmler chose to make him a member of the SS, an ‘honour’ he would have been unwise to refuse. All German drivers were required to join the National Socialist Motor Corps, but Rosemeyer allegedly got away with never wearing a uniform.
Several sensational Grand Prix motor racing victories in 1936 and 1937 (also in the Vanderbilt Cup in the USA) made him popular not only in Germany. He won the European driving championship in 1936.
His marriage to young flying ace Elly Beinhorn added even more celebrity hype.
Bernd was killed during a world speed record attempt on the Autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, on January 28 1938.
Competing for the record on the same day against Rudolf Caracciola, the Mercedes driver went first and set a new record of 432 km/h (268 mph) in the early hours of the day. Rosemeyer went out next in his Auto Union Streamliner despite report that the wind was picking up. After two preliminary runs he was on his third and final attempt at 11:47am when the car suddenly went out of control. Whether caught by a gust of wind or an unforeseen aerodynamic effect, it skidded to the left and perhaps after over correcting it swerved to the right and off the highway where it went airborne. Rosemeyer was thrown out of the car as it somersaulted through the air; he died at the roadside only 10 weeks after his first son was born.
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