Thank you for this wonderful article. I particularly enjoy the technical description, pictures, and drawings of the engine. What a majestic piece of work. Can you do a series of articles on the contemporary competitors to this Audi (Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, etc.)?
The 2-stage superchargers on the DB-601 came out of DB's racing engineering while trying to exceed the AutoUnion and Italian/French powerplants. The Bf-109 used DB-601 and later descendent motors throughout the war.. and virtually every nation had implemented multi-stage supercharging by 1944-45.
A nice article indeed. I watched these machines perform laps at Laguna Seca the year Audi was the celebrated Mark. I would suggest that the four circles re-appeared at least a decade earlier as DKW used them throughout the fifty’s. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for a wonderful and informative article. These cars are phenomenal and probably beyond the capacity of the roads they ran on as well as some of the skills of the drivers, but no matter. The drivers were heroes, and the cars were wonders.
great information of technology of the early development of engine, supercharger, compression, fuel,overhead cams, wieght of opponents vs big cubic in. it has not changed to much. a friend of mine Emil Andrea an indy driver finished 4 th at the indy 500 told me the time he met Rosenberg at a race in New Jersey In1936 . it was a race with the indy cars and formual 1cars . the Germans had the best of the best. we had Miller engine they were as good if not better then Mercedes. the difference in the out come of the race was Brakes . Emil said we had 12 inch brakes (shoes and drums ) Mercedes had 16 in drums. the wheel then were 19 in by 5 in. not alot of ares on the ground for traction. he said he could run as fast as Rosenberg he couldn't drive as deep in the corner. the Germans were on top of technology at the time. he also said Rosenberg was nice fellow and stood on the gas!!
Don Sherman does a sterling job describing these sophisticated monsters. But remember, the Nazi government supplied as much as a quarter of the funding diminishing to slightly more than a fifth for both Auto Union and Daimler-Benz 1934-38 abetted by longtime German state public spending, even as the British govt. and RAF poured staggering amounts the same years into radar, cryptology, jet engines, aerodynamics, keeping those industries "warm" 'til war production required.
The Nazi silver arrows were the product of mechanical ingenuity aided by massive funding. The Reichsbank president for the second time in March 1933 buoyed the mark price of gold by imposing foreign exchange controls and barter arrangements for foreign trade. Germans daring to directly settle foreign debts with their creditors were threatened with the death penalty.
What Rene Dreyfus did with an outgunned Delahaye in 1938 on a comparative shoestring budget against the MB W154 is also a good story.
So we have Bugatti Chiron with 100X the technology matching the speed achieved in 1938. I always loved American V-8s best, especially the pushrod SBC. But the Auto Union's 520 hp @ only 5000 rpm and 629 ft lbs of torque @ 2500 rpm from 386 cubic inches makes the C8 Corvette engine seem like a joke. Maybe someone can further develop a V-16 (that cleanly runs on modern fuel) before the ICE is finally dead.
The insane skills and fearlessness of these drivers I wonder if any of them became Luftwaffe pilots. I knew a few hotrodders I grew up around in the 60's-70's and instead of a year in county jail and with their skill set opted for military service, all became Helicopter pilots and hot-rodded the sky's of Vietnam.
Great article by Don Sherman - who's also a great guy! If you find this pre-WWII era of Grand Prix competition interesting, I highly recommend reading the book "Faster" by Neal Bascomb...it does a great job of giving insights into the cars, factories, drivers and competition of GP racing - and the world record runs on the Autobahn - in the 1930's - a must read for enthusiasts!
Hang on, a 16-cylinder, twin crankshaft engine from Alfa? That's big news to this Alfista! I know they made a bimotore, but that was with, you know, two straight-eight engines, one in front of the driver and one behind.
Awesome article! It's good to get a history lesson every now and then. It's too bad that era didn't have the suspension and aerodynamics expertise we do today. Rosemeyer and other drivers who lost their lives may have survived.