The initials AVUS stands for “Automobil Verkkehrs and Ubungs-Strasse” and was conceived in 1907 by the Automobiliklub von Deutschland (AvD) as a test track for the motor industry and for the sports. The money ran out and the First World War cause further delays although Russian prisioners were employed used to do the building work.
The facility opened in September 1921 and five years later AVUS was the site of the first German GRand Prix (Grober Preis von Deutschland) for sportscars which was won by the Mercedes of Rudolf Caracciola.
The division of Berlin after the war cut the track in half and it was not until 1954 that the circuit was revived with a new unbanked south loop being built. The non-championship Formula One Grand Prix of Berlin resulted in a Mercedes 1-2-3 with Karl Kling leading Juan Manuel Fangio and Hans Herrmann.
In 1959 the F-1 World Championship returned to Berlin but the meeting was overshadowed by the death in a supporting sportscar race on Saturday of French racer Jean Behra who spun his Porsche RSK in damp conditions and was thrown from the car into a flag pole. He died instantly. The las F-1 race was a Ferrari D246 1-2-3 with Tony Brooks, Dan Gurney and Phil Hill.
The round race control tower (with the prominent Mercedes Benz and Bosch sponsorship) still remains at the North Curve and is used as a public restaurant and motel. The old wooden grandstand is protected as a Historic Monument.