Nicknamed “The Ringmeister” for his success in rainy conditions especially at Nurburgring. Caracciola’s legend grew from his very first race, the 1926 German Grand Prix (Grosser Preis Von Deutschland) at the Avus circuit, in Berlin. Caracciola, at the time a 25 year-old weekend racer and salesman for Daimler-Benz, won the event in a factory sports car he borrowed for the weekend. He made history in 1931 after becoming the first non-italian driver to win the famous Mille Miglia.
He went on to win the driving championship three times between 1934 y 1938 even in the light of devastating injuries and the death of his wife in an avalanche.
Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz) and fellow countryman Bernd Rosemeyer (Auto Union) battled for supremacy year after year during the “Silver Arrow” era of motor racing (1934-1938).
After spending World War II in exile in Lugano, Switzerland, Caracciola returned to the track in 1946. Tony Hulman invited Caracciola to compete in the 1946 Indy 500, for which Caracciola was schedule to drive a pre-war Mercedes Benz W165, but the car did not clear customs in Switzerland. Car owner Joel Thorne then invited Caracciola to compete in a Thorne Engineering car.
Caracciola crashed violently in the Speedway’s Turn 2 during practice after -it is believed- he was struck in the face by a bird. He suffered a concussion and skul fracture.
Hulman and his wife, the late Mary Fendrich Hulman, invited Caracciola and his wife, Alice, to be their guest in Terre Haute, Indiana, while Caracciola recuperated. Their friendships remained strong until Caracciola’s death of a bone disease in 1959.