On July 22nd, 1894 twenty one assorted vehicles rumbled out of Paris on their way to Rouen. A year later a race was held from Paris to Bordeaux and back to Paris. The winner was Emile Levassor with his Panhard et Levasor who covered the 1,200 kilometers in 48 hours.

The first motor competition had begun.

Rudolf Caracciola. B January 30, 1901 at Remagen, Germany.
D September 28, 1959.

Caracciola born in Remagen, Germany to a Hotelier Italian family, was a champion racer in Europe in the Grand Prix motor racing era.

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.

Cara Esposa

In 1968, Alice presented the Hulman’s with the trophy collection. More than 100 pieces of Caracciola collection remain on display at the Indianapolis Speedway Museum.

In 1998, Rudolf Caracciola was elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Tazio Nuvolari Ain Diab, Morocco A.C.
Achille Varzi Albi, France. Adler.
Alberto Ascari Avus, Germany Alfa Romeo
Alfonso de Portago Bari, Italy Arnolt-Bristol
Bernd Rosemeyer Belgrade, Yugoslavia Aston Martin
Briggs Cunningham Berne, Swiss Auto Union
Carel Godin de Beaufort Brno-Masaryk, Czch Bentley
Dan Gurney Budapest, Hungary B.R.M.
Eliska Junkova Caen, France Bugatti
Enzo Ferrari Clermont-Ferrand, (F) Cisitalia
Eugenio Castellotti Goodwood, U.K. Connaught
Felice Bonetto Indianapolis, USA Corvette SS
Hans von Stuck Le Mans, France Chaparral
Jean Behra Mille Miglia, Italy Eagle-Weslake
Joakim Bonnier Modena, Italy E.R.A.
Juan M. Fangio Monte Carlo, Monaco Ferrari
Luigi Musso Monthlery, France Fiat
Luiggi Villoresi Monza, Italy Jaguar
Manfred von Brauchitsch Nurburgring, Germany Kurtis
Maurice Trintignant Oporto, Portugal Lago-Talbot
Mike Hawthorn Panamericana, Mexico Lancia
Olivier Gendebien Pescara, Italy Lancia-Ferrari
Peter Collins Reims, France Le Monstre
Phil Hill Rouen, France Lister
Piero Taruffi Sebring, USA. Maserati
Prince Bira Silverstone, U.K. Mercedes Benz
Richard Seaman Spa-Francorcham, (B) O.S.C.A.
Rodger Ward Targa Florio, Italy Panhard
Rudolf Caracciola Tripoli, Lybia Porsche
Stirling Moss Vanderbilt Cup, USA Simca
Wolfgang von Trips Zaandvort, Holland Vanwall
Posted in MEMOIRS.

Emilio Lezcano

Journalist - Editor - Photographer
Professional Race Car Driver