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I am a huge fan of Auto Union, but this is a bit much by any standards.

Firstly, what relevance do the exploits of the R8s in international sports prototypes have to pre-war Grand Prix racing? Answers on a postcard...

Second, and this is pretty crucial, the Auto Union's weren't exactly all-conquering. There wasn't a championship when they arrived in 1934, but in 1935 it was Mercedes-Benz drivers who finished 1-2.

Only in 1936, when Mercedes went bonkers and built a short-chassis W25 that kept trying to bite its drivers on the bum, did Auto Union come into its own, led by the dazzling Bernd Rosemeyer.

By the following year, though, Mercedes had come up with the W125 and Auto Union was toast - Rosemeyer ended up in the boonies rather a lot as he tried to keep up with the Mercs, leaving Hans Stuck to lead the way for the four rings - behind five Mercs - while Rosemeyer was seventh... behind Raymond Sommer's Scuderia Ferrari Alfa!!

In 1938 things got worse. Rosemeyer was killed in a record attempt in January and Stuck was rarely available on driving duties due to the political ruckus caused by his wife Paula, who had a Jewish grandfather (Stuck was therefore not considered ideal material to advertise Hitler's Germany, and Auto Union got leaned on hard).

Worse still the new 3-litre cars for 1938 were designed and built without Ferdinand Porsche hand to weave a bit of magic, as he was being kept fully occupied by making the Volkswagen a reality. Mercedes swept the top four positions in the championship, and it must have given Stuck a real thrill to make the most of his limited campaign to finish as top man for Auto Union.

In 1939, though, Auto Union got the D-Type working, and for drivers had the incomparable Tazio Nuvolari and the maturing talent of Hermann Mueller. In fact, although history records that it was Mercedes driver Herrmann Lang who won the last pre-war title, it was in fact Mueller on points. The problem was that war broke out during the penultimate race of the year, which meant that things got muddled and the victor was eventually announced months later by the Nazi racing man Korpsfuehrer Huehnlein, who always sided with M-B.

All of which is a bit different to Audi's version of events, which is a shame. Auto Union's achievements were amazing - especially given the favouritism displayed towards Mercedes by the government - and downright persecution at times of Auto Union staff from the MD downwards.

Nonetheless Rosemeyer recorded the fastest ever lap by a Grand Prix car at the 1937 AVUS-Rennen (Montoya and co. haven't got close), broke 16 world speed records in three days on the public highway and took one championship away from Mercedes. No mean feat.

All the drivers of the era were absolute heroes, and Auto Union more than most. I mean would you drive a 600bhp, 6.0-litre V16 car? Around the Nordschleife? Or at 260mph? On suspension from a VW Beetle?!?

Meanwhile Audi has bored everyone to tears by running away with an uncompetitive formula that nobody bothers with. They're cheapening their own legacy.
 

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QUOTE (Rail Racer @ 2 Feb 2005, 11:02)Which was the first rear engined GP machine?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The first rear-engined GP machine was the Mercedes Tropfenwagen, another design from Dr. Porsche, but this one took part in the 1923 GP.

Funnily enough there are two ways to get a slot version - there's a lexan body for scratching here:

http://www.slotcarworld.com/LexanF1.htm

And there's an RTR version here:

http://www.slot32.de/a/2/004.jpg
 
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