III DONINGTON GP
Donington Park, 2 October 1937 (Saturday)
80 laps x 3.125 mi (5.029 km) = (250.0 mi (402.3 km)
Rosemeyer wins the Donington Grand Prix
by Hans Etzrodt and Leif Snellman
The third Donington Grand Prix took place during pleasant warm sunny weather. This was the first time after ten years that Grand Prix teams appeared in England to the great enjoyment of the British racing enthusiasts.
15 starters lined up for the race over 80 laps which was a tire battle per excellence. Lang (Mercedes-Benz) held the lead for the first 12 laps, his teammate Brauchitsch led from lap 13 to 23 until he changed tires and
refueled. Rosemeyer (Auto Union) then took the lead from lap 24 to 32 until he also stopped to change tires. In the meantime, Lang had retired on lap 27 and Seaman on lap 30, both with broken shock absorbers. The
Auto Union drivers Müller and Hasse played no role in the lead. The eight British drivers in 1500 ERA voiturettes, one Riley and two Maseratis had their own little race as they were much slower than the German
Grand Prix cars. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz) held the lead from lap 33 to 35, then was passed by Brauchitsch who led again from lap 36 to 52 when he changed tires for the second time. Caracciola changed tires only
once on lap 40. Rosemeyer who was second, regained the lead on lap 53. Brauchitsch unexpectantly had a front tire blow up at about 170 mph but saved the car before his third pit stop on lap 61. On lap 62 Rosemeyer
made his second stop and did not lose the lead. Brauchitsch was now far behind and unable to catch Rosemeyer, who won the race, the last of the 750 kg formula. Brauchitsch came second ahead of Caracciola, Müller
and Hasse. Still racing but exceeding the 15-minute time limit were Bira (Maserati), Howe and Dobson, both in ERAs and Hanson (Maserati). Six cars retired.
The organizer of the race was Fred Craner and his Derby & District Motor Club who was able to attract the works entries of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union for the 1937 Donington Grand Prix. With the Silver Arrows racing
for the first time in Great Britain, the British motoring press looked at this event of historical significance. Thanks to daily newspaper reports about the excitingly fast and loud German cars, an enormous crowd of
about 50,000 people, the biggest that had ever attended an English race, came to see the fabled German cars.
The Donington racetrack was about 155 miles north-west of London and 18 miles away from Nottingham in Castle Donington. This was a wonderful old family property with a very large sleepy park owned by Mr. J. G. Shields.
In its center stood a nice castle. Fred Craner and his Derby & District Motor Club developed an automobile race track, fenced off in the park, along beautiful park roads passed through groups of old trees. The 1937
JCC 200-Mile Race at the end of August was held on the 2.552-mile circuit of Donington while the Grand Prix took place in October over 80 laps, but on the new revised Donington circuit, which had been lengthened to
3.125 miles, so a total of 250 miles. From the start in clockwise direction was the short run to the 45 degrees left hand Red Gate Corner after which the cars passed below Dunlop Bridge heading on the long right turn
through Holly Wood, then a slight left turn into a short straight downhill to the right-hand Hairpin Bend. Thereafter passing below the narrow Stone Bridge, then the road was snaking to the sharp right hand McLeon's
Corner into a short straight up to the sharp right hand Coppice Corner. Immediately thereafter moved between the Coppice Farm Buildings then passing through a narrow looking bridge. Here began the fast part along a
straight with a slight right then left turn then along Starkey's Straight and jumping over Starkey's Hill downhill to the right hand 180-degree Melbourne Corner back uphill to the Start and Finish. Regarding the
rough road surface with good grip, the racetrack was not ideal for the Grand Prix cars. The Germans fitted used tires during practice and after only ten to twelve fast laps the tires were used up down to the white
control strip. It was not a fast track because of the many turns and was much too narrow, very undulating and had a jumping hill over which the race cars flew through the air for a few seconds. As the cars jumped
through the air, the spinning tires were rubbed upon landing like on a grinding stone. The circuit was especially stressful for the chassis.
The German teams had only a very short time to move from the Masaryk Grand Prix at Brno to Donington, as practice started on Wednesday. The Mercedes racing team arrived by train in Dover the week before the race. Their
lorries and travelling workshop were installed in the yard at Coppice Farm. The Auto Union team was put up in the big metal barn opposite. The crews of both German teams flew over by air while Caracciola arrived
with his wife on Thursday, having travelled from Brno by train instead. Daimler-Benz entered four cars for Caracciola, Lang, Brauchitsch and Seaman while Auto Union arrived with three cars for Rosemeyer, Müller and
Hasse who was reserve driver for Varzi but the Italian did not show up. The local opposition consisted mostly of ERA voiturettes driven by Mays (R4D), Howe (R8B), Whitehead (R10B), Martin (R3A) and Dobson (R7B).
Walker practiced with Whitehead's car but did not start. The three independent Maseratis were from Bira, Hanson and Hyde, the latter did not start as he thought he would be in the way of the faster cars.
There was also Maclure in a fast Riley. Powys-Lybbe's Alfa Romeo did not appear, likewise Tongue's ERA.
Wednesday was the first practice day when the existing lap record stood at 74.31 mph, made by Richard Mays (ERA) before the 200-Mile Race on the shorter and slower circuit. Rosemeyer did a lap in 2m14.6s at 83.77 mph
average speed. Hasse drove the third Auto Union. The team had trouble with carburation problems. The Mercedes-Benz cars were fitted for the first time with hood straps in order to comply with the British regulations.
Several laps were done at over 80 mph and cars were leaping into the air over Starkey Rise at over 100 mph. The rough road surface resulted in surprisingly high tire wear. After ten to twelve fast practice laps the
tires were used up down to the white control strip. Lord Howe was the fasted of the "light brigade" with 2m26.2s at 79.6 mph. Martin practiced with a 1500 Maserati as his ERA had not yet arrived. Unfortunately, there
was a problem with spectators loafing carelessly around, nearly causing accidents, until Neubauer threatened to pull the cars out of the race, then it became better.
|Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||2m14.6s|
|Müller (Auto Union)||2m20.4s|
|Hasse (Auto Union)||2m21.0s|
|Martin (Maserati 1500)||no time|
On Thursday Caracciola and his wife had arrived by train. He put in a lap in 2m16s, while Rosemeyer and Brauchitsch made laps in 2m12s. Mays broke an oil pipe and Maclure switched his 1500 Riley engine for a 1750 unit
overnight. Thursday times were as follows:
|Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||2m12.2s|
|Hasse (Auto Union)||2m16.0s|
|Müller (Auto Union)||2m16.8s|
On Friday Brauchitsch made a great improvement by putting in a real fast time of 2m10.8s at 86.01 mph average speed. Rosemeyer then did several laps, his fastest at 2m11.8s.
|Rosemeyer (Auto Union)||2m11.8s|
|Müller (Auto Union)||2m15.4s|
|Hasse (Auto Union)||2m19.0s|
By mid-day the sun began to break through and the day developed into a glorious afternoon, warm and sunny. A crowd, estimated at around 50,000 attended the race. The Maserati driver Hyde was new to Grand Prix racing,
lacking experience. After practice he thought he was not fast enough and probably got in the way, so he decided to withdrew his entry. Half an hour before the start the cars were pushed to the starting grid and covered
with huge tarpaulins. The 15 cars lined up according to their practice times.
Thirty seconds before the start the cars roared to life, making a shattering noise that completely drowned everything else. Rosemeyer's Auto Union engine was started last. Exactly at 12 noon as Ebby lowered the Union-Jack,
Lang shot into the lead to be first at the left Redgate Corner, just ahead of Caracciola.
After the first lap Lang was 4 seconds ahead of Caracciola, Brauchitsch Seaman, Rosemeyer, Müller and Hasse with a large gap to Bira, Martin and Mays, a gap, Howe, Whitehead, Dobson, Hanson and Maclure.
On the second lap, Brauchitsch passed Caracciola and Rosemeyer pulled ahead of Seaman. On the 4th lap when arriving at Coppice Corner, Seaman was rear-ended by Müller's Auto Union, sending the Mercedes down the escape road
but immediately returned to the course and both cars continued. Müller's car was undamaged but Seaman's Mercedes had a dented tail and tank and a damaged right rear shock absorber hanging loose from the Mercedes which was
now behind Müller and Hasse.
After five laps Lang was leading at 82.6 mph, 7.2 seconds over Brauchitsch, with a gap of 4 seconds to Rosemeyer, then Caracciola. Müller, Hasse and Seaman followed ahead of the eight British entries. The leading cars were
setting a lap speed of around 84 mph, reaching 170 mph down to Melbourne Corner and leaping into the air at the crest of the sharp rise of Starkey's Hill. Whitehead struck trouble, stopping his ERA on the grass by Starkey's
and finally restarting in sick condition, to retire in a smoke cloud on lap 11.
After 10 laps Lang led at 82.96 mph, 3.4 seconds ahead of Brauchitsch with Rosemeyer another 4.4 seconds behind. On the 14th lap Brauchitsch speed was 83.21 mph after he passed Lang. Martin's ERA retired on lap 19 with a broken piston.
At 15 laps Brauchitsch was leading Lang by 3.2 seconds and at 20 laps by 3.4 seconds with Rosemeyer following in third place. On the 23rd lap, Brauchitsch's left rear tire threw a thread. He stopped at the pits to change
both rear wheels and refuel in 30 seconds. On the 24th lap Lang stopped for fuel, tires and had the right front suspension examined but dropped to 7th place. At this time Rosemeyer took the lead at 83.27 mph, 30.8s ahead
of Caracciola with Brauchitsch 8.8 seconds behind him, followed by Müller, Seaman, Hasse and Lang in seventh place. Lang's car was jumping in front so much that he could not take any turns safely. The car was undrivable
and floating on the road. Since he could not drive without shock absorber on this uneven surface, and a replacement would be too time consuming, Lang retired after lap 26 when he drove slowly onto the grass before the pits
with a broken front shock absorber. Seaman had passed Hasse but drove with a problematic rear suspension and retired after the 29th lap with the rear shock absorber trailing along the ground. He pulled into the grass
opposite the pits and parked besides Lang's, both cars were covered by tarpaulins. Bira now advanced to sixth place ahead of Dobson's old white ERA.
After 30 laps Rosemeyer led at 83.15 mph, 25.2s seconds ahead of Caracciola, Brauchitsch, Müller and Hasse fifth, followed by Bira, Dobson, Lord Howe, Mays, Hanson and Maclure. On the 32nd lap Rosemeyer stopped for fuel
and tires in 31 seconds. While in the pits he was passed by Caracciola and Brauchitsch. Müller and Hasse stopped on the 34th lap for fuel and rear tires in 28 seconds, cheered on by the crowd. On the 34th lap Brauchitsch
drove a very fast lap in 2m11.4s at 85.62 mph, the fastest lap of the race. On the 36th lap Brauchitsch passed Caracciola and led by three lengths. Rosemeyer followed 16 seconds behind. On lap 37 Hasse changed wheels and
the motor stalled, losing 42 seconds. Müller and Hasse were now nearly one lap behind the leaders.
After 40 laps, mid-race, Caracciola stopped for fuel and rear tires in 26.6 seconds. Rosemeyer who was going flat out, equaled Brauchitsch's record lap time of 2m11.4s and regained second place. After 40 laps Brauchitsch
was leading 24 seconds over Rosemeyer, followed by Caracciola and Müller. Lord Howe refueled, from churns, with one churn too many splashing all over the car, in 65 seconds, the wheels were not changed. The English drivers
had their own little race led by Bira's Maserati ahead of Dobson's ERA, who stopped on lap 42 to change the magneto which took 14 minutes with the one taken from Martin's retired ERA. Rosemeyer made a great attempt to
reduce the gap to Brauchitsch, chasing after him. But Brauchitsch was signed by his pit about the gap and drove just as wild as the Auto Union, with the car snaking and sliding all over the road with smoke streaming from
the tires when accelerating out of the corners.
After 45 laps Brauchitsch was leading Rosemeyer by 24 seconds. On the 50th lap Brauchitsch led at 83.17 mph by 26 seconds to Rosemeyer and 82 seconds to Caracciola in third place with a long gap to Müller and Hasse even
further behind. Brauchitsch's Mercedes was still 26 seconds ahead on the 52nd lap when Brauchitsch stopped to replace rear tires. While in the pits, Rosemeyer passed and had now 11 seconds advantage over the Mercedes.
At 51 laps, after changing a plug, Mays had to retire the ERA with useless brakes. At 55 laps Rosemeyer led Brauchitsch by 14.8 seconds.
By the 60th lap Rosemeyer averaged 83.06 mph and increased his advantage to 20 seconds over Brauchitsch with Caracciola 12.6s further behind. When Brauchitsch coming at about 170 mph on Starkey Straight down to Melbourne Corner
the left front tire blew to bits, maybe on account of a locking brake, and Brauchitsch had a stern struggle. He appeared with a front tire in ribbons, stopped for 28 seconds to change the faulty wheel before rejoining.
He got away before Caracciola had passed. On lap 62 Rosemeyer stopped to change tires and restarted without losing the lead to Brauchitsch, who was now 31 seconds behind on the 62nd lap with Caracciola another 20 seconds
behind. Rosemeyer now had a secure lead with 18 laps to go.
At 70 laps Rosemeyer led at reduced speed of 82.81 mph, 34 seconds ahead of Brauchitsch, followed after 20 seconds by Caracciola with a large gap to Müller and Hasse with Bira's Maserati in sixth place.
After 80 laps Rosemeyer was cheered by the crowd as he crossed the finish line 38 seconds ahead of Brauchitsch, Caracciola a further 38 seconds behind. Müller was already lapped once and Hasse three times, so both had to
carry on driving to complete the required distance. During the 15 minutes after the winner had crossed the finish line, many cars were still racing. The crowd got out of hand and swarmed across the unpoliced track and
invaded the course rather badly towards the end, in spite of the appeals od Mr. Harris over the excellent loud-speakers. Bira, Howe, Dobson and Hanson were flagged-off. All four had exceeded the 15 minutes time limit
after the overall winner crossed the finish and were not classified.
Although the race was well organized, except the badly handled finish and the winner's German National Anthem was not played. Rosemeyer's overalls had to be taped up at the seat before he could meet Mrs. Shields, wife
of the Donington owner, who presented the winner with the bouquet.
The team award went to the three Auto Unions driven by Rosemeyer, Müller and Hasse. The £100 award for fastest lap went to Rosemeyer and Brauchitsch. £25 awards went to the leader after 15 laps, Brauchitsch. Leader
after 30 laps Rosemeyer, Leader after 45 laps Brauchitsch with Leader at 60 laps, Rosemeyer. With the Donington Grand Prix, the 750-kg formula had ended.
|1.||5||Bernd Rosemeyer||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||80||3h01m02.2s|
|2.||3||Manfred von Brauchitsch||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W125||5.7||S-8||80||3h01m40.0s||+ 37.8s|
|3.||1||Rudolf Caracciola||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W125||5.7||S-8||80||3h02m18.8s||+ 1m16.6s|
|4.||7||Hermann Müller||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||80||3h04m50.0s||+ 3m47.8s|
|5.||6||Rudolf Hasse||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||C||6.0||V-16||80||3h09m50.0s||+ 8m47.8s|
|DNC||11||"B Bira"||Prince Chula of Siam||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||78||3h13m49.6s|
|DNC||9||Earl Howe||Humphrey Cook||ERA||B||1.5||S-6||77||3h14m47.0s|
|DNC||19||Arthur Dobson||A. C. Dobson||ERA||B||S-6||74||3h14m55.8s|
|DNC||15||Robin Hanson||Mrs E. Hall Smith||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||72||3h14m54.2s|
|DNF||20||Percy Maclure||P. Maclure||Riley||AVC 18||1.8||S-6||67||rear axle|
|DNF||8||Raymond Mays||Humphrey Cook||ERA||D||S-6||51||brake, engine|
|DNF||4||Richard Seaman||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W125||5.7||S-8||29||shock absorber|
|DNF||2||Hermann Lang||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W125||5.7||S-8||26||shock absorber|
|DNF||18||Charles Martin||C. E. Martin||ERA||A||1.5||S-6||18||piston|
|DNF||16||Peter Whitehead||P. N. Whitehead||ERA||B||1.5||S-6||11||engine|
Fastest lap: von Brauchitsch (M-B) on lap 34 and Rosemeyer (A U) on lap 40 in 2m11.4s = 85.6 mph (137.8 km/h)|
Winner's medium speed: 82.9 mph (133.3 km/h)
Pole position lap speed: 86.3 mph (138.8 km/h)
Weather: warm and sunny.
Caracciola 1937 European Champion. As was generally expected, Rudolf Caracciola, for years the leading driver of the Mercedes-Benz racing team, received from the AIACR for the second time the title of European
Champion on the basis of his excellent performance in this year's racing season, namely with 13 points ahead of his team mates von Brauchitsch (14 points), Lang and Kautz (each 19 points), all with Mercedes-Benz.
For his outstanding achievement Caracciola additionally was awarded the Great Gold Medal of the AIACR.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Kölnische Zeitung, Köln
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
The Motor, London
Special thanks to:
George Monkhouse, 1938 book.
VII MOUNTAIN CHAMPIONSHIP
Brooklands (GB), 16 October 1937 (Saturday)
10 laps x 1.883 km (1.170 mi) = 18.8 km (11.7 mi)
Rüesch goes to England to win £40.
The Mountain Championship was a 10 lap scratch race Mountain Circuit, that was part of the B.A.R.C. Brooklands meeting that closed off the Brooklands season. Winner got £40 and a replica
of the Kathleen Droghera Trophy.
The entry list for the Mountain Championship looked good on paper but in the end most of the entries failed to arrive. The only non-British driver was Swiss Hans Rüesch with his 8-cylinder Alfa Romeo.
Kenneth Evens entered his Tipo B Alfa Romeo, John Wakefield and Artur Dobson raced their 6-cylinder Maserati, Raymond Mays a 2 litre works ERA, band leader "Billy" Cotton his private ERA, Percy Maclure
an unblown 2 litre Riley and Jack Bartlett an Alta.
Raymond Mays had problems with his 2-litre ERA during practice. He therefore wanted to change to the works 1.5 litre car but was due to a rule in the regulation refused to do so by the organizers and
thus he became a non-starter.
The event started off with two short handicap races won by F. E. Elgood (Bentley 4.5 litre) and G. P. Harvey-Noble (M.G. 0.7 litre). It was followed by two long handicaps won by
T. H. Wisdom (Jaguar 3.5 litre) and Oliver Bertram (Barnato-Hassan 8.0 litre), while Raymond Mays in the 1.5 litre works ERA won the 10 laps Siam Challenge Trophy on the Mountain track.
Then it was time for the Mountain Championship and the seven cars were positioned in a line across the track.
Grid in line across the track|
Bartlett made the best start with the Alta. But soon he was passed by the Alfa Romeos of Rüesch and Edwards and by Wakefield in the Maserati. Edwards and Wakefield had a good fight for second
position. But with Mays a non-starter there was nobody in the field capable to do anything against Rüesch, who after having opened up a gap could ease up and cruse to a win. Wakefield managed to pass Edwards but then he had to retire with brake problems,
letting Edwards finish second, Bartlett was third with the Alta.
The Mountain Championship was followed by three handicap races on the Campbell Circuit won by Ian Nichols (M.G. 0.7 litre), Roy Eccles (Rapier 1.1 litre) and J. B Wilson (M.G. 0.7 litre).
|1.||4||Hans Rüesch||H. Rüesch||Alfa Romeo||8C-35||3.8||S-8||10||8m43.6s|
|2.||14||Kenneth Evans||K Evans||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||10||9m06.4s||+ 22.8s|
|3.||6||"Jack" Bartlett||J. Bartlett||Alta||2.0||S-4||10||9m18.6s||+ 35.0s|
|4.||12||Percy Maclure||P. Maclure||Riley||2000/6||S-6||10||9m25.0s||+ 41.4s|
|5.||11||William Cotton||W. Cotton||ERA||B||S-6||10||9m28.2s||+ 44.6s|
|DNF||5||John Wakefield||J. Wakefield||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||8||brakes|
|DNF||10||Austin Dobson||A. Dobson||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||0|
Fastest lap: Hans Rüesch (Alfa Romeo) in 51.4s = 131.9 km/h (81.9 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 129.4 km/h (80.4 mph)