July 24, 2006

Today In Automotive History

1938 Seaman takes the German Grand Prix

Dick Seaman, driving a Mercedes-Benz 154 to victory at the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, Germany, became the first Briton to win a major Grand Prix since Malcolm Campbell did it 15 years earlier. The race turned out to be a showdown between Mercedes--with their driving team of Seaman, Caracciola, von Brauchitsch and Lang; Auto Union--with newly acquired Italian great Tazio Nuvolari; and Alpha--with their team of Tartuffi and Farina. Mercedes qualified all three first row positions with Seaman in his British green helmet on the outside. After the typical lengthy Nazi parading, the race got underway in front of over 400,000 spectators. Midway through the race, in spite of Nuvolari's noble efforts, it was clear the race would be decided among the Mercedes drivers and that von Brauchtitsch and Seaman were the men to beat. Von Brauchtitsch led the race until he came into pit for tires and fuel. The crowd buzzed to see how fast the crew could change him, but in their rush the fuel tank was overfilled. The portable starter ignited the engine, the tank sucked in air and then shot a massive flame into the sky, igniting the back half of the car. Seaman pulled away unscathed, taking the lead for the first time. Von Brauchtitsch eventually returned to the race only to let his foul mood get the best of him as he took a corner too fast and crashed into a ditch. He is said to have walked back to the pits, black in the face, holding his detachable steering wheel that he claimed came off in the turn. His mechanic denied the possibility. Meanwhile, Seaman steamed to a comfortable victory ahead of Lang, Stuck, and Nuvolari. Seaman accepted congratulations on his victory modestly, saying, "I was only lucky." But he had changed tires only once in the race and won by a huge margin after recording the two fastest laps of the day in a field riddled with the world's best drivers. Seaman added, "I only wish it had been a British car."

Posted by Quality Weenie at July 24, 2006 06:59 AM | TrackBack