Posts Tagged ‘Dick Seaman’


(Fox Photos)

Dick Seaman and Herr Heck in their Mercedes’ at Crystal Palace in 1937…

This promotional shot dated 7 October preceded the ‘International Imperial Trophy’ race, ‘the first international road race organised in London’ on 9 October. The event was the decider of the 1937 ‘BRDC Gold Cup’ between B Bira and Ray Mays ERA’s.

The cars above are Seaman’s Mercedes W125 GP car and Heck’s 1903 Mercedes Tourer. Seaman, a works Mercedes driver was back in the UK having contested the 1937 Donington GP a week earlier. He retired from the Leicestershire event after a collision with Muller’s Auto Union having started on the outside of the front row, Bernd Rosemeyer’s Auto Union Type C won the thrilling race.

Seaman did not contest the International Imperial Trophy race but was scheduled to thrill the crowds with some demonstration laps in his Mercedes. The race was significant as the first ever live BBC TV outside broadcast of motor sport.


BBC man in evidence as one of the Maserati 4CM’s and an Austin passes. Interested to know both driver names and the name of this corner if any of you can help? (Imagno)

The entry included Britain’s best plus the Scuderia Ambrosiana, which fielded Maserati 4CMs for Count Piero Trossi, Count Johnny Lurani and a Maserati 6CM for Luigi Villoresi. Private Maseratis were driven by Robin Hanson and Peter Aitken (6CM’s) and Archie Hyde (8CM). They were challenged by the ERA’s of Ray Mays , Arthur Dobson, B Bira, Ian Connell, Peter Whitehead and Charlie Martin.


It looks a bit chilly! L>R: Trossi, Senor Rovere, Lurani and Villoresi with one of the Ambrosiana Maserati 4CM’s (David Savill)

During Thursday practice Mays blew his ERA’s 1100cc engine, becoming a non-starter and effectively giving the ‘Gold Star’ to Bira by 3 points.

Leiff Snellman reported the race in thus; ‘The race was run in two heats plus a final and raced as a handicap event with Hyde and his 3 litre Maserati starting from scratch, the 1.5 litre Maseratis and ERA’s having a 10 seconds advantage and the Austins, MGs and the MG-Riley having a 50 seconds advantage’.

‘Winner of the first 10 laps heat was Maclure (Riley) followed by Dobson (ERA), Lurani and Whitehead. Villoresi retired with an engine problem. Trossi (Maserati) won the second heat after a tough fight with Martin (ERA) and B Bira (ERA) who finished second and third with Goodacre (Austin) fourth’.


Top left; Seaman, Bira, Trossi. Top right Trossi Maserati 4CM (David Savill)


Unidentified gaggle of cars during the meeting (Central Press)

Between the races Seaman jumped into the ‘Benz W125 and carefully did several laps in 2 min 4s, about the same speed as the cars during the heats. Many of the spectators must have heard stories about the spectacular show by the German cars the week earlier and were as thrilled by the speed, wheel spin and noise from the ‘Silver Arrow’ as the Donington crowd had been.


Seaman practices his W125 at Crystal Palace prior to raceday, the slippery nature of the surface evident from the gloomy English day (Getty)

‘Twenty cars started in the 15 laps final to fight for the £150 first prize. The race became a great duel between ERA drivers Bira and Dobson who left the rest of the field behind. Bira won by half a car length while Dobson received the Jarvis Trophy for the fastest lap. Goodacre’s Austin finished third. The Scuderia Ambrosiana cars were unable to challenge for the lead with Trossi an early retirement and Villoresi and Lurani having problems to follow the ERA’s. Villoresi finally finished in fourth place’.


Bira the happy winner (Central Press)

The Mercedes W125 went on display at the Mercedes-Benz showrooms in Park Lane, as was Rosemeyer’s car at the Auto Union showrooms.


Fox Photos, Imagno, David Savill, Central Press

Leif Snellman’s Crystal Palace article in





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The 1937 Avus-Rennen is one of ‘those races meetings’ I suspect most of us would have rather liked to attend, these photos are of Hermann Lang’s Mercedes W25 during testing the week before on May 22, 1937.

His car is a 1936 speed record chassis rebuilt with a long wheelbase and the ‘standard’ 5.7-litre straight-eight fitted to the W125 GP cars that season.

The final race of the meeting was the fastest race ever until the Monza 500 in 1958, Rosemeyer’s Auto Union fastest practice lap was 176.7mph and the fastest race lap, in two of the heats, was 171.74mph by Rosemeyer and Lang!

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Hermann Lang testing his Mercedes W25 modified 1936 speed record car the week before the 1937 race (ullstein bild)

The Germans didn’t race at Avus during 1936. They were rebuilding Berlin’s fastest circuit in the world into something even quicker with the addition of the ‘Nordschleife’ and massive ‘wall of death’ banking at 44 degrees. Avus was built in 1921 and used for racing until 1998 when it was fully absorbed into Germany’s road network as autobahn #115.

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Rosemeyer and friends AU Type C (Max Ehlert)

The 1937 race was a Formula Libre event, 300,000-400,000 spectators attended- what a spectacle it must have been. Such was the level of national prestige involved the German teams went all out to win, building special cars and testing them in three sessions before the meeting itself.

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Rosemeyer on the Avus banking, Auto Union Type C Streamliner, Hasse or von Delius in AU C Type then Seaman W125 (Ullstein Bild)


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AU’s were all Type C V16’s, 2 streamliners (Rosemeyer and Fagioli) and 2 open wheelers (von Delius and Hasse)


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Non German cars also rans! Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Tipo 12C-36 of Nuvolari, Brivio and Farina withdrawn before the race

Because of concerns about tyre-life, such was the weight, speed of the cars and tyre-technology of the day, the 30 May event was split into two heats of 7 laps apiece and a final of 8 laps comprising the first four place-getters from each heat.

The heats were won by Rudy Caracciola and Manfred von Brauchitsch in ‘Benz W125 and W25K-DAB(5.6V12) respectively, the final by Hermann Lang’s Mercedes W25K-M125- all these cars were ‘Stromlinien’ (Streamliners), single-seaters with all-enveloping bodywork.

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Caracciola this side in Mercedes W125 and Rosemeyer Auto Union Type C (Ullstein Bild)


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Rosemeyer #31 and von Delius AU Type C’s

Kolumbus.f1 has a well researched, detailed account of this meeting, click here to read it, just scroll down the page, there are a couple of other events before you get to Avus;

During practice for the meeting Lang’s car, with wheel covers fitted was doing 390kmh when trapped air under the car ‘lifted the front wheels from the ground- luckily the driver kept calm and finally managed to bring the wheels back down’…the wheel covers were removed for the race!

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Tyre technician checks out the Continental ‘slick’, big challenge keeping tyres up to these big, heavy, powerful cars. Lang’s car as per text (Ullstein Bild)



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von Delius 6 litre V16 being gently warmed up, what awesome cars


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Hermann Lang’s winning Benz W25K

Down the decades the role of ‘aerodynamic guinea pig’ has not always been conducive to drivers attainment of retirement age. Bernd Rosemeyer’s fatal Auto Union speed record attempt on 28 January 28, 1938 an in-period case in point.

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Caracciola’s W125 Benz, Avus 1937 (Ullstein Bild)

Checkout this Avus ’37 Footage…


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Caratch during testing, Northcurve Benz W125 (ullstein bild)


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Fagioli’s AU Streamliner Type C


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Love this shot for the contrast between Langs leading Streamliner W25 ahead o Dick Seaman’s open-wheeler W125 ‘normal’ GP car


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Avus, Fagioli Auto Union during practice 27 May 1937 (Imagno)


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Von Brauchisch’ big Benz 1936 W25 with 700bhp DAB V12 and Lang 1936 LWB speed record W25 5.7-litre Straight-8 ahead of one of von Delius or Hasse AU Type C open-wheeler 6-litre V16 (Heritage Images)


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Caratch and arch-rival Bernd, Avus ’37 (ullstein bild)


All images not attributed by Ullstein Bild, Heinrich Hoffman, Imagno, Max Ehlert, Heritage Images, Kolumbus F1

Tailpiece: Stromlinien on display, place undisclosed 1937, am interested to know if any of you can pick the venue…

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(Heinrich Hoffman)