1938 Hungarian Grand Prix – Nuvolari Gets His Revenge
By Dennis David
In 1936 other cars known as die Silberpfeile or Silver Arrows raced in Hungary, that time on a 3.1 mille course within the Budapest Public Gardens. In the previous year the cars from Mercedes-Benz dominated the Grand Prix scene and captured nine of the eleven major events they entered. These victories included the Monaco, French, Belgian and Swiss Grands Prix and resulted in the crowning of the original regenmeister (rainmaster), Rudolf Caracciola as European Champion. Of their losses last year, none was more painful than Tazio Nuvolari’s legendary victory in the German Grand Prix driving a Scuderia Ferrari entered Alfa Romeo. Nothing less than the same was expected for this year, only Auto Union stood in their way. Auto Union had an ace in their pocket by the name of Bernd Rosemeyer. His career likened to a shooting star had just scored a tremendous victory in the Eifel Grand Prix held on the Nurburgring. In dense fog he lapped that monstrous course an astounding 30 seconds faster than his closest pursuer Nuvolari.
The scene was now set for a battle between two great champions, Caracciola, Nuvolari and the German wunderkindt, Rosemeyer. Budapest the beautiful Hungarian capital situated on the Danube never looked more so. More than 100,000 spectators turned out to watch the expected battle around the twisty figure eight circuit. Nuvolari looked impressive driving a 3.8 liter V8 Alfa Romeo but against him were three Mercedes and a likewise number of Auto Unions. After Rosemeyer’s victory over Nuvolari some began to question whether Tazio was getting too old and that maybe he had finally met his match in the young German. The Italian said nothing, for him as always his driving would do the talking.
The flag dropped and Rosemeyer surged into the lead, followed by von Brauchitsch, Caracciola and Nuvolari. Caracciola then stole the lead and held it for the next 16 laps before he was forced to retire with engine failure. While von Brauchitsch and Nuvolari were involved in a war of nerves Rosemeyer who had started behind the leading pack assumed the lead. Von Brauchitsch never the calmest driver in the field began to wilt under the pressure exerted by the Italian. Coming into a corner too fast only to spin out, von Brauchitsch was narrowly missed by the Alfa Romeo. It was now just after half distance and Nuvolari had his eyes set on the race leader Rosemeyer. Each earlier call for his retirement would now serve as another log in the fire to fuel Nuvolari’s efforts. Slowly he reeled in his young rival and on the 33rd lap Nuvolari made his move and passed the Auto Union for the lead. Nuvolari not satisfied with merely winning continued to extend his lead until the end, thereby avenging his defeat of one week ago. Von Brauchitsch, the last Mercedes still in the race spun again two laps from the finish and suffered terminal damage to his car. Alfred Neubauer, the Mercedes team manager flung down his control flags in disgust. The only driver in the world who could challenge and beat the mighty Silver Arrows had done it again.