Robert Manzon’s privately entered Ferrari 625 (#24) sits alongside privateer Louis Rozier’s Ferrari 500 (#25) in the Nürburgring pits prior to the GP. Rozier would finish the race 9th, while Manzon followed in 10th.
Photo: courtesy of Chris Bayley Automobilia (www.chrisbayleyautomobilia.co.uk)
Lost in the sands of time for nearly 60 years a photographic collection has recently been unearthed by Automotive Collector Chris Bayley. These original photos, which are believed not to have ever been previously published, transport us back to the 1954 German GP. The race—held at the Nürburgring on the tortuous Nordschleife with its 14.2-mile length and many arduous turns—was a watershed moment in German motor racing history, as for the first time since the cessation of the hostilities of World War II, German machinery was able to challenge for a World Championship Grand Prix on home soil.
Weeks before the German race, the debutant streamlined cars had glistened in the French sunshine at Reims as they overwhelmed the opposition. Fangio and Kling had duelled lap after lap, finishing line astern a whole lap of over five miles ahead of their nearest challengers, with the Argentine maestro taking the flag closely followed by the German legend. Manzon in the Ferrari and Bira in the Maserati took 3rd and 4th respectively. This victory came together with news from Bern, Switzerland—venue of the last championship Grand Prix where Mercedes had been so dominant in 1939—that the West German national soccer team had beaten Hungary 3-2 in the 1954 World Cup final. Both of these events were against very strong opposition, and went some way to help a nation to come to terms with itself, helping to emerge from the dark shadows cast by the reign of Adolf Hitler, the Nazi regime, World War II and the national poverty that followed. However, although cheering to raise the spirit of a nation on a national basis was fine, some German people found it a day of dichotomy. Applauding nationally was acceptable, but to celebrate on a world stage was strangely difficult as excellence in sport was the strong vehicle used by the Third Reich propaganda machine during its rise to gain national solidarity for its intended world domination just 20 years previous.
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