According to Hans Stuck he was born on the 27th of December 1900 while his parents were on a business trip to Warsaw, though some have alleged that the year was more like 1895 or even 1890. His grandfather was Swiss and the original family name of Stucki was changed to a more German sounding Stuck when the family moved to Germany. In 1917 he joined his brother in the Army who was later killed during an artillery attack in 1918. Relieved from military duty as the sole surviving son he returned home, making a stop at the home of his brother’s commanding officer to relay the news that their son had died in the same attack.
There he met the officer’s older sister who he would later marry. His family at the time was living in Switzerland due to the poor health of his mother, yet his father maintained numerous business interests in Germany. Stuck, after his marriage established a milk farm on an estate south of Munich and was soon doing milk deliveries into town. Stuck enjoyed the time spent making deliveries and soon made a game of it to see how fast he could make his deliveries. Like the legendary moonshine runners of the American south he would speed along the side roads of southern Germany. Whether the “milkshake” became a sore point with any of his clients is unknown! The seeds of his future hill-climbing exploits were being laid. He had earlier joined a local automobile club and his friends there urged him to enter a proper hillclimb being held near Baden-Baden. It was the summer of 1923 and Stuck was able to claim first in class. His appetite wetted, Stuck entered every hillclimb that would accept him. He soon made a name for himself but unfortunately his marriage would not hold up to this new life of racing.
Stuck still had his milk deliveries to make and while on his deliveries he became friends with a chauffeur named Julius Schreck. Together they would go hunting on Stuck’s farm and one day Schreck brought his boss along and asked Stuck if he too could join in the hunt. Stuck was happy to oblige and was introduced to Schreck’s boss Adolf Hitler. A name that would conjure up images of dread in future generations was just another politician to Stuck.
Austro-Daimler took notice of this new driver and offered Stuck a deal that involved racing one of their sports cars in four upcoming hillclimbs. If he were successful they would give him a real car to continue his career. His first race ended half way up the hill when his car caught fire, the second, when he flipped the car and broke his leg and the third never got started when he over-revved his engine and blew it up. Yet the directors at Daimler saw something that led them to continue to support their erstwhile driver and so Tauern, in Austria would mark the make or break time for Stuck. Daimler’s faith in the young driver was rewarded when Stuck won the race beating the works drivers in their racecars. His reward was a position with the works team for 1927 and he promptly won nine major hillclimbs that year.
In 1929 he joined forces with the famous WW I flying ace Ernst Udet in a series of barnstorming and ice-racing events. In 1931 Stuck was out of a job when Austro-Daimler withdrew from racing. Learning of this, his old friend Julius Schreck suggested that he meet with his boss Adolf Hitler. Hitler listened to the driver’s plight and promised him that when he came to power a racecar would be placed at his disposal. While Hitler spoke of taking power as a foregone conclusion Stuck had wanted more immediate help. He turned to another would be despot, this time the son of the exiled Kaiser, Crown Prince Wihelm. Using his connection with Mercedes the Crown Prince was able to secure for Stuck at a special price one of the special SSKLs. This was the same car in which Rudolf Caracciola would become famous. Later that year he met Paula von Reznicek, an accomplished tennis player who would later become his wife.
In 1933 Hitler became Chancellor and announced that Germany would compete on the world’s racetracks in order to demonstrate their technological might. Mercedes had been selected to receive the government’s subsidy but the recently formed Auto Union, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and Hans Stuck had another idea.
They were able to convince Hitler to divide the subsidy between two German teams. Stuck became the number one driver for the new team and on November of that year Stuck drove the new P-Wagen for its first trials. The Avus GP held on the 27th of May in 1934 would be its first race. Stuck built a huge lead on the field only to see his race end due to a broken clutch. After winning a couple of hillclimbs the most important race for the German teams had arrived, the German Grand Prix. After a race long duel with the Mercedes of Caracciola, Stuck crossed the finish line first and claimed what would become the greatest victory of his career. Later that year he won another important race, the Swiss Grand Prix by a whole lap. Stuck continued to master the hillclimb events earning for himself the sobriquet “King of the Mountains” though his record in Grand Prix racing was overshadowed by a new teammate in 1936, Bernd Rosemeyer.
For some strange reason Stuck never seamed to get the respect that he deserved from his team and at the end of 1937 he was fired from the Auto Union team. According to Stuck and denied by the team an important factor in his dismissal was that he had confided in Rosemeyer the confidentially of his contract with Auto Union. Seeing how much he was underpaid Rosemeyer demanded a new contract. Auto Union angered by this turn of events and claiming that Stuck’s best years were now long past, unceremoniously fired the driver who had so ably driven for them the last four years.
Not long afterwards his friends in the Nazi government interceded on his behalf. This coupled with the death of Rosemeyer and the weakness in their current driver line-up forced a reluctant Auto Union to re-sign their wayward driver in mid-season only a few months after his initial dismissal! Stuck had received help from the Nazi party in his career but there were others who suspected his wife of being part Jewish. To his credit he continued to defend his wife against these claims though it did not stop her from being discriminated against.
After the war he continued to drive and finally retired in 1960 after a remarkable career that spanned four decades. In 1978 he passed away and his son, Hans-Joachim continues to uphold the family name in racing.