Long before the Germans Michael Schumacher y Sebastian Vettel dazzle with their talent in the F1 there was a driver who also put German motorsport at the top. His name was Rudolf Caracciola.
Born in Remagen on January 30, 1901, Rudi was known in his country as the best pilot of his era thanks to his exploits on the tracks before World War II forced motorsports to go on hiatus.
Six of those triumphs were achieved in the German Grand Prix, something that makes him the most successful driver of the German GP. Even surpassed Schumacher himself who won it four times.
He also set a highway speed record. On January 28, 1938 he reached 432,7 km / h on a Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen specially developed to achieve that milestone.
His biggest accident occurred during the 1933 Monaco Grand Prix in which he rode an Alfa-Romeo 8C Monza from the team he had formed with his friend. Louis Chiron.
He was hospitalized for six months and although the doctors told him that he would never drive again because his right leg had been shorter than his left, he ran again the following year as a Mercedes-Benz driver, returning to the tracks after a hiatus of a couple of years.
During the next two seasons he had to endure the intense pain of his injury and that is why he came to think about retirement, but in 1935 things changed. He achieved four victories and was consecrated European Pilots Champion, the equivalent of being a monarch of the F1 nowadays.
At the 1936 Monaco GP he took revenge for that accident that almost cost him his career and achieved an impressive victory under a flood, something that earned him the nickname of the "Lord of the rain." He returned to win the European Drivers' Championship in 1938 and 1939 and then, like the rest of his colleagues, he stopped racing because of the war.
As he commented in an autobiography, he was never an active member of the Nazi party and even rejected a request from the NSKK to train German troops. "I could not encourage the young people to believe in a victory in which I myself did not believe", Dijo.
After the war, Caracciola accepted an invitation to run in the Indianapolis 500 1946. Although he had planned to use a Mercedes-Benz W165, he could not do so because he was unable to obtain a temporary import permit.
The team owned by Joe thorne He gave him a vehicle and thus Caracciola's dream of racing again began to take shape. However, his return to the slopes was dramatic. During official practices on May 28, he suffered a serious mistake at Turn 2 and almost lost his life. The accident had him in a coma for several days.
Caracciola returned to compete only in 1952 as part of the official Mercedes team in sport racing. His most relevant result of that year was fourth place in the Mille Miglia. A few weeks after that great job, he participated in the Swiss Grand Prix. Unfortunately, he suffered a serious accident again and this time the goodbye to the slopes was final.
Rudi continued to work for Mercedes-Benz as a car salesman and dedicated himself to conducting exhibitions for the brand. In early 1959 he became ill and September 28 of that year he died at 58 years of age.
"When speed enters the blood, one must drive to live", Caracciola once said. When reviewing his life one realizes that he, despite everything, he succeeded.