Late one morning, on January 28, 1938, a silver racing car streaked down the long, straight stretch of autobahn linking Frankfurt and Darmstadt at a speed of well over 400 km/h. It was aiming to break a world speed record and achieve a new best time for the flying kilometre. The venture ended tragically. The car started to skid and crashed. The driver was killed.
The pilot of the record-breaking car was Bernd Rosemeyer, a leading sportsman and top racing driver of the Saxony company Auto Union, and an incredibly popular personality in his own right. He had been under contract as works driver since 1935. He had captured his first Grand Prix win in a racing car sporting the four rings in the September of that year on the Masrykring, near Brno. He then truly dominated the field in 1936 in what became the legendary “Silberpfeil” era. He earned pride of place on the winners’ rostrum on seven occasions, including winning three Grand Prix races. He became European Champion, German Road Champion and German Hill Climb Champion in the Auto Union 16-cylinder Type C.