The Bleacher Report Grand Prix Hall of Fame: Rudolf Caracciola by Billy Sexton

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The Bleacher Report Grand Prix Hall of Fame: Rudolf Caracciola by Billy Sexton

Rudolf Caracciola (1901-1959) was a pre war Grand Prix driver and the first man to assume the title of "The Regenmeister." The original master in the rain, he is still considered the best of all time in the wet.

Born in January 1901, Rudolf was to become a top class race car driver during the 1920's and 30's. This was a period when drivers literally put their life on the line to race motor cars, a time when the sport had almost zero safety regulations and a time when Rudolf reigned.

Caracciola soon made history in motor sport by becoming the first non-Italian driver to win the Mille Miglia, an Italian open-wheel endurance race that ran until 1957.

Much like Michael Schumacher, Caracciola was a home favorite in his day and has won the German Grand Prix a record six times, all coming at the Nurburgring which, during the 1930's, was over 14 miles long.

The German raced for Mercedes Benz during much of his career, taking a record three European Championships with them. This is yet another amazing achievement of Caracciola.

The European Championships were an annual competition, much like the current World Championships, and ran for eight years before WW2 prevented the championships from continuing. I have no doubt that Rudolf would have won at least one more championship had the competition continued on if the horrors of war had not intervened.

His 1937 season is considered Rudolf's best racing year. He competed in the classic Mercedes Benz W125 and, out of five races, took three poles, three wins, four podiums and two fastest laps. It can only be classed as Schumacher-like domination.

Although Rudolf didn't participate in the first round of the championship at Belgium (this scored him eight points, which was not good in those days as the less points you had, the better) he won three races and came second at the other.

Going into the final round, Rudolf was on 12 points and his championship rival and fellow countryman Manfred von Brauchitsch was on 10 points.

This meant that if Caracciola wanted to win the championship, he would have to finish first and hope that Brauchitsch would finish third or worse in the very same car. It turned out that Rudolf won the race and Brauchitsch retired, placing a massive five points on his total score.

And you thought the Kimi Raikkonen comeback was impressive.

His next season was a complete dominance despite only scoring one win. He finished seven points clear of Brauchitsch.

To add to these amazing achievements, Rudolf drove his Mercedes Benz W125 at 432.7 km/h (268.9 mph), a speed that remains the fastest ever officially timed speed on a public road to this day.

 

Major career wins:

 

Complete European Championship results

(Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year

Entrant

Make

1

2

3

4

5

EDC

Points

1931

Private entry

Mercedes-Benz

ITA

FRA
Ret

BEL

   

46

22

1932

Alfa Corse

Alfa Romeo

ITA
NC

FRA
3

GER
1

   

    3

      9

1935

Daimler-Benz AG

Mercedes-Benz

BEL
1

GER
3

SUI
1

ITA
Ret

ESP
1

    1

    11

1936

Daimler-Benz AG

Mercedes-Benz

MON
1

GER
Ret

SUI
Ret

ITA

 

6

22

1937

Daimler-Benz AG

Mercedes-Benz

BEL

GER
1

MON
2

SUI
1

ITA
1

   1

    13

1938

Daimler-Benz AG

Mercedes-Benz

FRA
2

GER
2

SUI
1

ITA
3

 

   1

      8

1939

Daimler-Benz AG

Mercedes-Benz

BEL
Ret

FRA
Ret

GER
1

SUI
2

 

   3 

    17

 

 

Inductee profile by Billy Sexton

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