Goodwood is hailing the arrival of the famous Silver Arrows Grand Prix cars as an “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” as spectators will see these beasts driven in anger at a UK motor circuit for the first time in 75 years. The iconic Mercedes-Benz W25, W125, W154 and W165, plus examples of the Auto Union Type C and Type D, will be in action at race-speeds at the 2012 Goodwood Revival, with well-known, top-level racing drivers behind the wheels of these awesome and significant cars. Goodwood promises it will be the “biggest thing in historic motor sport for decades.”
Alongside the Silver Arrow racers will be many of the cars that competed against – but were totally out-classed – the dominant Mercedes-Benz and Auto Unions in the late 1930s. Expect to see examples of ERA, Maserati, Riley, Bugatti and MG on the legendary Goodwood track, alongside the Silver Arrows.
A Brief History of the Silver Arrows
The introduction of the 750kg formula in 1934, along with the promise of significant funding from the German government, led to the arrival on the Grand Prix scene of two of the most evocative names in motor sport history: Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. Built with little regard for cost, their cars were light years ahead of the opposition, and dominated Grand Prix racing from 1934 until the outbreak of war in 1939.
Abandoning the traditional German racing white in favour of bare metal (legend has it that this was to save weight, in order to keep them below the 750kg maximum weight limit, although the truth of this story is still debated), the cars quickly gained the nickname of ‘Silberpfeil’ (Silver Arrows in German)’, creating a legend that endures to this day.
By 1937, when the cars raced in the UK for the first time, power outputs were approaching 600bhp – a level that would not be equalled in Grand Prix racing until the turbo era of the 1980s. Such was the speed and sound of these monstrous machines, and the astonishing feats of the daredevils who drove them, that the English crowd – more accustomed to seeing Rileys, MGs and ERAs with less than half the power of the German cars, competing in handicap races – were rendered utterly speechless.
With the full support of Mercedes-Benz and Audi, the 2012 Goodwood Revival will recreate the spirit of that momentous day in 1937, with a race-speed demonstration of as many as ten of these fabulous machines, including examples of the Mercedes-Benz W25, W125, W154 and W165, and Auto Union Type C and Type D.
Piloted by world famous drivers, the Silver Arrows will stage a carefully choreographed ‘race’, alongside examples of the British and Continental ‘cannon fodder’ that raced against them in period – providing all the spectacle of a real race, but without risk to these priceless machines.
Low-speed demonstrations by individual Silver Arrows are an impressive sight, and this will be the first time that so many of these mighty machines have been driven together at full racing speed since the Yugoslav Grand Prix, on 3 September 1939 – the day after WWII broke out. As such, it will be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience – arguably the “most momentous occasion in the history of historic motor sport.”
To complete the spectacle, the cars will be housed in an authentic recreation of a period pit/paddock building, based on the distinctive structure at the Bremgarten circuit in Switzerland, alongside period transporters. Switzerland had strong links with the Silver Arrows.
The Swiss Grand Prix was a highlight of the European Championship from 1935-39, with the Bremgarten track was regarded as one of the most challenging in the world. Additionally, the European Hillclimb Championship was very important during the 1930s, being won by such star drivers as Hans Stuck and Rudolf Carraciola. The Klausen Pass event was one of the most popular on the calendar, won in 1934 by Carraciola in a Mercedes-Benz W25, beating his rival Hans Stuck in an Auto Union.
Additional details about this one-off Goodwood Revival spectacle will be confirmed over the coming months. For more information, visit www.goodwood.com/motorsport.
[Source: Goodwood; photo credit: Tim Scott / Fluid Images]