It takes the right ingredients and correct ratios to make bread and any other pastry. The same could be said of just about any other career, but especially in motor racing. Although there is the driver and the car, there are many, many parts of a car and of a driver that have to be functioning properly for there to be success. On top of it all, there needs to be the right team of engineers and mechanics to help the car and driver come together to make something truly special. Hans Herrmann was quite aware of the necessity for the right ingredients and correct ratios, but it certainly would do him any good as a baker and confectioner.
Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1928, Herrmann grew up the son of husband and wife that owned two cafes. As was the usual practice, Hans would learn the family trade and would earn a scholarship as a baker and confectioner. However, there was another influence in Herrmann's life.
Born in Stuttgart, Herrmann grew up not too far away from the Mercedes manufacturing facility. And by the time Hans was ten years old, the mighty 'Silver Arrows' were in their prime. The Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union captured the imagination of a people and a nation in which national pride was truly reaching a feverish pitch.
In spite of it all, Herrmann would go on to work with his parents as a baker and confectioner during World War II. This would be quite important for as the war dragged on, more an more youth were being drafted into the military and sent to either the eastern or western fronts. However, since Hans worked as a baker he would be excused from military service.
Once the war was over, and Europe began its process of rebuilding, Hans would end up taking over his parents' cafes. But like certain ingredients where just a little goes a long way, Herrmann's interest in motor racing was beginning to grow. Soon, that little spark would ignite into a full-blown passion. And after purchasing a BMW 328 off the black market, Herrmann was hooked. He had to start racing.
In 1951, Herrmann began his racing career as a privateer in a number of rally events. Very quickly it became clear this baker had some incredible talent behind the wheel of a race car. This would be confirmed by his first class win in 1952. With that, Herrmann's career would take off.
In 1952, Herrmann would prove many detractors wrong when he started the sportscar Grand Prix of Nurburgring from the pole in a Porsche 356. As a result of this performance, and others, would be Hans would be offered the job as one of Porsche's works drivers. And as he headed into the 1953 season, and after really just two years of racing experience, Herrmann would take the job as a factory driver for Porsche. Becoming part of Porsche, Hans would find himself at some of the most famous sportscar races in the world during the year. But he wouldn't just take part in sportscar races. In 1953, Herrmann would also embark upon his single-seater career as well.
As Hans looked to a single-seater career as well as one in sportscars, he would quickly find himself to be at something of a disadvantage. The days of the Silver Arrows were gone. The major manufacturers, in their rebuilding after the war, had to look at their involvement in racing from the standpoint of which would have the greatest return on investment for themselves as a manufacturer. This would lead Mercedes and Porsche to focus more on sportscars because the technology used in those cars more-directly translated into road-going public cars available for purchase. As a result, grand prix racing initially would take a back-seat. Most all of the grand prix manufacturers in Germany at the time were small manufacturing facilities dedicated to making grand prix cars that could also double for sports cars. Unfortunately, while Porsche and Mercedes were making the newest sports cars, the German grand prix drivers would be forced to settle with chassis that were years old and unreliable.
These facts would also affect the races in which German racers would be able to take part in. While the sports car manufacturers, like Mercedes and Porsche, were heading to big races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the suffering grand prix program in West and East Germany would force drivers to use Formula 2 level cars. Therefore, most all of the grand prix drivers wouldn't even be able to take part in their own home grand prix until the regulations changed in 1952 because of the exorbitant costs and little competition within Formula One.
However, in 1953, Herrmann would have an opportunity to take part in his first World Championship race. Unfortunately, that race wouldn't take place until early August. It wouldn't really matter all that much, however, as Herrmann would be quite busy.
While the rest of his German grand prix compatriots would be stuck behind their nation's borders, Herrmann, in only just his second full year of racing, would be on his way to Italy to take part in the Mille Miglia, the one thousand mile race covering almost all of Italy.
During that race, the rather inexperienced racer, paired with Erwin Bauer, would go on to finish 30th overall. This was a tremendous result considering there were many other talented drivers, with more experience, that would finish far worse in the race.
Throughout Herrmann's limited racing experience, he had only taken part in sportscar races, rallies and even some hillclimbs. However, on the 31st of May, he would be busy preparing to take part in his first Formula 2 grand prix. He would be in Nurburg, Germany for a couple of races. He would be there to take part in the sportscar Eifelrennen, but also, to take part in the 17th Internationales ADAC Eifelrennen for single-seater grand prix cars.
In the sportscar race, Herrmann would take his Porsche 356 1500S and would look absolutely impressive. He would go on to show whey Porsche hired him as a factory driver. In a field of Porsche 356s, Herrmann would end up coming out on top. Such talent would make the excitement all the greater when he prepared to go up against not only other German racers, but also, some very talented foreign entries as well.
Being from Stuttgart, Herrmann was quite familiar with the exploits of the Silver Arrows at the famed Nurburgring. Drivers like Rudolf Caracciola , Bernd Rosemeyer and Tazio Nuvolari were known as Ringmeisters and seemed to dominate the demanding circuit.
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