TeamsErnst Klodwig: 1952 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Amidst the ruin and the rubble of war-torn Nazi Germany, a new hope began to spring. Out of the ashes arose the first evidences of Germany's automotive might. But it was not the massive manufacturers that first gave new life, but a grassroots movement of amateur racers with talent and ability. There would be many, and most would pass through history without recollection. But it would be the sacrifices and the spirit of men like Ernst Klodwig that would help rebuild German's automotive dominance.
Born in Aschersleben in 1903, Klodwig would first appear on the racing scene, like many other Germans, well after the end of the Second World War. Many German racers of that day would turn to Veritas chassis. There would also be a number of Germans that would race with AFM cars. The vast majority; however, would race in home-built designs based upon the very popular and successful BMW 328. Klodwig; though, would take the BMW 328's engine, but it would be placed inside a bit more of a radical machine.
Klodwig would debut his 'Heck-BMW at the end of the 1950 season. Heck, meaning 'rear' simply denoted the fact the car was a rear-engine car and it found its basis from the Auto Unions from the late 1930s. Of course the advantages of a rear-mounted engine were obvious, but even up into 1950, wasn't that easy to engineer. One other advantage the car offered that writer Uechtel kindly makes light of is 'The strange look of his car certainly helped Ernst Klodwig to become one of the few German special builders not to disappear into obscurity.'
Surprisingly, Klodwig's Heck would go on to show some good speed and very surprising reliability in its first couple of years. Right from the start the car would enable Klodwig to become a regular on the podium.
In its first race, the Heck-BMW would finish in 2nd place. It would follow that result up with another 2nd place in the first race of the 1951 season. A number of top three finishes in the East German Championship races would earn him a 2nd place result in the championship in 1951.
The unusual design and the impressive results would soon make Klodwig one of the more famous of the unknown German racers. Then, in 1952, events would transpire that would enable his car to help him become known to others beyond the German border.
It was decided, due to a lack of competition and rising costs, the Formula One World Championship would actually be run according to Formula 2 regulations for the 1952 and 1953 seasons. This enabled the governing-body and race organizers time to address the issues facing the fledgling series. This decision would open the door on a country that had become politically and economically closed off at the conclusion of the war. This decision would enable to slew of amateur German racers to have their moment in World Championship history.
While taking part in the World Championship was an opportunity, it would still just be one race and the economic and political climate at the time made it somewhat less of big deal at the time than what history would record. For the East and West Germans, their respective championship were still of greater importance mostly because many just couldn't afford to go to just any race anywhere.
Germany would be divided heading into the 1950s. Born in Aschersleben, which is situated in East Germany, Klodwig would participate in the East German Championship and the results he would earn would actually count toward the championship, unlike when he would compete in the West German Championship races.
The first race in Klodwig's 1952 season would come rather early, on the 20th of April. The race was the 1st Rostocker Osthafenkurs and it took place in Rostock, East Germany. It would be the first round of the East German Championship.
Rostock is a port city located slightly inland from the Baltic coast. Known more for water navigation than automobile navigation, Rostock would host the East German Championship on a street course situated just to the east of the inlet in what was more of the industrial part of the small city.
The circuit measured 2.86 miles in length a featured a number of straight-aways that never actually ran straight but had gentle bends or were interrupted by flicks left and right. The majority of the circuit featured medium to fast-paced turns but it did have a couple of slower corners that dropped the average lap speeds down somewhere around 65 mph.
While a good handling car, Klodwig's Eigenbau Heck was never really known to tear it up when it came to top-end speed. Therefore, the slow nature of Rostock seemed to favor Klodwig.
Ernst would enter his rear-engine Eigenbau under the entry name of BSG Motor. There would be two others that would be entered under the same name, Gerhard Erfurth, and, the immensely popular Paul Greifzu. Greifzu had scored a victory at Avus the season before and was declared the East German racing hero.
Greifzu would pick up where he had left off the season before and would earn the pole for the race. The race would still end up being all about Paul Greifzu. He would turn the fastest lap of the race and would beat the West German, Josef Peters, to the line to take the victory. After Peters in 2nd place, Jurgen Perduss would finish 3rd.
Surprisingly, Klodwig couldn't find the speed on a low-speed circuit. Although the car was couple of years old, the car still should have had enough to compete at a pace faster than what it had. However, the Eigenbau Heck would again show off its endurance as it would finish a very quiet 5th place.
After the very docile race at Rostock, two weeks would pass before Ernst's next race. It would be one of just a couple of races that didn't count toward either the West or East German Championships.
On the 4th of May, Klodwig was preparing his Heck-BMW for the 1st Bernauer Schleiferennen held along the Bernau Autobahn in the Soviet controlled East Berlin.
The Bernauer Circuit was one of the more interesting circuits to be found in all of Europe. While the fact it used the highway was nothing new, the actual arrangement of the circuit was new and unusual.
The start/finish straight ran down the portion of the autobahn headed east and west. At the western end was a tight hairpin. The circuit then headed back the other way on the other side of the highway. The circuit followed one of the exit roads until it reached another hairpin turn. This turn led the circuit to wrap back around and under the exit until reaching another hairping turn. Out of that hairpin turn, the circuit swept back down onto the highway and then reached yet one more hairpin turn before heading down the start/finish straight once more. All of the twisting and the turning, all of the hairpins, accounted for a circuit 3.95 miles in length.
At Rostock, Kludwig was just one of a couple drivers entered under the BSG Motor banner. At Bernauer, all but two entered in the field would be BSG Motor entries. One of its entries, the very popular Paul Greifzu, would start the 15 lap race from the pole.
Although he started the race from the pole, the race would not fall into place for Greifzu. In fact, it would be his clutch that would fall apart on him ending his race after just 3 laps. This had brought to a halt, Greifzu's incredible run of results that extended into the previous season.
East Germany was in a somewhat tighter predicament after the war. The economic state of East Germany was perhaps worse than West Germany. Therefore, the field for the race was small. After Greifzu's and Heinz Melkus' retirement from the race there were only three entries still left. There were a number of others that had entered the race but never arrived, including another popular East German driver Edgar Barth.
Greifzu's absence from the rest of the race opened the door to some other drivers, including Klodwig, to earn a valuable result. The man that would take most advantage of Paul's retirement would be Rudolf Krause. Driving for SV Wismut, Krause would take his car and earn the victory having completed the sixty miles in just under fifty-five minutes.
Jurgen Perduss would end up coming in 2nd place with his IFA Rennkollektiv IFA-DAMW. Following, not all that far behind, in 3rd place would be Ernst Klodwig in his Heck-BMW.
This would be an important result for Klodwig. Not only was it important for his confidence, but it would also serve as a kick-starter to his championship hopes. The race didn't count toward the championship, but it would certainly help Klodwig to focus on the rest of the season instead of worrying about more retirements.
After the splendid 3rd at Bernauer on the 4th of May, Klodwig would put in an entry for another non-championship grand prix, the 4th Dessauer Auto und Motorradrennen, which took place in Dessau just one week later. Klodwig would decide to miss the event. He would end up missing one of the darkest moments in East German grand prix racing history.
Paul Greifzu's main competition at Dessau came from Fritz Riess. In practice; however, Greifzu was easily faster and seemed a lock to win the 16 lap race. All of that would change rather quickly. During the practice session, Greifzu would leave the road and would crash his car rather heavily. Greifzu would perish as a result of the accident. East Germany had lost perhaps its greatest driver. What Greifzu's death meant was one of the other East German racers, Klodwig included, would become the new national hero.
Klodwig's opportunity to become East Germany's new national hero would come on the 2nd of June at Leipzig. The race was the 3rd Leipzig Stadtpartkrennen and it was the second round of the East German Championship.
Leipzig's entry list wouldn't be totally East Germans. Hans Stuck would also come and be part of the race driving a BMW-powered AFM. Despite Stuck's presence, the starting field would again be sparse. Only five would start the race. There were only about three other entries that failed to show for the race around the park.
The circuit used for the third round of the East German Championship consisted entirely of streets and park rounds that surrounded the Clara-Ketkin park located near the city's center. The circuit crossed three bridges and had chicanes rounding small boulevards and a pond with a fountain. The circuit crossed through the park itself and utilized a small portion of the residential streets that borders the park. A lovely setting, the circuit measured 2.67 miles in length.
The race was 20 laps. For Hans Stuck, the race would be to just start the race. He wouldn't win. Stuck was the first out of the race, but he would be quickly joined by Jurgen Perduss who would suffer clutch failure on the very first lap of the race. This left just three still running in the race.
Eleven laps from the finish, the field would be reduced to two. After the struggles faced earlier in the season, Ludwig's Heck was showing its expected longevity. It was just him and Edgar Barth left to battle it out for the victory.
There wouldn't be a fight. Barth's pace was just too much for Klodwig to handle. Barth would be so dominant that he would end up putting Ernst a lap down before the race ended. Therefore, the rather unspectacular race would end with Barth taking the victory by a whole lap over Klodwig. They were the only two left running at the end.
Though a very boring race, the lack of fortune for others was paying dividends for Klodwig as he would earn another points-paying result at Leipzig. While obviously not the fastest, his car was proving its endurance, and this helped him in the championship standings.
One week and about twenty-five miles separated the second and third rounds of the East Germany Championship. The site of the third round of the East German Championship would be Halle, Germany. The race, held on the 8th of June, was the 4th Halle-Saale-Schleiferennen.
The site of the circuit used for the 20 lap race was located to the northwest of the city. In fact, a portion of the circuit was to be found on the west bank of the Saale river diversion. The main start/finish straight ran along the Heideallee Gimritzer Damm road and pass right in front of Martin Luther University. The race in 1952 totaled a little over 65 miles of the 3.25 mile circuit.
Unlike the previous couple of races, the starting field for the race was a fair-bit larger. The field would include East and West German drivers, as well as, one from Czechoslovakia. In all there would be thirteen that would prepare to start the race.
The last couple of races had been good results for Klodwig. He had used the superior endurance of his Heck to outlast his competitors in order to score a couple of top-three finishes. Unfortunately, the same longevity wouldn't make it the short distance from Leipzig to Halle. Problems with his BMW-powered Heck would force Klodwig to withdraw even before the race started.
Another difference from the Haale race and that of the previous few would be the number of entries that would manage to make it to the end. Throughout the last couple of races there had only been a couple to make it to the end. By contrast, all but a couple of entries would fail to make it to the end of the Halle race.
Stuck would follow up his very early retirement at Leipzig with another early exit from Halle. Clutch problems would end up taking him out of the race. His retirement would be followed by retirements of two others on successive laps. Gerhard Erfurth would drop out on the 3rd lap. Another East German driver, Reichardt, would fall out of the running on the 4th lap. This would be the end of the retirements surprisingly.
Edgar Barth would follow up his win at Leipzig with yet another victory at Halle. He would end up upholding East German honor as he would manage to hold off Willi Heeks for the victory. Rudolf Krause would end up finishing the race in 3rd place.
While Edgar Barth managed to extend his advantage in the East German Championship standings, Klodwig's effort was stalled by the failure before the race had even begun. Only one round remained for Klodwig to solidify his position in the standings. It seemed Barth had the title locked up, but there were still plenty of competitors looking to finish in the top-three. Whether good or bad, there would be a long gap between the third and the final round of the championship. The time away would allow Klodwig to take part in a number of other races, including his first-ever World Championship race.
Almost two months after his last Formula 2 race at Halle, Klodwig made his way to West Germany for what was the sixth round of the World Championship. The climate in Germany, despite being divided, was still loose enough that Klodwig would be enabled to travel to Nurburg, Germany to take part in the World Championship. Like Klodwig, this would be about the only opportunity many German racers would have to take part in the new World Championship. But not everything was roses.
The site of the sixth round of the World Championship was the demanding Nurburgring. The Nurburgring consisted of a number of different circuit arrangements. There was a 'Whole Course' that measured 17.5 miles in length. However, its slightly smaller Nordschleife derivative would do just fine for scaring and earning the respect of drivers.
At 14 miles in length, the 'Northern Loop' was one of the longer circuits in the world, it was also one of the most feared. Boasting an elevation difference of almost a thousand feet over the course of a lap, the circuit featured a number of blind entries and crests that made a good lap very difficult to come by. If the elevation changes and blind entries weren't enough to throw-off a lap, and possibly a car, the 170 corners tested a driver's memory to the very last. Just one mistake around the circuit had the potential to offer dire consequences.
Over a quarter of a million German spectators assembled to watch their countrymen battle it out against those considered the best in the world. Sparked by memories of the days of Auto Union and Mercedes perhaps, the fans were hoping for a return to such dominance. However, in 1952, the German racers were merely background. One German that did stand out, and spark memories of the past, was Ernst Klodwig and his Heck-BMW. The silver rear-engine car caused memories of the past to rise from the ashes. Klodwig would end up doing more than causing memories to stir. He would also make history. While not the first car with a rear-engine, Klodwig's Heck Eigenbau would end up being the first car with a rear-engine to compete in a World Championship race.
In practice; however, it was obvious the only ravaged nation that was going to rise out of war-torn Europe was Italy with its red Ferrari 500 driven by Ascari. Ascari would lap the 14 mile circuit with a time less than ten seconds slower than his own effort in a Formula One car the season before. In fact, Ascari would set on the pole with a time of ten minutes and four seconds. In 1951, Ascari also had the pole at the Nurburgring with a time of nine minutes and fifty-five seconds.
Almost all season long, Giuseppe Farina, the World Champion in 1950, qualified 2nd next to his Ferrari teammate. He would continue to do the same heading into the German Grand Prix. The rest of the front row would be occupied by Equipe Gordini drivers. Maurice Trintignant would start 3rd. His best time in practice would end up being fifteen seconds slower than Alberto's best. Robert Manzon would complete the front row with a 4th place starting position. His time would be twenty-one seconds slower.
Against the might of the rest of Europe, the East German entries struggled in practice. There would only be two entered in the race. The fastest of the two would be Rudolf Krause. His best time was nowhere near close to Ascari. As a result, he would start well down in the field in the 23rd starting position. This put him on the 7th row. The other East German was Ernst Klodwig. A moment of nostalgia his practice was not. The Auto Union inspired Heck couldn't match the pace of the rest of the field. Therefore, Klodwig would start the race from the ninth, and final row of the grid in 29th position.
While Klodwig qualified in the 29th position, he would be helped even before the 18 lap race got underway. Ludwig Fischer and Willi Krakau would not start the race due to problems with their cars. While Fischer qualified worse than Klodwig, Krakau had a better starting position. When it was all said and done, Ludwig would start the race 27th.
The race was going to be an absolute test for the couple of East German drivers. None of the rounds in the East German Championship had been longer than about seventy-five miles. This race would reach about two hundred and fifty-five miles. It was going to be an extremely difficult test around what was considered the most-dangerous purpose-built circuit in the world.
Not surprisingly, trouble visited the field right from the very start. In all, eight would be unable to make it through just one lap. Trintignant's gearbox would fail. The popular German, Paul Pietsch, would have his gearbox fail as well. After just one lap, the field had been reduced down to nineteen runners. Klodwig's Heck was one of those still in the hunt.
Out front, Ascari was pulling away. He had grabbed the lead right from the start and was obviously pushing a hard pace. Farina and fellow Ferrari teammate Piero Taruffi were fighting it out for 2nd place while Ascari continue to pull away.
Three laps into the race, one of the two East German runners was out of the race. Showing its endurance, Klodwig's Heck wasn't the one to falter. Instead, it would be Krause in his Rief-BMW.
Less than halfway through the race, only twelve were still running. Ascari looked to be in total control at the front of the field. He had already pulled out an incredible margin over Farina, who had finally broken free from his battle with Taruffi. Taruffi couldn't keep the pace and was actually lapping behind the Ferrari 500 of Rudolf Fischer, a privateer restaurant owner.
Ascari's pace was such that Klodwig would end up seeing a fare bit of the Italian over the course of the race. Ernst would have plenty of opportunities to wave and get to know Ascari as he would come by and lap the East German. Though laps down, Klodwig's car continued to run without incident.
Twelve cars spread out over 14 miles seemed like there wasn't even a race going on. There really wasn't a race going on, not until the last couple of laps. The race that everybody had come to see wouldn't take place because Farina had managed to reel Ascari in. No, the race would come as the result of trouble with Ascari's car. Despite having the race well in hand, Ascari would turn the fastest lap of the race on just the 10th lap of the race. The Italian's time around the circuit was less than a second from his qualifying effort. While it seemed to have little impact on the car at the time, it could definitely be argued the incredible pace Ascari had been turning had come to take a cumulative effect in his Ferrari 500. And, with only two laps left in the race, Ascari had an important decision to make.
Coming into the race, Ascari had managed to win three-straight races. He had earned maximum points in each of the three races and was just one win away from the championship. Were he to win the German Grand Prix it would be his. This was reason enough for the fast pace, but the pace was proving to have been too fast to perhaps make it to the end of the race. The car needed to be checked. Otherwise, he would run the risk of the car faltering and disrupting his World Championship chances.
That wouldn't do. Therefore, Ascari would choose to stop and have his car looked over. The mechanics would work fast, but carefully. The stop, which required a thorough check and the addition of oil, took a considerable amount of time. Once lost in the background, Farina would reemerge with the lead of the race, and with only one lap remaining.
Farina would go through into the lead the race while Ascari sat in the pits still waiting for the work to be finished on his car. Farina had the lead of the race, but surprisingly, did not increase his pace. Perhaps he had thought Ascari was out of the running. He was wrong.
After a lengthy stop, Ascari was back out on track and in pursuit of Farina. Ascari would be helped by Farina's rather sedated pace despite being on the last lap of the race. Despite the large gap Farina had over Ascari at the start of the final lap, Alberto was eating into the margin in very large chunks. Twisting and winding his way through the Eifel mountains, Farina thought he was all-alone. He wasn't.
All of a sudden, Farina was caught and passed by another red Ferrari 500. But who was it? Ascari had caught Farina with plenty of miles left. He would end up going back into the lead. Just like that, the race everyone had come to the circuit to see was over. The totally surprised Farina couldn't mount a counter-attack.
Ascari would power his way to the victory. His pace over the final lap would end up being enough for him to stretch out a fourteen second margin over Farina by the line. Farina, having been blown away by Ascari's surprise just ran secure in 2nd place. He had no pressure from behind as Rudolf Fischer, who was in 3rd place, was well back. Fischer would hold onto an impressive 3rd place finish, albeit well over seven minutes behind Ascari.
There was nothing Klodwig could do against such a pace and against such a newer car. Instead, he would focus on reliability. It would work. Klodwig would be the last of the cars still running, but he would prove to be the only East German still circulating by the end. In the end, Klodwig would end up five laps down in the 12th position.
The result, while having been blown away by Ascari and Farina, was still quite good for Klodwig. As stated, none of his races prior had come even close to the distance covered in the race. Once again, the Heck-BMW proved to be a truly remarkable machine when it came to reliability. Unfortunately, it had nowhere near the pace to truly compete. No matter, Klodwig would have the distinction of being just one of the first two East Germans to take part in the World Championship. In addition, Klodwig would have the distinction of being the first East German to end up listed in the classification as still running at the end of the race.
After taking part in his first World Championship race, Klodwig needed to focus his attention yet again. There was still one race remaining in the East German Championship. While he had failed to score any points in the World Championship, he was still in the running for the East German Championship. The German Grand Prix had been something of a novelty. The 4th Sachsenringrennen would be something to take very seriously.
On the same day as the final round of the World Championship, Ernst Klodwig was preparing for what was the final round of the East German Championship. It took place at the Sachsenring on the 7th of September.
Over the previous two races, Edgar Barth had proven to be the best and had taken victory in both. Klodwig had been right there at Leipzig, but the Heck would falter at Halle one week later. Well over two months had separated the third from the final round of the championship. It would be a long time of waiting for just one last race.
The final round of the East German Championship took place at the Sachsenring. Located about 150 miles south of Berlin, the Sachsenring was one circuit that seemed more akin to those circuits used in the West German or World Championship. The circuit comprised of mostly country roads that rose and fell with the surrounding terrain. While not fluctuating almost a thousand feet like the Nurburgring, the Sachsenring did venture up and down for over 400 feet. It too featured a number of dangerously fast corners and blind corners. At 5.41 miles, it was one of the longest circuits used in the East German Championship.
The race, which would be given the title of the 1st Paul Greifzu Gedachtnisrennen in honor of East Germany's fallen grand prix hero, would be nothing like Klodwig's last race. While the German Grand Prix was well over 250 miles in total distance covered, the race at the Sachsenring would be merely 65 miles, or, 12 laps.
The Sachsenring was a popular venue for West German drivers as well. In 1952, there would be a number of West German drivers that would enter the race. All but one or two of the West German drivers would be entered under the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club team name. Klodwig would again enter under the BSG Motor team name.
Klodwig's main threat coming into the race was Jurgen Perduss. He also was facing a battle with the deceased Paul Greifzu, whose victory at the first round of the championship, before his death, had actually kept him in the running. If Klodwig could gain a good result, then 2nd place in the championship would be his. Edgar Barth was beyond Klodwig's ability to catch.
In the race, Barth would make sure he was uncatchable. He had scored victories in the last two rounds of the championship and would go on to turn the fastest lap of the Sachsenringrennen.
Another driver that was a threat to Klodwig was Rudolf Krause. Were he to earn a good result he had a chance at beating Klodwig in the standings. This threat would come apart only two laps into the race. Krause would end up retiring from the race on the 2nd lap due to problems with his Rief-BMW. This left Klodwig free to drive a carefully steady race. Barth's pace had made it very clear he was unable to be touched unless he had a problem of some kind.
Barth's Ifa-DAMW would run flawlessly. In just a little under fifty minutes, Barth would come through the claim the victory of the race and the East German Championship. West German driver Willi Heeks would end up finishing ten seconds behind in 2nd place.
Krause's retirement, and Perduss' absence, allowed Klodwig to drive with very little pressure. He just needed to make sure he made no mistakes and he would have 2nd place in the championship standings locked up. Klodwig would do one of the best things he could. He would drive a steady pace to finish the 12 lap race in 3rd place. This podium would earn him yet another good result and 2nd place in the championship.
It had been obvious from the very first time Klodwig appeared with the rear-mounted engine chassis that he didn't have the pace to keep up with many of his competitors. But the car would prove surprisingly reliable. This was surprising precisely because many of the German cars of the period were very fragile. He had used the reliability to his advantage in 1951 and would do so again in 1952.
The East German Championship was over. He would garner a lot of applause for his 2nd place effort. However, there was one race still left on the calendar for Klodwig. Were he to win it, he would become a national hero.
In 1951, Paul Greifzu had taken his specially-built Greifzu-Eigenbau to Avus. During the race, he was locked in a battle with Toni Ulmen. However, Greifzu would power his way to one of his greatest victories after Ulmen had to stop to replace worn tires. This made Greifzu the most popular driver in East Germany. With Greifzu now gone, Klodwig, and the other East German drivers, had the chance to come in a steal the race and the crown of national hero.
Unfortunately for Klodwig and many others, Rudolf Fischer would make another appearance at the race. He had come the year before in a Ferrari. He would come in 1952 also with a Ferrari. But this time it was the all-conquering Ferrari 500. The car had won every round of the World Championship in which it had competed and had proven too powerful for the competition at the Nurburgring both times it raced there. It didn't seem to matter what kind of circuit it was, the car was just dominant.
An incredible crowd had assembled in the grandstand and all-along the Avus circuit to watch the race. The field would consist of a number of drivers and teams not just from Germany. Besides Fischer and his Ecurie Espadon team, there would be a couple of French and Italian drivers in the field. There would even be a driver from the United States and Uruguay.
Avus was not a new circuit. This was part of the draw of the circuit. Situated to the west of Berlin's center, the Avus circuit was finished in 1921 and measured 12 miles in length. Amazingly, the straights, which were not exactly straight, measured almost six miles long each way. Rather unconventional in its layout, the main portion of the Avus circuit utilized the highway between Charlottenburg and Nikolassee. Therefore, the circuit was basically two incredibly long straights separated, or interrupted, by turnabouts at either end. The circuit, in 1952, was different from its original. But since it still ran along the highway, the only real differences were found in its length and method of turning around. In 1952, the circuit measured 5.13 miles in length. The Sudschleife, or 'South Loop', had been changed as well. In its past, the 'South Loop' consisted of a banked tear-drop-shaped corner that then bled back into the circuit. The shorter circuit consisted of a flat hairpin turn that turned about the median and headed back north along the highway. In 1936, the 'North Loop' was paved with bricks and steeply banked. This would increase the speeds around the circuit and around the corner and would quickly earn it the dubious nickname the 'Wall of Death'.
In practice, neither the high speeds nor the Wall of Death would seem to bother the gentleman-racer Rudolf Fischer. Knowledgeable of the advantages his Ferrari provided him, Fischer would ride those advantages to a pole position.
Fischer wasn't in a class all by himself, however. Paul Pietsch, who had driven with Auto Union before the war and Alfa Romeo in 1951, would bring his own streamlined car, specially-built for Avus, to the race. After some work, Pietsch was lapping with similar times as that of Fischer. It seemed Fischer wasn't going to just take the race without a fight. Unfortunately, the anticipated battle would go horribly wrong rounding the Wall of Death.
Pietsch would hit a big bump in the bricks coming around the banked turn. This would upset the car and would lead to him turning sideways, and then, plowing into a ditch to the inside of the turn. This practically destroyed the car. Pietsch would escape relatively unharmed, but would retire as a result. Fischer's main threat was out of the race. It was up to the Germans to forget about Fischer and race for German honor, whether it have been East or West.
In the race, it would be all Fischer. He would take the lead from the very start. While Fischer was just beginning to get the Ferrari 500 up to pace, a couple of entries were finding their paces had come to a stop. Josef Peters wouldn't make it through the first lap of the race. Guido Mancini wouldn't make it through the second. Two drivers, Karl-Gunther Bechem and Gianfranco Comotti wouldn't make it past the third lap.
By this point in time it was more than apparent Fischer was in a world of his own in his Ferrari. He pulled away from the field and would continue to increase his advantage with every lap. To help his cause, he would go on to set the fastest lap of the race with a time of two minutes and thirty-six seconds around the 5.13 mile circuit.
The race was 25 laps. Fischer made it seem like it was a 5 lap sprint race. Very soon it was obvious he was out in front by half of a lap, and it continued to grow. Meanwhile, Ernst Klodwig noticed the red and white Ferrari in his mirrors. Fischer would go by the low-slung Heck like it was standing still. Very soon, Fischer disappeared out of sight again.
Seventeen had started the race. Fifteen laps into the event the field was reduced to ten. Fischer's pace was such that it was obvious no car was going to be left on the lead lap with him. In fact, Hans Klenk and Fritz Riess were more concerned about their battle than staying with Fischer, which was futile.
Klodwig's Heck just couldn't come close to matching the pace of Fischer. He would, before the end of the race, see the Swiss-restaurateur come back around to lap him for a second time. Sure enough, not even Klenk and Riess were safe as they too would end up a lap down.
Fischer's run on the mighty Avus circuit had been one of sheer dominance. In a little over one hour and six minutes Fischer would come off the banking and would power across the line to take the victory. The real battle was for 2nd and 3rd.
Almost the entire race, Klenk and Riess battled it out for second-best honors. The two ran nose-to-tail over the majority of the event. Coming into the North Loop one last time, Klenk held a very slender margin over Riess. Riess was trying to slipstream past coming onto the start/finish straight to take away 2nd place. It wouldn't work. Klenk held strong through the Wall of Death and pushed hard to the line. As they crossed it was clear Klenk had beaten Riess but by only seven-tenths of a second.
The race had been a very quiet one for the 2nd place finisher in the East German Championship standings. Against the West German and other European machines, Klodwig's Heck just didn't match up. Nonetheless, his reliable car would bring him home once again. He would finish two laps down in 7th place.
While obviously not the first with a rear-mounted engine, Klodwig kept the spirit alive. What's more, the car's reliability helped to show the design of the car and the rear-engine was very viable.
Despite being clearly out-classed with the aged machine, Klodwig wouldn't be able to find it within himself to abandon the car so fast. And, going into the 1953 season, the car would reemerge ready to do battle once again. Unfortunately, another year of age made the car even slower compared to the competition and Klodwig would be forced to abandon the car that had taken him podium finishes in the East German Championship two years in a row.
This relatively forgotten German driver would serve as a reminder of what was to come in Formula One and competitive grand prix racing. In many ways, given the state of affairs in Germany at the time, the rear-mounted Eigenbau was pioneering. Klodwig's Heck harkens the memory back to the days of the Auto Union's D-Type race car. It reminded of the fact Germany had been revolutionary in developing race cars with rear-mounted engines. In many ways, Klodwig's Eigenbau Heck helped the German memory and pride to rise from the ashes and look for something new, something better on the horizon. Though relatively unknown, Ernst Klodwig, as the result of his Eigenbau Heck, would be one German driver that would not easily forgotten.