Even today, people still talk about the fact that on 4 July 1954, the national soccer team brought the first world championship title to Germany. But until then, a motorcycle racer had been in the limelight in movie newsreels, on the radio and in the press: Werner Haas was a household name. On 25 July 1954, winning his fifth Grand Prix race in a row, the NSU rider secured his third world championship title in road racing well before the end of the season. In the previous year, he had won the classes up to 125 and 250 cc, and in 1954 he was able to defend his title in the 250 cc class. From Friday to Sunday, 5-7 February 2021, the Bremen Classic Motorshow at Messe Bremen will be devoting a special exhibition to legendary racing machines such as Haas’ NSU 125 Rennfox and its competitor from the Zschopau-based motorcycle manufacturer DKW.
“Under the title ‘German Champion – European Champion – World Champion: Racing Legends from Neckarsulm, Zschopau and Ingolstadt’, we are for the first time presenting a complete overview of the racing history of the motorcycle makes NSU and DKW,” announced Frank Ruge, Project Manager for the Bremen Classic Motorshow. The line-up will feature models such as the Are 175, PRe 500, UL 500 and 700 from DKW’s racing department as well as the “Bullus”, Kompressor, Rennfox and Rennmax from NSU. “In addition to NSU’s ‘Dolphin’ and ‘Blue Whale’, the DKW’s ‘Singing Saw’ will of course also be on display”, says Frank Ruge. A total of 17 factory motorcycles from the years 1926 to 1956 will pull up at Messe Bremen. The motorcycles will be loaned to Messe Bremen by Audi AG – the legal successor of both marques, NSU and DKW – and private collectors.
NSU motorcycles from Neckarsulm were already being used in motor sports at the beginning of the 20th century, first locally and a little later internationally as well. When an official German championship was initially started in 1924, NSU took part. At that time, a new brand, Zschopau-based DKW, likewise bet on the advertising generated by sporting successes and began to dominate the smaller engine classes with special racing machines. Their two-stroke engines had water cooling and a charge pump for a considerable increase in performance. After winning one German championship after another, DKW went on to win European championships from 1927 onwards. By 1939, it had accumulated a total of ten European titles. In the 1930s, both manufacturers sought direct confrontation with their sidecar teams. The DKW and NSU works teams were riding racing models built especially for them.
In Germany, these prestige duels went on for a few more years, but as of 1951, the cards had to be reshuffled. Compressor and charge pump engines were not allowed in the World Championship, which had been held since 1949. The DKW marque – which had moved to Ingolstadt in the meantime – stuck to the two-stroke principle, but now with completely newly developed single, two- and three-cylinder engines. In Neckarsulm, however, new four-stroke engines were being developed. At the first World Championship round held in Germany on 20 July 1952 at the Solitude race track west of Stuttgart, Werner Haas, riding an NSU 125 Rennfox, and Rudi Felgenheier, riding a DKW RM 250, took home their first Grand Prix victories.
This was to be followed by 19 further victories, three world championship titles by Werner Haas, one each by Hermann-Paul Müller and the Austrian rider Rupert Hollaus, likewise on an NSU, and the vice world championship title of August Hobl on the DKW 350 in 1956. A significant increase in performance was achieved, on the one hand, through sophisticated engine technology and, on the other hand, with aerodynamically shaped bodies.
The Bremen Classic Motorshow will take place from Friday to Sunday, 5-7 February 2021, in all exhibition halls at Messe Bremen. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organizers are implementing a comprehensive safety and hygiene concept. Measures include online registration ahead of the event, ticket sales exclusively via the Classic Motor Show’s website, mandatory face coverings, wider aisles, and ventilation systems that permanently pump fresh air into the halls. Up-to-date information about the event and the hygiene concept at www.classicmotorshow.de.
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