As for what happened precisely on that cold January day between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, nobody knows for sure. But an exhaustive technical analysis by the Italian motoring journalist and historian Aldo Zana reaches a remarkable conclusion: that forty years before Colin Chapman’s Lotus squad invented venturi-based ground effects for Formula One cars to take the 1978 world championship with the Lotus 79, Auto Union’s Robert Eberan-Eberhorst accidentally built a ground effects car for Rosemeyer, which disintegrated under the extreme forces thus created.
Whatever the case, Rosemeyer was dead on impact. The land speed record on public roads, set ninety minutes before his death by his great rival Rudolf Caracciola of Mercedes at 268.863 MPH, has not been challenged since.
Photo Credit: Audi AG