Bernd Rosemeyer was fearless, but yesterday in 1938 his attempt to eclipse 268 MPH on a public road and set the speed record in an Auto Union prototype would prove fatal.
Rosemeyer, known as the Silver Comet, was a famous German motorcycle and car racer almost unequaled in his day. His greatest rival was Rudolf Caracciola of the rival Mercedes team. The two would face off in numerous races, with Rosemeyer behind the wheel of the awesome Auto Union Type C, until the final showdown in 1938 when Adolf Hitler demanded a world record speed from a German car with a German driver.
Both men made passes on a stretch of autobahn, attempting to outdo each others high speed. Caracciola finally set the record at 268 MPH in his gleaming Mercedes. Rosemeyer jumped into his rekordwagen and took off down the long stretch attempting to chase that record. Whether or not he made it, or would have made it, is a matter of historical guesswork as the car met aerodynamic difficulties and flew into the air, flipping twice and killing Rosemeyer.
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The Audi Rosemeyer concept, which influenced both the Audi R8 and Bugatti Veyron, was named for him.
[via Wired, Photo: Serious Wheels]