The Austrian Rupert Hollaus at a national race in 1950 – he was to become the defining figure in the 125 cm³ World Championship of 1954 on his NSU.

The 1954 season of Carlo Ubbiali

The Italian had a changeable season behind him. Carlo had won the German GP at the Schottenring last year, but lost the runner-up world title by 2 points to Cecil Sandford. He had already stood in front of the sun in 1952 when he won the world title with 3 victories of the season and 2 third places in 6 laps. A year later it was the German Werner Haas at NSU who won both world championships over 125cc and 250 cm³. As a result, he and his new teammate Rupert Hollaus were clearly to be favored for the 1954 season. After good performances in the previous year, the Austrian was signed by NSU before the last World Cup run. He had returned the favor with third place in the final race of the 125s series in Barcelona.

A DKW two-stroke machine, which was also known as singing saws because of its shrill tone. The German manufacturer only competed in the 350cc class, which is why Carlo Ubbiali never had to compete against such motorcycles because he only drove in the smaller categories.

The factory teams of the 1954 motorcycle world championship

Season start 1954

While numerous drivers from Europe had traveled to Brazil in the spring to compete in the São Paulo GP, Ubbiali stayed on the old continent. The 125 cm³ race on the Interlagos track was won by the Italians Nello Pagani, ahead of Romolo Ferri (both Mondial) and old master Arciso Artesiani (MV). There was a second round, which Pagani also won. Ubbiali preferred to race in Europe at the start of the season, including victories on April 19 in Ferrara and on May 2 in San Remo. Plus second place behind teammate Guido Sala at the 3rd round of the Italian championship in Monza. On the Isle of Man, victory in the first of six 125 cc rounds went to Rupert Hollaus on NSU. Ubbiali took an excellent 2nd place ahead of MV team-mate Cecil Sanford. Hans Baltisberger (NSU) was fourth ahead of the Englishmen Ivor Lloyd and Brian Parslow (both MV).

Presentation of the two-time world champion Werner Haas (left) and his new NSU teammate H. P. Müller in a German magazine before the start of the season.
The popular German Hans Baltisberger joined the NSU factory team in 1954 and showed some excellent results in the two smaller classes this season.

Luck in misfortune at the Ulster Grand Prix
At the Ulster GP, Hollaus again won ahead of H. P. Müller, Baltisberger and Werner Haas (all NSU). But at the beginning Ubbiali was in the lead when it suddenly started to rain. Shortly before that, Carlo had set the fastest lap of the 125 cc race. He had already reduced his speed due to the slippery road surface when a gust of wind caught him. The Italian fell off the road and crashed into an embankment. At the beginning it was assumed that he sustained serious injuries. But only two hours after being admitted to the nearest hospital, he was able to leave it again. The tests had shown that he had luckily got away with some bruises and minor wounds.

Motor of the 250 cm³ NSU “Rennmax” in the picture of a French motorcycle magazine. The “Neckarsulmer Motorradwerke” began to give their Italian opponents more and more headaches in the smaller classes. Then there were the strong drivers like Hollaus, Haas, Baltisberger and Müller, who were now allowed to participate.
The Dundrod Circuit – a dangerous street circuit on which the motorcycle world championship hosted for many years from 1952.

Grand Prix of the Netherlands
NSU factory driver Hollaus achieved the triple in Assen and won the third 125 cm³ Grand Prix in a row. His teammate and old master H. P. (Hermann Paul) Müller took second place in front of Carlo Ubbiali. Baltisberger and the reigning world champion Haas crossed the finish line behind the Italian. The last lap was quite turbulent and Carlos MV team-mates Sandford and Copeta were eliminated in the battle for the podium in the end. In terms of their score, Ubbiali and Hans Baltisberger were already well behind Rupert Hollaus with their 24 points with 10 points each and Müller with 12 points.

Start of the 125 cm³ GP of Assen in 1954.
The NSU team from left H. P. Müller, the reigning world champion Werner Haas, Rupert Hollaus and on the far right Hans Baltisberger. The four drivers got on extremely well and dominated the 1954 season almost at will.
An aerial view on the day of the 1951 races of the Circuit van Drenthe near Assen.

The strange earlier regulations of the FIM
Due to the regulations at the time, only the best 4 races were counted. At the GP of Germany, the Austrian was able to make everything clear in the fourth of 6 world championship rounds. How questionable the rules were at the time can be seen from the fact that after Assen it was only just halfway through the season. At least this was true for the 125cc series and in some magazines, including France, there were more and more critical voices about the World Cup regulations valid at that time.

The results of the Grand Prix of the Netherlands in a report from neighboring Germany, with Carlo Ubbiali only in 3rd place behind the unbeatable NSU duo Hollaus and Müller.
Together with Ubbiali and Baltisberger in the fight for the vice world championship title in 1954 – the German veteran H. P. Müller from Germany on his NSU at the age of 44.

GP of Germany – preliminary decision for the 125cc world championship
At the Solitude, Rupert Hollaus made everything clear ahead of time with his victory without discussion about the outcome of the World Cup. He hadn’t given his opponents Haas and Ubbiali a chance and won the German GP for the fourth race in a row. This means that the 23-year-old Austrian was already the new 125cc world champion two rounds before the end of the season. Since H. P. Müller crossed the finish line in fourth place behind Haas, he was still one point ahead of Carlo in the interim World Cup. But now it was time for the home race of the then 24-year-old young man from Bergamo. Unfortunately, a tragedy happened there before the race, which would cast a dark shadow over the entire season.

Start of the 125 cm³ GP of Germany on the Solitude in 1954, on the far left in the picture the later winner and early world champion Rupert Hollaus.

The tragedy of September 11, 1954 in Monza

Rupert Hollaus was in the shape of his life. With four victories in a row in the first four races, the Austrian had dominated the smallest class like no other World Championship driver before him. The 125s were apparently in Rupert’s blood and on the 250 cm³ machine he had just won one victory after 4 podium placements at the Swiss GP. But in the notorious Lesmo curve in Monza, Rupert Hollaus from Traisen in Lower Austria slipped away during training. In fact, his helmet was only slightly scratched, and yet he was dead on the spot.

The unforgettable Rupert Hollaus was the first post-war star in racing in the Alpine republic.

Additionaly guilty of the Austrian’s death – a rare anomaly
It was only after his accident that it was discovered that he had a rare abnormality, which made the top of his skull unusually thin compared to the average person. That was the only reason why the relatively light impact was enough to fracture the skull. Hollaus became Austria’s first posthumously awarded world champion. After his death, various events such as the Salzburg-Liefering race and the Rupert Hollaus commemorative vintage race took place in his memory.

The last podium in the far too short life of Rupert Hollaus after the Eilenriederennen, on the left together with Karl Lottes. In addition, shortly before the start of the 250cc race of the German championship with his best friend Werner Haas, to whom he wished good luck.
The book about the history of Rupert Hollaus, with the title “World Champion for 1000 Hours” – a work well worth reading.

Grand Prix of Nations and season finale
The race in in the royal park of Monza was the prey of Guido Sala (MV Agusta), who had already defeated Ubbiali in the spring at the same location during the Italian championship. Second place went to Tarquinio Provini on FB-Mondial ahead of Ubbiali and Massimo Genevini (MV). The NSU factory team had withdrawn completely after the fatal accident in Hollaus and did not take part in the 250 cc race either. Werner Haas has been world champion in this class since the Dutch TT.

A self-important, but insignificant sports functionary together with the NSU works team, from left Baltisberger, Hollaus, Haas and far right the old master (called racetiger) H. P. Müller.

The withdrawal of NSU as a works team
NSU also did not participate in the season finale of the Spanish GP in Barcelona. The race was won by Provini and his MV teammate Colombo finished second ahead of José Antonio Elizalde. With his third place, the Spaniard was honored to have achieved the first podium for Montesa. Ubbiali had to put up with his second zero at the Spanish GP in Montjuic Park. After the resignation of NSU, however, Carlos damage was limited. The 125 cm³ runner-up world champion title was already safe for him due to the fact that the NSU did not start from Monza.

The results of the Grand Prix of Spain without the participation of NSU and their drivers.
A Ducati scooter – who would have thought that the Italian company started manufacturing such vehicles in 1954. The entry into the motorcycle world championship took place only 4 years later in the 125 cm³ class. However, the company from Borgo Panigale near Bologna had to wait for decades until the first world championship title.

125cc driver world championship 1954

After only the first 6 drivers of a race were able to win championship points at that time, here are also the drivers who finished 7th to 10th in a GP (with the country codes customary at the time):
Georges Burgraff (F, MV Agusta), Frank Cope (GB, MV Agusta), Fritz Dirtl (D, FB-Mondial), Gerrit Dupont (NL, MV Agusta), Horst Fügner (DDR, IFA), John Grace (GBZ, Montesa), Otto Krebs (D, FB-Mondial), Erhard Krumpholz (DDR, IFA), Angelo Marelli (I, MV Agusta), Pierre Michel (F, Michel), Dick Renooy (NL, Eysink), Lo Simons (NL, FB-Mondial), James Thomson (GB, MV Agusta), H. van der Waerdt (NL, Eysink), Bill Webster (GB, MV Agusta).

125cc Manufacturers World Championship 1954

The 1955 season of Carlo Ubbiali

In addition to the 125 class, MV Agusta had also participated in the 500 cm³ World Championship since 1950. By 1954, the only title had been that of Cecil Sandford in the 125 World Cup in 1952. At that time Ubbiali was inferior to the Englishman on MB-Mondial and had not been able to defend his 125 cm³ title from the previous year. Six years had passed since Carlos started with MV in 1949 and placed 3rd in the 125cc World Championship. Since 1953 he was again under contract with this brand, after his stint at Mondial from 1950 to 1952 with his only world title from 1951.

Hermann Paul (mostly just called H. P.) Müller on his NSU Sportmax – the now 45-year-old was privately traveling with the NSU in 1955. In the 250 class he should give his opponents a lot of headache this season.

The additional category for MV and less 125cc competition for Carlo
MV had decided on the 1955 season, in addition to the smallest and the premier class, now also in the middle class Category up to 250cc to compete. NSU had withdrawn from the factory after the tragic death of Rupert Hollaus, but some drivers were still on the road with the fast Rennmax afterwards. Among them the still very fast old master H. P. Müller and “the Betzinger” Hans Baltisberger.

The factory teams of the 1955 motorcycle world championship

Season opener – Carlo for the first time in two classes
After five years in the motorcycle world championship, Carlo also competed in the 250 cm³ class for the first time in his career. Before the start of the season, however, it was only intended for the smallest category. His use of 250 should only become a fact at the end of the season. MV Agusta had a hard time with the single-cylinder 250 against the NSU Sportmax, which was still privately used.

At the start of the season in Reims for the French GP, the NSU were completely superior in the year before. In the picture from 1954 of a German magazine, Werner Haas and H. P. Müller lapped their opponents with around 35 to 40 km / h more in the 250cc race.

Modest start of the season in national races for Carlo
Ubbiali was more than well-equipped with the 125cc machine, in this class only MV and FB-Mondial remained as factory racing teams. In the first rounds of the Italian championship, the man from Bergamo was not very lucky. In Naples, he was in the lead first, but struggling then with technical problems. Except a third place in San Remo, little came together for Carlo. But of course the World Cup was much more important to him and that’s why he went optimistic anyway to Spain at the end of April.

Luigi Taveri as a private rider on his 350 cm³ Norton in 1954, the year before his World Cup entry as a works’ driver at MV Agusta. As a team-mate of Ubbiali, he won his first of countless World Championship races at the 125cc GP of Spain.

Start of Ubbiali in his 6th season of the motorcycle world championship
The World Cup season opener took place in Barcelona this time. On his debut at MV, Luigi Taveri from Switzerland, who was newly added to the MV team, won the 125 cm³ GP of Spain ahead of Romolo Ferro on Mondial. Ubbiali crossed the finish line in third place, ahead of Giuseppe Lattanzi (Mondial) and Angelo Copeta (MV). The 250 category had to wait until the TT, the middle class was not on the calendar before that. Only two weeks later the second round in Reims and the French GP continued. This was a first for Carlo. In the two years before that, the 125 cm³ category had not been advertised there since it was included in the World Cup calendar. The trip to Reims should be worthwhile for Ubbiali, after almost 2 years he finally won a Grand Prix again. Taveri finished second ahead of Lattanzi, Provinin and Copeta. With a lead of over 20 seconds over his Swiss team-mate, Carlo successfully retaliated for the first round in Barcelona.

The starting flag for the 125 cc race in Reims for the French GP fell and Carlo Ubbiali ended a long dry spell of two years with his first Grand Prix victory.

The first TT win for Ubbiali
The highly dangerous course on the Isle of Man had meanwhile claimed 49 lives. Luckily there were no fatalities this year at the World Championship run for the Tourist Trophy, but unfortunately two more fatal accidents at the Manx GP in September. Carlo had never won here before, but on June 8, 1955, the time had come when he clinched victory number two of the season. Once again it was Luigi Taveri who claimed second place, as in Reims again before Giuseppe Lattanzi.

Giuseppe Lattanzi – one of too many victims of the completely insane race from Milan to Taranto on public and non-closed roads, in the middle of normal daily traffic.

One week after his podium one lost his life
The Italian Giuseppe Lattanzi was to be killed just a week later in the Milano-Taranto race together with 2 other compatriots. Ubbiali decided not to start in the 250 cm³ class on the highly dangerous route on the Isle of Man. MV Agusta had a TT specialist in Bill Lomas who had already made it to fourth place in the 125s. The Englishman got the coals out of the fire for the Italians in the lightweight race of the 250 series. Lomas won ahead of Cecil Sandford (Moto-Guzzi) and private rider H. P. Müller on his NSU Sportmax.

Carlo Ubbiali on his 125cc MV Agusta and driving to his first TT victory in 1955.

Triumph at the German Grand Prix for Carlo
The German GP took place for the first time in 1955 on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. The highly dangerous and difficult to learn course was a special challenge for newbies. But Carlo mastered this difficult task and crossed the finish line ahead of his MV brand colleagues Taveri, Venturi and Lottes (private drivers on MV). Behind them the amazingly strong IFA two-stroke engine bikes (later MZ) from the GDR with the drivers Petruschke and Krumpholz (see under “History” on this site for more on the story of the two drivers). It was the Italian’s hat trick, with the third triumph in a row since third place at the Barcelona GP. Just because Luigi Taveri had won there and then crossed the finish line behind Ubbiali every time, Carlo was not yet certain as world champion. But only three weeks later in Assen the decision for the driver’s title should be made.

Motorsport against an impressive backdrop on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife at the 1955 German GP – here the sidecar race.

Grand Prix of the Netherlands in Assen
Carlo had never won in the Netherlands before, but 1955 was his season. In front of around 160,000 spectators, Swiss team-mate Taveri drove the fastest lap, but in the end Luigi should not see the checkered flag. With the fourth victory in a row, Ubbiali secured the 125 cc world championship title ahead of the season finale in Monza. It was only the second ever for MV Agusta after Cecil Sandford’s 125th title in 1952. Taveri held himself harmless with his first 250 cm³ victory, he even had a chance of winning the world title in this category. It was an inherited victory, however, because Luigi had actually crossed the finish line behind Bill Lomas. But this was subsequently disqualified because he had not turned off his engine when refueling in the pits.

The results of the Grand Prix of the Netherlands in a report from neighboring Germany, with Carlo Ubbiali as 125cc winner for this year.
After the 125 cm³ GP victory in Barcelona, Luigi Taveri triumphed on his MV at the Dutch TT for the first time in the 250 class. It was the second Grand Prix success for the Swiss, who was just at the beginning of his long successful career.

The season finale as 125 cm³ world champion

Ubbiali already traveled back to his homeland as world champion, the GP of the Nations was still pending. As is usually the case in the first few years of the World Cup, the season finale took place in Monza, just a short drive from his home town of Bergamo. From the previous year he still had an account to be taken on this track when he was only third behind team-mate Guido Sala and Tarquinio Provini (Mondial). With his fifth win in a row, however, Carlo saved himself and left his team-mates Venturi and Copeta well behind. Behind them, the two Germans August Hobl and Siegfried Wünsche presented themselves surprisingly well in their factory DKW, with places 4 and 5. Paolo Campanelli as the best FB-Mondial driver therefore only stayed in 6th place.

Park atmosphere at the 1955 Monza GP, the site of Ubbialis ’total triumph for that season.

The icing on the cake with the 250 win
In the 250 cc race, Ubbiali went one better and crowned his season with the first victory in this class. Hans Baltisberger and Sammy Miller (both NSU) completed the podium in fourth place ahead of H. P. Müller. The NSU driver, who competed on a private previous year’s factory machine in 1955, won a world championship title at the proud age of almost 46 years. Carlo, on the other hand, celebrated his 26th birthday almost 3 weeks after his double triumph. It was clear to him and his team early on that he would compete in both classes from the beginning of the next season. MV Agusta had already made it to the 250cc brands World Championship this season, and now the drivers’ title should come the following year.

Shortly before the start of the 250cc race with H. P. Müller from the front with No. 2, Hans Baltisberger (20, both NSU) and behind him Carlo, the eventual winner.
Carlo Ubbiali on the 250 cm³ MV – here still behind Baltisberger and Miller (both NSU) at the GP of Nations in Monza. In the end, the Italian triumphed in this class for the first time in his career.

125cc driver world championship 1955

After only the first 6 drivers of a race were able to win championship points at that time, here are also the drivers who finished 7th to 10th in a GP (with the country codes customary at the time):
Juan Atorrasagasti (E, MV Agusta), K. Bahr (D, MV Agusta), Frank Burman (GB, EMC), Florian Camathias (CH, MV Agusta), C. Del Val (E, FB-Mondial), Gerrit Dupont (NL, MV Agusta), Werner Funk (A, MV Agusta), Francisco González (E, Montesa), Len Harfield (GB, LCH), Jasper Kaspers (NL, Sparta), Otto Krebs (D, FB-Mondial), Karl Kronmüller (D, MV Agusta), Bill Maddrick (GB, MV Agusta), Jan Muijlwijk (NL, DKW), Guido Sala (I, MV Agusta), Enrico Sirera (E, Montesa).

125cc Manufacturers World Championship 1955

250cc driver world championship 1955

In the following, for the sake of completeness, the pilots who finished 7th to 10th in a GP: Günter Beer (D, Adler), Phil Carter (N.Irl., Norton), Roberto Colombo (I, Moto-Guzzi), Jack Forrest (AUS, NSU), Roland Heck (D, NSU), Wilf Herron (N.Irl, Norton), Karl-Julius Holthaus (D, NSU), Harold Kirby (N.Irl, Velocette), Fritz Kläger (D, NSU), Piet Knijnenburg (D, NSU), Kurt Knopf (D, NSU), Karl Lottes (D, NSU), Bill Maddrick (GB, Moto-Guzzi), Percy Tait (GB, Velocette).

The first private rider in the history of the motorcycle world championship, with almost 46 Years of age H. P. Müller on his NSU Sportmax in the 250cc class. Valentino Rossi might still manage his 10th title after all, as young as he is at just over 40?

250cc Manufacturers World Championship 1955

Part 5: