The NSU Rennmax from 1953 was to scare the competition over the course of the season after Werner Haas was beaten by Moto-Guzzi factory rider Enrico Lorenzetti by a hair’s breadth at the Nations Grand Prix last year. Coming practically from nowhere, the German factories and their pilots had quickly found their way back to the top of the world.

The third of 9 rounds in the Ardennes

After the Dutch TT, we continued not far from Assen in Belgium to the beautifully situated Spa-Francorchamps track, which, like the track in the Netherlands, is still used today with a much improved layout. After Enrico Lorenzetti on Moto-Guzzi won the Dutch TT for the first time with a machine not from England, everyone was looking forward to the sequel. The smaller two classes up to 125 and 250cc had a break here; they were scheduled to continue the 2nd German Grand Prix at the Schottenring between Fulda and Gießen. This route was chosen due to problems with the surface on the Solitude, although the problems should not get any smaller. Unfortunately, there has already been another fatality in Belgium. The Australian Ernie Ring, recently signed by AJS, was not expected to survive the weekend in the Ardennes after a respectable result in the 350s.

A sketch from back then of the route located in a magnificent Ardennes landscape.
The Irishman Reginald Armstrong (left, with a cigarette in his hand) and Bill Doran (England), vice world champion up to 350 cc in 1951 on AJS. Both were still driving for this English racing team in 1951. After one season for Norton, the 1952 350cc World Championship runner-up from Ireland was brought into the Gilera factory team.

The 350cc Belgian Grand Prix

Immediately after the start of the 350cc race, Anderson shot into the lead, followed by Amm in the best Norton, behind Coleman and Lorenzetti initially only in P4. But a little later the Assen winner fought his way past the two drivers in front of him. But leader Anderson was already 23 seconds ahead of his Moto-Guzzi teammate as the two of them continued to get away from their pursuers. The Englishman, who was still firmly in the lead, shone a little later with a new record lap. But the Italian colleague behind him didn’t give up, which made things even more exciting shortly before the finish. In the end there was a photo finish, with Anderson narrowly winning. Surprisingly, despite his success, the winner apparently had thoughts of retiring from Grand Prix racing, but apparently he was able to change his mind again some time later. This was certainly not to his detriment, although Fergus Anderson would only realize this later. Without the smaller two classes, the German participation in the Belgian GP was, as expected, tiny. With August Hobl on the only DKW, he stopped shortly before the end on the last lap and plaintiff was too far inferior to the competition on the Schnell-Horex to get a respectable result. The DKW, on the other hand, proved to be very strong in acceleration under Gustl Hobl, but still lacked top speed compared to the fastest.

After the start in the first combination of curves in Eau Rouge, with the start-finish grandstand behind in the picture.

Tragic ending with Ernie Ring’s accident

After Assen, there was also a clear favorite in Spa-Francorchamps in Geoffrey “Geoff” Duke and the reigning world champion and teammate Alfredo Milani soon threatened to become an extra. In the absence of MV Agusta, it was almost clear to most observers that a Gilera would win and the Belgian fans were particularly pleased that their pilot Goffin was equipped with a factory Norton and Gilera also blessed Léon Martin with one of their machines became. Both should be grateful for this with good results, even though no points would come out of it given the strong competition. However, when Geoff catapulted himself back to the top with a new absolute lap record (with an average speed of over 180 km/h!), the luck ran out for the Gilera newcomer for 1953. With victory in sight, the fast man from St. Helens (Lancashire, England) had to stop to change his defective spark plugs. A common mishap at that time, but hardly conceivable decades later. His teammate Milani inherited the victory ahead of Amm, Armstrong and Kavanagh. In the interim rankings, Amm and Armstrong led with 14 points each, ahead of Milani and Duke with 8 each.

Start of the premier class race with from left Duke, Amm, Kavanagh, Milani, Brett and Armstrong.
Geoff Duke ahead of Gilera teammate Milani and Amm (Norton) at La Source – a little later the Italian was ahead of the Englishman, who then also fell behind Ray Amm. Afterwards, however, the superstar from the island fought his way back to the front and actually should have won this race.
Ernie Ring – the Australian was just beginning a promising career for AJS when a tragic accident in the 500cc race at Spa-Francorchamps brought his life to an early end. It happened on the fourth lap when Ernie crashed heavily near Malmdedy (curve 9), after which he succumbed to his serious injuries while being transported to the hospital.

World Cup round 4 – the failed second German Grand Prix

Given that the Solitude was now being driven in Schotten due to the poor asphalt, it was clear early on to the sober observer that possible new trouble would arise. After all, last year none other than superstar Geoff Duke had injured himself so badly in a fall at the Schottenring, of all places, that the season ended prematurely after July 13, 1952. Even the high-handed FIM should have realized that this course was just as dangerous as the TT on the Isle of Man. That’s why a scandal quickly broke out in difficult weather conditions. After the rainy inspection, a majority of the pilots in the 350cc and 500cc classes refused to compete there under such difficult conditions. This involuntarily resulted in a season that was essentially shortened to just 8 rounds and the situation was the opposite of the previous Belgian GP, when only the two largest classes were at the start. This time only the two smallest categories were held.

Sketch of the Schottenring from the early 1950s – a very demanding and quite dangerous route. After the failed guest appearance in 1953, the following year Stuttgart was to play again with the Solitude, where the surface had been significantly improved in the meantime.

Italian victory at the 125cc Scottish Grand Prix

Despite a huge effort by the organizers, at least the two smaller categories were held, although several people even tried to cancel them too. Hardly anyone present believed before the start of race day with the 125cc class that Werner Haas would be racing through a machine even faster than his NSU Rennfox and a faster man on home soil. However, former world champion Carlo Ubbiali achieved success with the MV Agusta, which had previously eluded him for a long time. However, his stablemate Cecil Sandford, reigning world champion up to 125 cc, had to retire due to a slight fall, after he had clearly led the field up to that point. Haas was in second place with his NSU, but was overtaken by Ubbiali immediately after Sandford’s retirement and, despite numerous attacks, was never able to finally pass the Italian again, although he had shattered the previous lap record with an average speed of 114.4 km/h . Despite the defeat, Haas remained in the lead in the title standings with 20 points thanks to its previous account balance, ahead of Ubbiali with 14 and the unlucky Sandford with 8 points.

Carlo Ubbiali (MV Agusta) on the way to his Schottenring triumph in 1953, with a special stance on the 125cc the Italian took his first and ultimately only win of the season, which of course he couldn’t have foreseen at the time.
First lap of the 125cc race with leader Sandford (MV) in front of Haas (NSU).

Interesting aspects of the second 125cc German GP

What is particularly worth mentioning here is that, apart from Ubbiali and his teammate and compatriot Angelo Copeta, only German-speaking pilots were classified. With the Swabian Otto Daiker (already 41 at the time) from Boll, an old master who was already active shortly before the war and won his first races on a private DKW made it to the podium in the autumn of his career. The Daiker, who now lives in Stuttgart, impressed the fans in front of the home crowd when he left MV works driver Copeta behind by over a minute. In the other places were other well-known local heroes: Walter Reichert (P5) on NSU, ahead of Karl Lottes with his private MV (sixth with one championship point) and Hubert Luttenberger (MV). There were also two interesting names behind it. The young Austrian Rupert Hollaus would soon become more talked about and make a lasting impression on the motorsport world the following year. And with Erhart Krumpholz on the still immature IFA, he had the honor of achieving the best ranking ever for an East German pilot. Back then, no one suspected how much the manufacturer, which emerged from the rubble of the former DKW factory in Zschopau (Saxony), would develop further in the coming years. A few years later, IFA became MZ and under this name the competition would soon fear.

A photo from the 1950s of a race on the Schottenring – a track on public roads, as was so often the case back then. No wonder that some pilots lost their lives or, like Geoff Duke, were seriously injured in falls in the summer of 1952.
A cozy atmosphere among the boycott pilots of the larger classes, with from left Geoff Duke, Billy Doran, Rod Coleman (with his back to the camera), Fergus Anderson, Ken Kavanagh, Ray Amm and Jack Brett.

The second 250cc German Grand Prix in history

Last year, Werner Haas caused a sensation when, coming out of nowhere, he came to a factory NSU as a private driver before the Solitude GP because the two regular drivers had already been injured in training. This time, however, he was the top favorite as the World Championship leader and was additionally motivated after the defeat against Ubbiali in the 125s. This time, however, Haas won the quarter-liter class by a dominant margin, meaning he now took sole control of the lead in the intermediate rankings. Two strong opponents were unlucky. The reigning world champion Lorenzetti got off the track with his Moto-Guzzi and injured his ankle, after which he had to miss the start. Fergus Anderson, who was tied for the lead in the world championship with Haas until Schotten, did not drive his Guzzi. With the factory’s consent, the private driver Aläno Montanari was put on his machine and came second. The Italian came on as a replacement for Anderson and took second place, the first and only World Championship points of his career, which should ensure fifth place in the final tally.

Local hero Otto Daiker (left, NSU) and Alberto Montanari (Guzzi). The German would definitely have held up better than P5 if he hadn’t been forced to stop to change the spark plugs. Montanari is also credited with setting the fastest lap in the 250cc Spanish GP in 1953, after which he no longer appeared in the results lists. After all, in 1957 he won the internationally advertised race up to 350cc on Moto-Guzzi in Opatija (former Yugoslavia, today Croatia near the coastal town of Rijeka).

Double lead in the World Championship for the winner

Montanari’s six points were lost for Anderson, who was still in second place behind Haas’s 22 points with 14, ahead of Siegfried “Sissi” Wunsch and Montanari with six points each. Fergus had apparently decided of his own free will to follow the example of his colleagues from the 350 and 500cc classes and forego the start. With only 7 rounds of the World Championship, this was of course risky, but the local hero was not impressed. Haas rode hard and fast in the 250cc race. Although he slipped slightly once with his NSU-Max on the damp and therefore somewhat greasy track, he broke the class record with the overall average for the almost 145 kilometers with 119.8 km/h and set a lap record of 123.2 km /h on. His pursuers Montanari and the young August “Gustl” Hobl on the DKW (Siegfried Wunsch still had to forego a start due to injuries sustained in Spa-Francorchamps) had no chance of catching up with the leaders. The other “racing maxes”, consisting of Otto Daiker and Walter Reichert, followed the young Austrian Hollaus on his private Guzzi (with his first World Cup point of his career) in the next places. For winner Haas and his numerous fans, x meant the double lead The World Championship was of course a lot for winner Haas after his home race.

Walter Zeller (BMW) as Schottenring winner up to 500cc from 1953, with the exception of Baltisberger (second on BMW) and veteran H. P. Müller (P3, Horex) without any serious competition. The race was advertised internationally and therefore, as in previous years, was actually not uninteresting, but without world championship status and with the boycott of foreign superstars it was of course much less important.
Hermann Paul Müller’often just “H. P.” or “Ha Pe” – with its private fast Horex. Although this guy was already 43 years old in the summer of 1953, the man from Bielefeld would still be talked about often. This will especially be the case in the motorcycle world championship in the coming years.

Partial continuation in Rouen with the French GP

Just two weeks after the neutered German GP at the Schottenring with only 2 instead of 4 Grand Prix races, things continued in a similar style. However, the French GP was due to poor FIM planning, as was often the case at the time. Just like in Belgium, there were only two World Championship races for the two largest categories instead of four, and this was the third time in the season. MV Agusta and DKW didn’t even travel to France and were conspicuous by their absence. This definitely means there was no shortage of space in the paddock. As in Spa-Francorchamps, Anderson took the lead immediately after the start of the 350s, followed by Amm and Kavanagh. A little later, the leader on his Guzzi allowed himself to be overtaken by the two Norton pilots, but only to attack them again afterwards. In P4, Brett followed at a clear distance on another factory Norton, ahead of Coleman, Monneret and Lorenzetti, who were even further back. Local hero Pierre Monneret passed New Zealander Rod Coleman when he had to retire halfway through the race. A little later Brett also had to give up due to technical problems. Shortly before the end, Amm fell heavily in a duel with Anderson and suffered, among other things, a broken collarbone. This paved the way for Fergus’ second victory after Spa and although Lorenzetti inherited third place, Anderson was now in the lead with 20 points ahead of the Italian with 18 in the intermediate rankings.

Circuit sketch of Rouen-les-Essart, located in the southwest of the capital of the northern French region of Normandy, which replaced the Albi circuit, which was still used for the World Championship in 1951, for the French Grand Prix.
Duel between Fergus Anderson (front in the picture, on Moto-Guzzi) and Ray Amm (factory Norton). In this photo, note the right leg of the pursuer from Rhodesia, with his driving style, which was apparently also popular again 70 years later. Rouen brought Amm no luck. as he had a serious fall shortly after this photo was taken and was out for the rest of the season.

The premier class race in Rouen-les-Essarts

Without MV’s participation it was almost clear that the factory Gilera drivers would dominate over the Norton drivers. BMW also stayed away and this gave at least a few private drivers a good chance of good rankings. Because MV Agusta had tragically lost their superstar Les Graham at the TT, they lacked a replacement and finding a pilot who could step into their breach during the season was next to impossible. That’s why it wasn’t until Monza that we could see the helicopter and motorcycle manufacturer’s 500s shine again. Not everything was fine at Gilera either because the reigning world champion Umberto Masetti was seriously injured in a race in Imola and was out for the rest of the season. But now to the race up to 500cc. After the start, Armstrong took the lead, followed by Duke, Kavanagh, Brett and Milani in P5. But it didn’t take long for Geoff Duke to take the lead. Anderson tried with all his might to defend position 2 and behind him was Milani, who had gained two positions. The three Gileras from Duke, Armstrong and Milani were the first to cross the checkered flag. Behind him Kavanagh on the best Norton in front of Colnago (Gilera) and with Brett the second best Norton pilot. To the delight of the French, their local pilots also got involved and in the end at least two of them were placed in the top 12. After its second win of the season, Duke was only 4 behind leader Armstrong with 16 points and thus retained the chance of another title.

Milani on the 500 cc Gilera, which was the benchmark in the 1953 season.
The Australian Ken Kavanagh had no chance with the factory Norton against the superior Four-cylinder machines of the competition, which meant he had to make do with fourth place behind three Gilera factory drivers.

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