1955 – the last season as a racing driver
A new face had joined the IFA team this year. In addition to the two old masters Petruschke and Krumpholz, Horst Fügner in particular should impress this season, but Ernst Degner, who was new to IFA, also caused a sensation. Six years later he became a refugee from the GDR republic under scandalous circumstances, see our separate story about him. Bernhard Petruschke was aware that when he was 45 years old he would not race forever. His beloved sport had already claimed over 120 lives on the courses of the world in the first 10 years since World War II. Even if Fügner in particular was now hard to beat, the “old warhorse” wanted to know again and prove what he was still capable of.
Missed opportunities at the season opener – then the highlight
Petruschke had bad luck at the start in Sankt Wendel Race in Western Germany on May 22nd. His IFA didn’t want to start and while the field was on and away, he chased for a top position with no chance. Fügner took 4th place and Krumpholz came in sixth, while Bernhard didn’t get past 11th. The victory at the Saarland Prize went to the Swiss Luigi Taveri on MV Agusta.
First world championship points for IFA
The high point of the season was June 26, 1955, a day that Bernhard would never forget in his life. At the German GP on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, Petruschke wrote history for IFA and GDR sports when he secured two championship points in the 125 cc race with fifth place. Teammate Krumpholz even contributed another point with rank 6. The Zschopau delegation was overjoyed and the proof of the competitiveness of the single-cylinder two-stroke racer was finally proven.
Bad luck at the Halle-Saale race and a conciliatory end to the season
After the start on the Halle-Saale loop, the West German Karl Lottes led his MV Agusta first. But the multiple German champion from Marburg was unlucky and retired in the 6th round with a spark plug damage. Now “Petrus” led the race ahead of his two teammates Fügner and Krumpholz. But shortly afterwards it too was broken down due to a technical defect. Thus, on July 3, 1955, the victory went to Horst Fügner once again, who crossed the finish line just before teammate Erhart Krumpholz.
At the race on the Schottenring, Fügner won again and Bernhard managed at least fourth place. At the Solitude, Petruschke took third place behind Fügner, his last podium abroad. Third place at the Sachsenring was likely to have been particularly forgiving for the IFA pilot from Grünberg near Silesia (now Zielona Gora in Poland). After two titles in a row in the two years before he was replaced in 1955 by Horst Fügner as 125cc GDR champion.
In the race on the Solitude near Stuttgart, the West German Karl Lottes (MV Agusta) won ahead of the IFA drivers Horst Fügner and Bernhard Petruschke. Erhard Krumpholz completed the excellent result of the 125cc team from the GDR. Within just two years they had caught up with the best western drivers and motorcycles, which was simply sensational in view of their modest resources in the “workers and peasant state”.
The rest of his career and his long life
After his active racing career, Bernhard Petruschke held the position of racing director at IFA-MZ for many years. In this role he was also allowed to travel abroad a few times, which of course was a special privilege in the GDR. Without the war, “Petrus” might have reached several world championships or at least finished in the top positions. In 1938 and 1939 he was twice European runner-up (the World Cup did not exist until 1949). After the war, the little man from Kleinmachnow crowned the second part of his racing career with numerous victories and two GDR championship titles in the 125cc class. In the workers ‘and peasants’ state he was an idol on two wheels in the early 1950s. Bernhard Petruschke died at the old age of 94 on New Year’s Day 2005 in his adopted home Kleinmachnow.