In the first half of the 1950s, more and more such misshapen “streamlined cladding” appeared, as can be seen in the picture. A little later, however, they were banned for security reasons.

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.

Petruschke’s portrait graced many racing programs and autograph cards in the GDR in the first half of the 1950s. For the now 45-year-old, the 1955 season was a worthy end to his racing career.
Horst Fügner on the 125cc IFA with the “blue whale casing” – 1955 should be his year.

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.

Entry list of the Eifel race from 1955 with the East German IFA pilots in the lower part.
Even in France one became aware of the IFA from the GDR. Here is an article from 1955 with the note that this motorcycle was faster than the MV Agusta Production racer bikes available for sale.

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.

The old Nürburgring in 1950 with the castle in the background.
Bernhard Petruschke – he scored the first ever world championship points for IFA (later MZ).

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.

NSU was the dominant brand in the 125cc class in 1953 and 1954, only 2 years since the German drivers were allowed to take part in the world championship again. The Austrian’s fatal fall in Monza and economic problems led to the premature withdrawal of the NSU works team.

Schottenring race
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.

Racing atmosphere on the Schottenring in the 1950s.
Sketch of the Schottenring racetrack from the 1950s.
Report of a GDR newspaper from 1955 about the result of the 125cc race on the Schottenring.
The 125 IFA from Horst Fügner – the GDR champion from 1955. However, the first World Cup points for the Zschopau team at the German GP this season were achieved by Petruschke and Krumpholz with ranks 5 and 6.

Solitude race
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.

An MZ delegation visiting Scandinavia with drivers Brehme and Musiol (left in the picture). On the right Bernhard Petruschke, then acting as race director. The recording is from the first half of the 1960s.

Bernhard Petruschke’s most important successes in his career