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Origins of motorsport

All the automobile manufacturers symbolized by the "Four Rings", together with their elective partner NSU, have a tradition of motor sport of varying depth and dynamism which stretches back to before the First World War. The one figure who stands head and shoulders above the rest is August Horch. Since the start-up company began to make profits, Horch had been involved in a very popular game, motorsport. During this period, this engineer and founder of the Horch and Audi companies identified the close links between the fortunes of his brands and the early reliability runs, which at that time were enormously influential in helping would-be car buyers to make their choice.

The Silver Arrow era(380)

Motor sport was one of the most prominent mass-appeal attractions between the wars. Diverse club events, from “foxhunts” to rallies, also attracted plenty of spectators. Therefore, sporting success had a drastic impact on production and sales.
Following the merger of Saxony's four automotive companies in 1932, it was important to promote the new Auto Union name among the public, and motor racing was identified as an ideal means of spreading its reputation. In view of the technical standards which the new company was striving to demonstrate and the prestige it was seeking, there was no other option but to start at the very highest level: Grand Prix racing.
In March 1934, Type A Rennwagen of the Auto Union was available in nude shell of pure aluminum. Honored as Siberpfeile aus Zwickau by Germans, it was a product of Ferdinand Porsche and driven by Hans Stuck, a kept driver of Auto Union. The contacts already established between Wanderer and Ferdinand Porsche proved invaluable, and his name held the power to inspire exceptional achievements. Type A Rennwagen established its fame since its first victory in Nurburgring, Germany.

NSU in motorsport

NSU was making a name for itself in motor sport in the earliest years of the twentieth century. In 1905 a Frau Eisemann from Hamburg took part in the 660-kilometre Eisenach-Berlin-Eisenach road race and set a new record for 2-horsepower motorcycles. The first triumph in the world’s most prestigious motor race, the Tourist Trophy, came in 1907.
1908: the company captured its first speed records: one of its motorcycles was ridden at 106 km/h on the racetrack in Hanover.
In 1910 William Streiff made the headlines by crossing the US continent from San Francisco to New York, a distance of 6,300 km on unmade roads, in 28 days.
Gassert won a gold medal in the 1911 Tourist Trophy.
In 1930 NSU hired an Englishman, Sir William Moore, as its new Chief Designer for racing motorcycles at the Neckarsulm factory. He and the English racing motorcyclist Tom Bullus made a successful team, winning every race for which the company entered in 1930 and 1931.
Further German and Swiss championship titles were gained between 1935 and 1937.
NSU began to enter for international car races in 1908.
The 1909 Prince Henry Run was a great success, repeated in many other long-distance races and reliability trials.
In 1914 NSU won the “Circuit through Morocco”, and gained a class victory in the 1923 small-car race on the Avus racetrack.
In 1925 Momberger drove a new design, the 6/60 PS racing car with supercharged six-cylinder engine, to victory in Germany’s first Sports Car Grand Prix.
Böhm won the German championship titles in the 600 cc and 1000 cc supercharged sidecar categories in 1947. A year later Wilhelm Herz became German champion on a 350 cc supercharged NSU motorcycle.
In 1953 Werner Haas took two world championship titles, in the 125 cc and 250 cc classes; he also won the German championship titles twice in these classes.
Victory in the 1954 “Tourist Trophy” (TT) on the Isle of Man was a major achievement.
In 1955 H.P. Müller became the first private entrant ever to win a world championship, on an NSU Sportmax in the 250 cc class.
Between 1955 and 1967 NSU riders won 23 German off-road championship titles – with a motorcycle that had undergone no further technical development since 1957.
In 1960 and 1961 the NSU Prinz II (30) model gained class victories in the Tour d’Europe, more than 1,200 km long and therefore the world’s longest rally. In 1961 this was followed by a class win for the third year in succession in the “Gran Premio Argentino”, reaching the finishing line in under 50 hours at an average speed of more than 90 km/h.
In 1962, Karl-Heinz Panowitz driving a Prinz II (30) won the German Touring Car Hillclimb Champion in all classes. Just a year later Siegfried Spiess took the German Hillclimb title. He was German GT Hillclimb Champion in 1965 at the wheel of an NSU Prinz 1000, again in all classes. After this, the NSU/Wankel era began.
Siegfried Spiess won the German Hillclimb Championship in all classes once again in 1968, driving an NSU/Wankel Spider. Altogether, six German championship titles went to NSU cars between 1961 and 1968, and on the international scene the company won no fewer than 29 touring car championships between 1962 and 1967.

DKW in motorsport, 1921 – 1965

After the First World War, company founder Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen switched his metal fittings factory in Zschopau to the manufacture of two-stroke motorcycles. Victory in the ADAC Reich long-distance run in October 1921 was the start of a magnificent series of motor sport successes.
Moreover, DKW cars began their motor sport career with modest 600 cc twin-cylinder engines developing no more than 15 bhp. An especially remarkable achievement since deep snowdrifts prevented the starting point in Königsberg from being reached except by driving across the ice of the “Haff”.

Audi in rallying

The rebirth of the Audi brand in 1965 and the merger of Auto Union and NSU in 1969 gave the topic of motor sport new significance. In 1973 racing drivers were offered the Audi 80 GT, a car that promised to be competitive.

The four rings in touring car racing and at Le Mans

After withdrawing from rallying, Audi switched to circuit racing. In 1988 it entered the Audi 200 for the American TransAm series. After ten races, the championship title was firmly in Audi’s hands.