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.