Rudolf "Caratsch" Caracciola was the most successful German
racing driver in the first half of the 20th Century. He raced for Mercedes-Benz
during their original dominating Silver Arrows period, named after the silver
colour of the cars, and set speed records for the firm. Nicknamed 'The
Regenmeister' (Rain Master) for his prowess in rainy conditions, he began racing
as an employee for Mercedes-Benz in 1922. In 1926, he entered the first-ever
German Grand Prix at the Avus track near Berlin and promptly won the race, much
to the amazement of the 500,000 spectators.
He made history in 1931,
becoming the first non-Italian driver to win the Mille Miglia, a feat not
repeated until Stirling Moss' victory in 1955. In 1933, Caracciola, while
driving a privately-entered Alfa Romeo, suffered a serious accident at the
Monaco Grand Prix, seriously debilitating him for the rest of his life. He would
forever walk with a limp, as his shattered hip had left one leg shorter than the
Nevertheless, Caracciola eventually recovered enough to take up
racing once more, this time with the newly re-formed Mercedes-Benz racing team.
Caracciola and fellow countryman Bernd Rosemeyer, driving for Auto Union,
battled for supremacy year after year during the 'Silver Arrow' era of motor
racing (1934-1939). He went on to win the European Driving Championship three
times between 1934 and 1938.
After spending WWII in exile in Lugano,
Switzerland, Caracciola returned to auto racing in the late 40s. Age and injury
took their toll, the love for driving was there but he did not have the success
he has before the War. A second serious accident ended his comeback attempt well
before the new Formula 1 Championship was first contested in 1950. Caracciola
died of a bone disease in 1959.
His legacy is that of being one of the
greatest European racing drivers of the first half of the 20th Century and a
person who overcame serious injury and misfortune to excel and succeed in the
sport he loved. According to the legendary Mercedes Team Manager Alfred
Neubauer, with whom he had a long and close relationship, "...of all the
great drivers I have known - Nuvolari, Rosemeyer, Lang, Moss or Fangio -
Caracciola was the greatest of them all."
"Selkirk and Heimann
weave emotion and documentary while staying true to the facts. This is what
makes this film such a jewel, not just for racing fans." - Thomas Wirth 'Mobile life'