How many titles did he win?
Three European Championships in Formula Grand Prix (1935-1937 and 1938) with the Mercedes-BenzW 25, W 125 und W 154; three European Hillclimb Championships (1930, 1931 and 1932) with the Mercedes-Benz SSK and the Alfa Romeo P3. In 1931 he is the protagonist of another feat: he becomes the first foreign driver to win the Mille Miglia. Not only: on January 28th 1938, Caracciola sets the speed record (432.7 km/h) on the highway connecting Frankfurt to Darmstad with a streamlined W125 Rekordwagen A still undefeated record.
How was the myth of the Silver Arrows born?
It dates back to the Eifel race of June 3rd 1934 in which the version A of the W25 makes its debut; on the scales, though, the car is found to be 1 kg over the allowed maximum weight: 750 kg. In order to take part to the race, Alfred Neubauer, the legendary team manager, has the white painting removed, being white the colour representing Germany in sport competitions. Thus the cars race with a steel silver bodywork and, since then – for luck – things haven’t changed. Caracciola is to become the top driver of the big German team.
Why is Caracciola nicknamed «King of the Rain»?
Because he wins the Germany Grand Prix on the Avus track (Berlin) under a real deluge.
What makes him unique?
"Caracciola was for me», Alfred Neubauer remembered, «the greatest driver of the ’20s and ’30s and, perhaps, of all times. He was an exceptional mix of focus, physical strength and intelligence."
Rudolf Caracciola was born in Remagen (Germany) on January 30th, 1901.
He gets his driving license at 15. His first car? A Mercedes 16/45.
He’s hired as an apprentice at the Fafnir car factory in Aix-la-Chapelle. He starts racing, also on motorbikes, on NSU.
He wins his first German Grand Prix on the Avus track (Berlin) in front of a crowd of 230,000 people on a private Mercedes M128. And, for the German press, he becomes the Regenmeister, the king of rain. He marries Charlotte Liesen.
Winning 4 races on the SSK, he wins his first European Hillclimb Championship.
The team Mercedes drops out of competitions, but Caracciola, with a semi-official SSKL, wins his second European Hillclimb Championship. With Wilhelm Sebastian as driving partner, and the SSK, he is the first foreigner to win the Mille Miglia, setting a record speed average of 101.1 km/h.
Caracciola moves to Alfa Romeo.
He establishes the Team CC with Luis Chiron (CC from the initials of the two drivers): they race with two Alfas 8C. Unfortunately, Caracciola has a serious accident in Monaco (his right leg will heal 5 cm shorter than his left) and misses the remaining part of the season.
He moves back to Mercedes and gets back to competitions. In February his wife dies, swept away by an avalanche in Arosa. He wins the Italian Grand Prix with Fagioli.
He achieves his first European Championship with the Mercedes W25B, winning 4 races (France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain) out of 7 and prevails in Tripoli. He sets his first speed record: 311.985 km/h.
He achieves his second European Championship with the new W125 (supercharged straight-eight engine, 650 HP, 5.6 litres): Caracciola wins Germany and Switzerland Grand Prix, during which it heavily rains, and in Livorno. On June 19th 1937, he marries Alice Hoffman Trobeck, former wife of the pharmaceutical entrepreneur Alfred Hoffman Trobeck, head of Hoffman La Roche laboratories, and Chiron’s ex lover.
On January 28th 1938, he sets a new speed record (432,7 km/h) with a streamlined W125, a new record for the flying kilometre, and at 432.4 km/h for the flying mile. He wins his third European Championship.
Caracciola moves with his wife to Castagnola, on the shores of Lake Lugano.
Invited to Indianapolis 500 Miles, he goes into a coma after an accident with his Thorpe Special.
He achieves the team prize at the Monte-Carlo Rally, but an accident in Bern with the 300SL ends his career.
On September 28th, Caracciola passes away in Kassel.