PEOPLE: ALFRED NEUBAUER

Name: Alfred Neubauer
Nationality: Austria

Neubauer was born in northern Moravia, (which is part of the modern Czech Republic but was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire). He served with the Austrian army in World War I and in 1922 he joined the Austro-Daimler car company in Wienerneustadt as a driver of the Ferdinand Porsche-designed Sascha model. His only major international appearance was on the 1922 Targa Florio in which he finished 19th. The following year Porsche moved to Daimler and Neubauer went with him. In 1924 he appeared with the Daimler team on the Targa Florio and finished 16th. He raced briefly in the Italian GP at Monza that year but was withdrawn after his team mate Count Louis Zborowski was killed at the Lesmo Corner. At the end of the 1925 season he stopped racing and became the manager of the Daimler competition department. The following year Daimler and Benz merged and the cars became known as Mercedes-Benz.

With the support of the company's new boss, Wilhelm Kissel, Neubauer developed a sporting program for the company with Porsche's Mercedes-Benz SSK tourer which was raced in sportscar events but was stripped down for occasional Grand Prix outings in 1928 and 1929 with driver Rudi Caracciola. At Monaco in 1929 Caracciola battled for the lead in the car, huge in comparison to the Bugattis it was competing against, but he finished third. After the Wall Street Crash Mercedes withdrew from competition but Neubauer continued to run low-key programs with the SSKs at Le Mans in 1930 and 1931 and in occasional Grands Prix with Caracciola, Boris Ivanowsky and Henri Stoffel. He also began introducing new drivers including Manfred Von Brauchitsch and Hans Stuck.

By the middle of 1931 Daimler-Benz was running official teams again and the first major victory came for Caracciola in August that year at AVUS in a stripped down SSK sportscar. During 1933, however, the company began planning a new Grand Prix team with designer Hans Niebel. The result was the Mercedes-Benz W25 which appeared at the start of 1934, winning on its debut in the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring. Niebel died at the end of the year but his place was taken by Otto Schilling and Neubauer's team won three Grand Prix victories that year. In 1935 the W25s were becoming hard to beat with Caracciola and Luigi Fagioli winning 10 major races between them. The 1936 car was not a success but the arrival of a new young engineer called Rudolf Uhlenhaut to help Schilling produced the W125 and Caracciola, Von Brauchitsch and Hermann Lang winning seven victories. The new 3-liter formula resulted in the W154 and it was rarely beaten before World War II broke out.

After the war Neubauer again began campaigning for Mercedes-Benz to return to racing and in 1951 the company ran three of the old pre-war cars in Formula Libre races in Argentina. This was not very successful but the company then embarked on a sportscar racing program with the 300SL. In 1954 the firm returned to Grand Prix racing when the new 2.5-litre formula began. The company produced the W196 and it was dominant in Formula 1 in 1955, Juan-Manuel Fangio winning the World Championship. In the middle of the year, however, the company's involvement in the Le Mans disaster led Mercedes-Benz to withdraw from competition again. Neubauer retired soon afterwards.

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