PEOPLE: ALEX VON FALKENHAUSEN

Name: Alex Von Falkenhausen
Nationality: Germany

From a famous Bavarian military family, Alex von Falkenhausen was born in May 1907 and proved to be a competitive motorcycle rider in his twenties. By the 1930s he had moved into engineering and played an important role in the development of the BMW 328 model with engineers Alfred Boning, Fritz Fiedler and Ernst Loof. The 328 was the dominant sportscar in Europe in the late 1930s and won the Mille Miglia in 1940 in Brescia. During the war he became chief of the BMW motorcycle development department and then when peace came he became one of the pioneers of post-war German motor racing driving a pre-war BMW 328 sports car. He then began to develop his own car, called an Intertype. After that he established AFM and embarked on building racing cars. Although he enjoyed racing in the years that followed he concentrated on building up the company which produced its first prototype car in 1949 and was driven by Hans Stuck Sr and other customers. There were few victories and gradually AFM faded away although Stuck continued to run his own car with the troublesome Kuchen V8 engine. At the end of 1953 AFM closed down and Von Falkenhausen went back to BMW and began to campaign for the company to get back into racing. He built up a large a successful motorcycle racing department but it was some years before he managed to convince the firm to develop cars for the touring car scene and later a sportscar in association with Lola and Formula 2 engines. When the company decided to withdraw from the sport in 1970 Von Falkenhausen ran a clandestine independent operation to keep the programme alive. This organisation ran a car which enabled Dieter Quester (Von Falkenhausen's son-in-law) to finish third in the 1971 European Formula 2 Championship and second in the European Hillclimb title the following year in a Chevron-BMW.

By then the BMW board had been convinced to set up a proper competition department and BMW Motorsport GmbH was headed by Ford's Jochen Neerpasch with Von Falkenhausen as technical director. It was the beginning of a period of BMW domination in Formula 2 and in touring car racing. A deal with the factory March team in Formula 2 led to a string of European Formula 2 successes which stretched into the 1980s. In 1975 Von Falkenhausen retired, handing over his role to Paul Rosche but he lived long enough to enjoy the BMW successes in Formula 1 in the early 1980s.

He died in 1989.

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