DRIVERS: HANS STUCK SR
Name: Hans Stuck Sr
Date of birth: December 27, 1900 - Warsaw, Poland
Date of death: February 8, 1978 - Grainau, Germany
In the history of the Formula 1 World Championship there have been a variety of combinations of fathers and sons and people with the same surname but, despite the best efforts of Jacques Villeneuve, World Champion Jacques Villeneuve's uncle, there has only been one duo of drivers with exactly the same name: Hans Stuck Sr and his son Hans Stuck Jr.
Hans Jr was an F1 driver in the 1970s and made a reputation for his ability to control cars at some very strange angles. His father is less well known in F1 circles but competed in the World Championship in the early 1950s.
From a wealthy landed family, Stuck served in the German army during World War I and then, when peace came, settled down to dairy farming in Bavaria. He bought his first car in order to drive his milk to market rather than dispatch it by train. He was soon competing and made his name by claiming that he would beat everyone driving backwards on a certain hillclimb. After reversing the gearbox of his car Stuck duly succeeded in this remarkable achievement.
In 1926 Austro-Daimler offered Stuck a works drive and with it he won more than just trophies. At the Semmering hillclimb he met up with Count Szichy, an Austrian playboy, who reckoned that his Bugatti was faster than Stuck's Austro-Daimler. The two agreed a wager with the prize being the Count's wife Xenia. Stuck duly won and the couple stayed together for some years before she died of lung cancer in 1931.
By that time both Austro-Daimler and Mercedes had withdrawn from racing and Stuck was looking for work. Through a mutual friend he met Adolf Hitler, who promised that he would support the German racing community. When Hitler came to power he did not forget this promise and rang Stuck asking to know what was needed. Stuck introduced Hitler to Ferdinand Porsche and the result was the Auto Union Grand Prix team. In 1934 Stuck won in Germany, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia but as Mercedes developed a challenger and faster drivers arrived at Auto Union Stuck's importance waned. He remained a hugely successful hillclimb racer but at the end of 1937 was sacked. The team claimed that he was too old, but Stuck claimed that it was because he disclosed his salary to fellow driver Bernd Rosemeyer. He returned the favour by finishing 1938 as the German Drivers' Champion and European Hillclimb Champion.
After the war Stuck evaded the ban on German drivers by claiming Austrian nationality (he had been born in Warsaw which was at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) and with Alex von Falkenhausen set up the AFM operation at his garage. Initially racing stripped down pre-war BMW 328s, the organisation began to build its own BMW-engined AFM F2 cars in 1949. Stuck raced them with much verve, winning a heat of the Autodromo GP at Monza in 1950, beating the Ferraris of Alberto Ascari and Juan-Manuel Fangio. In 1951 Stuck began developing the Kuchen V8 engine but this enjoyed little success. Stuck went on racing in hillclimbs until he was 60.
He died in Munich in 1978 at the age of 77.