Saturday, June 16, 2012

50th Anniversary of Racing in Berlin

Maria sent me this nice FDC about the 50th Anniversary of the Automobile Races or the Grand Prix in Berlin which started in 1921. The block of four stamps on this cover portray the racing cars through the years. There seems to be some sort of Dichotomy in the postmark which shows a motor cycle with a sidecar, whereas a racing car would have been more appropriate.  However, this could well be explained by the meaning of Avus.
The Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungsstraße (Automobile traffic and training road), better known as AVUS, is a public road that was also used as a motor racing circuit. It is located in the south-western districts of Berlin, Germany, between Charlottenburg and Nikolassee, and is nowadays an important part of the public highway system, as Bundesautobahn 115.
While normal for a road, it is unusually shaped for a race track as it is essentially just two long straights in the form of a dual carriageway, with a hairpin corner at each end. The north curve featured a steep banking from 1937 to 1967. While the original layout was 19 km long, the southern turn was moved several times, to shorten the track to 8.3 km, then 8.1 km without the banking, 4.8 km and finally 2.6 km.
The circuit through the Grunewald forest was devised by the Automobilclub von Deutschland (AvD), in 1907, as both a motor-sport venue and a testing track for the motor industry. A lack of finances delayed the start of construction for six years, and construction was halted in 1913 for the same reason. During the Great War, Russian prisoners were employed in AVUS's construction, but the track was still unfinished by 1918. The remaining work was financed by business man Hugo Stinnes, and the circuit opened in September 1921.
In 1999, a farewell event with veterans was held. From 2000 on, the new EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Brandenburg is considered the replacement for AVUS.
The round race control tower (with prominent Mercedes-Benz and Bosch sponsorship) still remains at the north end, and is used as a public restaurant and motel. The old wooden grandstand is protected as a historic monument.

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