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This post is a serialisation of an article that originally appeared over 75 years ago in ‘Das Motorrad’, the popular Motorcycling magazine in the German Language as it covered the proceedings of the 1939 ISDT, an event to finish in controversy and the results eventually annulled by the FIM.

We have recently started mapping the course of the event which can be found on the blog ‘Mapping the 1939 ISDT

The first part sets the scene of the first day and here we move to the second day.

ISDT 1939 – Report from ‘Das Motorrad‘: The 2nd Day

report by Von Gustav Mueller

If only the riders had seen more of the wonderful route we travelled the second day! This route perhaps is the most beautiful one could pack into 373 kilometres. The days route was named “Salzkammergutstrecke[1] but it could have been named “Five Lakes Day”, too.

The first lake was the ‘Mondsee’[2], which everyone will know. From the Mondsee, the route led to the ‘Attersee’. Unfortunately, the route went only a short section along the lakes shore, and then turned off to the side. Whoever comes to this place once, of course must take the wonderful road, running directly along the lakes shore. It is very pretty, but also very narrow. And if you drive along there, think about the Six Days riders and how they had to “conjure” to be fast. From the Attersee, the route took a big loop over to Gmunden, to the maybe most beautiful lake of the Salzkammergut, the ‘Traunsee’, which we renamed “Traumsee”[3] due to its beauty. From the Traunsee, the road went over to the ‘Wolfgangsee’, you know about the “Weiße Röß’l”[4], and then along the valley of the river Traun to Bad Ischl and Bad Aussee.

Here they had chosen a stunning terrain, and here many did earn points. The roads, on which one eventually might have been able to win some time, were so narrow, that there was no progressing. Additionally, there were large buses, which, although perfectly driven by their drivers, in the end could not be made less wider than they are. And many stupid private drivers, who thought they were absolved from their duty to ride on the right hand side of the road, when hooting loudly.

Photo – Here #34 Harold Taylor BSA [EZY 928?] still had been happy and was full of hope, his machine was o.k., and he, as a careful rider and great expert, had nothing to fear from his side. Second man behind him is the Italian #43 Ranieri on a 500cc Sertum, behind him Feldwebel [Sergeant] Grimm from the Kraftfahrtschule der Luftwaffe [Air Force motoring school], a man who took part at such a big event for the first time, and he made it quite good. On the first day, he had been outwitted by so many tyre punctures, that he did earn 35 points, all the other days he remained without points. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

Photo – Here #34 Harold Taylor BSA [EZY 928?] still had been happy and was full of hope, his machine was o.k., and he, as a careful rider and great expert, had nothing to fear from his side. Second man behind him is the Italian #43 Ranieri on a 500cc Sertum, behind him Feldwebel [Sergeant] Grimm from the Kraftfahrtschule der Luftwaffe [Air Force motoring school], a man who took part at such a big event for the first time, and he made it quite good. On the first day, he had been outwitted by so many tyre punctures, that he did earn 35 points, all the other days he remained without points. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

One of these drivers rammed the English sidecar outfit rider Harold Taylor, who, although he has only one leg left, rides in all Six Days Trials. Harold Taylor had to go into the hedges, where his outfit turned over and buried the disabled rider under it. The car driver did not even see any reason to stop and help the sidecar rider, who lay under his bike that way, that the hot exhaust did burn a hole into his trousers. There are some “Himmelhunde”[5], if only one could once get hold of such guy. – By the way, Harold Taylor did admire the BMW forks, he said that with them it must be a joy to ride an outfit.

After the bad offroad section of Bad Aussee, again something magnificent could be seen, namely the ‘Hallstädter See’. Motorized vehicles are not allowed to enter the city of Hallstadt, as the roads are too narrow. But, from the last parking area into the town there are only few minutes to walk, only solo motorcycles are allowed to pass. That’s again something we enjoyed.

Photo – The English Army participants did like the event, and they got along very well with the German Army teams. In this picture one can see #142 Sgt. Major Mackay on Matchless 350cc, together with Colonel Bennet. In the background # 148, Eigtheen, on Matchless 350cc. ISDT 1939 [at that time, no one in Germany distinguished “British” from “English”, all British was seen as English] (das Motorrad)

Photo – The English Army participants did like the event, and they got along very well with the German Army teams. In this picture one can see #142 Sgt. Major Mackay on Matchless 350cc, together with Colonel Bennet. In the background # 148, Eigtheen, on Matchless 350cc. ISDT 1939 [at that time, no one in Germany distinguished “British” from “English”, all British was seen as English] (das Motorrad)

The roads here alongside the lake are crazily narrow, and one bend after the other, one would not be able to imagine, if we hadn’t seen it. Here were needed a a great number of marshals, but as well as there were too many men at the checkpoints in the morning, here there were not enough. In these mountain regions, there are not so many people as they are in the more low lying regions at the Mondsee and the Attersee, and where they do not have so many inhabitants, one cannot expect so many NSKK men. But, they would have been needed there. Especially, as a 40 – 44 km/h average had to be ridden, and the time check was on the top of the Gschütt mountain pass, and this climb is quite steep.

Without doubt, there will be a lot of vehicles, which are not able to climb it, as it has a downhill grade of 23%, and when riding from the valley to the top, this is the percentage of the ascending slope. Of course, the vehicles of this event did use appropriate transmission ratio, but I would like to see the face of someone from the lowlands, coming here without preparation.

By the way it may be mentioned, that one Tommy from the Tank Corps ran out of fuel right below the summit of the pass, and what was he doing, he pushed his motorcycle up to the summit. With this heat and this ascension! It had been so hot, that one of our people stepped into the Mondsee with his rubber boots, as he felt so hot.

Photo It had been quite hot during the six days trial. Here one can see three thirsty souls as they refill some liquid. The tall one, standing at the outside, is the Swede Hedelin, sitting in the middle is Pierre van Maldeghem, president of the Belgian motorcycle association, and on the right hand side, our [Motorrad magazines] employee Heinz Hahmeyer. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

Photo It had been quite hot during the six days trial. Here one can see three thirsty souls as they refill some liquid. The tall one, standing at the outside, is the Swede Hedelin, sitting in the middle is Pierre van Maldeghem, president of the Belgian motorcycle association, and on the right hand side, our [Motorrad magazines] employee Heinz Hahmeyer. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

Again, the gravel had been the reason for many to fall down, and again there were countless punctures. Our national outfit rider Müller had two punctures in the difficult section before Bad Aussee, but due to his skills he did manage to reach the check point two minutes before time!

With Müller, we have an excellent successor for Mauermayer and Kraus. The new national rider rides in a perfect style, which may not be good looking, as he takes bends in multiple short straights, using his sidecar brake intensely.

But, it is fast and prevents the outfit from damage. This is the most important thing. And again, it was interesting to watch, how the passengers of the English and the German national outfits did sit in their chairs completely calm, while others did perform wildest gymnastic exercises. It seems, that there is no need for these exercises, as long as the riders skills are good enough.

Again the tyres did cause a lot of trouble. We met a lot of people during tyre repairs, and it is always interesting to watch the different temperaments undertaking this task. We met a Bavarian, who did curse so loudly and persistently, that it was a shame that we were not able to record this on a gramophone record. This was a masterstroke in cursing, which would have passed everywhere.The interesting thing was, that this man didn’t loose a second with it, as he, loudly cursing, did repair it in a hurry.

We met an Italian at the climb of the Gschütt mountain pass. With melodic voice and sadly looking, he was singing theatric accusations up into the skies. He was working diligently and in a great hurry, anyhow, the inner tube did blow off afterwards, so he had to insert a new one, again. This again gave him the opportunity for melodic accusations into the sky. The Italian language is a wonderful language, and if I was able to speak Italian, I would have liked to tell him that it might be appropriate to screw the valve completely into the tube…

Photo – The railway crossing gates were such thing. Again and yet again, they were closed when riders did arrive. But, there always were attendants, so that lost time could be credited, if necessary. The pictured riders are: #13 Oberfeldwebel [staff sergeant] Linhardt on BMW R 51. #15 Oberwachtmeister [staff sergeant] Höser (his clutch lever is still o.k!) from the Kraftfahrtschule der Luftwaffe [Air Force motoring school] on BMW R 51, #16 Brunetto on 500cc Sertum, and from Holland #18 C. A. Ridders on BMW R 51. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

Photo – The railway crossing gates were such thing. Again and yet again, they were closed when riders did arrive. But, there always were attendants, so that lost time could be credited, if necessary. The pictured riders are: #13 Oberfeldwebel [staff sergeant] Linhardt on BMW R 51. #15 Oberwachtmeister [staff sergeant] Höser (his clutch lever is still o.k!) from the Kraftfahrtschule der Luftwaffe [Air Force motoring school] on BMW R 51, #16 Brunetto on 500cc Sertum, and from Holland #18 C. A. Ridders on BMW R 51. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

It may sound hard, when we mock a little bit. But, it must be said clearly, that only a small number of these competition riders seem able to install a tyre in a correct and fast way. Of course, looking at the selected men of our trophy and vase teams, they can do it professionally. But the others waste so many precious minutes, because they didn’t practice tyre mounting.

Photo – This was on the second day, the “5 lakes day, on the road parallel to the Lake “Attersee”. As long as only one solo rider comes along, the road seems quite wide, but imagine how tight it will be, if a sidecar outfit wants to overtake a bus, and they meet up there at the hump! The pictured rider is #217 NSKK- Truppführer [comparable to Sergeant] Wohlfahrt on Zündapp 245cc, a motorcycle that surprised some people with its performance. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

Photo – This was on the second day, the “5 lakes day, on the road parallel to the Lake “Attersee”. As long as only one solo rider comes along, the road seems quite wide, but imagine how tight it will be, if a sidecar outfit wants to overtake a bus, and they meet up there at the hump!
The pictured rider is #217 NSKK- Truppführer [comparable to Sergeant] Wohlfahrt on Zündapp 245cc, a motorcycle that surprised some people with its performance. ISDT 1939 (das Motorrad)

It is remarkable, how good the English now are in this discipline, but over there they had been drilled a lot before.  It is amazing, that it still can happen to one of our riders with a well-known name, that he consecutively mounts three new tubes and punctures them all, because there is still the tip of a nail inside the tyre. This must not happen.

With the Gschütt pass, there still was no end to the difficulties of this day, and who might have thought, that the way to the Aussee checkpoint, respectively the stage between Aussee and Hallstadt, could not be beaten, was wrong.

The worst was yet to come, between Kuchel and St. Kolomann. The organisers had chosen something that was too much, even for a rider like Julius von Krohn. A steep downhill passage, over lumps of rock and tree trunks, this was amazing. Interesting, how carefully the English did ride here, and in which determination the Swedish simply went over it. Seems, as if they are used to a lot over there. But, all of the men who came over from Sweden, are first class riders. Anyway, they were superior in this terrain up there at the “Grubenwirt”.

At the end of the day, which had been very hot, there was a “heavenly” shower, which again brought the riders some trouble, as the roads did get wet and slippery. As it could be expected, there were numerous losses, and especially it did strike the outfits. The English did loose a number of good men, and amongst them was also the good solo rider Tiffen jr., who doesn’t miss any ISDT. Unfortunately, also Drax from Munich, the man from the sports outfitter, could be found on the “list of losses”. He had not been able to avoid a vehicle in the opposing traffic, and went through the hedges and down a slope with his outfit. Thank god, his injuries haven’t been too severe.

Not less than eight outfits could be found on this days loss list. Many of them could be booked under “broken frame”. The BMW people had a lot of trouble with this, and, of course, some “specialist” found harsh words. It must be said, that of those frames that did break, it was where the sidecar had been mounted at three points. Those with four point connection did last. (I’m talking only about those which did break without any incident prior to this. If somebody rides into a bus first, he shouldn’t wonder if the outfit breaks down afterwards! To whom it concerns will know what I’m talking about!). Concerning the sidecar connections it can be said, that the BMW factory at Munich did some investigation about the movement of the front struts. They replaced the fourth strut by a flexible one, and found out, that it did move up to 15 mm under road conditions. Under the loads endured during such an event, the movement of the upper frame tube will be much stronger.

It is an old matter of dispute, if the frame should be flexible, so that it is able to move, as done by Harley. In that case, the motorcycle will not be very pleasant for fast solo riding. Or should the outfit be made as rigid as possible? In fact, this should be left to the designer’s decision, and there possibly is no general answer to this question. It is a matter of calculation, whether one puts so much material into the frame, that it is able to endure the standard three-point connection, or if one uses a four point connection. For the use of the motorcycle as a solo, a lightweight frame with four-point connection instead, would be preferred.

At the end of the day we did notice with joy, that Germany and England were still without marks in the trophy.  In the International Silver Vase, both German teams were without marks, Holland the same, while England, Italy and Sweden (the Swedish only had one silver vase team) each had one team free of marks.

For the trophy of the Korpsführer Hühnlein trophy, still twenty teams without marks were competing. And in the Bowmaker trophy seventeen teams still were without marks.

For us it is mostly important, that our motorcycles and men are in good shape, the little shock, when Sensburg and Feldwebel[6] Reinhardt crashed into each other within a cross-country section, could be forgotten soon, as nothing too bad had happened.

Day three to follow


[1] [the “Salzkammergut” is a region in Austria]

[2] [“See” means lake],

[3] [“Traum” means “dream” in German]

[4] [“Das weiße Röß’l am Wolfgangsee” is a wellknown musical comedy]

[5] [German insult – ‘Sky Hound’, later a name used in Nazi Propoganda films of Airforce Hitler Youth]

[6] [Sergeant]

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