Audi Sport UK Press Release from 08/02/1983 outlining the History of Auto Union and Audi in Motorsport.
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AUDI IN MOTORSPORT
Traditions and aims
The motorsport activities of the Audi company date back to 1909. From the earliest beginnings it was clear that Audi’ s involvement in motorsport always came from the need to prove a new design or a new engineering approach. This strategy, which still holds true today, emerged as early as 1909 when NSU entered .the lightweight and robust “Neckarsulmer Motorenwagen” in the 1150 mile Prince Henry Rally and succeeded in winning against far more heavyweight competition.
A car bearing the “Audi” name soon made an appearance in motorsport, designed by August Horch (whose name translates in Latin as “Audi”) and winning the Transalpine Rally in 1913 equipped with an improved type of braking system.
In 1925 NSU entered the prototype of a new 6-cylinder for the very first German Grand Prix: much to the surprise of all the experts the car took first place overall ahead of the Bugattis and Mercedes which had been clear favourites.
The revolution which came some 10 years later as new confirmation of Auto Union’s policy with regard to motorsport was the appearance of the Auto Union Grand Prix car, designed by Ferdinand Porsche with a mid –engine layout – and this was only 1934! Then, in 1936, there followed the great racing victories. The Auto Union Silberpfeile (their 6 litre 16-cylinder engines giving 520 bhp) progressed through a succession of wins at the hands of Hans Stuck and the Italian Achille Varzi. The legendary Bernd Rosemeyer won the European Championship for the first t ime, which put Auto Union at the pinnacle of motor racing in Europe. To round off these successes Bernd Rosemeyer went on to contribute a world record: with a speed of 252 mph on a public road he broke all existing records to become the fastest driver in the world.
But Auto Union did not confine such unique achievements to the race track: on the rallying front the team of Cecil/Vickers won the notoriously difficul t Safari Rally in Kenya in 1956 with a DKW (3-cylinder two stroke), and in the same year the two Finns Kalpala/ Kalpala won the Rally of the Thousand Lakes. A third outstanding success was recorded by Lewy/Wechner driving an Auto Union 1000 (3-cylinder two stroke) in the Acropolis Rally in Greece. These three rallies – now world championship events – have always been completely different in character: they are organised in different ways and involve different kinds of road surfaces, but they are all extremely hard.
The Fifties were marked not only by spectacular individual efforts but also by a championship title – in 1954 Walter Schulter driving a DKW won the European Rally Championship by virtue of his consistent performance. One decade later Karl-Heinz Panowitz introduced a rather novel development when he won the German GT Rally Championship in 1966 driving a Wankel powered NSU Spider. In the 1967 season Siegfried Speiss became German hil lcl imbing champion driving another Wankel powered NSU. At the end of the Seventies Audi again took an active and successful role in motorsport with their front wheel drive cars: wins in national and international rallies and the 1980 European Touring Car Championship title for the Audi 80 GLE rounded off the decade and gave a good start for the Eighties.
The 4wd Audi Quattro is a unique development in motorsport. The basic aims of proving a new design or a new engineering approach are the same as they were 70 years ago. Audi have set up a special Competitions Department located outs ide the Factory but organised as a closely integrated part of the Research and Development Division in order to maintain contact with the standard production cars. As a way of demonstrating in public the technical progress that has been achieved, the 4wd Audi Quattro is running in the world rally championship and proving to be something of an innovative force.
The criteria in motorsport and in modern production car engineering are parallel and in the main areas even identical – aerodynamic efficiency, the elimination of superfluous weight, safe handling, high efficiency and durability are the primary factors.
Now this has been taken a step further with the introduction of the latest four-wheel drive car from Audi, the 80 Quattro. A direct descendent of the all-conquering and World Championship winning Audi Quattro; it is the first regular production vehicle to feature the Audi 4WD concept and fulfil the promise of Audi to bring all-wheel drive to normal motoring.