Photo from Scala Picture Library
Over the decades, automobile racing has seen some safety measures implemented although car crashes are still considered a norm.
However, there is an episode in automobile racing that has sparked great curiosity and it all came from the account of one man – Alfred Neubauer – in his autobiography Speed Was My Life first published in English in 1960.
- Neubauer was the racing manager of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team from 1926 to 1955 and in his book, he mentioned that he met a mysterious man.
- Enter Hanussen! Erik Jan Hanussen is known for his clairvoyant performances, he was an Austrian Jewish publicist, charlatan, and charlatan.
- He mysteriously predicted the death of the Racing Prince, Prince George Christian of Lobkowic (1908-1932), during a race at the AVUS in Germany in May 1932.
From AutomotiveRareBirds with Prince Georg Christian on the right
In the chapter “A Prophecy Comes True” from the book by Neubauer, the manager was at the Roxy Bar when he challenged Hanussen to prognosticate the winner of the next day's race.
After some' leg pulling', Hanussen wrote two names on a piece of paper, which he folded, and sealed in an envelope. This was placed in the safekeeping of the barman with strict instructions that it should be left unopened until the race has ended.
- Hanussen blazoned,' One of us at this table will win hereafter, another will perish. The two names are in this envelope.' The race progressed, as usual, the next day.
- Prince Christian was driving a number 38, single-seater, Bugatti Type 54 at that time. The design itself is unique as it is one of the only six produced and it uses the Inline-8 engine which made the automobile design known for its brute power as it supersedes its weak predecessor, the Type 35s. The design had an aluminum body over a steel frame that houses that mentioned engine, weighing it at 285.71 bhp per tonne, but was successful in its racing capabilities with a top speed of 124.20 miles per hour.
- Other famous drivers that used this design were Louis Chiron and Archille Varzi due to their whopping power of 223.7 kilowatts. That enabled Varzi to win third place in the 1930 Monza Grand Prix.
The prince was a famous racer at that time as well, often racing under the pseudonym of "Hyta". He was more into non-competitive racing. However, during the race, Prince George Christian of Lobkowicz was killed, and Manfred von Brauchitsch won.
Photo from TheFastLane UK
As the twenty-five-year-old aristocrat was trying to end the first lap, the automotive swerved and crossed the rear straight which crashed through three trees and collided with a railway wall. That killed the driver instantly. It is also said that his mechanic was killed due to the accident although that is later known to be untrue due to the restrictions imposed on mechanics to not be on the racetracks. Once the day concluded, Alfred Neubauer opened the envelope and found the names of the winner and the deceased inside.
There are some inconsistencies with the stories because a Berlin newspaper published an article claiming that Hanussen has warned the German Automobile Club to convince the young prince not to take part in the race because of the imposing danger, but the Club did not act upon the urge.
Hanussen had dictated his prophecy word for word at the Berlin ADAC main agency office:
"The day of the International ADAC-Avusrennen of 1932 will begin in the sign of Caracciola. However the great driver in his Alfa Romeo will get probably a bit to the rear-guard due to two brief troubles and has to make room for the advancing Chiron. This time his Bugatti will deliver everything the engine has within. Likewise he will be thrown back by a brief break-down, so that for a while the race will look like a victory by Stuck with the Mercedes. In general Mercedes will dominate the field this year for an enormous stretch. Campbell with Sunbeam will drive an impressive race. He will quickly advance and then stay behind.
"This year will be a Bugatti year. A surprise represents von Morgen. Prince Lobkowicz should drive carefully. At the race near the end Bugatti will be seen in front in the lead after hard battle, after Alfa Romeo has been caught up.
If Chiron however does not drive until the end because of his tires, a sure victory for Alfa Romeo will happen."
During his lifetime, Hanussen was widely acclaimed as a hypnotist, mentalist, occultist, and astrologer. Hanussen was born in 1889, claiming to be a Danish aristocrat when in fact, he was a Moravian Jew for his father was an actor and caretaker of a synagogue while his mother was a singer in Vienna.
Hanussen came to prominence due to his occult rituals and activities such as fortune telling. It is said that he once predicted the Reichstag fire – an arson attack on the home of the German parliament in Berlin – as well as Adolf Hitler’s rise to power as he suggested to the later Fuhrer of Germany that his luck would change based on certain occult practices.
Hitler was given a Mandrake dug up near a butcher’s shop in his old town of Braunau am Inn which was said to have influenced his rise to power four weeks after the Reichstag fire. Hanussen’s prominence made suspicion even to the highest-ranking Nazi official at that time, so he was silenced on 25th March 1933. This was considered one of the prophecies that Hanussen successfully predicted.
How did Hanussen predict the crash of Racing Prince Georg Christian?
Hanussen’s knowledge of the outcome of the race surprised everyone. Yet, some felt that Hanussen himself had caused the accident which was like what happened to the 1933 Reichstag fire as there are unsubstantiated claims that Hanussen had hypnotized and ordered Marinus van der Lubbe (The man convicted for the arson by the Weimar Government) to cause the fire and pushed Hitler into power.
It has been many years from now and all we can do is speculate as there is not much evidence to support Hanussen’s influence over the race except the word of Neubauer and the coming episodes in history that led to the rise of evil.
In the golden age of automobile racing, it is common to find cars crashing during the race which has resulted in many deaths and serious injuries. These old cars were hazardous to drive due to driving at an excessive speed which may lead to them quickly losing control of their vehicles, causing a devasting wreck.