Willi Krakau

Willi Krakau

4/12/1911 - 26/4/1995

A member of the German rowing team at the 1936 Summer Olympics, Krakau became the first German to enter an International event post WWII. With a reputation as a constructor of specials, he entered one World Championship race, the 1952 German Grand Prix. Driving his six-cylinder AFM car, he qualifyied but did not dtart the race.

Willi Krakau was born in Schonebeck-Felgeleben, Germany in 1911. He was a keen sportsman and was part of the 1936 German Olympic Rowing Team as well as being accomplished at skiing, swimming, sailing, athletics and scuba diving.

He started racing in 1947 with a standard BMW 328 in the 2-litre sports car race at Schotten. He finished second in a race that had to be stopped early due to crowd trouble.

He was back in 1948 with his Eigenbau (home-built special). These special were very popular in Germany in both Formula 2 and in sports car racing Krakau's special was one of the most competitive.

He raced again at Schotten with his neatly turned out machine and challenged Kling in his Aerosaurian with the lead changing frequently. Unfortunately Krakau's BMW 328 engine quit on the third lap.

Over the winter he worked on improving his car and fitted new bodywork. He immediately impressed at the first event of the year at the Nürburgring. He took the lead from the start and set the fastest lap time before retiring with engine failure.

At the second race at the Nürburgring, Krakau diced with the Veritas of Roese, Kling and Ulmen. At one time or another they all took turns leading. On the last lap it was down to Krakau and Kling, with Kling taking the honours by six seconds.


In 1950 he entered the Grand Prix at Monza. He was the first German to enter an International event post war as Stuck was still using his Austrian Licence. Krakau's Eigenbau had detachable wings, which permitted this switch from sports car to Formula 2. He was made to repaint the car from it's silver to white as silver was still regarded as the German national racing colour. He also initially had problems obtaining tyres from Pirelli.

In the first heat Villoresi took the lead, Palmieri had a big accident which Krakau avoided but in doing so he lost touch with the leaders and had to settle for fourth behind the Ferraris but ahead of the Simca-Gordinis, OSCAs, Cisitalias and Maseratis.

The final was a disappointment when a bearing failed in the engine putting him out while running in sixth place just six laps from the finish.

He did not race in 1951 but returned in 1952 having teamed up with Fritz Rieß. Rieß had decided to race a Veritas RS in 1952 rather than his AFM. This meant that Krakau could race the AFM in the German Grand Prix. Krakau in turn leant his Eigenbau to Harry Merkel.

Driving Rieß's six-cylinder AFM car, he completed Qualifying but did not appear on the starting grid and Harry Merke failed to qualify the Eigenbau

At the end of 1952 Krakau sold the Eigenbau to Hans Klenk, who entered the car for Ernst Lautenschlager. But towards the end of the season the car was parked.

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