Robert Kohlrausch

Robert Kohlrausch

9/3/1904 - 12/8/1953

Primarily a hillclimb specialist, Bobby Kohlrausch raced for BMW and MG with great success before WWII. After the war he returned with a self built 500cc GvB eigenbau. He was killed in practice for the Schauinsland hillclimb in 1935.

Bobby Kohlrausch was born in Eisenach, Germany. When he was young he used to race home built motorcycles on circuits and around the streets of Eisenach. He served an apprenticeship as a mechanic at the Eisenach based Dixi automobile plant.

His parents, concerned for his safety bought him a new sports car, a BMW 3/15 DA3 Wartburg Roadster in the hope that it would keep him from bike racing.

At 26, Kohlrausch began business management studies in Munich, and took part in his first motor racing competition, the Kesselberg Hill Climb on 15th June 1930, wining the 750 cc class in his Wartburg Roadster and established a new class record. Although only 150 Roadsters were built, it contributed greatly to the popularity of BMW. In the July Kohlrausch, took 2nd place in the Eifel races at the Nurburgring.

Kohlrausch achieved such success with the car that BMW fitted his new Wartburg Roadster with a special experimental engine which was far more powerful than the production model. In the new car Kohlrausch won many events taking 27 wins between 1930 and 1933.

He also raced an Austin 7, the 'Rubber Duck', during this time winning the 750 cc racing-car class at the Hohnstein-Rennen on September 18th, 1932. This was a hill climb held on part of what was intended to be a 10Km long GP circuit called the Deutschlandring. The Austin was a 100mph record breaker that was developed for racing in Germany by Kohlrausch in 1932 and 1933 before it was aquired by Walter Baumer in 1934

In 1934 he switched to racing MGs. He aquired the MG EX127, the Magic Midget, from George Eyston. Sporting a streamlined body, Bobby installed the new Q-Type engine and ran the machine to a new record of 130 mph and followed that with a screaming 140 mph on the Frankfurt Autobahn.

He first raced it at the AVUS-Rennen that year, still pained green as it had only just arrived fromthe UK. He then raced it on 3 June 1934 in the 8th ADAC International Eifel Rennen at the Nürburgring. At the 9th International Kesselberg Rennen hill-climb on 17 June near Munich, taking victory in the 800cc racing class in the ex-Hamilton MG J4 Midget. He also took third in the 1500cc sport class racing the ex-Howe K3.

In 1935 he was invited by Auto Union to the cadett driver tests at the Nürburgring. However he does not seem to have raced for them. At the 9th ADAC International Eifel Rennen in June 1935, Kohlrausch took the win in the ‘Magic Midget’. The second and third position also went to MGs, Jack Wren in a Q-type and Adolf Brudes in a MG J4. Then on the 4th August 1935 an international hillclimb was organized on the Grosz-Glockner for the first time. It was arraged to celebrate the finishing of the Hochalpen Strasse of the Grosz-Glockner Pass, the highest motorway in Europe, going from Salzburg into Italy. The track leading from Fusch to the Hochbar Tunnel was 20km long and included no less than 50 hairpins. Watched by more than 100,000 spectators, Bobby Kohlrausch, set the fastest time in the ‘Magic Midget’

He entered the II Swiss Grand Prix at Berne (Prix de Course des Voiturettes) on 25 August 1935. This was a 20-lap race covering 144km on the Bremgarten Circuit near Bern. Unfortunately Kohlrausch had to retire because of engine trouble. Dick Seaman in an ERA took the win.

In 1937, perhaps under Hitler's orders, the car was acquired by Mercedes-Benz. Tests showed that the MG produced 115 HP at 7000 rpm. This was 153.3 HP per litre, equivalent to 460 HP for a 3 litre engine, and was the target set for the M154, a power output that was only finally achieved by the M163 engine in 1939.

World War II brought an end to racing in Europe but one hostilities ceased Kohlrausch was one of the first men in the GDR to plead for the recommencement of motor racing in the east.

When racing began again he built a 750cc car which he called a GvB. GvB stood for 'Geheimnis von Bobby' meaning "Bobby's secret". This was a pretty front engined BMW powered single seater that he drove in the 1950 German Formula 3 Championship taking a win at the Grenzlandring and a second at Schauinsland. The following year he raced it again but with a best result of only a 4th in the Halle Saale Schleife. He continued hillclimbing with the GvB.

After Paul Greifzu was killed racing at Dessau in 1952, Dora Greifzu, his widow, rebuild his car. The car reappeared at the Paul Greifzu Memorial Race at Dessau in 1953 with Kohlrausch at the wheel, finishing fifth.

He had intended to upgrade the GvB F3 car that year to F2 specs, the then current World Championship category, by supercharging the 500cc BMW engine, but this never happened. Sadly he died from a heart attack during a trip to the West on the 12th August 1953. He had been due to compete in the hillclimb at the Schauinsland Circuit on the 9th August but did not turn up. Whether he was already ill or still away on his travels, we do not know.

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