The Solitude era
All information about the Solitude race track, with its famous "double S bend" just outside the relexa Waldhotel Schatten.
How is started
The first small mountain races in the region took already place from 1903 until 1906. However, the first races for motorcycles and cars started in 1923. Now it started to get exciting for all racing lovers such as Max Ell, the former president of the Motorsport Club Stuttgart. He convinced the president of the ADAC Sport, Ludwig Bruckmeyer, of the benefits of having a racing track.
And then it started. In October 1924, the "Solitude- race GmbH" was founded. The Robert Bosch AG and the Stuttgart Trams AG offered their support. During 1924 and 1925 the track was extended to 22.3 kilometres, with a maximum gradient of 15% and 28 bends. The first big race took place on 16th and 17th May 1925. Over two days 180 motorcycles and 114 cars started the race in three categories: touring, sports and racing cars.
More than 150,000 visitors were counted. Even then, all access roads were jammed with cars and camper vans parked anywhere. A lot of spectators watched the race just outside the "Waldhotel Schatten".
Ever changing racing track route
In 1931, a slightly shorter race was run with 19.9 km. It was the basis for the new section Schattengrund to Glemseck through the Mahden valley. A third time the race track was amended in 1935 to 11.7 km with the start being at Glemseck, then Hederbach bend, Frauenkreuz, Sternbachsee, Schatten- S, Schattengrund, Mahdental and the finish line being back at Glemseck.
The last race before the war took place in 1937. Only in 1949 the racing commenced again.
In the 50ies and 60ies the Solitude race track was the most advanced and safest race track in Europe. When it was not in use for racing, it was used for day to day traffic.
Visitor numbers were equal to Hockenheim, Le Mans and Monte Carlo. The top speed was 220 km/h. The absolute peak time was the Grand Prix of Germany in 1956 with a sensational victory by Werner Haas on a NSU in the 125cc class. 400,000 people celebrated the Augsburg winner.
Famous names, famous cars
All great race drivers were at Solitude race track. In 1960 at the "Grand Prix of Solitude" in Formula 2 were among others at the start: Graham Hill (father of Damon Hill) / Porsche, Jim Clark / Lotus, Jack Brabham / Cooper Clim, John Surtess / Porsche-Walker and the local hero Hans Herrmann / Porsche.
Until 1965 the big racing professionals took part. When between 1961- 1965 Formula 1 was present on the Solitude race track, the spectators were up to 300,000 people then.
The last race was held on 18th July 1965 in front of about 200,000 fans. After that no more races were held for security reasons. But the Solitude race track has countless fans who would like to give the "Mythos Solitude" new life. in 1999 for example the sports driver club Württemberg eV in the ADAC hosted a huge revival festival. Many famous drivers took part. This was just the beginning. The Solitude lives.
How did the race track get its name?
Solitude (being alone) is actually the name of the famous summer palace, built by Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg between 1764 and 1769, it is located southwest of Stuttgart with magnificent views to the surrounding countryside. Even today it is one of the outstanding architectural ensemble of the 18th century in the German Southwest.
© Pictures Historic Motorsport Photos Werner Eisele
Big thank you for their cooperation to Mr. Walter Mezger, Mrs Hede Zeller as well as Mrs Kukacka, Mr. Probst, Mr. Stähle and Mrs. Birgit Barth.
Find here historical pictures of the racing event.