“I’ve been wondering anew why so few successful bikers have failed to also make their mark on car racing…”
This thought came to mind following the recent death of the great motorcycle champion Geoff Duke. His efforts to switch to cars failed despite a promising attempt. Yet several bike racers have made the switch in the past.
My all-time hero, Tazio Nuvolari, started his career on bikes in the 1920s. He was a top man in Italy before mixing two wheels and four and becoming a grand prix and sportscar superstar for Bugatti, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Auto Union. One of his major rivals on bikes and in cars was his fellow Italian, the enigmatic Achille Varzi, their fabled rivalry raging from the 1920s until after World War II.
Both their brilliant careers lasted for more than 20 years, but that of the German genius Bernd Rosemeyer was tragically brief. As a star rider for the German NSU and DKW motorcycle firms, Rosemeyer was recruited to drive the hard-to-handle, rear-engined Auto Union in 1935. Despite never having driven a racing car before, he took to it like a duck to water. A succession of brilliant wins against the might of Mercedes followed in 1936 and ’37 before his