Temple Of Speed: Stumbling Across An Abandoned Test Track

In the 1920s, before iconic motorsport venues like the Nürburgring and Hockenheimring existed in Germany, a banked oval track located 30km (18mi) south-west of Frankfurt am Primary was just one of the fastest racing circuits in Europe.

The Opel-Rennbahn (Opel Racetrack) was a check monitor first and foremost, but when Opel was not putting its vehicles through their paces they opened it up to motorsport occasions. Around 50,000 spectators would go to the observe on the finest of days, an astonishing crowd size considering this was the post-war period.

One particular hundred several years later on, I’m below, standing alone on the remnants of a 32° banked curve. And absolutely by opportunity I was staying in a hotel 2km absent, and observed it though checking a map for any intriguing places nearby.


The oval is located in a forest, and it’s a beautiful space to wander all-around and delight in character. The remained banked area of the monitor is lined in moss, and almost everything from modest shrubs to big trees have pressured their way via the dilapidated concrete surface underneath. In spring or summer season, there’s a great prospect that most of this historical site would be thoroughly camouflaged by the greenery.


It would be a stretch to get in touch with it an open-air museum, but in 2013, a cantilevered system that extends out in excess of a area of the track was manufactured. You can walk up onto it and understand the record of the place by way of comprehensive details plaques.


At the time development workers broke ground in 1917, 5,000 people today had been used by Opel, operating on, among the other points, a two-seater car nick-named Puppchen (Doll) with a 1.5L engine that outputted 14.5hp.

The oval racetrack was 1.5-kilometers (.93-miles) very long and 12-meters vast, its concrete slabs held collectively with tar.


The oval was accomplished in 1919, and the very first race was held on October 24, 1920, in front of 10,000 spectators. The circuit skilled a growth until the early 1930s, with quite a few car or truck, motorcycle and sidecar races held during the weekends. On weekdays, the racetrack resumed examination observe duties.


In 1928, Opel began testing a rocket auto at the track. This was the world’s incredibly first large-scale rocket method, appreciably advancing propulsion systems and aviation technological know-how, and even leaving a mark on the long term NASA Apollo missions.

After the stunning demo runs of Opel-RAK’s rocket-run RAK 1 in April 1928, take a look at drivers Fritz von Opel, Friedrich Sander, Max Valier and Kurt C. Volkhart turned internationally recognized.


From 1934, racing ceased due to the attractiveness of new, larger circuits like the AVUS monitor, Nürburgring, and the previous Hockenheimring. The Opel-Rennbahn remained a test monitor and later on, right after Environment War II, the US military used the space as a maintenance facility.


Since 1987, the race track has been designated a ‘Technisches Kulturdenkmal’ (complex cultural heritage monument). The ‘Opel Racecourse Cultural Monument’ initiative is campaigning for the preservation of the racetrack, so there is nevertheless hope that it can be maintained as an open-air museum, or maybe some thing even grander.


For a limited while, I sat on the banked curve – the only remaining part of the circuit  – and imagined what it would have been like listed here 100 years ago…

Vladimir Ljadov
Instagram: wheelsbywovka
due to the [email protected]

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