Adolf Brudes

15/10/1899 - 5/11/1986

Record updated 10-Mar-08

Brudes started racing motorcycles before turning to four wheels. He finished third in the Mille Miglia in 1940. After the cessation of hostilities he resumed his racing and appearance in the 1952 German GP. He became a Borgward works driver competing in long-distance races such as the Buenos Aires 1000 Km, Le Mans 24 Hours and Carrera Panamericana as well as attempting speed records.

Adolf Brudes
Adolf Brudes von Breslau was a German racing driver of noble extraction. He was born in Kotulin near Breslau. Today Breslau is know as Wroclaw in Poland but was then part of the German Reich.

Brudes began his racing career on motorcycles possibly as early as 1919. In 1925 Victoria, a company based in that built motorcycles added a Rootes blower to their 2-cyl. ohv 597cc flat engine and the following year, Brudes set a world record by riding one at an average speed of 166 kilometres per hour (103 mph).
However his desire was to race at the highest level and with this in mind he started racing cars as well as motorcycles in 1928. He acquired a Bugatti T37A with which he went hill climbing mostly in Poland, taking a number of overall and class wins.

Brudes was an excellent mechanic and opened a BMW and Auto Union dealership in Breslau. In 1934 he bought the ex-Emil Frankl Bugatti T35B and the ex-Eddie Hall MG C-type with which he took a class win at that years Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring on June 1st.

In 1936 he took part in the Auto Union  driver evaluation test at the Nürburgring. Perhaps at the age of 37 the factory thought he was too old but not Adolf who, the next year, acquired a BMW 328. With this he turned in some excellent results which earned him a place in the works-team for the 1938 Spa 24 hours, driving with Paul Heinemann to a class second, and in the shortened 1940 Mille Miglia driving with Ralph Roese. The full title of the race that year was the I Gran Premio Bescia delle Mille Miglia and consisted of nine laps of a triangular 167-kilometre circuit between Brescia, Cremona and Mantua. Five BMWs were entered and Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer took the lead at the start. In the second BMW, Brudes drove the first part of the race and Roese the second. von Hanstein and Bäumer held on to the lead to the finish in their BMW 328 ‘Mille Miglia’, while Roese and Brudes came home third.

With the outbreak of war, racing stopped and when the war ended Brudes' situation was much changed. By 1945 he had lost nearly everything and he and his family were forced to move to Sedlitz, a small town in East Germany where his brother lived.

He took on odd jobs doing minor repairs to get by until one day he went to Berlin looking for work. He went to the BMW dealer Schoth in Halensee. Through them he was introduced to 'Alexander Orley' (real name Alexandre Todd) who was looking for a racing car. Orley was an American officer, whose family had left Russia in 1917 and who had spent some time in Germany before the war and was now back in Berlin working as a translator for the Allied High Commission.

Orley bought three BMW coupés for himself and two friends and Brudes prepared them for racing. Orley provided Brudes with all he and his family needed to live on, including a car, and in 1947 made it possible for them to move from Sedlitz to Berlin.

Brudes resumed his racing activities, driving Alexander's BMW Orley Special. It was in this car that he made his one and only World Championship appearance in the 1952 German Grand Prix. He qualified in 19th place but went out after just 5 laps with engine problems.

In spring of 1950 he got a call from August Momberger who wanted him to drive what became later a Borgward sports car, in a number of record runs. In 1952 Borgward launched a very streamlined 1500cc sports-racer based on a lightweight twin tube chassis, which was drilled with no fewer that two thousand holes to achieve lightness. Coil springs were fitted all round and the engine was a development of the one fitted to the Hansa 1500 saloon.

In August 1952 Hans Hugo Hartmann, a former Mercedes-Benz reserve Grand Prix driver, gave Borgward its first win with the car at the Grenzlandring and backed this with a further victory at Avus in September with Brudes finishing 3rd. A number of records were set in October at Montlhéry and in 1953 Hartmann and Brudes scored a 2nd and 3rd at May’s Eifelrennen on the Nurburgring.

Brudes had been the main driver for the Bremen company in German rallies and endurance runs but it was not until 1953 that he was finally given a contract and became an official works driver.

Borgward entered three Borgward Hansa 1500 Rennsport Coupés for Le Mans, their first step into international racing. Three all aluminium bodied coupés were built but one was written off before the team even left for the Sarthe. The cars were driven from Bremen to Le Mans with the number 42 car being entrusted to Hartmann and Brudes. This was to be their only appearance at Le Mans. Misfortune struck after just three hours when they ran out of fuel.

In the November he drove in the Carrera Panamericana finishing 6th in the 1500 cc class.

In 1954 He drove a Borgward Hansa 1500RS in the Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometres with Hartmann nut they retired with oil problems. Later in the Carrera Panamericana driving a Borgward Isabella with Erick Bock he finished 6th in class.
In 1955 he raced a Borgward Isabella to a class victory in the GP de Voitures de Serie at Spa-Francorchamps.

Brudes continued racing up until 1968 when he made his last competitive appearance in an Alfa Romeo Giulia in the Taunus Hill climb finishing 3rd in 1600cc Touring Car Class.