Spectators on the stands wave at the racing cars as they thunder past, 2 August 1959
© Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Pressebilderdienst Kindermann


24th September 2021 marked the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of the “Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungsstraße” (AVUS) [Automobile traffic and training road]. Races at the AVUS were one of Berlin’s most popular sporting events and at their peak drew in over 300,000 people.

The Avus is regarded as the world’s first automobile-only road and, for a long time, also has been deemed to be the fastest race track in the world on which countless records were set. Today it forms the northern section of the A115 motorway, but even until the end of the 1990’s, it was also still being used as a racetrack. Its chequered past begins at the time of the German Empire and reflects the dramatic history of Europe during the 20th century.

Map of Grunewald showing the AVUS from 1923
© Berliner Morgenpost | source: Sammlung eAUTOBAHN.de
Anyone who has ever travelled by car to Berlin, approaching from the south west, is sure to know the stand at the side of the road close to the radio tower. By the time you reach it, you will already have been on Germany’s oldest motorway for the past ten kilometres. The stand is a still recognisable “vestige” of the race track which used to have turning loops at its southern and northern ends. The two loops formed the only curves of the race course which in those days was 19.6 kilometres in length. They are no longer there now. Notably the 18-metre-wide banking on the north side and AVUS’ reputation as the world’s fasted race track form part of its legendary status.

Many thanks to the Berlin Sports Museum and the Collection eAUTOBAHN.de for their friendly cooperation and for providing the pictures

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