My Dream Drive: The fastest road in the world


Name: Dan Trent
Where: A5 Frankfurt-Darmstadt Autobahn
Car used: Jaguar XJ Supersport (not a streamlined Mercedes)

You'll need one of these to beat the record
You'll need one of these to beat the record
The route:
"There are more interesting sections of Autobahn on which you can get your speed hit in Germany, the flat, arrow straight A5 that heads south out of Frankfurt not big on the scenery. But there's a reason for it being a Dream Drive."

Why it's a dream drive:
"With a lack of suitable natural terrain like the beaches of Pendine or the salt beds of Bonneville but a hunger to demonstrate the technological might of the Nazi-sponsored land-speed and racing cars the Germans acted with typical logic and built their own venue for running record cars. Obviously it needed to be straight and flat and that's why this particular section of Autobahn is both of those things and the scene for both triumph and tragedy at the altar of speed.

"In January 1938 on this very piece of road Rudolf Caracciola in a streamlined Mercedes set a record of 272mph that still stands as the fastest recorded speed on a public road. That was the triumph. The tragedy followed when his arch Auto Union rival and German racing hero Bernd Rosemeyer had his go at beating it immediately afterwards and was killed when his car lifted up and smashed into a bridge at over 200mph.

Memorial to Rosemeyer in a lay-by beside A5
Memorial to Rosemeyer in a lay-by beside A5
"Even in a Veyron in the wee small hours you're unlikely to trouble that record today but there must be something in the air here because even the middle lanes are a 90mph-plus zone and the outside lane is reserved for the big boys. Which is why driving it in a174mph Jaguar XJ remains a Dream Drive, especially with most of the locals running into their 155mph limiters."

Highlights and lowlights:
"Frankfurt is Germany's business capital and not big on laughs or scenery. And the A5 is the main route south to Mannheim, Stuttgart and other industrial centres. So it's busy. And probably not somewhere you'd choose to go on holiday per se. But there are other attractions, as you'll see."

Easily achieved in a supercharged Jag
Easily achieved in a supercharged Jag
Sights, stop-offs and diversions:
"Carry on south and branch off onto the parallel A67 at Darmstadt and before long you'll reach Hockenheim. So if you're en route to a DTM round or similar the Rosemeyer memorial in the lay-by on the A5 is an easy stop, if only to pay your respects.

"Just past Hockenheim is the Technik Museum Speyer, home to an amazing collection of boats, planes, trains, cars and ... a space shuttle. And if that doesn't satisfy your appetite for boys' toys you can carry on a bit further to the sister museum in Sinsheim, which has an amazing car collection plus a Concorde on the roof. And a Tupelov Concordski too. The only place in the world you can see both together."

Follow the route here.



My Dream Drive is sponsored by Dunlop Tyres. To share yours email us at dreamdrives@pistonheads.com - if we publish your Dream Drive you'll get a pair of complimentary tickets to the BTCC round of your choosing, courtesy of Dunlop Tyres.

 


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Comments (45) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Twoshoe 13 Sep 2013

    272 mph...
    On a public road...
    In 1938!!! Blimey

  • mrpenks 13 Sep 2013

    Twoshoe said:
    272 mph...
    On a public road...
    In 1938!!! Blimey
    Back in 1997 a bloke in the village pub was adamant he almost touched 200mph in Wales on the M4. The car? A Nova 1.4sri...

  • krallicious 13 Sep 2013

    It's one of my favourite bits of Autobahn too.

  • TIGA84 13 Sep 2013

    I never knew of that record.

    So the Veyron SS isn't the fastest road car in the world.

    The actual leader of the pack is a 1937 Mercedes convertible?

    Love it.

    What in all that's holy was in that Merc to get it to 272mph, bearing in mind the W16 quad turbo 1200hp Veyron mooching around behind at 268 on its specially rated tyres and 14 radiators?

    They must have had carbon-titanium testicles, or the 1937 equivalent.

  • Zod 13 Sep 2013

    krallicious said:
    It's one of my favourite bits of Autobahn too.
    It's good for Sunday morning high speed runs, but the surface is rough and it's rather dull to drive, apart from the speed. The A3 between Frankfurt and Cologne is much more fun to drive.

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