90 years of the Opel RAK 2

R├╝sselsheim, Germany, 24. May 2018

238 km/h: For current car-that is quite fast, but not exceptionally high speed. Very different the world looked 90 years ago. The Mercedes SSK up to 192 km/h top had a reputation, as it is today, the Bugatti Chiron. With a maximum of 70 km/h, the owner of an Opel drove 4/16 HP, better known as "tree-frog" through the country. And yet they were proud, because their brand had on 23. May 1928 caused a sensation. On that day, Fritz von Opel dared to Ride in the rocket-powered RAK 2.

Three men, an idea

However, after the row: In the autumn of 1927, Fritz von Opel, the grandson of the company met with its founder, the Austrian publicist Max Valier (1895 to 1930). Valier conducted research at that time on rockets and fixte the young Opel with the theme. Not only had sufficient funds, but also the PR recognized the opportunities for the then-family-owned car brand. For the implementation of a rocket engine, Fritz von Opel took the support of: Friedrich Sander (1885-1938) was a producer of solid fuel rockets for signal purposes.

Explosives in the rear

From the collaboration of the trio Valier, Sander, and Opel is the first prototype with a rocket engine developed in March 1928. 11. April Opel RAK 1 started with an engineer and racing driver Kurt Volkhart at the wheel, and reached within eight seconds, a speed of 100. It took twelve rockets, with around 40 kilograms of explosives. They put in the rear of the Opel 4/12 PS, which was equipped with small side wings.

The RAK 2

The press rolled over, and so a shovel was from Opel still on it. On the Chassis of the 10/40 HP you designed the 4.88 Meter long RAK 2. In a car the Opel RAK 2, reminded only by its four wheels and the steering Wheel. The Rest of the 560-kilogram light car seemed like Science Fiction: cigar shape, large wings, and 24 missiles in the rear for a total of six tons of thrust. The charges were ignited in a stepwise manner by a Pedal in the footwell. The engine and transmission? Wrong!

Spectacle at the Avus

Around 3,000 guests, including celebrities like Boxing Champion Max Schmeling, or the Director, Fritz Lang, gathered on may 23. May 1928 on the Avus in Berlin, to the spectacle. Only here, there were two long Straights. Finally, Fritz von Opel RAK-2 should be fast, very fast. Or the risky technique flew in the air? The radio reported at least live, in order not to miss anything.

In the rush of the acceleration

What happened then, described by Fritz von Opel in retrospect: "I'm the Z├╝ndpedal. Behind me it howls and throws me forward. ... I kick again, again and it grabs me like a fury for the fourth Time. Sideways everything disappears. ... The acceleration is a rush. I don't think. The reality disappears. I was only in the subconscious. Behind me is the lawn of the irrepressible forces." The russelsheimer mastered the North curve and the rear of the car, because the wing provided enough downforce for the breakneck pace. After about three minutes it was all over. The RAK 2 slowly rolled out, the big white clouds of smoke broke up under the shouting and Cheering of the spectators in the sky over Berlin: Opel 238 km/h has been achieved and has been with the nickname "rocket Fritz" the night to one of the great celebrities of the Nation.

Rockets even on the plane

Buoyed by the huge success in Berlin, Fritz von Opel, and Friedrich Sander continued their explosive experiments. With the rocket-trolley Opel RAK 3, they reached on the 23rd. June 1928 in Burgwedel with 256 km/h a new world speed record for rail vehicles. To Try with a motorcycle, the legendary Opel Moto club, they turned, finally, intensive flying. 30. In September 1929 the first official rocket flight in the world took place in Frankfurt with Julius Hatry built a high-wing monoplane "Opel-Sander RAK.1" instead. Shortly thereafter, the rockets were attempts at Opel, however, under the impact of the world economic crisis ended. The future was in March 1929 General Motors.(rh)