In addition to its functioning as a testing track and serving as the shortest way out of Berlin into the southwest suburbs and the verdant surrounding countryside, the AVUS never stopped being a race track. Its official opening was indeed a motorcar race in 1921. Racing operations largely ceased during the years of runaway inflation in Germany, but not for long. Beginning in 1926, the track became a venue for international race competitions and not until 1998 did it close for good.
The AVUS had turns on the two short sides to the north and south thereby creating an approximately 20 kilometre circuit. Because of its extremely long straights, the AVUS was considered from the beginning to be one of the fastest race tracks in the world, a feature that led to some truly spectacular and tragic accidents. In order to allow the cars to go even faster and to improve its safety, the north curve was reconfigured in 1937 into a steeply banked curve with a 44 degree slope. The showpiece on display in our museum comes from that very curve, which was torn down and replaced with a less dangerous one in 1967.
To today’s observer the use of clinker bricks for a motorcar race track may seem somewhat strange but it should be once again recalled that this course was designed as a testing track – materials, too, were tested.