They Never Forget
Folklore tells us every week for the last 68 years a fresh bunch of flowers is carefully laid on the simple stone memorial in the woods on the twisty undulating road near the entrance to the Sachsenring. Certainly there was a fresh bunch of locally picked flowers there this morning as we drove through the forest on the old road circuit on route to the first day of practice for the GoPro German Grand Prix at the new Sachsenring.
A thousand miles away, across Europe and across both the North and Irish seas another memorial to the same person glints in some rare Isle of Man sunshine. On the famous mountain climb out of Ramsey looking back towards the Point of Ayre a kiln of stones is lovingly preserved to commemorate the life of a great motor cycle racer and six times TT winner.
On the eighth of August 1937 40 year old Scotsman Jimmy Guthrie was leading the German Grand Prix on the Sachsenring road circuit. Riding the Norton he was chasing his third successive victory in Germany where the rumble of war was looming fast. He’d already taken 19 grand prix victories and going into the last lap was leading comfortably. The 300,000 crowd packed around the five and a half mile long road circuit that cut through the woods and around the hills surrounding the city of Hohenstein – Ernsttal, situated between Dresden and Leipzig prepared to celebrate. He never arrived at the finish. Guthrie died in hospital after crashing into the woods on that fateful last lap.
A year later war was declared and the Hohenstein-Ernstthal area around the Sachsenring was never going to be the same. When World War two ended they found themselves part of East Germany, a very different place to where they lived before war started. However, the people had never forgotten a Scottish gentleman who won two grands prix at their circuit before the hostilities split the world wide apart. In 1949 a memorial at the location he crashed was their own special tribute to him.
Colour, creed or nationality made no difference. He was their hero.