Novy Jicin rediscovers its famous native Alfred Neubauer, legendary racing manager

Alfred Neubauer

The legendary automobile constructor Ferdinand Porsche is not the only world-renowned personality connected with the automotive industry to have been born in what is now the Czech Republic. Alfred Karl Neubauer was a race driver and a racing manager with the Mercedes Grand Prix Team for thirty years. Sources differed as to where exactly he was born in North Moravia. Recently, local historians traced his roots back to the town of Novy Jicin which is now immensely proud of its newly-found great son.

The fact that Alfred Neubauer was born in Novy Jicin - or Neutitschein as it was formerly known - came as a surprise to motorsport fans as well as the local authorities. Radek Polach is a historian from the Novy Jicin local museum.

"Neubauer for many Novy Jicin citizens was unknown even though there are many publications about the town's famous native sons. Formula One fans found contradictory information on the Internet: that he was either born in Novy Jicin or Ostrava, and they asked our museum to help them uncover the truth. So I turned to my colleagues in the regional archives and asked them to look into the register of births and they confirmed that Alfred Karl Neubauer was indeed born in Novy Jicin on March 29, 1891."

Neubauer was born to a poor Czech-German family. He spent his childhood and youth in Novy Jicin. He enlisted in the Austrian army and went to Vienna where he met another native of the Czech lands, Ferdinand Porsche, who was working for Austro-Daimler at the time. After finishing his military service, Neubauer started working for the company and became a racing driver in the 1920s. When Ferdinand Porche left Vienna for Stuttgart he took Neubauer with him. After independent Czechoslovakia was declared in 1918, Neubauer failed to get Czechoslovak citizenship. As he lived in Stuttgart most of the time, he was granted German citizenship in 1927 but according to Radek Polach from the Novy Jicin museum, he spoke Czech all his life.

"He did some great work for Daimler-Benz and later Mercedes. Thanks to him, Mercedes won a lot of prizes. The greatest boom came after WWII when he hired the famous racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio. As for his innovations, we need to mention the 'Silver Arrows'. This name of the Mercedes-Benz race cars comes from this Novy Jicin native. In the early 1950s, Neubauer came up with the idea to remove white paint off the cars to reduce their weight. Their silver-coloured aluminium bodywork was exposed, hence the name 'Silver Arrows' for Mercedes-Benz racing cars."

At the moment representatives of the Novy Jicin town hall are on a visit to the German city of Stuttgart, where Neubauer lived until his death in 1980, to share the new information on his early life with the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Soon, the Novy Jicin museum is hoping to open an exhibition dedicated to the town's famous native and eventually put up a memorial plaque in the town.