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|Born in 1891 he fell in love with automobiles when at the age of seven he saw his first
car, a Benz drive through his village, Neutitschein in North Moravia. Even as a small boy
he would claim that "petrol already ran in his blood." After a stint as a motor
pool officer during the First World War he joined Austro-Daimler as a race car driver.
When Ferdinand Porsche left Austro-Daimler in a fit of pique he brought Neubauer with him
to Mercedes. At Mercedes he found his home and would work there for the rest of his life.
He was a company man who would stay loyal through thick and thin. It soon became apparent
to Neubauer as it had been to his wife earlier that he was not destined to become a great
race car driver. In fact his wife remarked that he drove like a night watchman! While
working for Mercedes he heard of Rudolf Caracciola's exploits
at the first Grand Prix of Germany at Avus in 1926. Caracciola driving under the most
appalling conditions was not aware that he had actually won the race. Neubauer believed
that a driver on the racetrack was the "world's loneliest human being." He
thought that if a driver could be informed, during the race, of his position, speed, race
distance and other particulars he would have a better chance of achieving his ultimate
Neubauer brought his ideas to his superiors and luckily for him and Mercedes he found a willing supporter in Wilhelm Kissel. Head of the entire firm, Kissel was also a racing enthusiast and understood the benefits of a racing program in publicity and the development of road cars. Neubauer was a very large man with a voice to match. He could be a strict disciplinarian or a amiable dinner host with his impersonations of der Führer, Marilyn Monroe and others. His love of food and parties rivaled a modern day Bacchus. His loyalty to his drivers and to Mercedes though could not be questioned. He was called the big man or the fat man or simply Don Alfredo.
At his first race as team manager, Neubauer organized a Mercedes team of three cars. Neubauer assigned a crew for each car. Signal boards and flags were prepared and a sign language was created for the drivers and pit crews. They were similar to the signs used in American Baseball without the theatrical spitting and grabbing of one's crotch! In fact they started out rather simply: circling the right index finger in the air asked the remaining number of laps, a finger pointed forward asked how far the car in front was, pointing a thumb towards the back asked the converse. He had his mechanics practice pitstops for hours on end till they got it right. At the beginning of each race Alfred Neubauer took his place at trackside, a black and red flag in his hand. An official seeing this strange sight tried to have him removed but to no avail. There is even a photograph of Neubauer at the front of the grid holding up 4 fingers to signal four seconds to start. Amazingly all eyes are on him rather than on the starter! From that moment on a race without Don Alfredo could not have been very important.
Amazingly Neubauer had almost left Mercedes in 1932 to join Ferdinand Porsche at Auto Union when Mercedes quit racing during the depression. But he was promised that Mercedes would soon return to racing. Wilhelm Kissel could not afford to lose his once and future team manager. Alfred Neubauer would lead Mercedes' racing team through its golden period and then would come back for an encore in 1954 as if to show the world that he was still the master.
His many innovations continue on to this day. He is famous for creating the "silver arrows" by removing the paint from his white cars but this was actually a suggestion by his driver von Brauchitsch to meet the weight requirements. He created a secret racing elixir of black coffee, egg yolk, sugar, a little wine, and a few spices. He guaranteed that it would work wonders ... at least for a few laps. Neubauer had his pitcrews practice pit stops with the changing of all for tires until they were able to accomplish this with unheard of speed and precision. Not all of his ides worked though. For one race he flew in a plane to get a better view but has communication with his driver and pitcrews had failed or were nonexistent, and such was the legend of Alfred Neubauer this most singular man. Stirling Moss would say of him that "He was an amazing character, who could have anybody snapping to attention if necessary, but would also show great thought and understanding, in relaxed moments he could have us all rolling about with laughter."