Rudi Caracciola

In a giant trophy case at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum sits an impressive collection of trophies from the best among 1930's Grand Prix drivers: Rudi Caracciola. Caracciola led a life of triumph and tragedy. With Tazio Nuvolari, they stood as the giant driving talents of Europe in the years immediately prior to World War II. Winning the European Grand Prix championship several times, Caracciola collected sterling silver trophies of all variety: clocks, loving cups, platters and more. His lows were as devastating as his victories were stellar. He lost his first wife in a freak snow skiing accident and was severely injured in two accidents that forced doctors to shorten each of his legs, one on each occasion. In his only appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1946 he suffered severe head injuries in an accident during time trials. Indeed, Caracciola would have died had not Speedway officials, in their relentless focus on safety, not demanded the German driver wear a proper helmet, which he had never previously done during his career. Caracciola, with his wife by his side, recuperated at the summer home of Speedway owner Tony Hulman for several months. Upon Caracciola's death, his wife bequeathed his trophy collection to the Hulmans for safe keeping at the Hall of Fame Museum where it provides a beautiful display today.

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