Eberhard Mahle

Date of Birth : January 7 1933
Deceased : December 21 2021

Biography Eberhard Mahle

Eberhard Mahle was born January 7 1933. He is a son of Dr. Ing. Ernst Mahle, founder of the world renowned and Stuttgart based piston and crankshaft manufacturer Mahle.

Due to the internationalization of the family factory, the family Mahle moves several times. This explains why Eberhard Mahle speaks different languages. One of them is Portuguese because the family lived a year in Brazil since father Mahle started a Mahle company over there.

Eberhard Mahle
Eberhard Mahle

How Eberhard Mahle started racing.

From his early childhood, Eberhard Mahle was interested in technique and cars, which made him an early car driver. This means long before he even had a driver’s license, he borrowed the car of his father and drove the streets of Stuttgart without his father even knowing it. Those were the times one could afford that due to the absence of heavy traffic. His father didn’t want Eberhard to compete in races because of the danger involved. Thus he had to wait until his 21st anniversary to start racing. In 1954 he invested 2500DM of his own money in a DKW 3.6 with whom he drove his first race. That was the Rally Solitude, victory in the -1000cc class against 25 competitors and 5th place overall as a result. At the end of 1954, he received his race license.

Not only was the Rally Solitude important for the start of his career, but Mahle also competed 5 times in this race until 1960, and achieved 5 class victories and 1 overall victory, making him the most successful driver ever at this event. Another amazing record at his name at the Rally Solitude: in 1959 Mahle started in 3 different classes: the 600cc class in an NSU Prinz which he won, the 1600cc class in a Volvo which he won too. The third class he started in was the Formel-Junior in an Auto-Union with success too with 3rd place.

The example above is typically for Mahle’s race career. He was not bound to a single make, he didn’t have a contract with one car manufacturer. In his career, he drove DKW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Borgward, NSU, Fiat, Volvo, BMW, VW, Glas, Abarth. The most important for Mahle was he could drive a car he could trust, in which he knew he would have a good result. He lived from race to race, choosing different cars depending on different things. Which car is most adapted to which race, which manufacturer is racing this weekend, … Driving for Mercedes this weekend, and beating them the next weekend in a Porsche.

Times have changed as nowadays this seems impossible. Back then Mahle had enough reputation to make this diversity successful He started in 2110 races, and achieves 150 victories.

He only abandons in 15 races. Main reason for this low percentage of abandons was that Mahle never pushed the car too far, he had enough technical knowledge to know the limits of the cars. The other reason was that Mahle only choose to drive reliable cars. He’d rather have a weekend off than drive a car that was not suitable or reliable enough for the race.

Career Eberhard Mahle

Eberhard Mahle
Eberhard Mahle

Among the most successful achievements in his race career belong the 1957 German GT championship with a Volvo, the 1959 2nd place at the Targa Florio in a 550 Spyder together with Herbert Linge and Paul-Ernst Strähle. Mahle was well-known to be a talented racer, with extreme capabilities to adapt to a car and circumstances. He even succeeded in racing 9 years without one accident, however in 1963 while water-skiing bad luck strikes and Mahle breaks his right leg. For about one year and he half, he has to stay in hospital to recover. . Just recovered from this accident, In 1964 Mahle starts at the Flugplatzrennen in Vienna to win the GT class.

One week later he is invited to a go-cart demonstration at an army airport. Unluckily his go-cart had technical problems, as the right pedal stayed down, the brakes didn’t work and there was no killer switch which made him crash severely into a tank. Eberhard Mahle loses conscience. He is brought to the hospital immediately where the doctors can only bring bad news. His right bone is broken in 50 places, and without amputation, his life is in acute danger. Mahle however decides not to have his leg amputated, and he’s brought to a special hospital in Switzerland with the world’s most renowned specialists. Several operations follow, and lady luck seems to be on his side this time, as he recovers without too many consequences.

European GT Mountain championship

The accident however made him think. Wasn’t it time to stop racing, but soon he found out for himself he couldn’t end his career this way. Eberhard_Mahle_003The European GT Mountain championship was his goal. He choose a Porsche 911, had it prepared by Gerard Mitter to compete against much more powerful cars like the Ford Shelby and the 12 cylinder powered Ferrari 250 GTB. In the first race at Rossfeld, he gained 3rd place, behind 2 Fords. From then on, no-one could beat Mahle’s skills as he won at the Mont-Ventoux, Trento Bondone, Cesana Sestrière and Freiburg-Schauinsland. This gave him an unbeatable advance in the championship. This championship meant the end of Eberhard Mahle’s career.

However, this doesn’t mean he lost his passion for racing, even nowadays he competes in historical regularity races, most on the invitation of for example the Porsche or Mercedes Museum, or private collectors who want him to drive their cars. And just as back in the time, there’s only 1 important thing. The car has to be reliable and Mahle wants to win, which he even now often does. Even at an age of nearly 80 Mahle drove  his Porsche 911 Carrera S with passion and when possible at high speed. Spending time with Ebs was wonderful, as he told histories of his career so passionately one can only admire him.. one of the most successful German after-war race pilots. 

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