Born : October 10 1915
Deceased : November 6 2011
Biography Helmut Polensky
Helmut Polensky came from a Polish family but was born in Berlin in October 1915. His father was an architect and Helmut was the youngest of four sons. He left school at 18 and was called up for his military service in 1933, which introduced him to BMW motorcycles In 1936 he visited Detroit to study the American car industry.
Helmut Polensky began with motorsport in 1934 using his motorcycle. His first car was a second-hand BMW and competed in his first car race at Stadtpark in May 1939, finished in first place. After this success, he joined the NSKK to obtain a competition license. He worked as an apprentice for Auto Union which gave him the chance to meet the designer Ferdinand Porsche. He soon became a rival to Huschke von Hanstein, beating the “rennbaron” at the Grossglockner hill climb in Austria. In December of 1939, he was sent to military school and posted to the logistics center in Berlin, which was to last for the duration of the war. In April 1945, with the Russians entering Berlin, Helmut escaped and fled to Hamburg where he was taken prisoner of war but was soon released as he had seen very little active service during the war, he was considered to be a “good German” by the British occupying forces and made manager of a small engine company.
Helmut married Ingeborg, in February 1947 and in 1948 he left Hamburg to become a concessionaire for Vespa, the scooter manufacturer. Fortunately, he inherited a damaged building in Berlin and thanks to a good relationship with the the Allies, Helmut managed to obtain a low interest loan to pay for repairs. This good fortune together with some new projects signalled the start of a more prosperous life for the Polenskys. His first post-war racing project was to use the engine from his BMW 328 and Volkswagen suspension to construct a Formula 2 car, the Monopol.
Motorsport had recommenced remarkably quickly in Germany, including the 750cc Formula “Kleinstrennwagen” but when the 500cc Formula 3 was announced for 1950, Helmut was one of the first to set about constructing a car, the Monopoletta. We believe that four were built in total, for Helmut, Walter Schlüter and Bill Lucas. Helmut did not have an especially reliable season and finished fifth in the West German Championship, but Walter won the German Grand Prix and took third overall.
Helmut Polensky’s known results
Nürburgring 11th June 1950, DNF
Freiburg 6th August 1950, 1st
Solitude 12th August 1950, DNF
Nürburgring 20th August 1950 Grand Prix, DNF
Salesman at Volkswagen Garage
At around this time Helmut also became an independent salesman at the Volkswagen garage Gramling in Karlsruhe. In 1952 Helmut bought a red 1500 Super from Ferry Porsche, and in August ’52, he used this car to take part in the Coupe des Alpes Rally, he led his class at one stage but did not finish.
Helmut took part in the Liège Rome Liège rally in a Gmünd SL borrowed from Max Thirion, father of Gilberte Thirion. He won the “marathon de la route” which constituted the first “overall race win” for Porsche in competition. After this, Max was co-driver in Helmut’s 1500 Super, which they shared in the 1953 Mille Miglia. Thirion was the Belgian importer for Champion spark plugs. Champion appointed him importer for Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hungry.
His wife, Ingeborg, also became Gilberte Thirion’s co-driver in rallies such as the Tour de France and the Tour de Belgique for the next three years. Following von Hanstein’s refusal to lend Helmut a factory Gmünd, he drove a Fiat, a Lancia and his own Porsche in numerous international rallies during 1953. With his co-driver, Walter Schlüter, he won the Travemünde rally and the Alpine Rally becoming the first European rally champion.
The next year, the Porsche factory employed Polensky to drive a Spyder 550 in long-distance races such as Le Mans, in which he retired, and the 12 Heures de Rheims with Richard von Frankenberg, where they achieved a class victory. Polensky also had a first-in-class victory in the Liège-Rome-Liège with co-driver Herbert Linge. 1955 was Helmut’s final year of competition with his friend Richard von Frankenberg at Le Mans where they were fourth overall and won the index of performance. Helmut Polensky retired in order to devote more time to his business which became very successful and he eventually retired to St.-Tropez in the South of France.
Helmut passed away in 2011.
Pictures courtesy Jacques Mertens and unknown.