* 1922 Helmut Krackowizer † 2001
Motorcycle legend "Mister Rudge" died on 22th October 2001 in his 80th year of age.
My father had passed away on October 22, 2001 in Salzburg in his 80th year of life from his third heart attack, which he suffered on Monday, October 15.
This third heart attack overtook him in his favorite pastime: on one of those glorious autumn days, he had picked up one of his favorite motorcycles, a Rudge 250cc, with a trailer from a friend where the motorcycle stood. He intended to bring this motorcycle to an exhibition at the Technical Museum in Vienna. My sister and mother didn't want to let him go that day - but, firstly, my father had his skull and secondly, he could never have been stopped from motorcycle-related activities. With the motorcycle on the trailer, he almost got as far as Salzburg-Aigen, where he lived before he suffered his heart attack, just stopping at a gas station.
Until his death he was a "restless spirit" who suffered already a bit from not being as mobile as in former times. But his Vespa motorbike was still parked in front of the garden gate for the daily trips into town.
Helmut Krackowizer was born on April 29, 1922 in Frankenmarkt in the Hausruck in Upper Austria near the Salzburg border as second son of Hedwig and the lawyer Maximilian Krackowizer. In 1924 the family moved on to Vöcklabruck Upper Austria, where he grew up. His life was mainly determined by motorcycles, but also by automobiles. "I'm forced to do something to earn a living," he once said in an interview. When he was nine his father took him to the Gaisberg races. As a youth he worked in mechanic's workshops during the summer holidays and attended races. In 1939, at the age of seventeen, he was already in the saddle of a Norton "International" 500 cc.
During World War II, in 1943, while stationed on the northern German island of Fehmarn in the Baltic Sea, he read an older magazine about a Rudge that could be bought in Bremen. He acquired this and took it with him to all his military stations until the fall of 1944. Finally he sent it, packed in crates, to his home town of Vöcklabruck. He experienced the end of the war as a officer in charge of the night fighters for the air intelligence troop of a night fighter radar company in Norway - also on a motorcycle, but that's a separate story.
In autumn 1946 he took part in his first race, which he finished on 3rd place at Salzburg – Nonntal... in pouring rain! Numerous stories shaped his time as a racer. He had met my mother when he was working as a technical employee at the Hatschek company in Vöcklabruck. After getting married in 1955, they moved to Salzburg. When my brother was born in 1956, I was told, my mother turned off the "gas tap" for my father. Since then he has only competed in veteran rallies - but, to my mother's dismay, always at race pace. Incidentally, he was also involved in a legendary long-distance world record with a VW 1500 in Monza.
His professional career led him to the business degree in 1951 at the Vienna University of Economics and one year later to the Eternit Hatschek company in Vöcklabruck as a "Doctor of Economic Sciences". In 1955 he went to Porsche Austria in Salzburg as Head of Press Affairs. He later moved to Mercedes-Benz Austria in 1964 and then to British Leyland Austria in 1969. Most recently, from 1976, he was Public Relations Manager at Chrysler, which was then renamed Talbot and eventually merged with Peugeot, until his retirement in 1987.
From late 1978 to early 1982 I worked for my father in the PR department at Chrylser-Talbot as his secretary. In doing so, I learned how important it is to always be well informed "... but you must never reveal your informant!" father explained to me.
In addition to his professional activities, he was the spokesman for many races that were still allowed at the time, the commentator of the races. He often took us children with him and so we experienced the mountain races on the Gaisberg, the mountain races in Engelhartszell on the Danube, in Großraming on the Enns or the "May 1st Races", then races on the Salzburgerring and many more.
From 1965 my father began to draw. He drew motorcycles in large format based on original templates: he used pencils of different thicknesses. Many hours of work went into a drawing. In 2000, a year before his death, he was still drawing motorcycles. In addition, he began to write books on the history of motorcycling, motorcycles, races and racetracks. He published articles in specialist journals in German and English-speaking countries.
He had been an expert for nearly every type of motorcycle, knowing every history of them, curriculum vitae of most of the racers of former times. His friends included among others Sammy Miller, John Surtees, Walter Zeller, Luigi Taveri, Hans Haldemann, Schorsch Meier and many other of the motor race scenery.
He fulfilled a lifelong dream with the great motor veteran regularity competitions, the “Oldtimer Grand Prix” on the Salzburgring, in which stars such as Niki Lauda, Juan Manuel Fangio, the above-mentioned racing drivers and many others took part. Mercedes-Benz sent the famous “Silberpfeile” (“Silver Arrows”) to Salzburg and former racing riders brought their World Championship motorcycles to Salzburg.
In a letter to Ernst Leverkusen, editor-in-chief of the motorcycle magazine "PS" dated July 23, 1978,
he described his motorsport highlights:
"First victory on the Rudge 250 on the Salzburg motorway in 1947 and Nürburgring success on the Sunbeam 1929 in 1973."
But the greatest event in his life was taking part in the lap of honor at the famous English "Tourist Trophy" on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea in 1990 at the age of 68, as he revealed in an interview in 1996.
Until shortly before his death his license plate number was "S-Rudge 1" and of course he was a member of the Rudge Enthusiasts Club in England, of which he was once the only non-English president. As he always liked to travel to England to visit friends, always following the tracks of motorbikes or racing drivers.
The Austrian trade magazine "autorevue" dedicated a story to my father in 1997,
which began with a full page of a picture of Helmut Krackowizer on the "Sunbeam Model 90"
and the sentence by Gaston Bachelard (* 1884, † 1962), French scientist:
“A man is the creation of his passions
and not of his needs!”
That was Helmut Krackowizer and will remain so in our memories!