From 0 to 120: Our history.
A century of motorsport history: Bosch has been on the grid from the very first days of motorsports.
Good times for best times
As a partner, supplier, and sponsor, Bosch Motorsport has notched up a number of legendary victories in its 120-year history. With deep passion and unrivaled expertise.
Warm-up: The first laps. (1900-1920s)
March 25, 1901 marks an important date in the history of Bosch Motorsport: this was the day that Wilhelm Werner won the “Nice-Salon-Nice” car race in a 35-hp Mercedes Benz fitted with Bosch magneto ignition. This victory marks the beginning of a winning streak of motorsport successes for Bosch that has lasted for over 100 years.
Two years later, Belgian race driver Camille Jenatzy won the Gordon Bennet race in Ireland in a car equipped with a Bosch low-voltage magneto ignition. The pilot became a legend for breaking a series of land speed records, and was known as the “Red Devil” on account of the color of his beard. This was also his nickname when he appeared as the famous “Red Devil” advertising motif for Bosch Motorsport.
Bosch laid the foundations for a long-term involvement in motor racing in 1911 with the first official presence of its own team of technicians at important motor racing events.
Impressions from the early days of motorsports
On-site service: Bosch Racing Service. (1930s)
The next milestone came in 1937 with founding of the “Bosch Racing Service” (originally “Bosch Assistance Service”). This attended off-road and mountain racing events and made it possible to test and repair ignition systems and electrical equipment on the spot – in a workshop van on board a truck.
In 1938, August Bamminger succeeded Albert Theurer as the new director of the Bosch Racing Service. Bamminger, who later came to be known as the “Spark Plug Doctor,” had been part of the team since 1911 and remained at the helm of the Racing Service until 1956.
Participants in the 1938 German Grand Prix were the first to benefit from the Bosch Racing Service’s pit stop service. A second workshop van on board a car was bought and fitted with testing equipment and spare parts.
The first superstar: Rudolf Caracciola. (1920s-1930s)
Rudolf Caracciola was an exceptional driver in many ways: he obtained his driving license at 15 and won his first motorbike race in 1922, aged 21. A year later “Caratsch,” as he was known, triumphed in his first car race in Berlin, following which he was hired as works driver by Daimler Motorengesellschaft.
For the brand with the three-pointed star, Caracciola won 137 titles in the course of his career, but it was winning the first German Grand Prix in 1926 that marked his breakthrough as a superstar. Early in the race, technical problems left him in last place, but when heavy rain set in, Caracciola kept driving and won in a legendary water battle. From that day on, he was dubbed the “Rainmaster” – a moniker that was to stay with him for the rest of his career.
Caracciola shaped the era of the Mercedes Silver Arrows like no other, winning the German Grand Prix fully six times and in 1931 becoming the first non-Italian to win the legendary Mille Miglia. In addition to his many racing titles, “Caratsch” also set several speed records, for example in 1938 when he reached 432.7 kph on the highway connecting Frankfurt to Darmstadt.
Reconstruction: The race continues. (1946-1953)
Following Reconstruction in 1946, the Bosch Racing Service was soon back on track. It reaped the first rewards from this in 1950 when the winning cars in nearly all classes at the race at the Solitude circuit sported a Bosch ignition system.
A year later, the new Bosch Racing Service vehicle was presented: a converted bus featuring a professionally equipped workshop and even a visitors’ corner. At each race, the Racing Service distributed on average 120 spark plugs.
Record on two wheels
Record on two wheels
The same year, Wilhelm Hertz set a new speed record of 290 kph on an NSU motorbike with Bosch spark plugs. Bosch Motorsport was back in the race.
A lap around the Solitude circuit with Bosch (1954)
In the fast track: Innovations for the racing world. (1950s-1970s)
From 1954 on, Bosch continued its racing successes at international level: at the French Grand Prix, two Mercedes with a Bosch gasoline direct injection system for the first time took the top two places.
New Bosch developments – including halogen lights, a breakerless transistor ignition system, and the first ABS antilock braking system – continued to dominate motor racing in the years that followed. With the Jetronic in 1967, Bosch presented the first electronic multipoint gasoline direct injection system.
Continuing success: The premiere league of motor racing. (from the 1980s)
In the 1980s, Bosch finally built itself a position in the ultimate formula racing series when three cars with Nelson Piquet, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost featuring the Bosch Motronic electronic engine control system won four Formula 1 world championships. From the very start, Bosch has maintained a close connection with Formula 3, with a Bosch engine control system featuring in the racing series from early on. Established in the 1950s, the series was deemed the entry series for Formula 1 and the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) since the 1980s. Many subsequent Formula 1 champions first honed their talent in Formula 3.
The DTM teams also came to rely on Bosch. The first cars featuring Bosch engine control systems appeared from 1986; in 1988, the first ABS system developed especially for motorsports was used at AMG. With the return of the DTM following a break of several years, Bosch Motorsport has supported the racing teams as a sponsor since the first race in 2000.
Full speed ahead: partnership with the DTM. (starting in 2000)
After the birth of the “new” DTM, Bosch was already much more than just a name on the windshield. As a technical partner and an exclusive supplier of motor management solutions, driver displays, and much more, attention was paid above all to extraordinary performance, safety, and innovation. The guiding principle was improving the performance of the race cars for the tough competition and offering a spectacular experience for all participants. Many of the parts involved were developed from street components. Success under the extreme conditions in motorsports is proof of the passion of both racing and automotive engineers – and provides a whole new perspective from the road to the racetrack and back again.
Continuous operation: Bosch at the 24-hour racing series.
24-hour races are the most extreme of all motorsport competitions. Nowhere are the vehicles subject to more stress, nowhere must driver and material perform better. Perfect conditions, in other words, for pushing motorsport components to their limits. With proven success: since 1982, nearly all the winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans had Bosch on board. From 2001 to 2005, the race was won by cars featuring Bosch DI Motronic gasoline direct injection. In 2006, Diesel technology had the edge for the first time at 24 Hours of Le Mans: the Audi R10 TDI equipped with Bosch common-rail Diesel injection technology won the race, beginning a winning streak that was to last for many years.
Bosch is on the circuit on its own doorstep, too, and has sponsored the 24 Hours at the Nürburgring circuit since 2011.
Full speed ahead: The future of motorports.
At the latest since the Audi R18 e-tron quattro won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it has been clear that electrically powered vehicles belong on the racing circuit. In Audi Sport’s Diesel hybrid, energy recuperated when braking is stored and then supplied to the front axle via two electric motors when accelerating.
Bosch recognized this potential long ago and, as a series sponsor of the FIA ABB Formula E World Championship, for example, ensures that enthusiasm and innovation for electric motor sport demonstrate the same acceleration as the racing cars themselves.