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Legends: Max Deubel

Submitted by on August 12, 2010

What do Max Deubel and Mike Hailwood have in common? From 1961 to ’65 both men won four successive world GP championships — Deubel in sidecars with Emil Hoerner, Hailwood in 500 GP. They were the first four-time world champions.

Deubel was a class act, with 12 world championship race victories in including three Isle of Man TT wins. It might have been four TT victories, but his machine failed when he was four minutes ahead. Key rival Florian Camathias had just retired, but Deubel had flashed passed the pits before his crew had time to inform him – so he pressed on.

In 1962 Deubel set the first 90mph TT sidecar lap.

Max’s works BMW outfit was easy to spot, with the German comic characters Max and Moritz in blue on a white fairing.

“Every BMW had a white fairing and then someone put on a stripe.  The next week everyone had a stripe! So I added the Wilhelm Busch figures,” he told the author.

The outfit had history too. Walter Schneider took it to two world championships before BMW handed it to Deubel in 1960. He reckons it was the last of the true works BMW outfits.

Deubel had “paid his dues” before joining the works team. He started on three wheels in 1955 at age 20, with an earlier ex-Schneider BMW RS and workmate Horst Hoehler in the chair. In addition to working in a factory, Max chopped wood in the winters to fund his racing. Today, he nominates Hoehler as his favourite passenger — “we came up together, through all the trials and tribulations”.

Max Deubel retired from racing in 1966, aged 31. He is still active in motorcycle racing as an FIM official and owns a hotel near Cologne.

Don Cox

Images: hotel duebel

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