Kurt Kuhnke

Kurt Kuhnke

Kurt Kuhnke was born in April 1910 in Stettin, Poland very close to the border with Germany. He raced motorbikes prior to the war and immediately after, becoming a Vice President of the ADM. He moved over to Formula 3 cars in the latter part of 1951,  Kurt was one of the first Germans to acquire a Cooper, a Mk IV known as "Atlas" from Gottfried Vollmer and stuck with the marque thought his career, swapping to a Mk VIII at some point in 1954. He was one of the most prolific drivers and continued to race 500s though to '59 notching many good placings along the way. Wins include Avus in June and Halle Saale in October 1952, Leipzig in May and Dresden in July '53, Halle Saale in September gave him second overall in the West German Championship to Adolf Lang.

Kurt was widely travelled; in 1953, he finished 3rd at Falkenberg, Sweden in July, won at the Circuit de Salon de Provence on 5th September and  finished fifth in the Skarpnäck International race in  September.

Kurt on his way to victory at Dresden in July 1953 Photo courtesy Guenter Geyler.

1954 brought a seventh at Helsinki on 9th May followed by a fourth at Lappeenranta a few days later, then to Porrentruy, Switzerland in July and on to England to take sixth in his heat for the Open Challenge at Brands Hatch in August and finally France for seconds at Montlhéry on 19th September and Agen on the 26th.

1955 brought a win at Montlhéry on 17th April and a return to Brands in August to finish sixth in his heat. Kurt won at the Circuit de Narbonne 8th July 1956. It total, we have over sixty five appearances by Kurt in at least six different countries.

In the early 1960's, Kurt, already in his 50s, had a brief Formula One career, failing to qualify a Lotus 18 at the 1962 Grand Prix de Pau before retiring the same car from the Solitude Grand Prix with engine failure. Problems with the Borgward engine in his Lotus caused him to miss four races he had entered in the second half of 1962.

Freiburg, August 1953

In 1963, Kuhnke failed to qualify his Lotus at the Rome Grand Prix and suffered engine failure at the Solitude Grand Prix in July. His single World Championship entry was at the 1963 German Grand Prix where he failed to qualify. The BKL was an modified Lotus, the initials standing for Borgward Kuhnke Lotus. After this, he retired at Karlskoga in Sweden before moving away from racing.

Kurt Kuhnke died on the 8th February 1969.