Tuesday, 06 September 2011 20:39

39th Oldtimer Grand Prix Nürburgring 12-14 August 2011

Written by  Guus Docen
 The Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring has for many years been one of the most important race meetings for veteran automobiles worldwide.No wonder that year in, year out, owners bring their precious racing machines back for one iof the fifteen different comprtition events. This year around 61,000 historic car enthusiasts drove to the Eifel area to experience a journey back in time of motor racing. Unfortunately, this year the event was interrupted again by heavy rain. To our advantage though, this made the races that much more exciting.  
50th anniversary of the E-type Jaguar
There was a strong Jaguar focus at this year's event with many enthusiasts from clubs across Europe coming to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the E-Type. Jaguar Deutschland and Jaguar Heritage joined forces with an impressive display of historic E-types including 77RW. 77RW is the earliest surviving production roadster (chassis number three) and was one of two press demonstrators at the Geneva motor show in March 1961, where the E-type was launched to an awestruck public. British businessman and Jaguar collector Michael Kigganon bought this E-Type thirty years ago for a few hundred pounds and some years ago the car was subjected to an extensive restoration. Today, it's on loan to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and let out to play on special occasions.

E-type Challenge 
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world's favourite sixties' icon, the Jaguar E-type, Jaguar Heritage and the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) have joined forces to create a new historic race series for 2011 called the E-type Challenge. The series, managed by the Historic Sports Car Club, in conjunction with Jaguar Heritage, is supported by world renowned classic vehicle restoration specialist and Jaguar experts JD Classics. The series is open to two classes; cars prepared to a period race trim and standard cars, each subjected to strict eligibility checks. Over 65 E-types have been registered for the races since the series was announced last year. Among the likely pacesetters are Jon and Jason Minshaw, who have enjoyed great success with several E-types over the last decade. Two other experienced E-Type drivers are Count Marcus von Oeynhausen and Gary Pearson. Other leading names among the list of registrations are John Clark, Chris Scragg, Paul Drayson, Manfredo Rossi, Mike Newman, Jeremy Welch, Sandy Watson and Carlos Monteverde. The opening race was at Brands Hatch on 2/3 July and the second race was held at Silverstone. The E-type Challenge, moved to the Nurburgring with a strong UK entry plus some cars from host country Germany as well as Italy, Belgium and France to make up an international grid. In qualifying local man Marcus von Oeynhausen was quickest followed by E-type specialist Jon Minshaw, Gary Pearson and Jon's brother Jason. For race one von Oeynhausen was disqualified as his car was nderweight. Race one on Saturday started in heavy rain, but Pearson made a superb start and led into the first corner closely followed by the Minshaws. Pearson held the lead for the whole race so at the flag it was Pearson, Jason Minshaw, Dodd and Jon Minshaw, whose car did not handle the wet weather very well. Race two was also run in heavy rain and Gary Pearson won again. This time it was Jon Minshaw who held second for most of the race only to be overtaken a couple of laps from the finish by von Oeynhausen who was allowed to start from the back of the grid as the weight eligibility problems of his car were resolved. He overtook 29 cars on his way to second place. Scragg, John Pearson and Sandy Watson completed the first six.

Historic Marathon
The most interesting of all the races is scheduled for the Friday afternoon. Then almost two hundred classic cars are seen in the 4-hours historic marathon on the winding and perilous Nordschleife. Historical models like the Lotus Cortina, BMW 1800 Ti, Alfa Romeo 1600 GTA, Lotus Elan or Jaguar E-Type are far from everyday sights on a legendary track like the Nordschleife. There were some drivers at the wheel who know the course very well indeed, like Walter Röhrl. This year the event was especially dramatic since the notorious weather played a leading role. Last year the battle for the overall win was between two German teams, Marcus von Oeynhausen with pro-driver Frank Stippler in the team 'Gotcha' superlight Jaguar E-Type racer and the two brothers Ulrich and Christian Schödel aka ‘Fred and Barney’, who dominated and won last year’s race in their outrageously fast battle ship-grey Ford Fairlane. This weekend again found them standing side by side on the starting grid. Former World rally champion Walter Röhrl started from 21st position on the grid and managed to get into third position when owner-driver Dr. Armin Zumtobel took over the wheel. All teams were using Avon tyres but Zumtobel decided to put Dunlops on the 911 and during these very rainy conditions the car slipped from left to right over the track. “It was worse than driving with summertyres on ice”, grumbled Walter Röhrl who drifted the 911 in a most spectacular way around the track much to the amusement of the crowd. Finally this team managed fourth place in their 1965 Porsche 911. “It was a great experience, a lot of fun and mainly I take part during this weekend to meet up with friends again”, admitted the former rally World Champion. Two very keen German lady-drivers, Claudia Hürtgen and Gaby von Oppenheim entered this race also in a 1965 Porsche 911. They managed to qualify for a 17th position on the grid. They finished the race in a 9th overall position with an average speed of 115 kph. Looking in her back-mirror Hürtgen saw an impressive 7 Litre Ford Galaxie coming closer. It was former World rally champion Stig Blomqvist from Sweden who drove the mighty white car but he couldn’t manage to keep the car on the slippery track and had to withdraw. The last two laps proved exciting for Frank Stippler as he suddenly noticed a warning lamp lightning up. This meant that something was wrong with the electronics. All he could do was switch off the airblower and lights. He managed to keep the lead in the vivid green Gotcha-team E-Type and finished just 1 minute and 52 seconds in front of the Ford Fairlane. As his teammate and car-owner von Oeynhausen stated: A very wet race and our Jaguar has proved that it is the cat that can swim.

Grand Prix Masters
In the World Formula One Championship of the eighties the Arrows team never reached a top three podium place, so it was remarkable that two Arrows type A4 won both races. For Joaquin Folch it was quit unusual that he didn’t win any of the races this weekend as from 2002 he had six overall wins with a McLaren M23 and a Williams FW08 at the Nürburgring. His Brabham BT49C (chassisnumber 10) was driven by Nelson Piquet at the South-African Grand Prix in February 1981 and finished in second place. That was the only race in which this car competed. For many years this car belonged to the impressive collection of motorcars owned by Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. This weekend the car was fastest during qualifying just 0.27 seconds in front of Rowland Kinch. Folch kept the lead for a few laps but couldn’t shake off both the Arrows. It was Kinch who passed him on lap 5 but at the finish after 15 laps there was a gap of just 0.331 seconds between both cars. Third place went to Steve Hartley in the other Arrows. In the second heat Steve Hartley dominated the race on a very wet track. The first three laps Kinch was able to stay close behind his rival but Hartley was able to build up a gap of 8.461 seconds between both cars. Third was Richard Barber in a 1978 Fittipaldi F5A.

Two-seater Racecars and GTs
Another highlight of this raceweekend was the 1 hour race on Saturday-evening for two-seater race cars & GTs (until 1960-1961). No less than six Maserati Birdcages were particitating in this race. Three of them were at the front of the starting grid. Austrian collector Egon Hofer brought out his very rare rear-engined Tipo 63 Birdcage. But there were other exotics in this race like an Aston Martin DB3 S, a Ferrari Dino 196 S, Maserati 300S, Jaguar C-Type, two Gullwing Mercedes Benz 300 SLs and also two rare Veritas RS (build at the Nürburgring in 1948/1949). It was Englishman Alan Minshaw who dominated this race driving a red Birdcage Tipo 61, 67 seconds behind him finished Simon Ham in a Lister Jaguar. Irvine Laidlaw scored a third spot in his black Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage. Also on Sunday two Maserati Birdcages dominated the race. Max Werner from Düsseldorf won from Josef Otto Rettenmaier. Third on the podium was AvD vice-president Count Franz zu Ortenburg in a Austin Healey 3000 Mk I. Most amusing for all visitors was the driving style of Frank Stippler in the powerful Maserati 450 S drifting wide out of every corner. He finished fifth on Saturday just behind Claudia Hürtgen in a Maserati 300S.

Masters GT
Thirty-five lovely GT’s from the early sixties filled the grid for the single Masters GT race. Many of the entries were E-Types which had already competed in the E-Type challenge. Count Marcus von Oeynhausen also won the Masters GT honours from Brit Rob Hall’s Cobra. Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell finished in third place in a Jaguar E-Type.

World Sports Car Masters
In this series Le Mans Type Group 4 Prototypes, built between the mid-1960’s up to 1974 are allowed but also GT’s built during the same period. The first race on Saturday was dominated by Italian Manfredo Rossi di Montelera with his Abarth Osella PA1. Sandy Watson finishing forty-two seconds behind the Italian in the much older Chevron B8 (1968). In third place was David Franklin in his beautiful Ferrari 312P. This Group 6 prototype-sports car is powered by a 3.0 litre V12 engine. The rain-soaked weekend proved a challenge even for the most experienced drivers such as Simon Hadfield. Starting the second World Sports Car Masters race on Sunday well down the grid in Joaquin Folch’s Ford GT40, the historic race specialist blasted through the field to win as early leaders spun around him. Hadfield had some scary moments during the chase including a dramatic broad slide off course before chasing back to catch Manfredo Rossi di Montelera’s Osella-Abarth PA1.

Historic Grand Prix Cars
No Oldtimer Grand Prix is complete without the Historic Grand Prix Cars of course ! A 1935 Maserati single-seater decorated this years 39th AvD-Oldtimer-Grand-Prix poster. This type V8 RI was the first Maserati whose wheels were independently suspended; it had an independent swing axle. That's the meaning of the abbreviation: RI - for “ruote indipendenti“. The V8 RI was in addition the first Grand Prix car with a V8 motor and in those days weighing about a ton, exceptionally heavy. Accordingly more muscle power was needed in order to move the car. During the years 1935 and 1936 just four V8 RI's were built and the actual car present during this event (chassis number 4503) was used by the French privateer and Le Mans winner Philippe Étancelin and was for that reason painted in the French racing colour blue. On the 1st March 1936, the driver and car won the Grand Prix de Pau, the win on the city track in South West France was however to remain the only great success. Étancelin did in fact drive with the single-seater right through the whole season, dropped out however in most of the races – at the Grand-Prix of Switzerland for example because of a broken gear shift. A year later the Frenchman moved with the V8 RI
to the USA, he drove with it in the Vanderbilt Cup and then sold the Maserati to an American. After a further season the single-seater was put into storage on Hawaii, spent a few years after the Second World War with a racing enthusiast on the West Coast; was shipped in 1978 to Great Britain and ended up with a German collector. Its present owner Josef Otto Rettenmaier has extensively restored the car in the past years and drove the car in the first race on Saturday. But it was Tony Smith who scored avictory in his Ferrari 246 Dino. Second was Hubert Fabri in the Aston Martin DBR4. Josef Otto Rettenmaier finished 17th in this race. The Sunday race was driven under very wet conditions. The Cooper Bristol seemed to be the ideal car for a wet race as Belgian Paul Grant dominated the second race on Sunday in his Cooper Bristol. Willy Balz and Allan Miles both driving a Maserati 250F finished second and third.

Coys Auction
Saturday around five o’clock it was the perfect moment to be attend the Coys auction as there was a heavy persistent rainfall already for an hour so. Watching the bidding on a variety of exotic motorcars is always fun. Lot 128 was a 1967 Iso Grifo and one of only 471 examples built from 1965 to 1974, of which the majority were sold in Europe, the example on offer was probably the best currently available. This car was in totally mint condition and with a total mileage of some 74000 km from new, the 1967 Grifo received a ground up restoration two years ago and also a fresh engine, which had covered only 100 km since rebuilding. Iso Grifos have been moving up in price quite strongly recently. However, the estimate for this car seemd to be setting a new high mark (€195,000 - €250,000). Highest bid was €180,000 so the car wasn’t sold. Two Riley Imps were offered, a 1934 and a 1935 example. These pretty small sportscars are powered by a high compression version of the classic Riley twin-cam 1,087cc four-cylinder engine with twin SU carburettors, producing about 45bhp and giving the car a top speed of 75mph. The black 1935 car was estimated at € 85,000 - € 90,000 but highest bid was € 55,000 so not sold. The light grey 1934 Imp estimated at € 75,000 was sold for € 67,000. A very early example of the celebrated Lotus Cortina Mark I, the most desirable 1963 version, still with A frame rear suspension, adjustable coil springs to its back axle, aluminium doors and bonnet, had an estimated price at € 59,000 - € 65,000. Included were FIA papers and the car was rebuilt for historic racing. The engine rebuild included steel crankshaft, racing pistons and lightened flywheel, Tilton racing clutch, the Quaife racing gearbox, a 7/31 limited slip differential and much more. Highest offer was € 47,000 but the owner wouldn’t sell for this bid. A quite unusual piece at this auction was a full-size, Airfix-style model of Ayrton Senna's Championship winning 1991 McLaren MP4/6 F1 car. This artwork was created by renowned artist Jay Burridge and given to him personally by Ron Dennis. It was displayed in the reception of Marlboro's advertising agency in London. Following Senna's tragic demise in 1994, McLaren chose to retain the sculpture, which was only recently released back to its creator. It was been expected to make €35-45,000 but interest from eight telephone bidders propelled bidding to over four times the top estimate. For €165,000 the sculpture is now in the possession of a New York-based collector. Another strong result was € 192,000 for a 1937 Jaguar SS100 2 1/2 Litre. This car was especially desirable for being a matching numbers example, is still fitted with its original engine. Other standout results included a 1961 Porsche 356 Cabriolet, which changed hands for € 70,000, and a 2006 Maserati MC 12 Stradale with delivery mileage of 226 km and German road registration documents which sold for € 575,000. All prices mentioned are the hammered prices without sales commission.

Pictures by Guus Docen
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