Wednesday, 30 August 2023 19:55
Oldtimer Grand Prix 11-13 August 2023 FeaturedWritten by Guus Docen
The Oldtimer Grand Prix is "Back on Track". After the cancellation of the event in 2021 due to the flood disaster in the Ahrtal valley there was a restart in 2022 with the 49th edition of this classic race event. From 2022 the AvD (Automobile Club of Germany) stopped organizing this event and two other clubs (CHRSN and HMSC) that already supported this event from the start in 1973, took over the organization. The 50th edition of the Oldtimer Grand Prix still had to deal with a few organizational issues and as a result probably did not fill all of the starting fields. Nevertheless, approximately 500 historic racing cars from almost all eras competed in some exciting races. Weather conditions were fine on Friday with much sunshine, Saturday started with rain but late in the morning the sky cleared and from the afternoon it remained dry. Sunday was cloudy but without rain.
- Pre-war Cars in the old paddock
The main attraction of this event are of course the races at the Grand Prix circuit but also the old paddock area is worth a visit. The finest racing cars of bygone eras stood here in the historic garages or in the middle of the old paddock guarded by their 'gentleman owners', who were happy to provide information about their precious cars from the pre-war period like a Mercedes-Benz SSKL which had won the opening race in 1927 driven by Rudolf Caracciola. These cars could be seen on the legendary Nordschleife on Friday for some demo rounds. One of these Gentlemen owners German Uli Sauer owning a pre-war BMW 328, was honoured by the organizers as the most loyal and only participant, who had attended this event each year since its debut in 1973. The Nürburgring and the event community dedicated a tree to him along the Rolf-Stommelen road, the connecting road between the historic paddock and the modern Grand Prix paddock, where a small park honours selected people with a very special connection to the Eifel track.
- Touring cars of the “Golden Era”
One of the highlights were the two runs for the Touring cars of the “Golden Era” with 41 starters. Amongst the drivers were professionals from the “good old days", the two Danes Kris Nissen (Le Mans winner and former VW head of sport) and Kurt Thiim (1985 DTM champion). While Nissen drove at the front and even finished fourth in the second race in a BMW M3 E30, his compatriot Kurt Thiim retired after 3 laps with technical problems, he was driving a huge Volvo 240 GRA. Former professionals Roland Asch, Harald Grohs and Olaf Manthey also competed in this race. Another eye-catcher was the Opel Manta with a fox tail as the special trademark. The Swiss Michael Kammermann won both races driving a 1976 BMW 3.0 CSL.
- German Racing Championship Revival
Another great field of cars could be seen in the races of the DRM Revival. This German Racing Championship was founded in 1972 but during all the years of extensive development these Group 5 racing cars became far too expensive in the early 1980s and this championship was stopped. A good example is the Ford Capri Turbo, with which Klaus Ludwig became DRM champion in 1982. This Ford Capri was a kind of "Überauto", built by the company Zakspeed in Niederzissen. The engine is based on a 1.3 litre 4-cylinder Cosworth BDA-engine but is enlarged by Zakspeed to 1740 cc. and was turbocharged developing 540 Bhp. Weight of the car is just 880 kg. This car is restored for classic racing events and is now being driven by father and son Mücke from Berlin.
- Single Seaters
Entrants from the UK where much less than in previous years but the Historic Sports Car Club from the UK were present with their Formula 2 championship, although only 9 cars were at the start on Saturday and on Sunday even less with just 8 cars. More single seater races could be seen in the Formula Junior Lurani Trophy with a strong field of more than 40 cars. Also the Historic Grand Prix Car Association was present with 46 cars on the starting grid.
- These three days at the Nürburgring proved again the unbroken fascination for classic cars and racing historic cars from the 1920s to the early 1990s. Sorely missed, not only by the media but also by many of the visitors, were the large hospitality tents and display areas from the German major automobile manufacturers like Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Ford. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Goodwood the money is spent lavishly by these companies to offer visitors a mega show but they didn’t show up at the 50th anniversary of the most renowned classic race event in Germany!
With 50,000 visitors it’s still a successful event that deserves to be continued. The 51st AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix is expected to take place the second weekend in August 2024. Pictures by Guus Docen
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