Report and photos by Marcel Hundscheid
Take a legendary race track, invite over 600 historic cars built between the 1920s and ’90s and combine it with three days of extraordinary weather conditions. Bring these elements together and you have the perfect ingredients for an epic historic race event. Between August 10-12, 2012, the Nurburgring hosted the Oldtimer Grand Prix for the 40th time. Along with this anniversary event BMW M Motorsport celebrated their 40th anniversary with a special race open for BMWs from the M line. More than 50,000 spectators visited the three-day event featuring touring cars, GTs, Formula 1 cars and sports cars. Twelve different races were presented to a vast crowd, including an Eifel marathon held on Friday evening on the legendary Nordschleife.
Despite the fact that the track recently filed for bankruptcy, the anniversary edition of the Oldtimer Grand Prix was a great success. In 2004 the state chose to expand the Nurburgring complex with an injection of an €215 million investment. According to the mayor of the nearby town Nürburg the region itself might too go down down the drain if the track is unable to reorganize.
FIA Lurani Trophy
Formula Junior is an open wheel formula class from 1958 as the Italian Count Giovanni Lurani had an idea to create a new class for single seaters cars especially made for younger drivers. Although Italian marques dominated the first year they were soon overtaken by British constructors. Cars that were allowed into Formula Junior had to be powered by production-based 1000 cc or 1100 cc engines. As the popularity of the series grew, the number of manufacturers increased. By the end of 1960 there were over 100 manufacturers worldwide.
Formula Junior is now a very popular category in historic racing because many cars and engines are still available. Forty-four cars appeared on the entry list for the first race on Saturday. Piero Enrico Tonetti claimed victory in his Brabham BT6 after a strong battle with Swiss driver Christoph Burckhardt in a Lotus 22. The Italian crossed the finish line just 0.111 second quicker than his Swiss opponent. The fight for victory was a classic one as Burckhardt had to battle with his feloow countryman Philipp Buhofer in a Lotus Mk. V A who finished third.
The second race on Sunday saw another epic battle between Tonetti, Burckhardt and Michael Gibberd from the UK in a Lotus 27. Tonetti scored his second consecutive victory of the weekend, just 0.373 seconds quicker than Gibberd and Burckhardt.
Grand Prix Masters
The British Grand Prix Masters is a series open to historic 3.0 litre F1 cars built between 1968 and 1978. Grand Prix Masters run in four different classes from the pre-ground effects and pre-turbo era of F1 racing. A somewhat disappointing field of just thirteen historic Formula 1 cars found their way to the Nurburgring, but amongst them were twelve different manufacturers.
Spaniard Joaquin Folch drove a lonely race, claiming victory in his former Nelson Piquet Brabham BT49C. Briton Simon Fish scored a second place in his Ensign N180 in front of his fellow countryman Steve Hartley in an Arrows A4.
The second race on Sunday had to be red flagged as both Arrows A4 drivers Steve Hartley and Dave Abbott collided in the second corner of the race. Hartley and Abbott wheel banged resulting in a roll for the unfortunate Hartley as he ended his race upside down. Luckily he was unhurt, both cars however were damaged. After the restart it was again Joaquin Folch pulling away very quickly from the rest of the field. The Spaniard scored his second victory of the weekend with a gap of no less than 30.4 seconds in front of Nico Bindels from Luxemburg in a splendid looking Lotus 87B3. Briton Chris Perkins claimed third spot on the podium in his Surtees TS14.
Revival Deutsche Rennsportmeisterschaft
One of the highlights of the 40th anniversary edition of the Oldtimer Grand Prix was the revival of the DRM (German Racing Championship). Regarded as the predecessor of the current DTM championship the DRM started in 1972 as a Group 2 touring car and Group 4 GT racing series. From 1977, the spectacular Group 5 cars were admitted such as the legendary Porsche 935.
Making a very welcome appearance was the 1981 Group 5 Zakspeed Ford Capri Turbo of Klaus Ludwig. The 1450 cc engine produced no less than 600 horsepower! With a grid of 42 cars featuring amongst others four Porsche 935s, several BMW M1s and other breathtaking cars spectators saw a true revival of German motorsports from the seventies and eighties.
As expected both races were dominated by the mighty Porsche 935. German Oliver Mathai scored a crushing victory in a Porsche 935 K3 on Saturday in front of his fellow countryman Daniel Schrey in his Porsche 935 K3, prepared by the legendary Kremer Racing from Cologne.
Christopher Stahl crossed the finish line third in his Porsche 934/5. Mathai had a perfect weekend scoring his second victory on Sunday. German driver Peter Mücke managed to put his Ford Capri RS 3100 on the second place in front of the former Bob Wollek Vaillant Kremer Porsche 935 K2 scoring a third place.
Two seat sports cars and GTs until 1960-61
Two seat sports cars and GTs built until 1960-61 were gathered into one big field of cars. On Saturday evening spectators saw a classic Le Mans start featuring beautiful Maserati T61 Birdcages, Ferraris, Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs, Porsches and Jaguar just to name a few.
Forty cars started their first race on Saturday won by German driver Willi Balz and Audi factory driver Frank Stippler in a Maserati T61 Birdcage. Briton Julian Majzub drove his Sadler Mk.III to the second spot on the podium as Philip Walker and John Harper from the UK scored a third place in their Lotus Eleven Le Mans. Julian Majzub was the man to beat during the second race on Sunday, claiming victory in front of Philip Walker and John Harper. Austrian Adrian Kraft and German Max Werner finished third in their Maserati Tipo 63.
Historic Grand Prix Cars
Twenty-eight Historic Grand Prix Cars built until 1961 gathered for their races on Saturday and Sunday, seeing many historic Lotus, Cooper, Maserati, Lister-Jaguar and ERAs on the Nurburgring. Philip Walker from the UK took also part in this race with a Lotus 16 368 resulting in a victory on Saturday, in front of Spaniard Joaquin Folch in a Lotus 16 365. Miles Griffiths and John Bond-Smith scored a third spot in a Cooper T45.
The battle for the lead on Sunday proved to be much closer as Miles Griffiths and John Bond-Smith finished just 0.3441 second quicker than Philip Walker. Briton Julian Bronson finished third in his splendid looking Scarab Offenhauser.
Masters GT until 1965
Thirty-eight historic GT cars built until 1965 filled the grid for their single race on Saturday seeing many Jaguar E-Types, AC Cobras and Lotus Elans. After 24 laps on the Grand Prix track Sean and Michael McInerney from the UK drove their TVR Griffith to a victory, 18.8 seconds quicker than Rob and Rick Hall in an AC Cobra. Count Marcus von Oeynhausen from Germay scored a third place in a Jaguar E-Type.
Jaguar E-Type Challenge
Twenty Jaguar E-Types filled the grid for their first race on Saturday, an unique sight. Briton Alex Buncombe scored victory in front of Germans Marcus von Oeynhausen and Frank Stippler. Briton Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell finished third. Both Buncombe, von Oeynhausen and Stippler scored again a victory and a second place during the race on Sunday, as Briton Jamie Boot scored a third place.
World Sportscar Masters
Le Mans type Group 4 Prototypes, built between the mid-’60s up to 1974 were entered for the World Sportscar Masters, always very popular amongst spectators, including Lola T70s, Ferrari 512 M, different Chevrons and McLaren sports cars.
No one could answer Italian Stefano Rosina’s race pace, as he won the first race in a McLaren M8C, 42.484 seconds in front of Germans Dominik and Dieter Roschmann in an immaculate looking and sounding Ferrari 512 M. Frenchmen Andre Bailly and Thomas Bailly drove their Lola T70 Mk.IIIB to a third place.
On Sunday it was once again Stefano Rosina who set the pace, but Sandy Watson and Martin O´Connell from the UK finished just 0.6 second behind the Italian in their Chevron B19. Dominik and Dieter Roschmann drove their Ferrari 512 M to a second consecutive podium of the weekend with a third place.
AvD Tourenwagen Trophae (Avd Touring car Trophy)
Especially meant for classic touring cars up to 1600 cc, up to twenty-two classics filled the grid. After fourteen laps three Lotus Elans divided the top three, seeing Frenchman Thomas Bailly claiming victory in his Elan. Almost eleven seconds later Danish driver Christoph Kjaergaard crossed the finish line in his Elan. Graham Wilson from Luxemburg scored a third place in his Elan 26R. The top twelve would gather once more on Sunday for a big finale.
BMW M Anniversary Race
BMW Classic took five models from their collection to the Ring. The lineup featured two M1 Group 4 racers, a 320 Group 5 car, an M3 Group A (1987) and a 320i STW (1995). They were piloted by BMW touring car drivers Dieter Quester, Johnny Cecotto, Marc Hessel, Marc Surer and Prince Leopold of Bavaria as well as Adrian van Hooydonk, chief BMW designer.
Thirty-three legendary M models filled the grid but after the first race it was the BMW E46 GTR driven by Austrian Markus Weege claiming victory. Swiss driver Christian Traber finished second in his splendid looking and sounding BMW M1 Procar, as American Johnny Cecotto scored a third spot in his BMW 320i E36.
On Sunday thirty M-models battled it out, but it was Christian Traber in his BMW M1 Procar who crossed the finish line first, two seconds quicker than Johnny Cecotto. German Hans Wagner finished third in a BMW M1 Turbo Schnitzer.
Avd Tourenwagen Cup (AvD Touring Car Cup) – Nurburgring Trophy
On Friday thirteen classic touring cars claimed the legendary Nordschleife for their race. Germans Alexander Furiani and Frank Stippler were a class of their own as they scored victory in a Alfa Romeo GTA no less than three minutes quicker than the Alfa Romeo GTA of German Horst Baumann. Briton Marcus Mahy and George Haynes finished third in a BMW 1800 Ti.
On the same time twenty classic GTs and a handful of touring cars started in the Nurburgring Trophy. Three Porsche 911s driven by German drivers filled the podium. Stefan Oberdorster and Andreas Gulden took victory, Kersten Jodexnis finished second as Peter Scheufen and Jorn Schmidt-Staade scored a third place.
Avd Historic Marathon
Thirty-eight GTs and touring cars drove a 24-lap race on the Nordschleife seeing Marcus von Oeynhausen and Frank Stippler claiming another victory in a Jaguar E-Type. Austrian Armin Zumtobel and German rally legend Walter Rohrl finished second in a Porsche 911. Allen Tice and Chris Conoley scored a third place in their Marcos GTS.
Classic automobiles from the Twenties and Thirties drove two presentation runs featuring cars like the BMW 328, MG PA, Connaught B, Alvis Speed 25, Bugatti T35 just to name a few. The 2012 Oldtimer Grand Prix once again proved to be one of the highlights in classic motorsports in Europe. Let us truly hope that owners of the Nurburgring can sort out the financial difficulties as this event is one of the best and greatest of its kind.
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