Ferrari detail. Ferrari Owners' Club
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Ferrari Happenings

AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring
report & pics by Henk J. Brouwer

25.8.03

 

Historical Motor sport…
The “Automobilclub von Deutschland” (AvD), with some partners, excellently organized this event in the grand manner. When you studied the preliminary time schedule it looked very promising. There were 12 categories starting with Formula Junior (1958-1963), European Sports Prototype Trophy, Shell Historic Ferrari Maserati Challenge – II, FIA Challenge for Historic Tour cars (1947-1971), Historic race cars (to 1940), Historic Grand Prix cars (to 1960), Shell Ferrari Maserati Challenge – I, Force Classic Grand Prix Cars, FIA Cup for Historic GT-cars, Race- and GT- cars from the fifties, Race- and GT-cars build to 1965. Well, I think you can call this an OLDTIMER GRAND PRIX, written in capitals. The clubs I certainly won't leave out, like Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Porsche and there was a Bonhams auction as well...

Along the track…
During the last edition of the AvD OGP I saw the changes they made at the track, the Castrol Curve and the Mercedes Arena. It’s a part of the track that slows down the cars and on the other hand gives a more clear view on that part. Mainly done for the spectators on the Bilstein- and Mercedes tribune I think, because they can follow the cars very well from the grid, along the Castrol Curve and Mercedes Arena. During this event there were plenty of happy spectators in the tribunes.

I think the Nürburgring is one of the safest tracks for drivers as well as for the spectators, marshals and photographers along the track. They only thing I was irritated by (this year anyway) were the shuttles without drivers. Twenty minutes waiting for a shuttle-driver is too long and caused some photographers to miss parts of certain races. It meant for me that I had to walk several miles to visit the places I wanted to take photos.

For the Oldtimer Grandprix the organizers had rebuild the Mercedes Arena almost back to the old situation, which brought some nice pictures. Sometimes there was a need for some acrobatic feats between the fences and tires/crash-barriers. It wasn’t easy to find the right spot and still I don’t know which part I like most. The other parts like the Ford Curve, the “Müllenbachschleife”, the Dunlop hairpin and the Audi-S I know very well by now, just like the other sides of the track and I didn‘t even mention the Michelin- and Coca-Cola curve, also places where something can happen that a photographer doesn't want to miss…

Before the races…
In the Hotel “Döttinger Höhe” I picked up -like the years before- my press pass and a big arm-band for photo-access along the track. Everything was explained to me by a nice and friendly young lady, who was very accurate and relaxed. Parking was well taking care of and after less then 10 minutes I was on my way to the paddock with the beautiful cars: from days gone by, with past glory; winners of important rallies or Grand Prix’s, with famous celebrities behind the wheel, photographed by everybody who had a camera. There even was a guy who didn’t have a camera… he painted the cars instead… (and quite well I must admit), but after that he wanted to sell them for too much… All these activities could not be caught in one program nor could you catch these things in one photo. It was too much… every place where you looked cars…, cars hidden behind big transporters or hidden inside, cars behind tents or in a box, yes cars in every corner of the Ring. Cars and automobiles one much more beautiful than the other, or… should I say much more different, because there’s no accounting for tastes. There were cars with -in money- very little value and cars, which costs over a million (euro’s, dollars… does it matter?), but both equally valuable to its owner. One car admired for its brand, another for its design, technical skills or just its sound.

Visor down… hands on the wheel…
I had enough time to search for some remarkable things in the paddocks and to go to my first spot along the track before the first race started. Of course I was mainly interested in the Ferraris but also Maserati would have my attention. The older Maseratis I like most, just like Ferrari and there were lots of them. Then, what do you think of the Bugatti T51 from 1926 (the eldest car in the 31st AvD-Ogp) and the Bugatti T37 from 1927 entered by Marcel Sontrop form the Netherlands? It was a wonderful sight to see all these cars pass by through one of the curves or along the straight. During this first day I saw cars spin off, make pirouettes and land off the track caused by all kind of circumstances. That’s why there’s training on the day before so everybody can adjust things, pol-ish their cars and drive them to victory in one of the races to come. And in summary of the cars I have to admit that I saw some beauties, and that’s why I drove over 200 miles… to see some marvelous classic cars and get wet…, very wet! Oh no…, not from the rain like last year, but now it was between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius...

The continuation of the AvD OGP-days…
Sun…, for me a bit of a spoiler of this year's event. Although it can rain in the “Eiffel”, while elsewhere in Germany or Europe for that matter it’s beautiful weather, there was no rain whatsoever these days. Clouds yes, rain… no way!! Saturday after the last part of the Historic Challenge I planned first to stay until the Le Man start, but I changed my mind. I was glad I could put my “hands on the wheel…” of my car and enjoyed my air-conditioning. I had had enough sun… Sunday I returned and it was as hot as the day be-fore. It made me think about the drivers in their cars on the grid. As one said to me while taking pictures on the grid that during the race it wasn’t that bad, but standing out there waiting for the start...

It’s almost impossible to follow the race if you are along the track photographing the cars. You have to watch carefully if the car -that you missed the lap before- is coming. The only thing you perhaps will notice is when a car goes missing. The cars that participate in the Challenge are known by know, although there are some new participants, like Nico Koel with his 275 (s/n 7641) GTB from the Netherlands. Also the 512 BB LM of Paul Knapfield we saw here for the first time. I heard that the 275 GTB/C (s/n 7407) of Martin McGlone (GB) spun off during Friday training. I saw the car on a trailer, heavily damaged. While the car was secured on the trailer I overheard someone say that the possible costs of restoration were approx. $120,000. The owner was kept in hospital for safety reasons, because he had possible head inju-ries… Sunday the 512 BB LM droppedll out and it looked like he had problems with the front axle, because when I saw the 512 in the paddock it inclined to the left. In general I thought the races of the Historic Challenge were quite boring; there were also too many withdrawals (about 25) in advance and we couldn’t enjoy those cars. Perhaps it was the weather, but I have seen other races with more competition…

Ending an event in a grand manner…
I again witnessed a wonderful organized event and -next to the hundreds of participants- over 67,000 people did too. To catch the atmosphere and the passion around all those different makes, of all those people… one a technician with a passion, another just a lucky guy with a classic car, or the collector who brought three cars of different makes. I took hundreds of photos. And during the compiling of this article I selected the photos for a compilation of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, so not only Ferraris. Well, I hope you get an impression and perhaps my efforts will help you decide whether you’d go there yourself next year… I can recommend it, that’s obvious !!

Results etc. on the AvD OGP site

 

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