The Ennstal Classic

Posted on August 30, 2014.

Laidlaw's 250GTO was one of the stars
Austrian scenery provided wonderful backdrop
This Lancia 037 went very quickly

Story & pics by Henk J. Brouwer, © 2014 ‘nJoy Media

A lot can happen in a year. If you’ve not been somewhere for a year and then return you are often amazed by the changes. I’m always a day early at the Ennstal Classic to unwind from the 620 mile trip and that day I use for reconnaissance and accreditation. And this year in the Enns valley, where already in 2013 many changes were noted in the scrutineering area and such, there were again many changes. I was stunned when I noted that the garage where previously the technical inspection was conducted had disappeared off the face of the Earth, including all the surrounding buildings.


There used to be garage boxes with grease pits and in the corner stood a mobile bar with coffee, water and beer, and also rolls to eat. It was always nice to chat with acquaintances there. On the other side were the boxes with the more advanced measuring equipment. Here everything was measured and checked, sometimes with discussion, but always understated. If you’re out there it was always exciting what you would see there. There I saw my first Porsche Panamera, but also beautifully restored classics, which, incidentally, did not take part. There was Juta Roschmann in previous years washing her Ferrari 250 GT and others still working on their cars. And there was a lot of junk in the area, but that made it special! Too bad all this is gone, but ah well … changes should get a chance to be able to answer the question whether the change has also improved things. Opposite the now empty piece of land there was the white “party tent” where the scrutineering stickers were handed out. Now this happens in big tents near the new school. Unfortunately without the atmosphere…!

Once again the route map is very difficult to get hold of. Instead of printing a few extra copies for the press, who really need it, the photographers and TV crews are fobbed off with a printout from Google Maps, where precisely nothing can be seen. A pity, because it would save a lot of hassle. Also this year the lovely lady gave incorrect information about one of the special stages of the Race Car Trophy. The difference was about 40 km! Other than that the accreditation is handled very professional and smoothly.


Our exploring continues and first of all we briefly looked at the tents that are mostly still under construction. Next we watched how the stands and seats are set up and this year it happened a bit more efficiently than previous years, caused by progressive improvements to all kinds of machinery and equipment. We explore a certain part of the route that is known to us and the next day we continue doing so. After returning to Gröbming we watched the technical inspections. All this we can approve, even though the lack of the atmosphere of yesteryear. In the after-noon we took the opportunity to visit the Dachstein Alpenstrasse, assuming that the Race Car Trophy would drive there like they told us. Unfortunately, this would happen on the Tauplitzalm, as I said, 40 km to the East! The Alpenstrasse was worth a visit and the Tauplitzalm could not match in terms of beauty

Gentlemen … Start Your Engines!

The start was as usual at the Stoderzinken and I always wonder why it has to be this early…? 07:00 in the morning the Stoderzinken is closed to all traffic, except bikers and hikers. The participants need to be certain that they do not encounter any oncoming traffic going coming down so they can go full chat ! Some do that very literally. At a quarter past eight, the first car, the Hispano Suiza H6 Chapron (6.6ltr) goes up. It is followed by some heavy guys like a Bentley, a special racer by Ford, a Buick and Lagonda before the Rolls Royce Phantom 1 in a cloud of steam came up with its almost 8ltr engine. It was quite rare to watch the Pontiac Streamliner come up, virtually soundless.

After a long wait the very special Ferrari 250 GTO (Irvine Laidlaw from Scotland) came up. Everyone you spoke to was captivated by its presence. In response to a question during the final on Saturday, Laidlaw indicated that this kind of car should be out on the road or, even better, on the track. That’s what they were made for!

Outdoor play …

At ten to ten, the number 0 Porsche came up and those who wanted could go down before the start of the Geolyth Prologue. In this prologue the participants passed through Assach, Radstadt and Mautendorf to go further to-wards the nature park Nockalm, where the cars partly drove in the clouds, in the fog, in the wind, the rain and the cold. Then they went to the Red Bull Ring via Murau. After rounding the Red Bull circuit for several laps they left for the Sölkpass and returned to Gröbming, where the first cars were expected around seven in the evening. On the Sölkpass the weather was actually great again though it was maybe too cold and not too crowded with cars either.


On Friday we went to the airport in Niederöblarn. The airport is located a few kilometers east of Gröbming and is a loved location for photo-shoots. The Race Car Trophy would start around two o’clock. They competed for the highest speed after the curve at the end of the runway (speed 140miles/hour+) over a length of 100m or so. The Lancia 037 Rallye Evo 2 with Alexander & Florian Deopito were the fastest on this section. Then the event shifted to Pürgg-Trautenfels, a small picturesque village in the Buchwald near Steinach. It took some time to search for a location but it turned out to be a town with much potential, demonstrated by the emphatic presence of multiple photographers and video teams, which were getting in each other’s way, while a hundred meters down you were alone in beautiful surroundings! The ride there was worth it and we had a late diner that evening.

Sizzling Final Sprint …

On Saturday the Ennstal Classic ended with the Grand Prix of Gröbming, since 2013 preceded by the presentation and a few laps of the Race Car Trophy. This is not just about the cars but also to the invited celebrities invited by organizations or sponsors. So we see in the Jaguar C-type Sir Stirling Moss (85). We welcome Jacky Ickx (69), between 1966 and 1985 one of the most brilliant and versatile race car drivers with a lot of Formula 1 experience, winning Le Mans six times and in 1983 the Paris-Dakar. In a Porsche 718/8 RS Spyder we see Walter Röhrl (67) – he was twice rally world champion. Almost every morning at breakfast I came across Rauno Aaltonen (76) who drove the Ennstal Classic in recent years in a Austin Mini Cooper S from 1972, with this year a 9th and a 15th place last year. But these drivers are  important for the spectators – the teenagers of 2014 possibly hadn’t heard of them ever. The Mustang (4.7ltr) and Bizzarini (4.7ltr) are drowned out by the McLarens with 7.6 and 8.8ltrs who in turn were challenged by the CanAm Lola with 8.3ltr under the hood.

All this wonderful stuff rushes through the small Austrian town of Gröbming and concludes the Grand Prix final, this year with 185 finishers from a field of 197 starters.

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