Historic motorsport is possible even under the special conditions of the corona pandemic: the 48th AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix (7th to 9th August 2020) was a resounding success for the organisers and active participants in spite of these circumstances. World stars like Jacky Ickx (BEL) and René Arnoux (FRA) climbed into the cockpit again in order to join many enthusiastic racing drivers in reviving some 300 historic racing cars from Formula One, DTM and DRM, the iconic endurance racing series and other classes. Thanks to a comprehensive hygiene and health concept up to 5,000 spectators per day were given the opportunity to enjoy the racing live at the venue – a much smaller audience than in previous years, albeit far more than the restrictions have permitted this year to date. The classic car festival at the Nürburgring was the first German sports event this year at which any appreciable number of spectators were allowed to share the thrill of racing in the grandstands. Complete information, pictures, results and background reports from the weekend can be obtained on the official homepage of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix at www.avd-ogp.de.
Making it possible for the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix to be held not only as a meeting of legendary and beautiful historic racing cars but welcoming spectators to the venue as well was a major feat that took several months to achieve. The joint organisers and the Nürburgring developed a viable health concept and coordinated it with the relevant authorities. “We are proud that we succeeded in welcoming spectators this weekend,” said Ludwig Fürst zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg, President of Automobilclub von Deutschland AvD. “We are delighted about the permission granted by the relevant authorities and wish to thank all the parties involved in this effort for their constructive collaboration.” Accompanied by keen media interest, the concept was implemented with discipline and consistency. “We are aware of the fact that we were a pioneer this weekend and that attention was focused on us,” the AvD President added. “That is why we are very pleased to see that everyone involved – participants, officials and spectators – adhered to the rules and thus contributed their share to a safe event. We accomplished something that had been considered impossible and I hope that in doing so we were able to pave the way for other large-scale events.” The Nürburgring officials who contributed to this special success expressed relief as well: “For the first time in 2020, spectators were in attendance at the Nürburgring under corona conditions. This has marked a special moment which the Ahrweiler district administration made possible by granting an exceptional permission based on our concept,” said Nürburgring CEO Mirco Markfort. “The organisers of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, the teams, the drivers, the vehicles and particularly the exemplary audience all contributed to a successful premiere this weekend. Clearly, the concept panned out in practice. Now we have to see what opportunities this will open up for coming events.”
Unanimous joy about racing in spite of corona
Everyone travelling to the Nürburgring this weekend had to submit to special rules: minimum social distancing, mouth-nose protection, rules of hygiene – ‘safety first’ applied to the grandstands as well as to the paddock. Even though spectators were only able to watch from their assigned seats in the grandstands this time, they were thrilled by the action on the track. “When these cars do their laps, they fascinate the audience,” said Jacky Ickx (76). In the new Formula One demo round this weekend the Belgian Formula One icon drove the Ferrari 312 B3 in which he had won the 1972 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. He was delighted about the opportunity to drive at racing speed: “Even though we’re driving in front of a smaller audience this weekend and have to observe special rules in the interest of safety, such a classics race remains a very special treat for both the audience and the active participants. The AvD did an outstanding job of making this event possible under these special prerequisites.” In the same round, four-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner presented a Lotus 77 John Player Special and was obviously delighted too: “We were deadlocked for four months during which we missed out on a lot of things and a number of important events were cancelled. Now we’re getting started again. It’s great that the AvD managed to make the attendance of 5,000 spectators possible per day.” Ex-DTM and sports car driver Kris Nissen, who drove a Group A BMW M3 E30 from the DTM in the field of the Touring Car Classics, provided this statement: “I have to pay a huge compliment to the organisers on behalf of all participants: thank you for having made it possible for us to drive here, together with the Nürburgring.”
100 years of motorsport on the track
Not only the reduced trackside audience made this 48th AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix an exceptional edition of the big classics festival. The programme differed from previous years as well. For instance, the special rounds of the Formula One legends of the 70s to the 90s was presented as a new highlight primarily featuring the Ferrari models from racing’s top category. The two-hour AvD/Dunlop Historic Endurance Cup on Sunday morning was a new addition to the programme as well and met with keen response. In other fields, a number of international entrants whose firmly planned participation was prevented by the pandemic situation were painfully missed. Even so, traditionally internationally contested races, such as the one of the two-seat racing cars and GTs up until 1960/61 with its Le Mans and endurance racing icons, featured fields filled with fascinating cars. “With more than 300 historic and modern racing cars from practically all eras of circuit racing, including many one-of-a-kind cars and legendary models, the spectators no doubt got their money’s worth,” said AvD Sport President Volker Strycek. The former DTM driver personally took part in the action at the wheel of an STW Opel Vectra of the Irmler team and so was able to get a good perspective of the event from the cockpit too. “Obviously, the programme differed from previous years due to the circumstances,” said the successful racing driver and motorsport executive. “Even though some international participants were able to watch us only on the live stream instead of being here themselves we put a tremendous mix with a very large number of attractive cars on track.” For example, they included the pre-war cars of the Vintage Sports Car Trophy in which Ulrich Sauer (Iserlohn) took the wheel as a participant from day one: the 78-year-old was on the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix for the 48th time and on this occasion raced together with his granddaughter Anna Schneider (23), who he taught how to handle the tricky pre-war technology. The modern conclusion of the programme was formed by the contemporary GTs of the International Audi R8 LMS Cup and the FCD Racing Series with their Ferrari models. All this resulted in a time journey of motorsport from the 1920s to today.
From the past to the present: a wide and varied paddock
In addition, many legendary and beautiful racing cars from nearly all disciplines and eras of motorsport were assembled in the paddock that was closed to spectators this time as a matter of exception. They included the GTs, sports and touring cars of Fahrergemeinschaft Historischer Rennsport (FHR), a drivers’ association of historic racing that was represented in the programme with several of its racing series. One of the highlights was the joint race of the FHR-owned 100-Mile Trophy and the DRM Revival Round of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix. Dominated by sports cars this time, this race presented a spectacular display of motorsport with an impressive sound track. High-end touring car racing was also delivered by the racing cars from the DTM, STW, ITC, BTCC, DRM and related series in the Touring Car Classics, in which numerous former DTM stars such as Harald Grohs, Leopold Prinz von Bayern and Marc Hessel compete. One of them, AvD Sport President Volker Strycek, summarises the event: “At the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix we again managed to present historic motorsport in all of its facets this year – including a small portion of modern racing. As a result, the spectators were able to see how the racing used to be and how it is today. In my view, that’s a successful mix.”
Live streaming with more than 350,000 viewings
Many positive responses – not least from those fans who were not able to attend the event at the venue – confirm this assessment. They had the opportunity to watch the live stream that was made possible with the help of numerous partners and broadcast in collaboration with Nürburgring TV in this scope and format for the first time. The event’s streaming experts counted more than 350.000 viewings during the weekend on the various official channels of the AvD and the Nürburgring as well as on many partner channels. During the live production they also had the opportunity to prepare some special treats: RTL reporter Peter Reichert interviewed a large number of stars of the weekend and captured their petrol stories. They will successively be posted online after the event on the YouTube channels of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix and the AvD and so document fascinating motorsport history.