The meeting of the very special racing cars

The evening race of the two-seat racing cars and GTs up until 1960/61 is no doubt a highlight of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix. Even though some international participants were absent due to corona this year, a highly remarkable field with many stunning vehicles embarked on the wild ride towards the evening twilight. A first ‘eye-catcher’ awaited visitors even before the warm-up lap in the form of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL with a very special history: in the 1000-km race in 1956, Bengt Martensson and Count Wittigo von Einsiedel drove the gullwing model and finished in eighth position overall.

The Swedish-German pairing of Martensson/von Einsiedel clinched class victory at the Nürburgring back then. As if that wasn’t reason enough to show the customer car that had been factory-prepared at the time, it was just recently reactivated after a longer period of dormancy. And this time a member of the von Einsiedel family – Fabian, Wittigo’s son – was at the wheel again. “In a way it’s a family car,” he says with a smile. In 1956, his father, Wittigo, with his track experience at the Nürburgring contributed to the victory he and his Swedish team-mate clinched as the best German team in the GT category. Further races followed. “I’m very happy to have the opportunity of driving this car myself,” says Fabian, who inherited his enthusiasm for motorsport from his father. “However, here at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, only a demo lap is possible because the 300 SL was not used for a long time and first has to be gotten ready for racing again.”

All the cars participating in this special race can arguably be called rarities. This time, the somewhat smaller cubic capacity classes with a variety of stunning Lotus models as well as a Porsche 718 RS 61 (1960), a Maserati A6GCS (1955) and many other impressive vehicles are particularly well represented. An exotic car among these exotic cars is a 1965 Abarth Simca 2000 competing in the invitation class of the GT/GTS/GTP cars up until 1965. Driver Dr Jürgen Boden relates: “The car is from the collection of Engelbert Möll, a former Abarth works driver.” Simca actually just supplied the name to this racing car while Abarth provided the racing technology in order to move the brand into the right sporting spotlight. The racer with a six-speed gearbox that was cutting-edge technology at the time initially went to South America while other examples of it were successfully fielded in the Sportscar World Championship. “There were drivers who also raced Porsche 904 but would prefer the Abarth on narrow and winding tracks,” says Dr Boden. “Now we’ve revived this car after it had been parked for a longer period of time in the private collection, received the requisite FIA papers and are going to drive a careful first race this evening.”

The line-up of special drivers included two former Formula One drivers this time who actually compete in the special round of the Grand Prix legends. René Arnoux and Giovanni Lavaggi took advantage of the opportunity to contest the evening race in a Porsche 904 – a premiere for both of them in this model. “The race was like jumping in at the deep end,” Lavaggi says with a smile and goes on to explain: “In qualifying, I’d just warmed up the brakes and was going to accelerate when the red flag ended the session, so I truly broke new ground in the race.” Arnoux, by the way, associates an old memory with the model he just had the opportunity to drive. “When I was 16 years old, I was living in Grenoble,” he relates. “I still remember well that a 904 was parked in a garage at the time and that I’d always run to the place after school to admire it. Today, I’m delighted to have the chance of driving it myself.”