Marathon weekend

A venture onto the Nordschleife and a night race added variety to Germany’s big historic meet
by Paul Parker

The AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix meeting is a pleasing mixture of old and fairly new, together with totally unhindered traffic access (British circuits please note). Since last year the construction of a new leisure complex has begun at the Nürburgring that will include a casino and apparently a rollercoaster, so it is currently ‘crane city’.

For the 2008 Marathon they used the Nordschleife – motor racing’s equivalent of climbing the north face of the Eiger – and the modern track combined, over 16 miles in total. The weather was wet and grey for the 95 starters, led by the Richard Meins/Julian Rouse Ford GT40. Unsurprisingly it was considerably faster than the rest but it faded, giving the lead to the Michel Campagne/Allard Kalff Chevrolet Corvette pursued by Martin Stretton in George Huber’s Jaguar E-type and the Gotcha Racing E-type of Marcus von Oeynhausen. Ultimately the rapid Corvette seemed to develop braking problems and Stretton took the lead. They were followed by the Irvine Laidlaw/Simon Hadfield Porsche 904/6 that crossed the line first after the Stretton/Huber E-type stopped with a broken gearbox. But because the race was then red-flagged the results were taken from the previous lap, giving the win to the Jaguar from the Porsche with von Oeynhausen third.

The Nürburgring Trophy on the Nordschleife was won by the Porsche 911S of Michael Roock/Claudia Hürtgen, while the rest of the meeting included what resembled a timed regularity run for pre-1940 cars rather than the former races. Instead we had the odd sight of a few pre-war racers and a lot of touring cars driving around at varying velocities.

Happily Grand Prix Masters provided an exciting show with Jean-Michel Martin’s Ensign N177 winning both races and Simon Hadfield, who gave a virtuoso performance in the 1969 Matra MS80, finishing fourth. Ron Maydon enjoyed his ever more competitive Amon F101, James Hanson’s ex-Ickx Ferrari 312B2 sounded magnificent, while James Wood drove the unique Cooper-Alfa T86C tested in period by Lucien Bianchi and, allegedly, Denny Hulme. Another welcome addition was a 1967 works Brabham-Repco BT24 for Mark Linstone.

There were pre-1960 GP cars, FJs and assorted GT and prototype/sports car races featuring everything from 1950s Allards to Can-Am McLarens and Porsche 935s. Peter Hoffman won one race with his McLaren M8F, which he used in endurance racing in 1976 and ’77.

An atmospheric night race was included and this featured Otto Reedtz-Thott’s ex-UDT-Laystall Lotus 19, raced by Innes Ireland in America. It won the night-time event and finished second in the Sunday race behind Jamie McIntyre’s bellowing Lister-Chevrolet.

As I stood watching the derring-do on the Nordschleife and later the inevitable remains of over-enthusiastic driving, I was reminded of the huge draw of this place – and how it can cause people to over-reach themselves.