DTM column: Timo Scheider writes about a golden era and awesome cars
Dear motor racing friends and DTM fans,
The second race weekend of the 2019 DTM takes the drivers and teams to Zolder. Back to its roots, in fact. It was in 1984 that the inaugural race was contested there, a full 35 years ago. Since then, a great deal has happened, and it has undoubtedly been a wild ride through the decades, with plenty of ups and downs along the way. So it might be a good time to take a quick look back. To take stock of this amazing story, and to look forward into the future at the same time.
My personal first memories of the DTM date back to the late 80s. The Ford Sierra Cosworth of Klaus Ludwig in its shiny black Texaco livery. Or the Ford Sierra Cosworth of Manuel Reuter, in black with neon green Lui advertising. These are the images that immediately come to mind – these were the hottest cars. When you’re young, it’s often the look and not necessarily the performance or the driver that make the biggest impression.
The golden era of the swashbucklers in the 80s and 90s was really cool anyway – it had a powerful emotional effect on me. At that time, it was cars with basic engineering, but with guys who said what they thought and did what they wanted. Maybe that wasn’t always correct and proper, but it was really entertaining. It was a cool time when you could be just what you wanted. What I miss today is the passion for a brand or for a driver, like it used to be.
I also have special memories of Zolder. In 1994, I was given the chance to test Nick Heidfeld’s car in the Formula Ford series. That was the point at which I graduated from go-kart to automobile. And in 1995, I drove my first Formula Renault race at Zolder, finishing in second place.
In light of all the great memories, I have to say, those times were better than today. I’m glad that I am not 20 years old and having to start up the career ladder all over again. As a driver, I personally experienced (and helped to influence) a great period in the DTM from 2000 onwards; conversely, the DTM has also made me what I am today. But after that, the series got into troubled waters.
There is no doubt in my mind that the DTM is the best touring car series in the world. The DTM has become more global in its reach and broader based under Gerhard Berger; it’s a great product, and I hope that it will continue for at least another 35 years.
Especially since. in the new season, it’s become a sporting curiosity with a lot of question marks hanging over it. My gut feeling is that Audi and BMW are on par. I would be happy if Aston Martin could pull off a surprise, as they did at Hockenheim.
One thing is certain: Zolder is really fun in a DTM car. The track is a combination of blind hilltops, slow corners that test the car mechanically and fast corners that test it aerodynamically. It’s what we call an ‘old school’ track. Overtaking is difficult, which is why qualifying is so important.
Culinary tip: waffles and chips!
If you are in Zolder, I recommend the waffles – they are simply the best. And of course, the traditional French fries. Be sure to try them!
On that note, have fun at Zolder or watching it live on the SAT1 ran racing show.
Regards, Timo Scheider