The history of the Eifel race

The history of the Eifel race

From 1922 to 1926, four races around Nideggen were staged under the name of “ADAC Eifel round trip”. With the opening of the Nürburgring in 1927, the organiser at the time, ADAC Rheinland (today’s ADAC Nordrhein), moved the race to the new race track and called it “ADAC Eifel race”.

 

The Eifel race has a firm place in the calendar of the Nürburgring to this day – until 1974, motorcycles as well as automobiles took part, since then, “only” four-wheelers compete. And don’t forget that in the years 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1974 the Eifel race was part of the Motorcycle Road Championships.

The history of the Eifel race
Eifel race 1935, Rudolf-Caracciola (winner)

Caracciola immortalised following premiere victory

 

At the premiere event in 1927, Rudolf Caracciola was the fastest car racing driver and Toni Bauhofer the fastest motorcycle driver. Soon, Caracciola was the first to hold the title of “Master of the Nürburgring”. His opponents in the Eifel region were the who-is-who of the top pilots at the time. Louis Chiron, Tazio Nuvolari, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck and Hermann Lang, to name just a few of the stars of the early days. The world economic crisis at the end of the 1920s and beginning of 1930s is also part of the annals of the race, as is the birth of the Silver Arrows, the legendary duels between the Gran Prix racing cars of Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz when the National Socialists took control of the race between 1934 and 1939 as well as its sudden demise with the start of the war.

The history of the Eifel race

After the war, the motorcycle stars dominate the world of racing

 

In the initial post-war years, it was motorcycling that played the main role in the Eifel race. Firstly because Auto Union and Mercedes no longer competed, and secondly because pre-war two-wheel champions such as Georg “Schorsch” Meier on BMW and the motorcycle world champions Rupert Hollaus and Werner Haas won on NSU motorcycles.

 

What’s more, the two-wheel sport – important in the years of post-war reconstruction – was cheaper and (at least temporarily) more popular.

Since the 1960s: motorcycle and Formula 2 Mecca

 

In the mid-1950s, the motorcycle boom was gradually coming to an end. The Eifel race also ran into problems after 1955 (Mercedes entered with a works team and Formula 1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio won the sports car race). A fresh start was needed. The race format that was to successfully continue for almost 20 years emerged from the Formula Junior races that were part of the supporting programme in 1959: the new Formula 2 was the highlight of the Eifel race from 1964 until 1983. Its protagonists included Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Jackie Stewart, Jochen Mass, Marc Surer and Thierry Boutsen.

The history of the Eifel race

The German Racing Championship and the DTM race were the crowd pullers in the 1970s and 80s

 

In tandem with the Formula 2, another crowd puller emerged in the 1970s, which was soon to develop into another golden age of the Eifel race: it was now the sports and touring cars that captivated a new generation of fans.

 

The Eifel race once again occupied a key position when it staged the first German Motor Racing Championship in1972. It soon became one of the top national (and later international) motorsport races, and from 1986, the Eifel race counted towards the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). For 16 years, the race was a top event for the racers with a “roof over their heads”: initially for the DTM, and later for ITC and STW (Super Touring Cars).

At the beginning of the 21st century, this tradition began to fade. The last Eifel race was held in 2004 as a sports car race as part of the LMES (Le Mans Endurance Series), thus returning to its roots as a sports car race – as in 1927 when it was first staged.

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