Participating in the Solitude Revival with a 718 Formula 2 from 1960 from the Porsche Museum is one of the best things that can happen in historic motorsport. And not only there, according to the author, who didn't want to get out.
It's amazing how much you can get used to speeds and how difficult it is sometimes to recalibrate your own sense of speed. Everyone knows the effect: If you drive for a while on the free highway at, say, a good recommended speed, you run the risk of tackling the following descent much too quickly.
The so-called Mahdental, a winding country road between Stuttgart and Leonberg, is normally limited to 60 km/h for safety reasons, so that the local juvenile delinquents don't get cocky here. At the Solitude Revival (see picture gallery), which takes place every two years, the restrictions are largely lifted, to the delight of all around 400 participants with their racing motorcycles, racing teams and racing cars.
Until 1965 Grand Prix Circuit
Solitude Revival? In fact, this event is needed to remind people that there was once a real Formula 1 race track between the state capital of Baden-Württemberg and neighboring Leonberg, on which Grand Prix races were held until 1965 - which regularly attracted 400,000 spectators made a pilgrimage The races and heroic deeds of that time are long history, but the 11.3 km long, triangular natural race track is still there and presents itself in the original course up to 300 meters.
Jim Clark holds the track record
And so every two years here on a few country roads where people normally drive to work, everything that's big in racing, from Abarth to Zagato and from pre-war racing cars to Formula 1. So that things don't get too wild, the experienced race director Werner Aichinger looks deep into everyone's eyes at the morning driver's briefing and warns caution: "If you have one in front of you who obviously has never had anything from heard the ideal line, just overtake him - but very carefully!". In addition, there is a lead vehicle for each group, the driver of which achieves exactly the right balance between really fast, but not breakneck speed. And the track is fast, much faster than the Nürburgring, for example: in 1963, the exceptional British talent Jim Clark cemented the all-time record here in a Lotus with an average speed of 179.4 km/h.
This number should be kept in the back of your mind with humility when you roll a 718 Formula 2 from the Porsche Museum from the paddock behind the start-finish tower onto the starting grid.The silver Monoposto from 1960 is powered by a four-cylinder boxer engine whose four overhead camshafts are set in rotation via vertical shafts. Experts refer to this as the Fuhrmann engine, after the designer. The mechanical gem, which takes a talented mechanic at least a week to assemble, conjures up around 165 hp from a displacement of 1.5 liters – it doesn’t sound like much, but the car also only weighs 470 kilograms.
Dan Gurney won on the Solitude in 1962
It starts at the push of a button, the air-cooled four-cylinder ignites immediately and makes self-confident but not too loud sounds of life, it's a thoroughbred racing car. On the way to the pre-start, the engine oil slowly warms up. It's hot under the helmet and in the fireproof racing suit, so I don't have to familiarize myself with the Porsche anymore, we know each other from previous appearances. Marc Lieb is standing in front of me in the Porsche 804 Formula 1, with which the American Dan Gurney won the Formula 1 race here at Solitude in 1962. Finally, the marshal beckons us to the start-finish straight, and those who don't get a quickened pulse at the sight of the many spectators should probably collect stamps.
Here we go, the Formula 2 clutch grips softly and is easy to dose, the five-speed gearbox shifts precisely and the vertical shaft motor delivers enough torque even at low speeds to get going easily and without a ruckus. Factory driver Marc Lieb has to concentrate a lot more, his eight-cylinder boxer has a rather narrow usable speed range, and the six-speed gearbox without a shift gate always made me pray, at least, to get the right gear when shifting down - otherwise there will be core scrap.
Third, fourth, fifth, chicane, brakes!
Here in the spectator area, the driver of the lead car wisely holds back, but from the left-hand bend at Glemseck up to the Hedersbach curve, he accelerates vigorously. For the 180-degree turn, I have to go back into second, then I can accelerate fully, third, fourth, fifth gear, always observing the 7,000 rpm limit. The asphalt here up to the Frauenkreuz has already seen too many winters and trucks, the Formula 2 always shifts slightly, but it never feels bad. A chicane in front of the Dreispitz slows us down, tires and the four drum brakes are up to temperature, the braking performance is still first class.
In general, I have to realize once again how much fun a formula racing car with free-standing wheels is: It's the purest form of a racing car, built solely for driving fast - the difference between a racing touring car and a small formula Renault, for example, is far larger than between a formula racing car of the junior class and a formula 1. From the Dreispitz it now goes down to the Hotel Schatten, the fast right was definitely a rather courageous curve in the past.In general, you can't really imagine how you have to drive here to get an average speed of almost 180. And one thing is certain: the trees along the route have only gotten bigger since then.
Dance through the Mahdental
The next hairpin bend is waiting at the Hotel Schatten, drive up wide and then pull in, and we're already at the left-hand bend that takes us to the Mahdental mentioned at the beginning. What follows is a wonderful dance, as race director Aichinger puts it: curve follows curve, whoever gets the right line almost drives themselves into a frenzy; in Formula 2 everything goes in fourth and fifth gear. The lap is over far too quickly, a chicane slows us down a good bit before the start-finish point, we head into the spectator area at a moderate pace – and then onto the next lap. Far too soon the final wave is waved off, one would like to drive until the fuel is gone. Back in the paddock, the 718 Formula 2 babbles happily to itself, there is not a spot of oil to be seen - the construction is complicated, but rock-solid. Take care, little Porsche, hopefully we'll see each other again in two years at the latest and dance through the Mahdental together.
The day after my drive in the Porsche 718 Formula 2 racing car, I was riding my motorcycle in the area - and had to readjust my sense of speed. It always took a damn long time before the next corner came.