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Formula Vee - memories of a racing series: Live wild and dangerous Hello paddock

Rainer Braun
Memories of a racing series in the book 'Hallo Paddock'
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Norisring, June 1965. Formula Vee experiences its official racing premiere. Porsche's head of sports, Huschke von Hanstein, has organized the introduction of the new junior racing car class with the active help of some sports-loving VW importers. Ten of the 34 hp racers will be brought to Germany from the USA. These things look like too small bathtubs with wheels. Weeks before Nuremberg, the idiosyncratic monoposto, whose 1.2-liter engine, chassis and transmission come from the VW Beetle, will be presented to the public and press at the hill climb races in Eberbach and Rossfeld. Gerhard Mitter and a couple of other Porsche works drivers roll up the mountain. “Great, expandable idea,” dictate the PS stars in the press people's notepads. Later, in the private circle of friends, the verdict sounds completely different: “Horrible”, says Mitter, for example, “The box bounces, jumps, slips and has a road holding like a cow.”

In the paddock in Nuremberg Huschke von Hanstein comes up to me beaming with joy. 'Rainer, I have a surprise, now you have to show whether there is a solid background for your cheeky comments and texts.' With these words he assigns me one of the ten Formula Vee cockpits, in which I am wearing a jacket and shirt and slip in a tie. Jochen Neerpasch lends me the helmet, overall is not yet a compelling issue. The race, however, collides with my job as a track announcer. But Norisring boss Gernot Leistner plays along and quickly names a representative for the micro for training and racing in Formula Vee. So, as a 25-year-old, I actually got my first real car race.

The ten-lap race in front of 50,000 spectators is chaotic, almost everyone stands sideways or turns. The much too large Neerpasch helmet slips into my face at every braking point, and when I accelerate the wind almost tears it off my head. The jacket flutters to the left and right of the cockpit, the tie has long been wrapped around his neck. When the checkered flag fell, I was fifth, behind the winner: an impressive 70 seconds.

Unbeatable Austrians

For the 1966 season, Huschke placed me with his old friend Petermax Müller, head of a large VW and Porsche agency in Hanover, has a permanent cockpit. The car, a BeachCar, is in a bad positionbut the engine goes all the better. Six victories in a row on the mountain and on the circuit followed. The starting fields are growing rapidly, new constructions such as Austro V, Apal, Kaimann, Zarp, HAS, Bora, RPB, Swiss-V, Hansen or Olympic are displacing the “bathtubs” of the first hour. The whole of Europe is covered in Formula Vee fever and an unparalleled boom begins. Soon over 1,000 cars will be registered. At the first appearance with an international cast, a pack of young wild animals from Austria showered me mercilessly. I quickly realize that the guys behind the wheel of the Austro V and Kaimann chassis are in a different league. What I see from the cockpit in front of me makes me shudder. The guys jostle, push, push and drive each other's bikes that make you dizzy. The main characters of this mad group are called Walleczek, Huber, Quester, Schörg or Peter. And new names keep coming: Breinsberg, Riedl, Marko, Pankl and Lauda and Ertl.

As early as 1966, 100 intrepid Formula Vee drivers want to take part in the Euro run as part of the German F1 GP on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. 70 are allowed to train, 50 are allowed to race. In the adventurous starting formation formation 4-3-4, the wild horde rushes into battle. There are hair-raising accidents that take a long time to clean up. Bent Formula Vee cars are being dragged out of safety fences, hedges and ditches. One of them wrapped himself around a tree, another one folded the whole self-made chassis on the jumping hill in front of the Pflanzgarten. While the Austrian Günther Huber is delighted with his record lap of 10.21.7 minutes, numerous break pilots are being treated in the Adenau hospital.

The Guardian Angels don't always fly with them

The races are increasingly turning into desert rodeos. Within a few months, at the Ring and in Spa, Gerold Pankl flies, according to his own description, 'like a grenade from the cockpit' and ends up in the hospital. His medical record reads terrifying: spinal column fractures, complicated leg fractures, severe bruises. Hardly recovered to some extent, Pankl is already fighting for victories again with wild drifts. Soon there will be the first fatal accidents. Sports sovereignty intervenes: a comprehensive security package is decided and the disciplining of the Wild West chauffeurs begins. Rowdy drivers can expect severe penalties and, if necessary, suspension. Belts and fire-resistant overalls are mandatory. Nonetheless, the fighting and trickery continues.

Popular exercise in the express train at the top, preferably just before the destination: sucking in the slipstream, driving the opponent briefly into the exposed gearbox at the rear and pushing out the gear. The designer Bergmann reacts immediately and secures the end of the shift axis with a sturdy ramming protection, on which he sticks his bright red Kaimann emblem.

Kurt Bergmann is the Zampano of the Formula Vee scene. The greatest talents sit in the Kaimann racing cars from the ingenious designer. Erich Breinsberg and Dr. Helmut Marko are the team leaders in 1968. Niki Lauda and Harald Ertl later join the Kaimannn troop. At the first start in Aspern, Lauda stumbles over a slow back marker and flips over fearfully. The big Formula Vee battles are alternately won by Bergmann's Kaimann trio or the Austro V army with Werner Riedl, Peter Peter and Gerold Pankl.

Dr. Marko - a very special chapter

The doctor of law, immortalized in Graz police files together with his childhood friend Jochen Rindt as a bad traffic hooligan, mercilessly shaves everyone. No matter whether on or off the slopes. On top of that, the tall blonde is also a laid-back guy who likes to have a few schnapps with his buddies in the evening and rob their Formula Vee colleagues of their cash - with poker or 17 and 4. When I went to the Hotel Kanne in Hockenheim at seven in the morning Breakfast appears, Marko & Co. are still sitting in the tavern and are having a good time. The first Formula Vee training session is scheduled for eight o'clock, ten past eight the night owls climb into their cars. From here, however, the friendship ends. Everyone is now doing their thing uncompromisingly, Marko also acts here with iron consistency. When the training session ends after 30 minutes, the group of revelers is at the top of the timesheet.

Duel of the year 1969: Marko against Lauda

Niki Lauda learns in the Kaimann -Team quickly and soon becomes an equal opponent for Marko. On the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring, the 1969 GP Germany saw the ultimate showdown of the two greatest Austrian talents. Lawyer Marko, 26, now starts for the McNamara racing team based in Lenggries. Lauda, ​​21, is now the new Kaimann spearhead. Marko and Lauda are about to take off, both know that the Formula 1 team bosses are watching them at the ring.

The Formula Vee engines now have around 80 hp, the 10-minute sound barrier is shaking. Lauda cracks it first in training and conjures up 9,58.9 minutes on the asphalt. Marko is only a blink of an eye slower. It will be a gigantic duel. Neither can be out of sight for a second, one follows the other like a shadow, each passage below the 10-minute limit. In the last lap, Marko set a new record with 9:51.7 minutes and won with a 15 second lead over Lauda. Even during the award ceremony, Lauda complained bitterly about his compatriot: “What a cheek, he just brutally pushed me into the grass on the straight.”

Big brother: Formula Super V

At the end of the 1970 season, Formula Vee 1300 reached its zenith. For one of the lastBreinsberg (Kaimann) and Schurti (Austro V) ensure great duels with the historic finish in Salzburg. It's about the European Championship. Last lap, out of a group of six, the two sprint forward, each trying to push the other aside. The wheels get stuck. When declining, the bullies cross the finish line more flying than driving. Breinsberg, lying upside down on the road after a double somersault, is the title winner. Schurti sticks to the guardrail as vice.

While the VW subsidies for the Formula V 1300 continued for a few years, most top drivers and professional racing teams switched to the new Formula Super V in 1971. The big VW brother is strong, fast and more Racing car than ever. 1.6 liter cubic capacity, initially around 115 HP, over time more and more. Starting fields around 40 or 50 cars are just as common as endless leadership trains. In Hockenheim, 15 cars are sometimes so close together that even in the last lap everyone has a chance to win - veteran Motodrom visitors still rave about the incredible slipstream battles of the Super V.

Book' Hallo paddock '

Unfortunately you can don't travel through time. Anyone who reads the three volumes 'Hallo Paddock' by the journalist Rainer Braun will definitely see time fly by. The paddock was full of filth, the racing drivers did gymnastics without a net or a false bottom, racing was pure like a camel without a filter. But Braun stays away from transfiguration: everything comes on the table, the good and the bad. After reading it, you just want to be able to travel through time all the more urgently.

This article was taken from the book with the kind permission of the author 'Hello
paddock 1' (unfortunately completely sold out) taken from excerpts. Volumes 2 and 3 of the HF book series are still available while stocks last. Information at w ww.hallo-fahrerlager.de

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