S It's beautiful up here, beautiful - and cold. The paddock at the Ferleiten toll station is 1145 meters above sea level, and several three-thousand-meter peaks greet you all around. It is shortly before eight o'clock, the thermometer shows just above zero degrees. At the top it snowed in the night, under five centimeters of fresh snow there is four centimeters of ice, the last 200 meters of altitude are only possible with chains. If any. 'The mountain defends itself against us storming it,' said organizer Marcus Herfort at the drivers' meeting.
Snow plows clear the racetrack
The snow plows have been in use since five in the morning, the start will be postponed to ten, then to eleven. That doesn't bother the 75 drivers, more than 50 of them on pre-war vehicles. It's about the relevant suspects, you know each other, warm yourself up in the adjoining inn with a fried potato soup, everything is familiar. 'It's nice that there aren't that many participants, so you don't have to wait that long afterwards,' says Alfa Romeo 6C driver Rainer Ott.
Above all, everyone is thrilled that it's a new, exciting event there - and one is surprised that no one had the idea to revive the hill climb on the Großglockner for classic automobiles (there is, however, an event for motorcycles). After all, hill climbs have been enjoying increasing popularity in the classic scene for years, not least because they are much more scenic than a sterile circuit.
The suggestion apparently comes from Peter Kubitza, who with his Riley 12 /4 prefers each mountain route to its beloved Nordschleife. 'During the Eifel race, Peter said you should do something in the mountains,' says Marcus Herfort: 'And then I discovered the impressive history of the mountain races on the Großglockner.'
The Austrian Grand Prix starts in 1935
Impressive, indeed: One day after the opening of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, which connects the federal states of Salzburg and Carinthia, the Grand Mountain Prize of Austria was started on August 4, 1935, with Mario Tadini winning in an Alfa Romeo 8C . In 1938 and 1939 the race was called the 'Great Mountain Prize of Germany' due to the political situation; In 1938 Hans Stuck became Bergmeister in the Auto Union, and Hermann Lang in the Mercedes the following year. In all three editions of different lengths, theMost of the route consists of rolled sand, and the mountain was extremely repellent with rain and occasional fog.
13 hairpin bends, 14.5 kilometers and 92 bends
On the other hand, bright sunshine melts here now also the last remnants of snow from the road, at eleven o'clock Peter Embacher, operations manager of the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße AG, drives the route again - the start is at eleven. As excited as little boys, they all jump into their cars, queue up at the toll station and let off steam every minute.
After 13 minutes, it's my turn with starting number 14 and peek over the infinitely long, snow-white bonnet of the Mercedes SSK on the first right curve. 13 hairpin bends, 14.5 kilometers and 92 bends lie ahead of me up to the finish line at an altitude of 2394 meters, especially the hairpin bends are hard work with the 1850 kilograms. This is compensated by the elemental force of the 7.1-liter six-cylinder, whose 180 hp can be increased to 225 with the switchable compressor at every corner exit. Just the feeling of being able to activate the screeching compressor at any time by fully depressing the central accelerator pedal lets the happiness hormones explode.
In addition, there is this unique high alpine landscape, the last bends feel like the driveway due to the many spectators in a motodrome. After parking the SSK, I join them and watch the other pilots at their sometimes spectacular goings-on. When everyone is at the top, the real highlights follow.
Jochen Mass in the Mercedes W 125
You can see many bends down into the valley from the Fuscher Törl, but you can still hear the eerie roar of the compressor loaded Mercedes W 125 long before you see it. Jochen Mass drives the 600 hp Grand Prix racing car up turn to turn and receives thunderous applause from the scene. One asks what corridor he got into. 'Until the fourth,' replies Mass: 'But I only used it so that it would not be offended.' Shortly afterwards, Hans Herrmann also turns the corner in the Porsche 550 Spyder, he too in this inimitable, clean style of an old master. 'Simply beautiful here', says the 84-year-old.
Then it goes down again, which is the bigger challenge for some in view of the overwhelmed drum brakes. We'll line up again straight away, because that's the best thing about it: There is still one run waiting for us on the Grossglockner this afternoon, two more tomorrow - can there be better prospects for the immediate future?