The history of the legendary "Oldtimer Grand Prix" on the Salzburgring

"Oldtimer Grand Prix" 1981 with Surtees, Lomas, Taveri, Stastny and Zeller

After his retreat in 1955 from active motorcycle racing Helmut Krackowizer started to search and collect vintage motorcycles in whole Europe. Some of these discoveries he kept himself, having let them restored, changed or sold them. In 1967 he founded one of the first vintage motor clubs in Austria and for a short period he was president of the Austrian Vintage Club Association in 1976.

At that time nearly nobody was interested in vintage events. But around 1970 the first meetings where organized in Austria.


Helmut Krackowizer, 1974 - the first competition not called "Oldtimer Grand Prix" already

One of the great dreams of Helmut Krackowizer got reality with the legendary "Oldtimer Grand Prix" on the Salzburgring in the years between 1974 and 1994, which took place in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1987 as the "original" Oldtimer Grand Prix an in 1994, 1996 and 1997 just in a very small production again but not really that what it had been in earlier time.

Stars like Niki Lauda, Juan Manuel Fangio, Sammy Miller, John Surtees, Walter Zeller, Luigi Taveri, Bill Lomas, Hans Haldemann, Schorsch Meier and many many other persons of the motor racing scene came to this event for vintage cars and motorcycles. Mercedes Benz sent the famous "Silberpfeile" (Silver Arrows) and much more than 100 cars and up to 250 motorcycles joined every year this great event.

But Krackowizer got on the saddle even advanced in years and rode his vintage motorcycles e.g. in 1973 on the Nürburgring on a Sunbeam 90, 1929 - he was the winner of the day; or finally in 1990 when he rode the ex-Wal Handley Rudge on the occasion of the "Lap of Honour" at the TT on Isle of Man. Up to the old age of 77 he participated in vintage races. Now enjoy some photos of the Oldtimer Grand Prix and remember these days with Mister Rudge!

view the photos

The participants

Juan Manuel Fangio, 1979: first time in Austria, driving a Mercedes Benz Grand Prix racing car W 196

About 70 to 100 automobiles and around 200 vintage motorcycles appeared from throughout Europe. Among the most prominent participants there where:
among the automobiles:
* Juan Manuel Fangio: five times world champion from Argentina came in 1979 with a Mercedes Benz Grand Prix racing car W 196 from 1955 and had been the star of the event
 * Niki Lauda, the Austrian world champion in formula 1 drove a legendary Mercedes Benz "Silver Arrow"
 * Prof. Dr. Max Reisch with his Steyr Typ 100 6/32 HP, 1400 cm³, in which he drove around the world in the 30ies
* Bill Lomas, Great Britain, 1955 and 1956 world champion on Moto Guzzi
* Luigi Taveri, three times world champion from Switzerland
 * John Surtees, Great Britain, the only one world champion on two and four wheels
* 1977: the Austrian Otto Mathé, Innsbruck, with his Porsche Urahn, the Berlin-Rom-car 1940, based on VW, but never had been produced for public;
* 1977: Hans Herrmann, Germany, with a Mercedes-Benz-300 SLR;
* 1981: the Porsche work racer Jürgen Barth;
* 1981: Bosch-racing manager Jüttner;

  among the motorcyclists:
* "Wiggerl" Kraus and his "Schmiermaxe" Bernhard Huser - BMW-sidecar racer, Kraus had been five times German Champion
* Jock West (GB), BMW-work racer 1937 - 1939
* Reinhard Hollaus, the brother of the only one Austrian motorcycle world champion Rupert Hollaus, who died 1954 in the training at Monza; he rode in 1979 the Hollaus original winning NSU Rennfox 125 cm³ from 1954
* Franz Falk from Graz, Austria
* Georg "Schorsch" Meier, from Bavaria, he rode BMW;
* Fritz Walcher, winner of the first race after the Second World War in October 1946 in Salzburg-Nonntal
* the brothers Ferdinand and Edi Kranavetvogel, both motorcycle racers from Salzburg
* Siegfried Cmyral, who rode from 1929 until 1932 the legendary supercharged Puch
* August "Gustl" Hobl, DKW-work racer in the 50ies, multiple German champion
* Franta Stastny vice world champion from Czechoslovakia
* Hans Haldemann from Switzerland, had been several times among the world's best racers with his fast Norton sidecar
* Walter Zeller, Germany, BMW work racer and multiple German champion and one time vice world champion
* Erwin Lechner, Austria, seven times Austrian champion
* Nello Paganini
* Fritz Walcher from Seewalchen, Upper Austria

Helmut Krackowizer, 1976: first time called "Oldtimer Grand Prix"
The vehicles
Even here a list would be too long that is why I just will mention some of them:
* 1981 a legendary "Silver Arrow" from Mercedes-Benz in which 1939 Hermann Lang got European Champion; this 3-Liter-Supercharged racing car with around 500 HP was driven in 1981 by Niki Lauda;
* In 1981 the oldest car was a 1,5-Liter-four-cylinder-supercharged Mercedes Benz 1924, which came from the "Deutschen Museum Munich" and won the Targa Florio in 1924;
* 1981 a Talbot-Largo-Grand-Prix-car from 1949, the "Delahaye-Sport", driven by Prince Hohenlohe-Langenburg;
* 1981 Helmut Schellenberg with his Bugatti 35 C, the winning car of Prince Lobkowitz at the Gaisbergrennen, Salzburg, in 1930 and had a spectacular crash with it; well as a Austro Daimler ADM 1924, DKW F1 racing cra 1930, Rolls Royce 20/25 from 1934, Mercedes Benz 300 SL from 1952, a Stanguellini Formel Junior 1959 (the company Stanguellini is based in Modena, Italy and even Niki Lauda was driving in his early carrier such a car);

among the motorcycles:
* in 1981 one saw for the first time a work-NSU-350-cm³ from 1937 with the last double cam motor from the English Engineer Walter Moore, constructor of the NSU-Königswellen-motorcycle until 1938 - this motorcycle was restored and rode by Heinz Metzmeier from Baden, Germany;
* 1981 the German Günther Warnecke, Bremen came with a restored by him and ridden by his son rare 500er Rudge TT Replica 350 cm³;

* Reinhard Hollaus rode the NSU Rennfox 125 cm³, the winning motorcycle of his brother Rupert;
* 1974 Ivan Rhodes (GB) the only one being alive and running" 500-cm³-works-Velocette, which was the motorcycle before 1939 of Stanley Woods (GB), 10 times winner of the TT, which made the life of the half litres-Nortons of Guthrie, Frith and Daniell a misery;
* Hans Wilhelm Busch (Germany) brought 1974 a eight valve V-2-Cylinder Wanderer from 1925 to Salzburg;
* 1987: Michael Krauser jun. came with the ex-world champion-BMW-sidecar of Deubel/Hörner of 1961;
* 1987: the fast German Erwin Bongards rode the entire covered double cam one cylinder Guzzi of 1955;
further a Scott TT 500 of 1926, Puch 250 Sport of 1928, Megola 640 5-cylinder of 1923, DKW 350 SS of 1939 and of course many many Rudge-bikes... The range of motorcycles started with Ariel and AJS and reached over Brough-Superior, BSA, Calthorpe, DKW, D-Rad, Douglas, DKW, DSH, Gillet Herstal, Humber, Harley-Davidson, Moto Guzzi, Megola, Norton, New Imperial, NSU, Puch, Raleigh, Rudge, Schütthoff, Standard, Velocette and Wimmer to Zenith (this is of course not complete!).