Culture shock: DTM invitational race Kyalami 1990 / DTM

Culture shock: DTM invitational race Kyalami 1990 / DTM

A story from another time: Our correspondent Friedbert Holz was BMW’s press spokesman for the fast trade for many years. This time he remembers a foreign trip to South Africa.

In November 1990, the DTM season was already over. But the organizing body ITR had concluded an exciting deal with its partner in South Africa: the 1,800m Formula 1 race at Kyalami. The “Yellow Pages 200” race, named after the weekly newspaper and the publisher of the telephone directory there, invited the German racing team as a sponsor. And so two dozen DTM cars, each neatly packed in a container, sailed to the southern tip of Africa.

We, a group of German media representatives and myself, did not want to miss this concert and flew to Johannesburg. When the journalists were taken to their hotels by bus, our press officer picked me up in his company car. At that time, BMW already had its own factory near the capital Pretoria, with an associated administration. As we were driving towards downtown Johannesburg, we heard on the radio about the killings in the streets. It was a shock to me, but my partner sounded tired and tried to reassure me: This kind of thing happens very often here!

When I arrived at the hotel, a beautiful building with a large waterfall in the guest room, the front desk gave me a second warning: If I wanted to leave the hotel for the city, I would hand over any jewelry and watches for security reasons. . In addition, it is not recommended to carry a lot of money with you, crime is high. How true: I was barely sitting in a street cafe with our press guests two hours later when gunshots and sudden noises were heard – robbers had just attacked a jeweler about 100 meters away from us, in broad daylight!

There was also a culture shock on our way from Johannesburg to the beautiful race track: As we drove along the paved highway in our luxury car, local women with their children were walking on the right and left sides of the road . full bags on their heads but no shoes. Others pulled a goat or a small cart a few meters away from trucks, buses and cars.

The Kyalami trail seemed well maintained, although a little old. The former glory of the Formula 1 era had faded, but the drivers still had plenty of fun. At the end of the training day there was a reception in the chic living room of the race, a large, whitewashed house with a thatched roof, in a wonderful cold. The whole race event met here and we chatted over delicious snacks and drinks. We were all white, but all the workers were colored: to us foreigners, apartheid still seemed to exist in South Africa.

technical revolution in Mercedes

On race day, 42,000 enthusiastic spectators lined the track and enthusiastically cheered on the colorful race cars, especially the bright yellow with the blue Camel logo. It was Roland Asch’s Mercedes 190 Evo II. The unique thing about this car was, on the one hand, its mode of transportation, because it had to be flown in by jumbo jet because it was finished very late in Stuttgart. The reason for this was in its second special feature – it was the first DTM racing car to have an ABS system installed. This allows you to break late even in sharp corners – a big advantage in racing and a high level of performance.

Schwabe Asch didn’t let anything go wrong: In the first of two races he finished second behind brand-mate Klaus Ludwig, but won the second race comfortably ahead of the Zakspeed BMW M3 of Armin Hahne and Ludwig, making him the winner of total. winner A year later, in the second of two guest races at Kyalami, Johnny Cecotto turned the tables and celebrated victory in the Bigazzi M3 ahead of Mercedes drivers Kurt Thiim and Klaus Ludwig.

In 1990, my guests and I enjoyed a completely different form of entertainment. We booked a short stay in the Kruger National Park through an agent to round off a special race weekend. We flew from Johannesburg in a small plane to a small airport in the middle of the outback, to Camp Sabi-Sabi. When the plane landed safely on Rumpel’s road, we enjoyed spending the night here in the forest and were awakened by a lion in the terrace in front of our bedroom door. In the dusk of the African night we marveled at the giraffes and rhinoceros galloping past, well guarded by our guard in the jeep, whose gun was always ready to fire.

On the return flight, I even unintentionally found myself in the role of helping as a candy girl: Because a few journalists did not do well, I, on the advice of our manager, gave out candy on the plane, dressed in style. and a temporary towel cap.