The mourning of Anton Konrad (1937-2024) / formula racing

The mourning of Anton Konrad (1937-2024) / formula racing

On April 11, 2024, Anton Konrad died, not only a great motorcycle designer, but also one of the fathers of the first VW Golf GTI.

He was co-founder and head of Formula V Europe (predecessor to Volkswagen Motorsport), and played a major role in the development of the VW Golf GTI.

Now Anton Konrad died about four weeks before his 87th birthday in his hometown of Hamburg after patiently enduring a long illness. We send our condolences to his wife Bettina, their two daughters, their grandchildren and the whole family.

Anton Konrad brought a wide range of movements to international motorcycles and the “Formula V” racing car class. As secretary general of the “Formula V Europe” association, which was initially based in Munich and later in Hanover and supported by Volkswagen, the trained journalist guided the fortunes of the VW monoposto class in an orderly and professional direction with strict management.

Between 1968 and 1972 he turned the Formula V 1300 into an international brand and, at the same time, prepared the marketing and introduction of the Formula Super VW 1600. “That was a crazy time,” Konrad enthused with sparkling eyes at every meeting when the conversation turned to the years Wild and crazy Volkswagen’s first foray into motorsport.

“Dealing with wild guys like Rosberg, Marko, Lauda, ​​​​Ertl and Pankl was exciting and interesting at the same time. I experienced such crazy things with them – no one would believe me today. Yes, Anton, everyone was there he can prove it.

From time to time, the producer and manager squeezed into the cockpit of the FV, even started from row 1 at Hockenheim with Niki Lauda and was considered a strong racer. The highlight of Konrad’s racing journey was winning the European series touring car title in 1976, which he won alongside Audi engineer Hans Nowak in an Audi 80 GT.

He also directed many of my fellow journalists and some famous people of the same age to the cockpit of Formula V for the start of the well-known guests. To do this, he created a monthly information brochure “Formula V-Express” and led the Formula V Association in Germany and then also the European Community to great success with limited budget resources.

The good management qualities of the Formula V boss did not go unnoticed by the member of the VW board at the time, Prof. Carl Hahn. In 1972, Hahn personally appointed a trained journalist and former editor of “Hobby” magazine from VW Motorsport in Hanover to the headquarters in Wolfsburg.

Initially he was put in charge of the car’s media and later even the communications of the whole group. That did not stop him from closely monitoring the sports branch in Hanover and personally choosing his successor, Klaus Peter Rosorius. Until then he was the sports director at Continental and also fast racing with Borgward and NSU TT.

Anton Konrad remembers the year 1976 very fondly – it marked the beginning of Golf GTI sales. A few sporty VW men and company engineers had the idea to convert the base Golf model into a sporty variant. Konrad supported the project wherever possible and made the project attractive to the board.

After the presentation at the IAA at the end of 1975, series production started immediately and the first Golf GTI drove on German roads from the middle of 1976. 110 hp, a top speed of almost 180 km/h – and all for more than 13,500 D -Marks (about 6,700 euros). Accompanying the development period of the Golf GTI was one of the greatest events in Anton Konrad’s life.

I still fondly remember the day Anton Konrad called me in early 1977 and asked if I would like one of his test cars at a special price. A few days later I stopped by his office with a red transfer number, paid a friendly gift of 7,000 D-Marks at the cash register and proudly drove off.
like Oscar coming home with a red GTI, sports seats and wide Pirelli tires.

After reaching retirement age, Konrad left VW and founded the AK Kommunikation agency as an independent PR consultant and motorsport representative. In the racetracks he looked especially at the Fichtel & Sachs company and its products and their sporting goods. With a keen mind and keen eye, he saw and analyzed current racing events to help his clients make decisions. And he made sure that important people met the right people to talk to.

After working in Munich, Hanover and Wolfsburg, Konrad and his family chose Hamburg as their final home. Running “around the Alster in 50 minutes” was one of his favorite pastimes, but he found it difficult once he was in his 80s.

That hurt him, but on his 85th birthday he told me he was “happy and grateful to still be among the living.” Because many of VW’s former colleagues from Formula V, Super V and the VW Group were no longer around at that time. And now he’s gone too…

What remains is the memory of a good man and a manager who emphasized many conversations and communication with his own irony. For example, a few days later, when I got married in the autumn of 1967, he sent me a letter in which, after briefly congratulating him, he wrote: “Marrying is all right and good, but now you have to get it. back to work – we await your story in Formula V Express and the October magazine.” He was almost famous for such creations in speech and writing.

My last word to you, dear Anton: Many people still envy us today what we have been through together since 1966. We traveled around the world together when it came to Formula V, you gave me unforgettable years in the Kaimann cockpit of the Kurt Bergmann racing team and You were responsible for producing the “Formula V Germany” magazine for at least a few years.

At the end of our journey together, I can only say: Thank you, Anton, for a great time in sports and also in personal life. Take care, dear friend.