The Mourning of Anton Konrad 1937- 2024 Formula Racing

The Mourning of Anton Konrad 1937- 2024 Formula Racing

The racing world lost a true pioneer earlier this year with the passing of Anton Konrad at the age of 86. Those familiar with the roots of worldwide Formula racing and Volkswagen’s involvement in motorsport would be familiar with Konrad’s immense contributions behind the scenes.

As one of the co-founders and original leader of Formula V Europe in the 1960s, Konrad helped establish what would become the template for many popular grassroots single-maker formulas around the globe. Under his guidance at the organization’s Munich and later Hannover headquarters, Formula V took shape with Volkswagen’s backing as a “mass movement” of affordable and accessible open-wheel racing.

Beyond administration, Konrad was no stranger to competition himself. He occasionally swapped his suit and tie for a racing suit, achieving the best result of winning the 1976 European Touring Car title alongside Hans Nowak in an Audi 80 GT. However, his real abilities lay in management and guiding initiatives forward.

The Mourning of Anton Konrad 1937- 2024 Formula Racing

This was recognized by none other than Volkswagen head Carl Hahn, who brought Konrad into the automaker’s Wolfsburg headquarters to oversee motor racing communications as well as the overall company press office. Even in this new role, Konrad kept a watchful eye on the growing VW Motorsport division in Hannover.

Some of Konrad’s proudest moments surely involved his support for the daring project that created the first iconic Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatches in 1975-1976. His early involvement no doubt helped shape and promote what would become one of the all-time great affordable performance cars.

Though he spent his later years based in Hamburg as an auto industry consultant, Konrad’s fingerprints can be seen all over the foundations of grassroots motorsport and Volkswagen’s sporting culture. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy that motor fans worldwide have benefited from. Motorsport has lost a true visionary who helped many young careers get their start. He will be missed by all those who had the pleasure of his generous guidance and wisdom.

Those in the German racing scene in the late 1960s and early 70s will fondly remember Konrad as the driving force behind the booming Formula V category. Speaking to C&D, racing legend Hans Herrmann recalled “Anton was the glue that held everything together in those wild early days. He brought structure and professionalism.”

Herrmann wasn’t alone in praising Konrad’s organizational talents. Former Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda echoed that Konrad was “a brilliant manager who knew how to get the most out of limited resources.” Lauda reminisced about racing against Konrad in one Hockenheimring Formula V contest: “He was no pushover behind the wheel!”

VW chief Carl Hahn recognized Konrad’s skills could be put to good use at headquarters. There, Konrad oversaw PR for the company’s growing racing activities. He played a key linking role between Wolfsburg and the VW Motorsport operation in Hannover under Klaus Bergmann and later Klaus Peter Rosorius.

Under Konrad’s guidance, VW’s racing efforts gained in visibility and prestige. This supported road car projects like the iconic GTI launched in 1976 – a car Konrad personally championed from early development. It’s clear Konrad’s fingerprints remain all over VW’s motorsports DNA to this day.

Later operating his PR agency, the energetic Konrad stayed immersed in the racing community. At trackside into his 80s, he was a treasure trove of motorsport history and industry gossip. Konrad leaves behind a sizable gap, but his legacy endures in the championships, teams, and drivers he inspired in a long, storied career. The Formula World lost one of the good guys with his passing. He will be missed dearly.