"Fred", "Barney" and the Fairlane...
For the 560 drivers entered in this year’s Oldtimer Grand Prix it was once again a question of ‘petrolhead’ vs. the ‘Green Hell’ that is the legendary Nordschleife. Classic Driver was represented by two drivers simply known by their ‘nom de courses’, "Fred and Barney".
On the Friday "Fred and Barney", together with 99 other teams, entered the famous Historic Marathon 400, a three-hour race on the historic circuit that will see the leading cars complete some 400 kms. Although the 1964 Fairlane 500 Thunderbolt had been fully prepared over the winter to match its competitors light weight, it was only 9th in untimed practice and the Team wanted it to pace itself for a long weekend. However in qualifying - held in traditional sunlight and showers - "Barney" felt able to ‘push’ and put it on pole.
Starting first on the grid, "Barney" was able to hold first place until handing over to "Fred", who seconds after taking the wheel transmits to the pits "a wheel has come off...away and past me...I am hanging on to the Armco!". A long delay puts the car out of the running and subsequent investigation by the KJ Tech Services team showed an inherent problem with the car’s suspension that would have failed at some point. The ‘off’ could have been a lot worse at another part of the circuit.
After the damage to the car on Friday, a long night for the mechanics with parts brought in from BSM meant our intrepid duo could compete on Saturday. The Rheinland-Pfalz Cup for pre-1965 GT cars was started with a genuine ‘Le Mans start’, i.e. running across the track and pressing the starter from ‘cold’. For some reason...the Team decided to start its tallest driver, so "Fred" it was that had to sprint across the track and fold his legs inside the roll-cage of the big American car.
Sunday began with more bad weather (a reminder of years gone by). But of course true racing drivers don’t mind the rain, and "Fred and Barney" started the second round of the Rheinland-Pfalz Cup in good spirits. Sadly the torque of the 7-litre motor was not best suited to the conditions...so the big car finished down the order at the finish.
After the GT race was over, the Oldtimer Grand Prix had two more special races. The Historic Formula 1 cars (1966 – 1977) put on a great show, the Spaniard Joaquin Folch-Rusino taking the chequer in his 1974 McLaren M23.
But not even F1 can take the glory away from the aristocracy of historic motor racing - the 800 bhp, 8.8 litre Can-Am cars from McLaren, March and Lola. Truly tarmac-melting stuff but victory incredibly going to the two-litre Lola T294 of Sven Barth.
At least team Classic driver had something to celebrate after a long weekend: the debut of their car transporter, a specially converted Citroën DS19, a famous car that will be at the Concours d'Elegance (3 - 4. September) in Schwetzingen.
For further information on results and entry lists please visit www.ogpracing.de.
Our photographer Nanette Schärf commented: "560 drivers truly left their mark on the ‘Ring last weekend. Whoever won (or lost) what counts is the participation, and here all drivers, organisers and spectators are the moral victors. In particular we send our best wishes to "Fred and Barney", and look forward to seeing them soon at Spa. Full report to come."
Text: Jan Richter
Photos: Nanette Schärf
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