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Salzburg, May 30th - June 1st

The Gaisberg in Salzburg saw its first hill climb in 1929, organized by the Salzburger Automobilclub (S.A.C.). Back in the 1930s the international hill climb scene was very important and already the first edition of the Austrian event drew the big names as the touring car class was won by no less than Manfred von Brauchitsch on Mercedes, the race car class attracted gentlemen drivers as Count Lobkowitz who won on his Bugatti. In five editions before the war the international race car elite came to Salzburg to participate, von Brauchitsch raced the “White Elephant” Mercedes-Benz SSK against the small Bugatti of Joachim von Morgan from Berlin who raced the French straight eight in the German race colour white to victory in 1930 and 1931. Just as in the international road race the car of the early 1930s was the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and few know that even German idol Rudolf Caracciola drove one between his Mercedes years and in 1932 he justified his nickname as “Rainmaster” winning in wet condition followed by Count Trossi in 1933. The racing archive of the technical museum Wien features a few interesting images of this era (www.technischesmuseum.at/motorsport-in- oesterreich/veranstaltungen/articleid/1986 this page is only available in german, but pictures tell their story in the viewers language) showing several Maserati and Alfa Romeo 8C (in lungo configuration, Monza and even Zagato spider) plus numerous motor bikes who raced the Gaisberg as part of the European Hill Climb Championship.

After the break during the war it took until 1957 when the race was re-established as the “Großer Bergpreis von Österreich” to become part of the European Hill Climb Championship in the following years.

After 13 edition the final chequered flag was waved in 1969 for the original race that now gives the historical background for the classic car event that was first held in 2003. Eligible for the Gaisbergrennen are cars of the pre-1969 era in the Touring, Sports and Race Car class, certainly today the event is held as a regularity event rather than a race. The event is divided in 4 different parts, the Hill Climb, a few laps on the Salzburgring, the “Gaisberg Wertungsfahrt” regularity rally based on the eponymous rally of the 1950s and the City Grand Prix as prelude.

The later is also responsible for the annual date of the event as the Corpus Christi holiday is the only date during this part of the season that allows the closure of the city ring around the historic town centre of Salzburg for the Grand Prix. Thursday the 30th of May was this year date when the 160 participating cars and crews gathered at the Schloß Hellbrunn for the scrutineering. Unfortunately this year's weather was as bad as it could get with heavy rain during the first 2 days as part of the long rain period that caused severe flooding in middle Europe the following days. Nevertheless most of the entered cars could be seen in Hellbrunn with just a few cancellations of some of the open race cars without any weather protection.

Porsche has a strong linkage to the Gaisbergrennen as the 910 Bergspyder is still holding the record on the hill and the Porsche Museum was present with 3 cars from the collection. More important this was one of just two races where the famous 909 Bergspyder was entered, the most radical hill climb race car in the history of the marque from Zuffenhausen designed by Ferdinand Piech, his older brother Ernst Piech is a regular entrant of the Gaisbergrennen. Being the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche he usually enters an Austro Daimler from the period when Ferdinand was constructor for them, now well in his 80s Piech showed the “young guys” the spirit of motoring as he drove a pre- war roadster despite the rain on all three days.

Official sponsor of the event is the BMW Classic Group thanks to their history with the motor bikes. As this is a pure automobile event BMW entered a few 328 and 507 led by the 328 Touring Spyder driven by Austrian touring car champ Dieter Quester.

After the scrutineering the cars were escorted by the police to the Residenzplatz in front of the cathedral to be displayed to the public prior the demonstration laps on the city ring. Despite the lousy weather many visitors found their way to the viewing and lined up on the bridges over the Salzach for the Grand Prix. With several timed sections the Grand Prix is part of the regularity trial and in these conditions it is even more noteworthy that the results were equal to the years before showing that the very professional drivers and navigators could handle the stop watches and speed traps even in limited visibility, the drivers of the closed touring cars certainly had some advantages against the open sports cars.

Unfortunately the weather did not improve over night as the drive up the hill on Friday led to fog and almost freezing temperatures on top of the Gaisberg with visibility of less than 20 meters in the last section. Some complained about irregular conditions but as the weather was constantly bad it was at least equal for everyone. Some of the drivers decided not to drive that day, especially those who came just for the fun and not for competition.

After the first two days a duo was leading with the Team Geyer/Pichler on Lancia Aprilia and Wohlenberg/Wohlenberg on Aston Martin DB MKIII sharing the same score so this year's event had to be decided on the final day.

On Saturday morning the teams have to drive five timed laps on the nearby Salzburgring before the lunch break at Schloß Fuschl to have a final drive up the hill in the afternoon. Saturday morning was the only time it stopped raining with an almost dry Salzburgring so a few cars appeared that were not seen the days before including a Bugatti T51 and a Lotus-BMW. But already on the way to the lunch break rain set in again and so the event ended the way it started.

In the evening the final dinner was held at the Hangar 7 between the toys of the Red Bull collection with the price giving. After a second place in 2012 the Team Geyer/Pichler finally entered the top of the podium this year after a strong final day.

Talk of the evening was without doubt the bad weather of the last three days which is the only thing that could spoil a well organized event. Most of the entrants are regulars so they might be back next year under better conditions but some might chose a coupé for security over an open car.

For more information on the next edition visit the homepage of the Salzburg Rally Club www.src.co.at

Report & images ... Peter Singhof