Once again, it´s time to don the flat cap, and head of to a classic car event. This time, the location dictates that lunch will consist of currywurst and bratwurst, while our midday snack will most likely be a pretzel flushed down with a weissbier.
The 17th Hamburger Stadtpark Revival is neither a show nor a regular race, but rather a pleasant mix with beautiful classic cars and bikes being driven/raced in the streets of Hamburg in northern Germany. They are not racing for the fastest time, but instead for consistency: Meaning, proving your ability to maintain the same lap time again and again, which is harder than it sounds. Most of the cars are street legal cars.
In previous years the location has always been the Hamburg Stadtpark (or City Park) – but this year the organizers have moved the event to CityNord instead, which is very close to the old track, but provides more space, and a longer track. This year’s track layout mostly resembled a keyhole; so fairly simple, but then equipped with a few chicanes to keep the top speed down.
CityNord is a business district, but there was one big advantage this year, – the new location gave us a higher viewing ground as there were a lot of bridges and walkways elevating us above the track, which gave all spectators a brilliant view of the classic cars circulating the track.
The Stadtpark Revival is for classic cars built before the year 1985, which applies for the bikes as well. With such a vehicle at your dispossal, you simply sign up and the organisers then pick who will be invited to compete – their goal being to have as wide a selection as possible. But naturally, as we are in northern Germany, there’s no need to be afraid that you won’t see a Porsche, especially during its 70th anniversary.
On the website, the organisers advise you to use public transport, because parking is limited. Luckily though, we found a parking house nearby – 10 euro for the full day. Many arrived in their classic cars and were allowed to park right next to the course. I always find the classic car park for the spectators to be almost as interesting as the event itself. As you can see in the pictures, we were treated with BMW 635 CSi next to a Porsche 911, then and a nice old Bettle in the background. While they’re all German, that’s still excellent diversity.
Having parked the car, we had a ten minute walk to one of the three entry points. On our way, I was approached by a man with extra tickets, so Christmas came twice and we ended up only paying 25 euro for all three of us. As we approached the entrance, the air was filled with the distinct sound of two-strokes warming up. I assumed it was old racing bikes, but no, it was much better – a large group of East Germany’s only real sportscar, the Melkus RS1000. They were all reving hard while getting ready for a race. I must admit, that I have never before seen a Melkus in the flesh, and here they had their own special class – 13 of them in total. One thing is for sure, the smell of two-stroke oil brings back memories from my karting days.
The first car we came across in the paddock was an old VW Golf I, but something was very odd about the car – it’s a drag racer, rear-wheel-drive, has a Wankel engine, and a turbocharger big enough to suck in a rabbit. The event is a prime display for drivers and teams, who are seeking sponsorship. The paddock area was divided into cars and bikes in opposite ends of the track. Since I had the family with me, the search was immediately on for a decent spot in the grandstands. Having sorted that and both wife and daughter hooked up with IPads and headphones, off I went to take some pictures. My plan was to start at the opposite end, where the bikes were located. Local vendors are located along the track, along with plenty of food trucks. Since we were rapidly approaching lunchtime, and the BBQ smell of bratwurst was too hard to ignore, I had to make a pit stop, grab a bratwurst and sit down on one of the benches next to the track.
Even though my passion lies with classic cars, it’s difficult to ignore the beauty and simplicity of classic racing bikes. Virtually all decades were represented, from the roaring twenties and right up to the awesome eighties superbikes.
Walking back towards the paddock area for the cars again, the Audi “sonderlauf” (special race) started, but unfortunately, only two cars showed up, a DTM racer and an IMSA racer. Even so, the sound of the turbo was amazing leaving my whole body covered in goosebumps.
For the remainder of the two-day race weekend, cars and bike would take turns at filling the track with beautiful noise. This year’s event gave us the following car classes:
Class 2+8: Young Classics 1957-1985, Class 3: Sports race cars, Class 5: MG Triple M, T-types until 1954, Class 9: Melkus, Class 11: Formula cars, Class 12: Porsche 1950-1998, Class 13: MGB and friends 1955-1980. In short, there was certainly something to satisfy every taste.
By far my favorite races was the class called “Young Classics”: Cars you can remember from your childhood, or from old car magazines. Witnessing the sound and spectacal of normally-aspirated Opel’s, chasing a turbocharged Audi, and so on. I’m fairly convinced that a lot of the drivers forgot that in order to win, they had to nail the same lap time on every run. Instead they just went for it, clearly had a lot of fun, and even managed to entertain the spectators in the process.
Usually, I spend much of my time in the paddock taking in all the detail of the various race cars. Porsche was well represented this year, as one might expect. Scandinavia was also represented with a lovely red Volvo 1800S, and Japan with an elegant Datsun 240Z with wing mirrors and all. There was plenty to captivate!
I had a longer conversion with one of the Formula Vau drivers. I was left in no doubt that they have an indecent amount of fun racing the old VW formula racers around Europa´s best tracks, including both the Nürburgring and Spa. I was perhaps just a little green with envy.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable event. The atmosphere is pleasantly low key, it attracts some quite cool machinery, it’s not too overcrowded, and the entrance fee is only 18 euro. If you prefer to experience classic cars and bikes in motion, there are certainly much worse ways of spending and afternoon.