I’ve explained how I fell in love with the BTCC, so I thought the next step would be to explain how I found out about Germany’s top flight tintop series, The DTM…
Between 1990 and 1991, my motorsport watching took a back seat due to moving from Bletchley, my birth town in Buckinghamshire to Flitwick in Bedfordshire. Along with changing schools, losing friends and family life becoming more difficult and unhappy due to my parents getting divorced several years before and me having a new stepfather, I just didnt get to watch it.
However, while being off school for 2 weeks with a nasty bout of flu in the July of 1991, my mother was kind enough to buy me a copy of Motor Sport magazine and a copy of MotorSport News. (It was known as Motoring News back then).
It was here that I read about the DTM. Now please take into account that my motorsport viewing was solely on the BBC. BTCC and British Formula 3 on Saturday Grandstand and Formula 1 on Sunday Grandstand. It was simple and commentated on by Murray Walker.
As well as reading about Mansell’s resurgence in the title battle with Senna in F1 and how Will Hoy and John Cleland were battling for the BTCC Title, to my surprise, I read about this interesting touring car series in Germany where the cars that took part were different to the ones that raced in the BTCC.
These were 2.5 litre petrol, flame spitting monsters from Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Opel and Ford raced on the best tracks in Germany. The article itself explained about the DTM in a beginners guide but also outlined the arguments the various manufacturers were having regarding the rules in place to try and equalise the various types of Front Wheel Drive, Rear Wheel Drive and 4 Wheel Drive cars.
My eyes lit up to read about these new touring cars that I hadnt known about. They weren’t shown on the BBC or ITV as far as I was aware, so my information was solely provided by this amazing newspaper that was on sale Every Wednesday.
My passion for Motor Racing was re-ignited with more intensity than previously and my quest for knowledge about each series grew.
So i eagerly saved what pocket money I was given and bought a copy each week, eagerly reading about current affairs and other news in the motorsport world, concentrating on F1, BTCC and what DTM news was reported. Back then I had no knowledge of Autosport magazine and Steve Soper was the only brit racing in the DTM.
I even contacted Motoring News in 1991 to see if they had any back copies of their issues so I could read about what I had missed out on in the motorsport world. Imagine my surprise when they sent me the first 6 months worth of copies of their issues from 1990… That made bloody intetesting reading… And a lot of newspapers…
So fast forward to 1997. I’m now living in Bedford in my own place with a collection of Motoring News editions and the DTM has gone through a change. Gone are BMW and Audi and the regulations have changed to allow Alfa Romeo to come, dominate and go again and both Opel and Audi return to race against series stalwart Mercedes.
However with ITV now showing F1, my dream had come true. Late on a Friday Night, they showed a highlights programme at 11.30pm of the previous weekends DTM event. So the joy on my face was clear as I pressed record on my 30 year old Ferguson Videostar Video recorder and recorded the programme to watch over and over. That video player was my best friend, mechanically…until the day I used WD40 to clean it…
I recall Simon Hill was a pundit on the ITV F1 Team at the team and he commentated on the DTM Highlights. It was amazing, watching these flame spitting machines being hurled around the best german tracks by germanys best: Schneider, Reuter, Asch, Winkelhock, Stuck and others that had made brief appearances in either the BTCC or the two televised FIA Touring Car World Cups put of the three.
What kept me enthralled was that the racing was as tight and close as it was in the BTCC. Close quarters panel bashing between Germany’s best drivers in iconic makes of car allied with Simon Hill’s commentary made this a sport to watch…except for when Bernd Schneider disappeared off into the distance with a certain Dario Franchitti playing rear gunner.
I swear to this day that both Schumacher and Schneider taught the same tricks to a certain Sebastian Vettel…
Purists and fans alike will recall the FIA’s effort to promote the DTM in 1996 to the FIA International Touring Car Championship or ITC. It didn’t last long and soon it returned to being the DTM.
However the thrill of watching the DTM for me was as high as watching F1 and the BTCC. Again it was motorsport from a different country and the drive within me pushed me on to want to know more about it, to be an expert about it like I felt I was about the years of BTCC and F1 that I had watched. And i kept on reading about it and watching it where I could over the following years.
So thats how my love affair of the DTM began. I still watch it thanks to the highlights on ITV4 or read the details of the races via Autosport and TouringCar Times. I recommend both sites to you all.
Well hopefully that wasnt too long this time. But rest assured, I’ll blog again soon about the other series I follow: the Modern incarnation of the World Touring Car Championship and my Support for a certain Mr Priaulx…