Hans Stuck and Clemens Schickentanz Wrote “Ring History” 54 years Ago

Nürburg, Germany — Hans-Joachim Stuck and Clemens Schickentanz were the winners of the first 24-hour race in the Eifel. The then 19-year-old country boy “Strietzel” Stuck and his 26-year-old team mate drove a BMW 2002 ti from the Koepchen racing team over the then already legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in 1970. In his usual humorous manner, with a hearty Alpine yodel at the end, the son of mountain king Hans Stuck describes how the times and the processes of the Eifel Marathon have changed over the last 54 years.

Strietzel Stuck walks through the paddock, clearly in a good mood, and patiently fulfills the fans’ wishes. Mr. Stuck, can we please take a photo with the two boys, a father asks politely. “Of course, no problem at all,” Stuck replies, standing between the two beaming kids with the hand symbol “thumbs up.” That’s how he is known and how the fans love him – always friendly, always close to the fans. When asked why he is here at the 24-hour race at the Ring, Strietzel Stuck replies: “VW is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the VW Golf this year. In keeping with this, the 24-hour race naturally offers the ideal setting to hold the world premiere of the new Golf GTI Clubsport in front of a large audience. As I am the Volkswagen Group’s representative for motorsport, I will unveil this vehicle together with Benny Leuchter in the ring°boulevard.”

In order to finally meet his former team-mate Clemens Schickentanz again after a long time, Stuck invited him to the Nürburgring. “We are still in touch, of course, but we haven’t seen each other for two years. Clemens was also delighted to receive the invitation – but for family reasons he can only come to the Eifel shortly before the race,” explains Stuck. “But don’t worry, we’ll definitely have a little schnapps or two to celebrate him until he gets there on Saturday,” laughs the 73-year-old mischievously.

When asked about the significance of the long-distance classic, Stuck, who won the Eifel Marathon in 1970, 1998 and 2004, said: “From my point of view, with the experience of 43 years of motorsport, I can say without exaggeration that there is no better event in the world than the race here – not even Le Mans. What goes on here year after year around the Nordschleife is unique, because where can you set up your barbecue right next to the track – that is only possible here along the Nordschleife. When you pass the fire pits, you get hungrier with each lap,” jokes Stuck. “It was the same in 1970 when I won the 24-hour race for the first time, and it is the same today – nothing has changed.”

“What has changed significantly compared to the past is the teams’ approach. Back then, we drove at a maximum of 70 percent effort and looked after our car to survive the 24-hour distance. Today, you have to give 100 percent from start to finish to win. The competition is much higher these days because, to give just two examples, there are much better brakes and better transmissions than there used to be. Back then, we didn’t have PDK transmissions or paddle shifts like we do today, but had to change every gear ourselves on our Koepchen BMW 2002ti. That’s why you had to treat the material with care. 100 percent effort would have been unthinkable in the past – you wouldn’t have made it to the finish. Or another example: Back then, we used drum brakes on the rear axle – nobody can imagine that today.”

“I met my teammate Clemens Schickentanz through Hans-Peter Koepchen’s racing team, where Schickentanz was a regular driver. And I met Koepchen through my father, who worked as an instructor for Scuderia Hanseat at the Nürburgring. As I often trained at the Ring at the time, Hans Peter came to my dad one day and said that I should drive a race for him – and that’s how the connection to the Koepchen racing team was formed. The great thing about Clemens Schickentanz was that I could absolutely rely on him and he could of course rely on me just as much. No one had to prove to the other that they were a second faster than the other. Our common goal in 1970 was to leave the car alone and bring it to the finish. The fact that this resulted in my first 24-hour victory was all the more wonderful.”

“Back then, we drove a 250 hp BMW 2002 ti, like the one Eve Scheer and Hermann Stippler still use in the 3h Classic race. And what no one can imagine today is that we didn’t have a trailer or transporter back then – we drove to the Nürburgring on the road, removed the passenger seat and the back seat and taped up the license plate – and then we raced.

“For me, things came full circle here in 2011, when I drove my last 24-hour race on the Nordschleife with my two boys Johannes and Ferdinand under the slogan ‘Stuck hoch drei’ and came 15th overall in the Reiter Lamborghini Gallardo,” says Strietzel, saying goodbye with a hearty Bavarian yodel.


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