When Milltek Sport of Derby England asked if I would cover this year’s Sport Auto Tuner GP, I was dumbfounded, as I hadn’t actually heard of the event.
Upon some research, it turns out that this event has been going on since 1992 at Germany’s Hockenheimring motor racing circuit, one of the most modern racetracks in the world. The event first debuted with only 17 competitors. This year’s Tuner GP saw more than 60 highly modified cars fighting it out on the Baden Motordrome to decide who was the fastest in the European tuning industry.
The event attracted vendors and over 40,000 spectators, and unlike the other big races at Hockenheim like F1, there’s an open-door policy, which lets fans walk on the pit lane, check out what’s under the vehicles’ hoods, and even chat with the drivers—assuming they’ve got the time and you can make yourself understood with a mixture of high school German and incessant hand waving.
Held in the land best known for sauerkraut, bratwurst, and German beer, you would expect plenty of homegrown vehicles at the event, including Bimmers, Mercs, and Porsches, but Japanese imports made their presence known as well. The event served as a melting pot for racing of all types of machinery, ranging from grassroots racers to cars valued at over $450K, driven by pro DTM drivers. Milltek Sport, which specializes in exhaust systems, made their presence known as they took their matte orange GT-R to show off their latest titanium-tipped system—and it wasn’t the only Japanese import by any means. Also present were Civics, WRXs, Skylines, and EVOs—all popular cars on European highways that were ready to wage war on the tarmac.
In fact, all the classes except the Open Class demands that the cars be street legal and have a TUV certificate. Without a valid TUV certificate you were placed into the Open category, which was unlimited with most of the cars in this class full FIA-spec race cars of one type or another. The cars were split into six groups with the fastest drivers in each class advancing into the final, which was eventually won by Reinhard Kofler Hohenester in a KTM X-Bow open roadster.
The Drift Challenge was one of many events taking place during the two-day show. Since 1999, the Drift Challenge has also been an integral part of the event as 70 competitors from the European drift scene displayed plenty of smoke and the heady smell of burning rubber at the Hockenheim Rings half oval in competitive solo, tandem, and team battle drift competitions.
Although the drift event was visually a real crowd pleaser, the language barrier made it rather difficult to grasp what the announcer was screaming, but his enthusiasm was universally understood.
All too quickly, the two-day event came to an end and it was time to return home: the corporate teams in their huge NASCAResque rigs, and the smaller guys with their cars in tow or even driving them home with spare tires loaded into the back seat.
For additional photos and more action of the event, check out www.hockenheimring.net/en for exclusive video from the Tuner GP and Drift Challenge.