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Almost 90 years ago in 1929 the Gaisberg saw the first storm up the hill

079 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS - Maierhofer, Norbert _ Christine Wegenast (A_A)

079 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS - Maierhofer, Norbert _ Christine Wegenast (A_A)


Salzburg, 31st of May - 2nd of June, 2018

The Gaisberg in Salzburg / Austria is the local recreation area of the Mozart-Town and a hike up the hill to overlook the city and the nearby Alps is one of the favourites both for locals and visitors, Almost 90 years ago the “Gaisbergbahn”, a cog railroad up the hill finally was replaced by a public road built in times of recession to bring work just as at the famous Nuerburgring in the Eiffel. And like many other passes built during this time it was immediately used as venue for a new hill climb and therefore 1929 saw the first storm up the hill. Hill Climbs were very popular at these days and a lot of famous names found their way to the starting line including Mercedes works driver Manfred von Brauschitsch who competed in his mighty Mercedes-Benz SS who won the touring car trophy, the race car trophy was also won by an Mercedes-Benz, the shorter SSK in the hands of Max von Arco-Zinneberg.

After WW2 the Gaisberg had its most prominent time when the race became part of the European Hill climb Championship and saw one of the few outings of the Porsche 909 Bergspyder masterminded under the guidance of Ferdinand Piech as Salzburg is very deeply linked with the Porsche history. Ferdinand being the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche the Piech clan owns Porsche Salzburg who´s colours became famous for winning the first overall Le Mans 24h for Porsche.

After the last race in 1969 the race is revived today as an extended regularity event by the Rally Club Salzburg on every Corpus Christi when parts of the inner city are closed for regular traffic for the City GP. Early in the morning the first cars arrive at Schloss Hellbrunn for the scrutineering and the briefing for the upcoming adventures including the regularity trial in Salzburg, three timed runs up the hill, a rally in the hinterland and a few hot laps on the nearby Salzburgring. Most of the entrants are regulars so this is a very familiar get together among friends rather than a competition although many of the participants take that part very serious as well. Less competitive is Ernst Piech, the oldest of the Piech siblings who held up the flag for the family bringing several of his Austro-Daimlers as constructed by his grandfather from his nearby museum.

About 150 cars are entered with a colourful selection ranging from early race cars like the Bugatti T51 or the Mercedes-Benz SSK fighting the old rivalry with the Bentley Boys on the ring, a wide selection of Porsche and Jaguar but also a few exotics like a Facel Vega, a few Ferrari and Maserati and a Squadra Abarth as seen on the last official race in 1969. Unlike some other event the Gaisbergrennen is less about celebrities but on name familiar to the vintage racing never misses the hill climb: Dieter Quester. Already second in 1968 at the same venue the former BMW pilot is now seen behind the wheel of his BMW 328 during all the day.

After finishing scrutineering the convoy is led by the Police to the city centre where the cars were presented to the public on the Kapitelplatz behind the Dome as the Residenzplatz is under construction at the moment. During the time in Salzburg the sky darkened a lot and the inevitable Thunderstorm started just when the first cars took the road next to the Salzach. About two hours of entertainment where provided to the numerous visitors.

The next day split the field in two halves as usual with the race cars taking the hill in the morning while the touring cars were on the rally just to change after the lunch taking at one of the hotels situated directly at the hill. With an intended time of 10 minutes one could easily see who was here for the regularity and who just drove for fun. The first normally take a break half way up the hill as the average is really low whereas the later blast up the hill non-stop. To avoid any craziness the time for those way too fast is not on display to take out the competition but many of the racers were more than happy to use their cars on the closed off road.

After a day of glory sunshine at the hill the cars assembled on Saturday morning again in the rain for their laps at the Salzburgring. The first of five groups had to drive in full wet whereas the later groups profited from the fast drying track and ended up again in sunshine for the last drive up the hill in the afternoon. The final of the day was reserved for the top ten for a shoot-out to crown this year’s king of the mountain in the regularity when Florian Kunz and navigator Kathrin Zierhut on Aston Martin DB4 took the victory in front of Wallner/Vogel and Hahn/Hahn on Porsche 356 and Alpine 1100.

After a quick podium ceremony on top of the hill the final celebration was held in Hangar7, the famous museum/restaurant/party location of sponsor Red Bull. 

Next year will see the jubilee with the 90th anniversary of both the Gaisberstrasse as well as of the race and according to the organizers there are a lot of talks bringing back some old and new highlights and one can just hope that Porsche will be back as well and although the 909 is not ready to drive they should have a few more interesting cars to run up the hill. 

Report & images ... Peter Singhof