[Words: Hermann Köpf. Photos: Hermann Köpf, Sébastien Nunes, Fabian Kirchbauer, Peter Musch, Martin Ratkovic]

The 1,055m high ‘Auerberg’ is located an hour south of Munich and 20mins north of Austrian border, close to Neuschwanstein Castle – better known as ‘Mad Ludwig’s Castle’, or the building on which Disneyland is based!  At the top of the Auerberg was an old Roman settlement, where they produced coins and other metal parts. The road to the top – the racetrack of the Auerberg hillclimb – begins in small village of Bernbeuren, with about 2300 residents.

Flat twins forever! A BMW RS56 follows an R51 to the starting gate [Hermann Köpf]
The Auerberg Hillclimb was a sanctioned race between 1967-87, was part of the  German Hillclimb championship series.  It was organized with a Saturday race for motorcycles and a Sundays race for cars, with hundreds of participants, and thousands of attendees from local areas and neighboring countries.

Hermann Köpf, the article’s author and the organizer of the event, aboard his bevel-drive Ducati racer

The idea of re-activating the Auerberg race has floated among car and motorcycle clubs for a while now.  After break of 30 years now, it seemed a good time to revive the competition, with an updated concept – the Auerberg Klassik.  I grew up in the village of Bernbeuren (although I left in 1992 for Munich), so I presented the concept to a few of my local friends, who agreed to form a club (Verein) to sponsor the event, after successfully presenting the idea to the local administration.  The new concept was to include the village and all its various clubs/Vereine, with local people working together to create an event with and for the people of the village. Local Vereine/clubs supplied food and drinks to raise funds, and contributed the manpower to install the everything required for a race – banners, safety barriers, booths, pits, etc. We had 350 helpers that weekend, setting up 1.200 straw bales as safety barriers along the course.

Relaxing between races on their BMW R90S racer…

The ‘local’ angle (an event by and for local clubs) was the key to our success in convincing the district administration, who held to power to authorize the race, and who had denied 17 previous attempts to revive it!   Another selling point was turning the race into a ‘regularity’ event, where the winner has the smallest time difference in between two runs.  This made an enormous difference regarding security, insurance and many other requirements, and lowered the expenses dramatically.

A 1930s Rudge Ulster burns a little Castrol R at the start

It took many months before we got the final approval, which left us with only 6 months to organize the event.  Still, the 5 of us in the organizing committee were fully motivated and gave it our best.  And it was a lot of work I can tell you. After going public with our plans, we had to close the entry list a month early, as riders filled our maximum of 170 participants, and we still weren’t 100% sure we had enough space for everything – paddocks at the start, and reception on the top of mountain.  News that ‘the Auerberg is back’ created quite an echo in the region – it seemed everyone knew about revival of the race, and local newspapers where happy with a fresh news story, and older people who remembered the original event were happy to see it return to the village they visited as youngsters.

Nice to see Vintagent Contributor Irene Kotnik (L) at the races!

As the weekend approached, the good weather went away, and it was 8 degrees (46F) with constant rain in the morning of first practice on Saturday. It stopped raining in the afternoon, and the mood improved…for both riders and organizers. In the end, everything went really really well, and we had crowded party that evening in the town hall with two bands, and 750 visitors.  We’d asked guests in to come in the classic local costume, and encouraged them with a reduced entry fee, and event threw in a ‘best-dressed contest’.  A good percentage of our guests came in historical outfits, so even women  who weren’t riding and those with less motorcycle interest had fun.

What goes up must come down…

Sunday was special; it was exactly the same day and date as 50 years before on the original race-day.  The weather was still rainy in the morning but gradually got better, turning into full sunshine by afternoon. The participation was incredible, almost 7.000 visitors came in total to the track and also into center of village, where we’d organized an oldtimer rally for cars and motorcycles – about 180 vehicles showed up.  We also had a few exquisite bikes on display from the BMW Museum and the Hockenheimring Motorsports Museum, even German TT-Legend and Nürburgring record holder Helmut Dähne came to ride on our historic hillclimb track.

The BMW R90S of Helmut Dähne [Hermann Köpf]
Here were our rules: the bikes and sidecars had to be pre-1979, and were separated into 6 different classes, with a Women’s winner trophy and an Overall winner trophy. Riders came from Austria, Switzerland and even Liechtenstein, besides the local heroes.  The oldest bike was built in 1925,  and some really rare machines competed – Moto Guzzi 4CV, Cotton Python, Scott Squirrel, Calthorpe Bradshaw and Ivory Sport, James A4 Super Sports, Standard BT 500, Norton Inter, Rudge Ulster, NSU ‘Bullus’, BMW R5 &R54 , etc.  The Overall winning rider, and ‘Bergkönig’ (King of the Mountain) was Ali Kaba, who had only 0.07 seconds time difference between his runs; no helpers or utilities were allowed of course, and the speedo was taped over, so it was seat-of-the-pants regularity!

Lots of women riding in the Auerberg Klassik! [Hermann Köpf]
Sunday afternoon was quite dramatic for us organizers. One rider fell off badly and we had to call a rescue helicopter, although the rider ‘only’ had some broken ribs and shoulder damage.  During the race interruption a really heavy rain began to fall, becoming a hailstorm, and we came close to aborting the race.  This would have been a disaster for us, as ignorant people would have concluded it was because of a bad accident, ‘as motorsports are always bad, a total disaster, the worst ever…’ But finally, the rain let up, the sun came out, and everything went really well. The feedback from riders, visitors and even local residents was incredible, and all were totally happy, with an unbelievably good atmosphere.

1970s sidecar racers make an interesting canvas…[Hermann Köpf]
We’re planning to run the Auerberg Klassic every two years in future, with ‘best-dressed’ contest once again, and even run some selected historical cars during the lunch break.  Mark your calendars for 2019!

A mid-1920s Moto Guzzi C2V (racing 2-valve) racer with matching sweater![Hermann Köpf]
XRTT or XR1000 – hard to tell, but serious Harley-Davidson hardware in either case. [Sébastien Nunes]
‘Period attire requested’ for a reduction in ticket price. Extra bonus points for wearing those shoes all day!
Love this JAP-powered special, with extra patina. [Hermann Köpf]
Sixxy! Not everyone’s idea of a hillclimber, but there’s no denying that motor…
Cars too! This is halfway to a Münch Mammut, being an NSU Prinz 1200TTS.[Fabian Kirchbauer]
The start of it all…[Fabian Kirchbauer]
.[Hermann Köpf]
.[Hermann Köpf]
Concorso di Villa d’Este regulars Sebastian Gutsch and Stefan Knittel. [Hermann Köpf]
BSAs and Rockers too!
Readying a classic Abarth special. [Hermann Köpf]
‘Ladies who lunch’…at racetracks. [Martin Ratkovic]
Best Dressed?  One of them! [Martin Ratkovic]
Bring the kids, and their headphones!
A casuall- leaned BMW Rennsport at a track is worth ten in a museum…
[Martin Ratkovic]
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