Paddock prepares to celebrate DTM’s milestone 500th race

Figures throughout the paddock are celebrating a milestone for the DTM this weekend, with the German series set to mark its historic 500th race at the Lausitzring.

The championship has so far completed 498 races across 342 events since its debut as the Deutsche Produktionswagen-Meisterschaft at Zolder on 11 March 1984.

The 500-race milestone will be reached on Sunday with the weekend’s second race at the east German circuit, something that ITR chairman Gerhard Berger describes as a “truly impressive” feat.

“That we are able to celebrate this special occasion at the Lausitzring makes me particularly proud,” he said.

“In 35 years, the DTM has developed itself into one of the world’s most popular and most spectacular race series, also thanks to the very good work achieved my predecessors within ITR and the resourceful support from the manufacturers and our partners.

“Obviously, there have been highs and lows, but the fans have always remained hugely loyal.

“For us, their passion and loyalty is an obligation and a boost to continue the development of the DTM for the future to ensure that we, all of us together, will be able to add to this success story for a long time to come.”

The inaugural race at Zolder 35 years ago was won by Harald Grohs, driving a BMW 635 CSi to score the first of 87 wins so far for BMW, which makes it the championship’s third most successful brand.

Later that year, Volker Strycek went on to become the inaugural champion of what was to become DTM, also driving a BMW 635 CSi and beating competitors in a varied field that also included cars from Alfa Romeo, Rover, Ford, Chevrolet, Volvo, Mercedes and Opel.

“We are happy and proud to have played an active role in much of the history of this series, and indeed to have shaped it at times,” commented BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt.

“We won the very first DTM race with Harald Grohs and the BMW 635 CSi in 1984, and have competed in the DTM with the most successful touring car ever – the BMW M3.

“Since 2012 we have been part of the ‘new DTM’ and are in the process of working closely with Gerhard Berger, the ITR and the other manufacturers on establishing a long and successful future for the series.

“We are all very much looking forward to what we hope will be many more races.”

Mercedes-Benz remains DTM’s most successful brand to date despite no longer featuring in the series, having secured 195 race wins, compared to Audi’s 108.

Bernd Schneider is the most decorated driver, with five titles to his name and 43 race victories.

“For me, it is great that the 500th race has been reached,” Schneider said. “In the years in which I raced, it was often said that it would be the last year of the DTM.

“Therefore, I am even more delighted that the DTM is celebrating its 500th race and that the series is in a better position than ever.

“Every now and then, I sit on the sofa with my young daughter to watch old races. Then we both have tears in our eyes: she’s sad that I’m no longer racing; for me, all those great old moments are brought vividly back to life once again.”