Audi celebrates three major anniversaries at Goodwood
- 30 years ago Hannu Mikkola won the World Rally Championship in an Audi
- 25 years ago Audi won the TransAm race series in the USA
- 20 years ago the Earl of March staged the first Festival of Speed
At this year’s Festival of Speed, which takes place at Goodwood in the South of England from 12 – 14 July, Audi Tradition will celebrate three major anniversaries. Held for the twentieth time, the Festival is the largest historic motor sport event in the world and attracts 150,000 visitors from all over the world with its “Best of” programme. For this, Audi is shipping over an iconic vehicle, the 1936 Auto Union Type C racing car, and is also celebrating two other milestones in the history of Audi Sport: in 1983, 30 years ago, Hannu Mikkola became the first Audi driver to clinch the World Rally Championship title, at the wheel of the Audi Rallye quattro A2, and 25 years ago Audi Sport took the American TransAm title with the Audi 200 quattro, in the very first year in which it was entered for this race series.
At this year’s Festival of Speed, Hannu Mikkola has an opportunity to look back on his own contribution to motor-sport history. It was in England that he clinched the World Rally Championship title thirty years ago, driving the Audi Rallye quattro A2. On a memorable day in November 1983, the final stage of the British RAC Rally, the last event of the season, was due to take place. Mikkola had by then gained the most points and only Walter Röhrl could overtake him in the rankings. When Röhrl failed to start, Mikkola only had to finish in order to take the title. He recalls: “The tension was enormous, but then the news broke and I was able to drive the RAC Rally in a very relaxed way.” Perhaps not quite as relaxed as he suggests, since he came in second behind another Audi driver, Stig Blomqvist, and took the Championship title.
Audi Tradition has planned a surprise for Hannu Mikkola: some years ago the AUDI AG Historical Department was able to acquire the actual car that won the 1983 RAC Rally. Extensive restoration including the original paint finish has now been completed, and the 1983 World Rally Champion has been invited to give the restored car its maiden outing at Goodwood. Mikkola: “To be back in the car I drove back then is a very emotional experience.” To make the occasion perfect, the 1983 World Championship team will be complete for the Goodwood Hillclimb, with Hannu Mikkola joined by the man who was his co-driver for eleven years: Arne Herz.
Just five years later, in 1988, when those great days of rallying were past and Audi Sport was concentrating on circuit racing, the brand with the four rings made a dramatic return to the international motor-sport scene: with its Audi 200 quattro, the Ingolstadt carmaker stormed the American TransAm race series with a car that had been developed in just a few months. Based on the Audi 200 quattro and the standard five-cylinder turbocharged engine, the outcome was a racing car with all-wheel drive and a power output of 510 bhp. At the end of the season, Audi had won eight of the 13 races and carried off the manufacturers’ world championship title. The drivers were Hurley Haywood, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Walter Röhrl. The driver’s title went to Haywood. At the Festival of Speed, Hans-Joachim Stuck will be behind the wheel of the Audi 200 quattro TransAm.
No Festival of Speed would be complete without Nick Mason. Pink Floyd drummer and racing car enthusiast, he has been there since the very first time that the Earl of March held the event at his family seat in the south of England. The Earl’s father had established a racing circuit in the grounds of the house, but it seemed likely to be forgotten. The son revived public interest and, with his Festival of Speed, created a new and soon legendary motor-sport event. This is the seventh year that Nick Mason has driven for Audi Tradition. After his appearances at the wheel of Auto Union Silver Arrows from the 1930s, people began to refer to him jocularly as “Auto Union’s last works driver”. In response to a special request from the Earl of March, Audi Tradition is contributing to the event’s jubilee by bringing its Auto Union Type C to Goodwood House. Bernd Rosemeyer dominated Europe’s racing circuits in the 1936 season with this 16-cylinder car. Driven by Nick Mason, this jewel in the crown of Audi’s corporate history is the special version built at that time for use in hillclimbs, with twin-tyred rear wheels. As the Pink Floyd drummer declares: “It is a great pleasure and a privilege each time I am permitted to drive one of the Auto Union Silver Arrows.”