For sure the Solitude-ring is not the one, most would mention first when asked for the name of a German race track. However it is the eldest track of south Germany. In 1903 the Solitude Castle was chosen for a hill climb sprint for motorcycles. The race started at the western railway station from Stuttgart. A couple of years later the start was moved to Schützenhaus in the suburb Heslach. Until 1924 this was the track for the annual hill climb race, since 1922 also for sports and race cars. In 1925, for the first time there was a circuit race ‘Rund um die Solitude’, each lap counting 22 km. The circuit was considered very demanding, often compared to the Targa Florio. All this made that the race became quite famous, and makes from all over Europe started subscribing to participate. Hard to believe, but even before world-war II there were security regulations, and they forced the track to be shortened first to 19km, later to 11 and that’s the circuit that received the name Solitude-Ring.
After 1937, there were no races held at the Solitude for 11 years, of reasons unnecessary to mention of course. The first post World-War II event took place in 1949. In 1952, Solitude hosts for the first time a World Championship event, the German Motorcycle Grand-Prix. In 1954 next to the race, the Solitude Rally was another spectacle of the Solitude experience. Later on the Solitude Rally was combined with the French Lyon-Charbonnière Rally. In 1967 it was even a European Championship run, being also rewarded the title Deutschland Rally.
In the sixties the Formula Race Cars started showing up at the Solitude Race.
Porsche had the Formula 2 car. In 1960 the local Hans Herrmann drove one of these and was only beaten by seconds from count von Trips in a Ferrari. The next year Porsche brought a brand-new car with a flat eight engine. Successful with a double win for Dan Gurney and Joakim Bonnier. In 1965 the event was organized for the last time. The complete history of the Solitude is covered by Thomas Mehne in his book : Racing at the Solitude.
For a long time there was silence on the roads in the triangle Stuttgart – Leonberg – Böblingen. In 2006 some enthusiasts met and started a group with the goal to revive the great days of the Solitude Race and Solitude Ring. Soon they were joined by some former competitors like Hans Herrmann, Eberhard Mahle, Herbert Linge and Paul-Ernst Strähle. All of them drivers with a brilliant race career.
In 2006 the group started with the Solitude Revival. The first events were restricted to mountain sprints. In 2011 they brought the complete circuit back to life. In total about 300 cars and 130 motorcycles were present at this year’s edition. No wonder the Stuttgart car factories are well-presented too. Nothing else with Porsche that has a special affection with the Solitude. Not only because of the numerous victories in the races back in the fifties and sixties. The environment has and still is been used by the factory for marketing purposes, as can be seen in many leaflets, brochures and factory pictures.
As told before, Dan Gurney won the 1962 race in a Porsche F1-804 exactly one week before his victory in the French F1 GP at Reims. This particular 804 was not at the event this year, but as a replacement, Porsche brought a Formel 2 car, the 718/2 driven by Marc Lieb, and even Porsche CEO Matthias Müller takes the wheel on the famous track.
Other interesting cars at the event were a Porsche 356 Carrera Abarth, a 2000 GS-GT, a one of only 2 Dreikantschraber, a Porsche 718 RS60 and the famous ex Paul-Ernst Strähle Porsche 356 A Carrera GT. As you can see on the pictures, famous drivers from back then took the wheel of these great cars. Hans Herrmann and Herbert Linge, both in their eighties, handle these precious cars with love and respect, but nevertheless push the pedal down revving the engines up and get some speed. Respect guys !!
Former Porsche race chief Peter Falk drove a 1967 Porsche 911. The king of the Solitude Eberhard ‘Ebs’ Mahle, who lives near the Solitude in Leonberg, was enjoying the event as could clearly be noticed. Another great and charming man and ex Porsche factory driver Kurt Ahrens had visibly fun while turning the laps in this old cars.
Luckily no accidents at the event, the 25000 spectators enjoyed the spectacle as much as the drivers and the organization, who want to make this event bi-annual.
Pictures : Carlos Ghys