For me, the number 300 does not stand for the number of warriors from the famous legend about King Leonidas I of Sparta. For me, on the first weekend in August, at the Dyck Classic Days, it's fortunate.
As shortly before the Classic department of Mercedes-Benz Called and asked if I would like to ride in the 300 SLS, it was clear, a special event is imminent. Emotional anticipation spread, especially when I heard that Roland Asch should be the driver.
Roland Asch has been a well-known name in the motor sports scene since the early eighties. Three-time 944 Porsche 1987 Turbo Cup Winner - 89, Carrera Cup winner 1991 and twice runner-up in the DTM are the stages of his motorsport life. Of course he also drove Mercedes and is still connected to the brand today. Not only because his son Sebastian, meanwhile a successful racing driver himself, was champion on a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG in the year 2012 ADAC GT-Masters.
The time has come on the Sunday of the two-day event. I'm standing at one of the automotive highlights of the classic scene and, of course, especially the Mercedes-Benz fans. The 300 SL Gullwing is undoubtedly one of the legends of the automotive world, but this 300 SLS is one of only two examples built in 1957 based on the 300 SL Roadster. The production version of the brand new model was not allowed to start in the "Standard Production" category in the 1957 season. In order not to be without a chance in the only alternative possible racing category D, a standard roadster is slimmed down according to all the rules of the art to the SLS, which weighs only 970 kilograms. The engine output has also been increased to 173 kW (235 hp). With the SLS, Paul O'Shea wins the American sports car championship in Category D with a clear lead over the competition - after taking the title in 1955 and 1956 in the 300 SL “Gullwing”.
But now there is no time left for retrospective consideration. Manuel Müller from the Mercedes-Benz Classic department comes up to me and puts a helmet in my hand. “The Roland drives reasonably. It's just a demo ride, but because of the safety, you never know, ”he tells me. Yes, you never know what life gives you. 25 years ago, as a paying spectator, I got autographs from professionals like Roland Asch behind the barriers at the DTM airfield race in Mainz-Finthen, and now I'm sitting right next to him, in a car, which was also recently at an exhibition behind one Barrier was to be admired.
Well, one thing I had not considered: the popularity of the two protagonists car and driver at the Dyck Classic Days. So I make my way through the crowd to the car, it should be ready soon. Past the legendary Mercedes Benz C111 with the Wankel engine, which I had as a child of the 70er years as a model car, and on the 190 E 2.3-16 record car from Nardò. In August 1983, three identical record cars circled the aforementioned high-speed oval for nine days, interrupted only by brief maintenance stops, at an average speed of almost 250 km / h. They set twelve records, three of which were world records over 25.000 kilometers, 25.000 miles and 50.000 kilometers.
Of course, how could it be otherwise, "my" car is of course at the very front of pole. There, where already many autograph hunters and photographers are frolicking. "Since the front is the ash in the Benz" I hear one of the spectators say to his wife. Well, I seem to be on the right path. The sympathetic team of Mercedes-Benz Classic instructs me, a short handshake with Roland Asch, then I'm strapped. It's the same. My pulse rises and I notice how my otherwise dry hands become slightly sweaty, although I'm just sitting next to it. Roland Asch is completely relaxed and is busy signing autographs.
On. The marshal in the red Classic Days shirt blows his whistle and swings his flag eagerly. Short curling towards the start house, then finally, Roland Asch gives the W198 the spurs. If I'm a rather timid guy, Roland Asch calls me. At least that's what I mean by my helmet, superimposed by the wind noise. "Alright, you can accelerate," I call back, holding my thumb up. "I'm de Roland, say you," he calls to me in perfect Swabian. All right, I laugh, he laughs and gives gas, challenges the whole 235 PS from the 2 liter big six-cylinder. That's not a number that scares 2014 a year, but it feels different in an 55 year old open car. Roland, I'm leaving the ash here, too, nudging and asking what's allowed on the long straight for a maximum speed. The SLS would go so proud 260 km / h. The organizer correctly limits the speed to 100 km / h for safety reasons. However, I mean to him, if he is bit over it, with him that would be okay. He answers that it's hard for him not to get really busy, because it's really fun with this car, but it's better to stick to the rules, 100 km / h, we're also a role model and in the official Mercedes on the way.
Yes, he is the Roland, always decent, cheerful and incredibly polite. In between, he gives me tips "Look here, foot across two pedals, then with feeling gas and brake operate, brings us faster through the S-curve there in front," Ok, I'm trying to remember and I'm amazed how casual he is in Street slippers using pedals on their pedals, in the manner in which a pianist presses the keys with his hands.
The next moment he stops in the middle of the track and writes an autograph. An avid autograph hunter stands halfway on the track and holds up a poster and an "edding". Emergency brake, ran right, reverse gear, made a person happy and on.
"What would motorsport be without the fans?" Says Roland. How right he is. Then a Vollgasstelle with right knee, Roooaar, the bearded engine hummertert front, after four laps I mean to notice how the relatively narrow tires are slowly getting a bit warmer, so they lubricate. Or in other words, the ass is easily lost in the back. Suddenly I see a "museum car" with completely different eyes.
I've always loved the Dyck Classic Days. This informal atmosphere, eating Currywurst sitting on a hay bale instead of lobster and crab cocktail under the gazebo. Also that you as a spectator can get into direct conversation with the protagonists.
Today, that was another matter. An experience that has burned itself into the memory in a sustainable way. But a big "thank you" to Mercedes-Benz Classic and Roland Asch, the former touring car pilots with so much warmth that I sometimes miss with many an old hero of the racing scene.
Text: Bernd Schweickard / Photo: Jens Scheibel