The hounds in question were the 96 starters, the fox was a young pup – 19 years of age back in 1970 – and the venue was a 22.835-kilometre-long (approx. 14-mile) “test and experimental track” better known as the “Green Hell”. For the first time, the hunt would take place over 24 exacting hours. That meant 24 hours of lapping the Nürburgring-Nordschleife at the absolute limit of the drivers’ mental strength and the cars’ dynamic capabilities and material endurance. The victory recorded by up-and-coming young talent Hans-Joachim Stuck in a small BMW 2002 ti run by Koepchen BMW Tuning is ensconced in motor racing history.
Running in the family.
Few can claim to have considered Stuck a serious contender before the race. “Strietzel”, as he was known by the sly old dogs in his native Bavaria, was just 19 at the time. However, his father Hans Stuck was a bona fide legend. The racing driver and “King of the Mountains” was one of the leading racers of the pre-war era. Later, in the 1960s, he ran training courses for sports-minded drivers at the Nürburgring – much to the excitement of his son, who would often go with him to the track and developed a deep knowledge of the ‘Ring in the process.
One of the good guys: Koepchen BMW Tuning.
Hans-Peter Koepchen was a racing driver and one of the most renowned of all BMW tuners. The BMW 2002 ti racers he honed for maximum performance and durability notched up a succession of race wins. Nothing exposes the true capability of a car more mercilessly than an endurance race. And, with their upgraded chassis and engines, the BMWs turned out to be nigh-on invincible. “Strietzel” Stuck duly drifted his youthful heart out around the fabled circuit; the action-packed TV footage of the event still takes the breath away to this day. The ability of this young whippersnapper and his co-driver to maintain such an unhinged speed over the full 24 hours beggared belief.
Hans-Joachim Stuck and Clemens Schickentanz ended the race with an impressive two-lap advantage over the second-placed pairing. By that time, they had blasted across the start/finish line 123 times, fighting their way over the narrow troughs and crests of the still largely original circuit through daylight and dark. Their reward was a glorious victory.
Here at the Nordschleife on 27 and 28 June 1970, nine of the top ten finishers had a BMW badge on their bonnets, as the first Nürburgring 24 Hours became virtually an in-house affair. For the youngster Stuck, this success was the launch-pad for a racing career that would take him all the way to Formula 1. The BMW 2002 ti returned to business as usual, winning pretty much all there was to win on race tracks and rallies alike.