1960 bis 1969
The glory days
The period of the 60s can be confidently called the "golden age" of the 1000 kilometer race.
The crowd of spectators is enormous, the number of participating vehicles reaches record levels. 60 to 70 cars are not uncommon. This is mainly due to the increasingly intensive commitment of the Porsche company, which not only competes with numerous works cars, but also provides the majority of the privately registered vehicles. Porsche is desperate for overall victory, but it is only in the second half of the decade that they have the entry vehicles needed to achieve this. The range of Stuttgart sports cars and prototypes in the 1960s extends from the 718RS to the 904, the 906, the 910 and the 907/908 versions to the 917, which is unloved at the Nürburgring.
In 1967, the time had come for four Type 910 factory cars to finish the race in first place. The following year, it was enough for a double victory, and in 1969, no fewer than five Type 908 cars finished in the top positions. Porsche was unbeatable at the Nürburgring in those years. Many people are sure to remember the names of the works drivers of the time: Jo Siffert, Vic Elford, Hans Herrmann, Rolf Stommelen, Gerhard Mitter, Kurt Ahrens, Brian Redman and many more.
So while Porsche dominated the last third of the 1960s, the first half of the decade belonged to the Italians. Maserati won in 1960 and 1961, while Ferrari took home the laurels between 1962 and 1965. Twice the winner was John Surtees (1963 and 1965), who was considered one of the fastest drivers at the Nürburgring in those years. This period also saw his two Formula 1 victories in the Eifel.
A surprise awaits the spectators in 1966. For the first time, the American Chaparral prototype appears in Europe. Texan Jim Hall, owner of the Chaparral team, chose the Nürburgring, of all places, as the premiere event. The car is equipped with an automatic transmission and causes quite a stir among the competition. Phil Hill and Joakim Bonnier actually manage the feat of winning the race. Hardly anyone knows that the victory was on a knife edge, Phil Hill told me years later during an interview in Sebring, Florida.
In 1969, the spectators experience a so-called "Indianapolis start" for the first time, in which the field is sent on its way "flying" behind a lead car. The old "Le Mans start," in which the drivers had to run across the track to their cars lined up in front of the pits, had become obsolete for safety reasons.